Updated at: 02-03-2022 - By: Jane Brody

You’re not imagining it, and it’s evident that you aren’t dreaming. Even at 4 months, infants might suffer from sleep regression. In addition, it’s absolutely typical as well as temporary.

You may notice that your baby’s sleep patterns change at this period, and they wake up frequently and have a difficult time falling back to sleep. If your infant is awake, then you should be, too.

The good news is that if your infant is going through a sleep regression, it could be a sign that they are growing or developing their brain.

New talents and abilities are continually being learned by your baby’s developing brain as it adjusts to his or her new environment. During this stage, your baby may be working hard on mastering the art of rolling over or sitting on their own for the first time.

Baby’s sleep patterns may reflect the stress and frustration they’re experiencing as they adjust to their new environment.

The first sleep regression usually occurs at the age of four months, but there may be more in the future. The 4-month sleep regression is often the most difficult for parents because it’s the first time they’ve experienced it.

In general, sleep regressions last between two and four weeks, although not every infant may have one at the same time.

Babies’ sleep patterns begin to develop about 3-4 months of age. As opposed to continuing to sleep as a baby, their sleep patterns now include additional cycles of light and deep sleep.

How long does the 4-month sleep regression last in babies?

Babies have sleep regressions in varying degrees, and it may take some time for some of them to return to their normal sleeping patterns.

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However, they do come to an end. Provided you stay consistent with your baby’s bedtime routine and take steps to avoid forming any potentially bad habits (more on that below), the 4-month sleep regression should end on its own in about two weeks or less.

A physiologic change in the way a kid sleeps, rather than a regression caused by a transitory situation, is the source of alterations in sleep at this period. You may be waking more frequently because your baby is growing and developing, not because they are aging.

In spite of this first major growth spurt, don’t send them off to college just yet. You may notice a so-called “regression” in sleep patterns if your infant begins to awaken more frequently in the middle of the night and requires assistance in getting back to sleep.

The production of melatonin, which regulates our sleep-wake cycle, begins around this age. At this age, circadian rhythm (our internal “body clock” that helps manage sleep) begins to play a more prominent role in regulating sleep. The phases and cycles of sleep in babies come to resemble those of adults as they develop.

Following each cycle of light and deep sleep, a baby will be awake for a short while. There are some drawbacks to this period of awake, but it is actually a built-in safety system that allows the body to check in on its surroundings, making sure everything is safe and sound throughout the night. We’ll talk more about that in a second!

Please take note that we use the child’s adjusted age for sleep development when considering children who were born prematurely. It’s very common for a premature infant to experience the 4 month sleep regression indicators later than other babies.

Those little periods of time spent awake might cause a lot of problems with sleep, which can result in the dreaded 4-month regression period.

In most cases, your baby will fall asleep in your arms or a swing/bouncy seat before being transferred to a cot. This leads them to completely awaken later when they wake up in between sleep cycles when their surroundings alter from how they went to sleep (rather than fall back to sleep on their own and shift onto the next sleep cycle).

When they’ve woken up, they often ask for your assistance in getting back to sleep. If they haven’t become used to going asleep on their own, another snuggle is preferable to forcing them to do so. If this occurs periodically during the night, it can be exceedingly disruptive to the sleep of a family.

When you go to sleep, your pillow is there, but when you wake up in the middle of the night, it’s gone. You might not be able to get back to sleep without that pillow. The only way to get back to sleep was to roll over and put your pillow under your head.

Signs your baby is going through the 4-month-sleep regression

When it comes to sleep regressions, “you’ll know it when you see it,” as the saying goes. All of a sudden, your infant is sound asleep. In a split second, she’s gone.

Most babies are able to sleep through the night for five hours without waking up by the time they are three or four months old. Some people may even sleep for up to eight hours per night. Whatever the case may be, your child’s nighttime awakenings are generally following a very regular pattern.

I don’t think that a few nights of irregular waking times are enough to be considered a downturn. Babies, like everyone else, have bad nights of sleep every now and then.

You may be experiencing the 4-month regression if you see these signs:

  • For whatever reason, your infant is waking up more frequently than usual, especially if there is no evident cause for concern, such as illness or travel.
  • You’ve noticed that your baby is working on a new ability, like rolling over, during the daytime.
  • There has been a noticeable increase in the amount of time your infant spends observing her surroundings. It’s possible that she’s more easily distracted while eating or that she has a hard time falling asleep in a different location than her crib.

10 Tips for managing the 4-month sleep regression in your baby

Sleep regressions are a normal part of the aging process, and they will pass. The rapid growth of your child’s body and mind is likely to cause them to be frustrated. As a result, they’ve become more engaged and aware of their surroundings, as well as you.

Make sure your infant isn’t unwell before trying any of the options below. An illness can also make it difficult for them to sleep. If your baby has a fever or is a lot more fussy than usual, see a doctor.

Give your baby time to practice during the day

Trying to learn new abilities at night may keep your baby up, but he or she is working hard to perfect them.

Giving your child uninterrupted time to practice rolling over or sitting up during the day may help you cut down on bedtime skill practice.

Fully feed your baby during the day

You can prevent your baby from waking up in the middle of the night by giving him or her a full feeding throughout the day and right before bed.

A baby’s curiosity about the world around them can cause them to stop eating before they’ve had enough. Feeding your infant in a setting less likely to pique their interest will help reduce the likelihood of him being distracted.

If your kid wakes up in the middle of the night crying, don’t give in to the need to feed them. As a result of being fed at night to soothe a crying infant, they may develop a habit of waking up expecting the same thing.

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Introduce ‘drowsy but awake’

Make it easier for your infant to fall asleep. As they close their eyes and go off to sleep, sit by their side and offer them physical and verbal reassurance.

The crying may not stop, so if your coaching is ineffective, you may choose to take them up and hold or rock the child to sleep. Sleep training for babies takes time, so don’t worry if yours hasn’t begun.

Keep the room dark

Keep the room as dark as possible while putting your baby down for a nap in order to promote healthier sleep. While it may be tempting for your infant to wake up early, the darkness will help them fall back to sleep.

Similarly, when it’s time to wake up in the morning, make sure the room has plenty of windows that let in natural light. The body’s circadian rhythm is regulated by light.

Establish a bedtime routine

This age, babies require about 10 to 12 hours of sleep every night, as well as a few naps during the day, to thrive. As soon as possible, you should begin to regulate your baby’s sleep and nap schedules.

Establish a bedtime regimen and stick to it if you haven’t previously. A bath, changing into pajamas, reading a bedtime story, or singing a lullaby are all examples of activities that could be included in this routine.

As long as you stick to the same strategy, you can do whatever you want. Also, if your kid is sleeping longer than usual in the morning, it’s fine to wake them up at the same time each day.

Adjust your own routine

Take into account the nap and sleep schedules of your infant while adjusting your everyday routines. A regular routine for mealtimes and playtimes is also recommended. Plan your day around your baby’s needs.

Make it quick

In the middle of the night, if your baby wakes up, wait a few minutes before getting out of bed to check on them. It’s time to reply if they keep crying.

However, try to keep these nightly awakenings for diaper changes and feedings as fast and quiet as you can. ‘ As a result, there should be no talking or playing, and the lights should be kept low.

Keep screens off your mobile devices and PCs to avoid overstimulating your youngster.

Remind your child that nighttime is for sleeping by keeping things low-key and quiet when you interact with him or her.

Pay attention to sleep cues and act quickly

The basic indicators of a drowsy baby include yawning, rubbing their eyes, fussing, and a general lack of interest. Get your infant to a quiet place to rest as soon as you discover them.

The sooner you respond to these symptoms, the better your chances of getting them to sleep rather than trying to soothe an overtired infant.

Stick with the program

As your child undergoes a slew of changes, he or she may experience discomfort. As your child adjusts, continue to use the same calming strategies you have used in the past.

To put your child to sleep, you might breastfeed them or rock them to sleep. Even while you’ll have to gradually wean them away from these sleep habits in the future, they’ll keep your infant happy in the now.

Other ways to calm your infant include softly whispering to him or her and offering him or her a pacifier to suck on.

Go with the flow

The swing, the car, the stroller, and the bassinet are all good places for your baby to get some shut-eye during the day. But keep in mind that what works today may not work tomorrow, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

Offer extra love and affection

Your baby will feel loved and safe if you give him or her lots of hugs, cuddles, and kisses. As kids grow and mature, it will mean a great deal to them.

Turn to family and friends

You and your baby both require adequate sleep. If you need an extra hour (or two or three!) of sleep, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of your loved ones to keep an eye on and entertain your child.

When to call the doctor

An isolated run of rock nights isn’t normally the reason for alarm. However, if your child is getting up frequently at night, you should talk to the pediatrician.

  • Your kid isn’t eating as much during the day as he or she used to.
  • It’s been over a day since your baby has had more than three bowel movements and less than four damp diapers.
  • Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that your kid is gaining any weight at this time.

Even while the 4-month sleep regression isn’t pleasant, it’s a very typical part of being a new parent. The most important thing is to keep your infant as close to her normal sleep schedule as possible (and maybe sneak in a nap yourself). You and your partner should be able to resume a more regular sleep schedule within a few weeks.

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Takeaway

For the duration of the sleep regression, there will be an end. Even if you do everything you can, your infant may not be able to sleep through the night. Be as constant as you can with your infant and get as much sleep as you can during this period.

4 month sleep regression FAQ

Q: Do all babies have a sleep regression at 4 months?

A:

No. At 3 months, some babies have trouble sleeping, while others don’t have any problems.

Q: Does the 4 month sleep regression pass?

A:

Yes! As soon as a baby can fall asleep on their own, they begin to sleep longer at night.

Q: Why is my 4 month old baby not sleeping?

A:

Between the ages of three and four months, a baby’s sleep cycle matures, resulting in more night wakings and shorter naps. When a baby relies on parental assistance to fall asleep and/or is overtired at bedtime, this is especially true.

Q: How can I prepare for the 4 month sleep regression?

A:

Start teaching your infant how to fall asleep on their own by allowing them to enter their sleep area while they’re sleepy but not yet asleep. It’s more probable that a baby will continue to sleep well if they get adequate sleep during the day and are able to do so on their own.

Q: Is the 4 month sleep regression a myth?

A:

We hope so! Baby’s caregivers are often taken by surprise when their infants start sleeping for 5-8 hour stretches at night around 3 months of age.

Q: Do all babies experience a sleep regression at 4 months?

A:

They don’t, in fact. The maturation of the circadian rhythm, which is responsible for children sleeping in stages and cycles, occurs in all babies (similar to an adult). There is a chance that not all newborns will be affected by this.

Q: Does swaddling help with the 4-month-old sleep regression?

A:

When a baby is able to roll on their own, or has developed the ability to sleep on their own, we recommend that they stop being swaddled. It’s important to teach your baby how to fall asleep on their own in order to fight the 4-month regression, thus we don’t advocate swaddling your baby at this time.

Q: My 4 month old baby won’t sleep unless held. What should I do?

A:

When a baby wants to sleep, he or she is likely to want to be held. However, we certainly sympathize with the exhaustion that comes with it! At the very least, we recommend that you give your infant a chance to sleep in the crib at least once a day. In their own bed, this will help them get used to resting on their backs in the same position. At this point, it’s fine if they only take a short nap; you may keep them up for the next nap (which will hopefully be a long one) and attempt the method again the next day. They’ll be able to sleep for greater periods on their own with practice and time.

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