4 Month Sleep Regression: Causes, Symptoms, and Tips for Helping Your Baby Sleep Better
As a Baby Sleep Coach, I understand that parents may feel like they are getting the hang of having a baby and navigating their sleep patterns, but you shouldn’t get too comfortable. Your child will go through many regressions in their sleep over the first few years of their life. Being prepared and not being blindsided when your good sleeper is suddenly a sleep avoider is the best way to tackle this sleep turmoil.
What is 4 months sleep regression?
Your baby may have gone through their first sleep regression at around 8 weeks old, but now, only two months later, they may be going through it all over again. The 4-month sleep regression can be the most challenging one for parents because it is a significant milestone in your baby’s sleep development.
Sleep regressions are a significant topic when it comes to your baby’s sleep routine, especially during the first couple of years of their life. The 4-month sleep regression is a developmental stage that many babies go through, leading to disrupted sleep. At around 4 months of age, babies go through significant changes in their sleep cycles and begin to develop more adult-like sleep patterns. This can result in a disruption to their previously established sleep patterns, including more frequent night wakings, shorter naps, and difficulty settling to sleep.
During this stage, babies may also experience other developmental changes, such as increased motor skills, teething, or starting to roll over, which can also affect their sleep. The 4-month sleep regression can be challenging for both babies and parents, but it usually resolves on its own within a few weeks to a few months. Parents can help their babies through this stage by establishing consistent sleep routines, providing a comfortable sleep environment, and responding promptly to their baby’s needs.
What other ages will my child go through a sleep regression?
Babies may go through several sleep regressions throughout their first year of life, but there are five significant sleep regressions parents should be aware of, including:
- 8 weeks
- 4 months
- 8-10 months
- 12-15 months
- 2 years
How long does the 4-month sleep regression last?
The 4-month sleep regression is a common developmental milestone that typically occurs around 3-4 months of age and can last for a few weeks to a few months. The duration of the 4-month sleep regression can vary from baby to baby, but on average, it can last between 2-6 weeks. During this time, your baby’s sleep patterns may be disrupted, and they may have more trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. This can be frustrating for both you and your baby, but it’s important to remember that this is a normal part of their development. If you’re concerned about your baby’s sleep patterns or have any questions, a sleep consultant can help you develop effective self-settling methods and create a comfortable sleep environment.
Can the sleep regression be something else?
There are a few other things that could be affecting your child’s sleep that you may want to eliminate before assuming it is a sleep regression.
- Teething When your baby is teething, they obviously experience some discomfort. You can look to see if any teeth are breaking through to see if it is this or watching if they are mouthing/chewing more. Also, if teething is disrupting their sleep, it is usually only a couple of days so you can use these facts to decide whether teething is the cause.
- Separation anxiety As baby gets older (from around 6 months) your baby becomes more away of when you aren’t there and they don’t like it. This may make them harder to settle because they may be clingier. They also might not like to be left to fall asleep by themselves. More on separation anxiety here.
- Illness If your child isn’t feeling themselves this could lead to many restless nights until they recover.
- Growth spurts Your child is obviously doing lots of growing and if they are going through a spurt of growth, it might mean they need to take in extra feeds to provide the energy they need and therefore wake up more frequently. They also happen more often than sleep regressions do and last for shorter lengths of time. Because of the extra feeds they need, they might start developing the sleep association of being fed to sleep.
- Nap transitions If your child is changing their nap patterns (dropping one, having them at different times, shortening them) they might have trouble sleeping as they adjust to their new routine! This might even cross over with times that some of the sleep regressions are due.
Frequently asked sleep regression questions
Will a sleep regression mean all our sleep training has gone out of the window? No definitely not. There may be a few blips through the various sleep regressions but keeping your routines and sleep procedures consistent is the best thing you can do for your baby.
Will my child go through all of the sleep regressions? They are all developments in your child that are signs of them growing up. Your child may or may not show signs of all sleep regressions, and it’s best not to panic before it even happens. It’s possible that it might not even be that bad. While it’s possible that your child may go through all the sleep regressions at some point, it’s important to note that they may affect some children more than others. Sometimes, you may not even realize that your child is going through a sleep regression until it has passed. Therefore, it’s essential to stay patient, provide comfort and support to your child, and work on developing healthy sleep habits and routines to help them navigate these phases successfully.
How long will sleep regression last? Each one is different. Some are due to changes happening in your baby, whereas some are due to changes within their life such as changes to their routines.
When should my baby be able to learn to self-settle? Around 4 months. It is a great skill for your baby to learn (and you) because it helps them link sleep times together rather than waking up completely between each one. It also should lead to less work from you.
Is there anything else I can do to help my baby sleep better? Make sure you look after yourself. If you have a support network, now might be the time to rope them in. Learn to prioritise jobs and don’t sweat if your house is a little messier than you are used to. Other parents will know the feeling.
With an older child you can look into foods that promote sleep and with any child you can make sure they get outside as much as possible, both to tire them out and to get lots of vitamin D which helps promote sleep as well.
Where can I go for more support? If you still feel you need more support, you can check out our 1 : 1 consultation services or our baby sleep guides or send us a message to see how else we can help.
There is a lot of information to look through, but take it one step at a time and deal with each sleep problem as it comes. Being prepared should help make it all easier for you all but help is also available should you feel you need any extra support.
Ultimately my top tip is to remember that you can do this! I won’t lie and say it will always be easy, but just know that in the long run you are helping your baby learn a valuable skill and improving all of your sleep long term.
If you liked these tips and wanted to learn more about how to support your child to sleep at this age, my 5 star parent-rated, baby sleep guide for baby’s that are 3 to 18 months old is
available here or why not purchase our sleep bundle to cover all sleep up until school here.
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