4-Month Sleep Regression: What it Is and What to Expect

4-Month Sleep Regression: What it Is and What to Expect

When you first have a newborn child, you’ll notice that your baby will quite literally sleep like a baby, as the expression would suggest. This may seem strange at first, because a lot of parents expect long nights of constant crying. So for the first few months, to be blunt, you might believe that the idea of a baby staying up all night is actually a myth.

Now, while your baby will love the idea of sleep at first, there is something that will soon occur known as the 4 month sleep regression. This is a time period in which your baby will begin to get a little more playful, energetic, and even restless. So if you thought that those long nights were never going to come, we have some good news and some bad news for you: those nights are inevitable, but they won’t last forever.

So if a 4 month sleep regression is something that’s been on your mind lately, or even if you’re just a bit curious about how it works, you’re in the right place. We’ll be going over everything you need to know about 4 month sleep regressions, and providing you with 10 great tips to help both of you get some more sleep tonight.

What Exactly Is a Sleep Regression?

A sleep regression will occur when your child starts to become a bit more active throughout the night, and you’ll be met with a lot of sleepless nights. This is due to the fact that your baby will begin to wake up often during the night, which can wreak havoc on everyone’s sleep schedule. The 4 month sleep regression is what it’s called when those dreadful long nights suddenly become a reality.

Is a 4 month sleep regression normal?

Regression can sometimes sound like a scary word. It tends to mean that things are beginning to move the wrong way, but the good news is that this is not the case. A sleep regression will usually occur naturally within about 4 months, and they don’t usually last more than 2 or 3 weeks.

So if you were concerned about the health of your baby, there is absolutely no need to panic, because this is just part of growing up. In a way, a sleep regression is actually more like a progression. Your baby will need to develop a more well-rounded sleep cycle, and this is exactly what the 4 month sleep regression will encourage.

We know that sleep regression may be both stressful and annoying, but it’s important to understand that it’s actually a necessary evil. Also, these regressions may occur at many stages, including at 4 months, 8 months, and even 18 months.

What causes a sleep regression in babies?

A lot of you might be wondering why exactly this happens. The answer is actually quite simple. A sleep regression is your baby’s way of experimenting with the 4 stages of sleep. Therefore, instead of your baby being out cold most of the time, your baby will begin to have alternating periods of light and deep sleep.

Also, another major contributor to this is that your baby is finally starting to adjust to life outside the womb. This means that they’ll not only be learning how language works, how human interaction works, and other key elements that actually make us human, but they’ll be adjusting to the sleep schedule that they’ll continue throughout the rest of their life, too. A sleep regression is your baby’s way of growing up a little bit: in baby steps of course.

How Can a 4 Month Sleep Regression Be Managed Properly?

There are plenty of ways to make this whole process seem a bit easier. While it won’t suddenly stop overnight, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make this process a bit easier on yourself. So let’s take a look at 10 ways to manage the dreaded 4 month sleep regression.

Start to change your baby’s habits

The first 4 months may fly by for you as a parent, but not for your newborn. This is due to the fact that newborn babies are silently picking up on everything that you’re doing as a parent. So if you’re always nursing your baby to sleep, this can become routine for them really quickly.

How can I fix my baby’s habits?

The best way to adjust the habits of your baby is to do so gently. You should never outright take something they’re comfortable with away, so instead, wean them off a bit. For example, if your baby doesn’t usually sleep alone, make sure that you slowly allow your baby to experience a little bit more alone time.

This is just one simple example, so always be sure to use your best judgment. Every baby is going to be a bit different, but if you wean your baby off of their sleeping habits slowly, you shouldn’t have any real issues.

What kind of pajamas do you use for your baby?

This might be a curveball for some of you, but you should actually be paying attention to the material that your baby is sleeping in. Now, while this may not matter all that much at first, once you hit that 4 month mark you’ll definitely be in for a suprise.

What should my baby wear?

If you typically bundle your baby up in very heavy clothing to keep them warm, try changing this up. To do so, all you need to do is grab some material that’s a bit lighter in weight. Not only will this help your baby feel more comfortable, but it also helps your baby get through the night as well.

Make sure your baby is eating enough

The feeding pattern of your baby may change more often than you would like. Think about it: sometimes your baby is a bit demanding, and other times they could care less about feeding time. This might make your life easier, temporarily, but if your baby is not feeding as much as they should this can cause some nasty sleep issues.

How often should I feed my baby during the 4 month sleep regression?

Now, when it comes to the amount of feeding time your baby needs, this is dependent on the baby. The good news is that the average baby will start to rapidly grow during a 4 month regression, which means that it can be quite hard to feed them too much.

To keep things simple, just be sure to pick up on the hints that your baby gives you. If your baby wants to feed more than usual, it may be a nuisance, but it can benefit you in a way that’s priceless: extra hours of sleep. If you want to check out some of the average feeding routines for a 4 month old, this guide is quite helpful.

Get your baby in the habit of drifting away on their own

Your baby will definitely get used to the idea of you being there when you fall asleep. This might seem nice for the first few months, but it can actually have a negative impact on your baby’s sleep cycle. This is due to the fact that it can create a lack of independence at an early age.

If you want to break this habit, the process is really quite simple. All you need to do is get your baby to bed before they’re actually asleep. Sure, the first few nights won’t be the best, but eventually your baby will start to adjust. Therefore, instead of cuddling your baby to sleep every night, try putting your baby to bed on their own.

Keep your voice down!

We’re not going to sit here and tell you that babies have enhanced hearing, but this doesn’t mean that they’re deaf. So before you make loud noises at night, be sure to think about how that might affect their sleep—and in turn, yours.

This process is really one of the more simple fixes. If you want to encourage a better night’s sleep for your baby, make sure that you’re doing your part in creating a sleep-friendly environment. It can be hard to cater to the needs of your baby, but keeping your voice down will definitely work wonders for both you and your child.

Change your baby’s bedtime

This might seem difficult to do, especially when dealing with a 4-month-old, but it’s definitely a good idea to begin pushing your baby’s bedtime forward a little bit. This is due to the fact that your baby will be creating new sleeping patterns, so this can be a great time to establish the proper bedtime.

What is a good bedtime for a 4 month old?

This really depends on your baby, and how you want to handle it, but 7 PM is always a good place to start. The average 4-month-old still tends to need more than 12 to 14 hours of sleep each night. Therefore, if you want your baby to sleep through the whole night, getting them started earlier can definitely help.

Cut back on nap time

Babies take a lot of naps. Think about how many times your baby is snoozing during the day, and compare that to how long they’re sleeping at night. The equation here is a very simple one: if your baby is sleeping a lot during the day, you’ll notice that they’ll sleep less at night.

This doesn’t mean that you should get rid of nap time altogether, because babies definitely need naps. It’s hard to get the appropriate amount of sleep a baby needs in one session, so we don’t want to mislead you. So instead of letting your baby nap 4 or 5 times throughout the day, consider cutting this back to around 2 or 3 naps. This can definitely promote a positive change in your baby’s circadian rhythm that will pay off come bedtime.

Match your baby’s new energy

During your baby’s sleep regression your baby will become a lot more active. This means that your baby will crave attention, interactions, and even exploration. While this can seem tiring throughout the day, tiring is actually a good thing.

If your baby is getting their stimulation during the day, they’ll have less of a reason to lie awake at night. This can take some getting used to, but if you keep your baby active throughout the day, you’ll notice that they’ll sleep much easier during the night. Think about it, aren’t you a bit more tired after a long day of work? The same applies to babies.

Keep an eye out on the temperature of the room

Temperature is something that a lot of new parents tend to overlook. You’ve probably been used to the temperature that you keep your home for years, but your baby is not on the same page yet. Any variation in temperature from what they prefer can lead to one cranky baby at 2 AM.

You don’t need to get too crazy with this, just make sure that you’re keeping things consistent. Sudden changes in temperature are where the problems come from, so if you keep things level, you should be totally fine. We recommend leaving your baby’s room within the range of normal room temperature (70-75 degrees Fahrenheit), with the most important thing being that it stays consistent.

Control the lighting

Sleeping with the lights on is usually not preferred. Humans love to sleep in the dark, because it helps us maintain our circadian rhythm. This is why it’s much harder to sleep during the day, and the same rules apply to your baby.

The way you want to handle this is really up to you as a parent. You can make the paint on the nursery walls darker, or you can make sure that no light is getting through during the night. We know that it may be tempting to leave the lights on for your baby, babies are definitely not afraid of the dark. Turn the lights off well in advance of bedtime so that your baby has time to get ready to sleep.

Final Thoughts

A 4 month sleep regression is never going to be fun. It’s definitely not something that you can “cure,” but that doesn’t mean that you have to lose any sleep over it. If you follow these tips, you should be able to add a few extra hours to your sleeping cycle.

A 4 month regression is a normal process, and it might happen again in the future. Usually a sleep regression will be more mild after the first, but whenever your baby experiences rapid periods of growth, you can expect to have an uncomfortable baby. So be sure to keep an eye out on the sleeping habits of your baby, and when you notice a change, be sure to manage it right away.