The Dreaded 4 Month Sleep Regression – How to battle it!

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Let me paint you a picture. You have a beautiful baby who in your eyes, is perfect in every way. He/she is hitting all the milestones, is well behaved, and is finally sleeping through the night. You are on cloud nine. Then, there is a fun time in most babies lives called the 4 month sleep regression. This is where they all the sudden decide they don’t want to sleep through the night anymore and wake up every couple hours, or every hour if they are like my son. You may be tempted to just throw away the sleep routine that you’ve established, since it appears that it is no longer working. You may need to do some tweaking, but don’t throw out the routine just yet! There are a few reasons as to why babies can have a sleep regression around the 4 month mark.

Why does this happen?

There can be multiple reasons why your baby isn’t wanting to sleep through the night anymore and I will go through those below. For your baby, it could just be one, or a few. It is up to you to observe your baby and see if any of these fit how your baby is acting. Then, you can begin to do what you need to do to help your baby re-establish his/her sleeping routine.

1. Your baby could be ready to begin eating solid foods

This was the case with my son, Asher. He had been showing all the signs of being ready for solids, which I will outline in a later post. I was just waiting for his doctor appointment to see if she was okay with me starting him on solids. After getting her blessing, we slowly started him on solids. The change was incredible. After one day on solid foods, his sleeping greatly improved and he was back to sleeping all night. We did have to tweak his routine a bit, due to him getting tired earlier and having to add in a solid feeding. All in all though, this really helped us.

This is not to say that all babies are ready for solids at this age. There is some controversy as to whether or not you should start solids at 4 months, or 6 months. If your baby is showing signs of being ready for solids, then I recommend asking your doctor before starting. When we started Asher on solid foods, we used the “Gerber 1st foods” that are advertised to begin around 4 months as sort of a guideline. As a first time mom, I had no idea what ones were best to start with and literally every post and article I read said something different. Just go with your gut and try not to introduce them too fast.

2.  Your baby is becoming increasingly aware with their surroundings

As babies get older, it is harder to put your baby to sleep on-the-go. They are much more aware of their surroundings and have more interest in seeing what is going on around them. This can be hard for them to focus on sleep and can make it so they do not want to take naps. I mean, it is a BIG world out there, especially for a baby who is just now noticing it all. The best you can do in this aspect is to stick with your routine and if you can, try to plan outings around nap times. I generally know when Asher is going to be ready for a nap and I try to plan around it so that we are at home and he can rest without interruption.

A lot of new moms think that if their baby stays up late and has less naps during the day, their baby will sleep more at night, but this isn’t the case. Babies sleep much better at night if they get in those daytime naps and have an earlier bed time. The actual time you put your baby to bed and down for naps depends on you and your families schedule, but having them at around the same time every day really helps them know when it is time for sleep.

3.  Sleep and nap patterns change

Around 4 months of age is when a babies sleep patterns begin to mature. My child’s doctor described it as such: until this point, every time your baby went to sleep, they were entering the same type of REM sleep that an adult enters during long periods of sleep (generally at night). At 4 months, their sleeping patterns change to be more like that of an adult. They no longer are entering the REM cycle during naps, making them wake easier at nap time. While it may seem like less naps would equal more sleeping at night because they will be more tired, it does not work that way. Naps are important for babies and as I’ve noticed with my son, the better he naps during the day, the better he actually sleeps at night.

4.  Rolling

This is a big one with babies who are used to being swaddled. Four months is around the age when a lot of babies begin to roll. Because of this, most doctors and professionals recommend you stop swaddling to avoid the suffocation hazard of your baby rolling and not being able to move their arms to keep their face out of the mattress. Babies who are used to being swaddled every night can have a tough time with this change. Using a sleep sack can sometimes be a big help with this. They give the baby some comfort and warmth like swaddling offers, without the fear of suffocation.

We got lucky (in my opinion) in this aspect, as our son hated being swaddled from about one month on. He still slept well without being swaddled, so it was not a problem. He did, however, start rolling onto his side and belly when sleeping. While this kind of freaked me out at first because of the controversy about babies having to sleep on their backs. Upon talking to his doctor, she told me that there wasn’t much that could be done about it and that as long as he could roll and lift his head easily, that he would be fine.

Need help establishing a routine or need ideas to tweak your current routine? Check out my post on how I got my baby to sleep through the night by 6 weeks! This post highlights ways to get your baby to sleep better and how to establish a routine. Even if you have an older baby, some of the tips on this page can help give you ideas that you hadn’t thought of in terms of helping your infant sleep. Check it out HERE!

No matter what the reason is for your baby’s sleep change, just hang in there! I was so lucky that it was an easy change for my baby before I got him to sleep through the night again. For some, it may take longer and be a bit more “trial and error.” I would love to hear stories from you about how you got you battled the dreaded sleep regression! Or even just stories about you and your baby! Comment below!


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