11 Solutions for the 4-Month Sleep Regression
Your lil’ bub has been sleeping 4-5 hour stretches, and you are about to thank your lucky stars for your good fortune. All of a sudden, your sweet baby starts waking throughout the night, and you begin to wonder what on earth you have done wrong.
Welcome to the 4-month sleep regression. The 4-month sleep regression often hits parents the hardest because parents are not expecting it. You might probably be worrying if there is a bigger problem at play, but know that this is very common in many babies and that it usually lasts between 2 to 4 weeks.
What is the 4-Month Sleep Regression?
Sleep regression are basically periods when your child suddenly starts waking up at night more frequently than he/she used to. It can also affect naps by making it harder for your child to fall asleep or wake up more easily.
Even though sleep regression is extremely frustrating, it is very normal. Sleep regression typically happen at 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 months and these timing are not random. The reason why they often strike around these period is because these are also the time when babies hit certain developmental milestones.
How Long does the 4-Month Sleep Regression Last?
As with all things, the 4-month sleep regression does not last forever (thankfully!). The duration differs from child to child but it generally lasts between 2-4 weeks.
Some Signs of the 4-Month Sleep Regression
Even though the signs differ from babies to babies, here are some of the more common ones:
- Frequent night wakings when baby was previously able to sleep for 4-5 hour stretches
- Usually start around 4 months but could be earlier or later
- Harder to settle into sleep
- Less naps in the day
- More fussy in general
Some Reasons for the 4-Month Sleep Regression
While your baby experiences tremendous growth right from birth, the 4th month is marked by numerous milestones. The achievement of these milestones is the likely reason behind the sudden sleep regression.
The good news about the 4-month sleep regression is it shows your baby’s sleep is maturing. When previously your baby used to go back and forth between wakefulness and deep sleep, she now have 4 sleep cycles at night like adults. This means she will spend more time cycling between lighter and deeper sleep. It is during the period of light sleep (lasting about 20 - 30minutes after she has first fallen asleep) when she will be awakened more easily.
Learning to Flip/Roll Over
At the age of 4 months, your child may just be learning to flip or rollover. As such, your baby may want to hone their newly-developed skills, even in the middle of the night! Indeed, many parents report their babies trying out their new skills in the middle of the night!
Another culprit for the 4-month sleep regression could be teething. Some children start teething right around this age and the associated pains can keep them awake at night.
Becoming More Aware of His Surroundings
Around 4-months is the age when your child starts to become more aware of his surroundings. As such, it can be really hard for your baby to close his eyes when there are so many fascinating sights around him clamouring for his attention.
11 Solutions to help with the 4-month sleep regression
#1: Provide lots of opportunities for practice and movements
Since your baby may be eager to practice his new-found skills, provide him with plenty of opportunities to do so during the day so he has no need to do so at night.
#2: Provide adequate nutrition during the day
Every child need to take in enough to fulfil their nutritional needs everyday. If they fail to do so in the day, they will wake up in the night to feed. As such, make sure that your child receives his daily intake during the day and just before bedtime so he doesn’t need to do so at night.
If your child has been able to sleep through the night, this indicates that his body do not actually require the middle-of-the-night feed. So as far as possible, avoid restarting this habit just to make him go back to sleep as it could create a new set of problems.
#3: Practise the “Pause”
Our natural instinct is to rush in at the first peep. However, it is helpful to “pause” for a few minutes before zooming in to check on your child. Sometimes children will settle themselves back to bed. If however, your baby continues to fuss, by all means go and check on her.
#4: Make night wakings a low-key affair
If your baby needs a nappy change, change it for him. However do try to keep everything hush-hush and low-key. Keep the light dim as bright lights can signal to his body that it is time to wake up. Avoid eye contact as doing so may make him want to wake up and play. As much as possible, do everything quickly and quietly.
#5: Create a conducive environment for sleeping
If your household is noisy, consider getting a white noise machine to block out the sound. In addition, make her room dark to signal to your child that it is bedtime. If your child wakes up at night, the darkness can also let her know that it is still time to sleep. On the reverse, expose your child to lots of sunlight and activities in the day to help her learn the difference between night and day.
#6: Keep a consistent routine
Babies love routines. Therefore, try to stick to the same routine day in-and-out. Give him his meals and put him to bed at the same time each day. This may mean making some sacrifices on your part but by so doing, your baby learns that there is a time and place for everything.
#7: Watch out for signs of sleepiness
If your baby starts to rub her eyes or yawn, it is time for her to take a rest. An overtired baby is harder to soothe and will tend to wake up more often at night as well. This is the last thing you need when dealing with the 4-month sleep regression.
#8: Put baby down drowsy but not asleep
Putting your baby down drowsy but awake will give your baby a chance to learn the essential skill of self-soothing. Stay by your baby’s side as you pat or provide reassuring words. As time passes, you can slowly fade away these support.
#9: Bring forward baby’s bed time
As baby drop his number of afternoon naps, you may want to bring forward his bedtime as he may not be able to stay up as late as before. This helps to get baby to bed before he becomes overtired and cranky.
#10: Provide an abundance of love and attention
As much as you are suffering, know that it is by no means intentional on the part of your baby. This is especially the case if your child is teething, or if she is having a hard time adjusting to her new sleep cycles. As such, provide her with as much love and attention as you possibly can to ease her through this transition.
#11: Use SnuggleTike
The perfectly-weighted body of SnuggleTike warmable plush will help simulate the reassuring feel of your loving hand. This is helpful especially if your baby startle easily during sleep as the weight provides an added sense of security. As your child plays on its ear and strokes its soft fur, he may be lulled back to sleep.
One last word about the 4-Month Sleep Regression
Even though it is only temporary, it can be exhausting having to deal with a baby waking up multiple times at night. 4 months is also the time when many mothers go back to work, so it can be even more exhausting. So don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. After all, a motherhood is a marathon and not a sprint. Stopping once in a while to take care of yourself will see you through the whole journey.