4 Month sleep regression: what to do when your baby is fighting sleep

February 3, 2021 4 mins read
4 Month sleep regression: what to do when your baby is fighting sleep

It might be hard to believe, but your baby’s 4 month sleep regression isn’t a made-up myth to make your parenting journey even more challenging.

On top of your baby already making inroads into your sleep time, the 4 month sleep regression could sound like it’s meant to throw a spanner in the works. That’s where we come in. We have the lowdown on this big baby developmental milestone and how you can manage it so that you and baby make it through without a hitch (and with more z’s).

What is 4 month sleep regression?

Before 4 months, your baby enjoys restorative sleep to help them recover from the transition of being born into the real world. As they begin to become more aware of their surroundings, their sleep needs change as their brains become more active. They begin to dream more vividly and may want to experience the world for longer periods. This can activate a sleep regression to ease your baby into a different routine of sleep.

Sleep regressions are part of your baby’s growth, and it shows that they are going through a growth spurt. They often happen at predictable times during the first year. The 4 month sleep regression can show up between the third and fourth month.

What are the causes?

While it’s an exciting time developmentally for your baby as they are ticking off their growth milestones, you might be wondering what causes a sleep regression.

  • If your baby is learning how to sit up or crawl, you’ll find that the sleep regression coincides with this. As your baby develops their new set of skills, their sleep patterns adjust.
  • Cognitive bursts. When babies pass a mental milestone, and they become more aware, this can lead to insecurity. A sleep regression happens as your baby needs more reassurance and comfort to sleep.
  • A change in family circumstances or stress. If your baby starts going to daycare or you move homes, this might affect their sleep cycles as they try to adjust to the changes.

What are the signs of 4 month sleep regression?

The good news is that you can look out for sleep regression symptoms so you can prep yourself and help your baby overcome any anxiety and restlessness.

  • Increased fussiness. Babies are generally fussy but keep an eye out for more fussiness than usual, and no apparent reason.
  • Long naps. Lengthier naps could mean that your baby is experiencing a growth spurt. They could be taking a couple of naps throughout the day or one long nap.
  • Waking up at night more often. This is a big sign to look out for if not the major one. If the baby is waking up more often than usual, they could be heading towards a phase of sleep regression.
  • Restless. You’ve finally managed to get baby to sleep and are doing a victory dance. But wait. Your baby isn’t sleeping peacefully. Instead, they’re sleeping in a different position, and they are restless. This is an indication that they are sleeping lightly, which is a sign of sleep regression.
  • Inconsolable. Usually, babies can fall into some cozy shut-eye in their parents’ arms and after some warm snuggles. But if they don’t respond to your efforts to console them, then it may be a sign that a phase of sleep regression is imminent.

5 Tips for parents to help manage sleep regression

Sleep regressions aren’t meant to last forever. So we’ve compiled some tips to help you get through this niggly phase.

1. Early bedtime

Try to set an earlier bedtime so they can go through the motions of restlessness. Create a bedtime routine with a bath, songs and massages to help them feel comfy and assured.

2. Soothing

It might feel like nothing you do to soothe them works but don’t give up! Take them into your arms, rock them, sing lullabies and do everything you can to reassure your baby. This is the time to show your baby that they are loved and that everything will be okay.

3. Frequent feeds

During sleep regressions, your baby can want more food. This can be a crutch for them as they may feel more comforted by eating. Don’t worry about frequent feeds; once the sleep regression is over, your baby may fall into their regular eating routine.

4. Adjust the bedroom environment

Making the room as sleep-friendly as possible will help with the transition. Add more soft toys to make them feel more secure or change the curtains to a darker colour with less light so baby can sleep for longer.

As the 4 month sleep regression hits, remember to stay calm, be patient and ask for help when you need it. It’s a natural part of your baby’s growth and a milestone that shows they’re growing healthily and steadily.