I think I probably get the most questions about the 4-month sleep regression. Around 14-20 weeks there is so much growth and development in your baby that it’s no wonder sleep goes out the window. Making it through the 4-month sleep regression is top of mind for all parents and as a baby sleep coach, I make it a priority to equip parents with the skills and knowledge to know what to expect and how to get through it as unscathed as possible.
What is the 4 Month Sleep Regression?
Like all developmental milestones, the timing of this particular one can vary. Some babies hit it a bit early, closer to 14 weeks. At the same time, others don’t go through it until 18 weeks. During this time the baby’s brain reorganizes sleep from 2 phases (REM sleep and deep sleep) into the 4 stages of sleep that we experience even into adulthood. So now for the first time ever your baby is experiencing light sleep, stages 1 and 2 which makes it very difficult for them to settle. It is a normal part of development but also makes everyone miserable for a while.
Is This the 4 Month Sleep Regression?
So what are some signs?
- Short naps
- Waking very frequently (every 2-3 hours or even more frequently)
- Baby used to sleep well and it’s like a switch is flipped
- Potential changes in appetite
This can last for a couple of weeks and feel really discouraging while you’re going through it. I’m a firm believer that to be forewarned is to be forearmed so if you know it’s coming hopefully it can help you bear it a bit better. Once you figure out that this is what’s going on take a deep breath and put your head down. You’ll make it through. Your poor baby doesn’t know what’s going on either so be patient with each other.
How to Make it Through
- Be patient and give it a few weeks
- Work on a consistent nap schedule and bedtime so your baby’s body and clue into when it’s time to sleep
- Honor the wake windows- at this age baby should be sleeping about every 1.5-2 hours all day long. Avoiding overtiredness is a huge help during this time.
- Work on an eat, play, sleep schedule to separate feeding from sleeping so your baby gets good full feeds and doesn’t doze off during meal time
- Give lots of extra cuddles during the day, your baby is growing fast. Enjoy this time.
- Find a support system. Your baby needs sleep and so do you, don’t be afraid to ask for help so you can have some downtime.
When I work with families before the baby goes through this developmental stage we are able to help both baby and parents establish a schedule and some sleep skills so that even though there may be a bump in the road it’s not life-ruining. After the regression, some babies do settle back down, especially if they have sleep skills already in place. But most of the time babies need a bit of help learning to self-soothe through these light stages of sleep. That’s where I come in. This doesn’t have to last forever. Book a call with me to get your family through this phase and back to sleep sooner rather than later.