I had no idea this was going to happen to us! Layla was doing SO good sleeping through the night I was such a proud mom, bragging to everyone how my baby slept so good….then she turned 4 months and its like we regressed back to 2 months old. She started waking up every few hours, wanting to eat or just be held I had no idea what was happening then I googled it and sure enough it was a thing, this is what I found…
4 Month Sleep Regression: Baby Sleep Patterns Change Permanently
The 4 month sleep regression marks a permanent change in your baby’s sleeping habits. See, before your baby hit the 4 month mark, your baby’s sleeping patterns were very…well…babyish. What do I mean by that? Simply this – babies don’t have distinct sleep stages like we adults do. While we cycle between deep and light sleep, our babies don’t – they sleep deeply pretty much all the time. (This explains why newborns and very young infants tend to sleep anywhere, through anything!)
After 4 months, though, all bets are off! As your baby’s brain matures, around the 4 month mark, her sleeping patterns change – they become more like yours. Now, she is cycling between light and deep sleep – just like you. When you look at it this way, it’s clear that the 4 month sleep regression is a very normal, very healthy developmental milestone, just like learning to walk and talk. So if your baby is currently going through the 4 month sleep regression, congratulations – her growth and development is right on track!
But also, if your baby is currently going through the 4 month sleep regression – you have my deepest sympathies ;). That’s because (as many of you well know) your baby’s new ‘grown up’ sleep patterns produce WAY more night waking and short naps. Every time your baby cycles out of deep sleep and into slight sleep, theres a good chance she will wake up – and once she’s up, she will more thank likely need your help to fall back to sleep.
Here’s the thing to remember about the 4 month sleep regression: it doesn’t go away. It’s different in that sense than the other sleep regressions that happen at 8, 9, or 10 months, and the toddler seep regressions that happen at 18 months and 2 years old. Those sleep regressions ultimately pass in a few weeks, and your little one’s sleep returns to normal. Not so with this one. The changes that happen with the 4 month sleep regression are permanent.
But don’t let that thoroughly depress you! There are ways you can move past the 4 month sleep regression, and teach your baby a new way to sleep. We’ll get to those in a moment.
In the beginning, though, here’s our advice: cope as best you can. If you are in the early days of the regression, you are no doubt exhausted beyond all measure and feeling utterly frustrated. This is normal. Spend the next few days/weeks coping, while you formulate your sleep training plan.
How can you cope? Here are a few strategies you can use to encourage your baby to sleep more during the 4 month sleep regression:
- Continue helping your baby fall asleep in the way he has been falling asleep up until now. If you’ve been nursing to sleep, keep doing it. Same with rocking or holding to sleep. Yes, these are sleep associations that will ultimately hinder your baby’s sleep, and that you’ll need to wean away from later. But don’t worry about that right now – for now, do what you need to do to help your baby fall asleep.
- Swaddle and/or offer a pacifier. If you’ve been doing this (and it’s been working), keep it up. If you haven’t, try these as techniques to help soothe your fussy baby, and to promote sleep.
- Offer a dream feed. This isn’t a fool-proof strategy, but it works well for some babies. Offer a dream feed and ‘top-off’ right before you go to bed, and it may help your baby sleep a bit longer at night.
- Use the swing, if you have one. The swing can be a great way to soothe your fussy baby, and to help induce a nap that wouldn’t otherwise happen ;). Just be sure to supervise your baby while he’s sleeping in the swing – you don’t want to let him sleep there for long periods of time.
- Ask for help! This is the time to lean hard on friends and family members. Let other people hang out with the baby while you take a nap.
Remember, these should all be viewed as short-term solutions. None of these will solve your 4 month old baby’s sleep problems; what they will do is help you rest up in preparation for starting to work on teaching your 4 month old baby a new way to sleep.