The 4-month Sleep Regression is complicated for most first-time parents – it seems to come out of nowhere. When you think your baby’s sleep is getting better and you’re going to be fine, BOOM!, everything falls apart.
We hear from several parents who want to know how they can prepare for the 4-month Sleep Regression, what to do during that time, and how they can recover from it and put their sleep back on track.
Well, don’t be in doubt anymore – as a mother of twins I’ll give you all the information (and more) on our 4 month Sleep Regression checklist.
What to do before the 4 month sleep regression
As a newborn, sleep patterns are very different from “older” baby sleep patterns. So we have to keep realistic expectations. There are some gentle sleep education tips for newborns, but don’t expect too much sleep at this time.
Do not imagine that anything about sleep in the newborn is permanent. If the baby sleeps all night a few times, you can imagine that the worst is over and that the worries about sleep will disappear.
Although this may happen (it happens to a few happy families!), Most parents say that sleep patterns are very inconsistent in the first 3-4 months of life – and that the four-month sleep regression is usually disturbing until Sleep habits in the most obstinate sleeper.
While it’s a great idea to build a foundation for healthy sleeping habits for your newborn, you don’t want to be exhausted looking for the perfect sleep. Much of the progress you make will be affected by the four-month sleep regression.
What are 7 reasons why your baby doesn’t sleep at night?
What to Do During the 4 Month Sleep Regression (or How to Survive Without Losing Your Mind)
To begin with, remember that this is a temporary phase. Your baby will not wake up so much at night forever, or nap so little. These are just the effects of a baby’s growth and developmental leap.
If your baby is in a nursery, let the caregiver know that he or she is going through the regression period. Provide details of how she should deal with additional agitation and missed or shorter naps.
Don’t spend too much energy trying to improve your baby’s sleep during the regression period. If you can, it is usually best not to practice sleep education at this stage, as the baby’s brain is too busy with the immense growth and development that is taking place during this period to learn new sleep habits.
If you have worked on self-relaxation and awake sleep before the 4-month Sleep Regression arrives, you can continue with your usual sleep routine (if the baby’s sleep disturbances are bypassed). Or you can suspend your efforts and put the baby back to sleep the way you can (if the baby’s sleep is totally disrupted due to regression).
Be prepared for changes in naps and nipples during this phase! Waking up more at night and fewer naps can lead to excess tiredness. So do not hesitate to offer additional and longer naps or put the baby to sleep earlier.
Get more sleep if you can. The baby is not the only one whose sleep is suffering during this regression. Waking up more at night can be quite difficult for you too.
What to Do After the 4-Month Sleep Regression
Creating New Permanent Sleep Habits
It can be difficult to know exactly when the 4 month Sleep Regression ended. For some families, it seems to last less than a week, while for others it lasts longer than six weeks. As a general rule, however, you can expect it to last 2-3 weeks.
When the phase is over, you may notice that the baby’s sleep improves and returns to an almost normal state. However, some families report that it seems that the 4-month Sleep Regression never ends – their babies are still agitated months later.
You don’t need to start sleep education the moment the regression ends. Some families prefer to wait until babies are six months old (I recommend starting at 6 months). At this age sleep tends to consolidate and baby naps tend to be longer and more predictable. At this point it is also easier for most families to adopt a more consistent daily schedule.
Getting sleep back on track after this phase can be difficult, but a Personalized Sleep Plan can make a big difference.
How are you going through the 4 month Sleep Regression phase?