Many parents think things will get better once their baby “gets through the 4-month sleep regression”. However, more common then not the baby is not able to self-regulate and get back on track. We recommend not waiting any longer then 2 weeks before addressing the new-found nap strikes, night waking and early rising. Waiting longer compound the issues and makes them more challenging to fix.
Signs of the 4-month sleep regression:
- Your baby starts experiencing multiple night waking when they previously slept much longer stretches or through the night
- Your baby is taking much shorter naps during the day, having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep for 60 minutes or longer
- Your baby is suddenly rising early in the morning
Why? When the 4 month regression hits, this means your baby’s brain and sleep cycles have matured and their 3 naps have formed. From 0-4 months babies spend a majority of their sleep in a very deep sleep (which is why you can transfer them to a crib so easily without them waking up or nap easily on the go in a noisy restaurant).
Once the 4-month sleep regression begins they start shifting between light and deep sleep, like adults, so a sleep arousal easily occurs. If babies don’t have experience putting themselves back to sleep for these partial awakenings, they will not know how to do so without a sleep crutch (rocking, holding, feeding, walking, bouncing back to sleep) or being TAUGHT how to put themselves back to sleep independently.
If you are doing the work for your baby at bedtime or the start of nap, holding or rocking them to sleep, your baby will expect that same crutch in the middle of the night or when they wake from a sleep cycle during nap.
What to do now that my baby has hit the 4-month sleep regression:
- Teach him to sleep independently. This does NOT have to mean “Cry it out”. There are several different baby sleep training methods depending on your cry tolerance, babies temperament and family dynamic.
- Establish a solid bedtime routine (15-20 minutes) and nap routine (5-10 minutes) to set the stage that it is time for sleep.
- Lean on an earlier bedtime! The last thing you want is for your baby to get overtired because that can trigger night wakings and early rising.
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