The 4 month sleep regression is a phase of that lots of parents dread. Like all moms, I suffered from sleep deprivation too, and especially with my first born. Three babies and more than 20 years as an Occupational Therapist specialising in fussy babies with sleep and feeding problems, I can assure you that this too will pass! In the meantime, here are answers to your most frequently asked questions about the 4 month sleep regression (also known as the 17 week sleep regression!)
I always tell parents that one of the most exciting but also challenging milestones is when your baby reaches the age of 4 months. Just as your baby starts to develop their own personalities, get more interactive, and reach more and more new developmental milestones – sleep regression hits and it can feel like 10 steps back. Here are some insights into why it happens and how to manage the 4 month sleep regression:
What is the 4 month sleep regression?
The 4 month sleep regression is a phase that many babies go through where their sleep patterns suddenly change. Before this stage, babies typically sleep for longer stretches at night and nap more frequently during the day. However, during the 4 month sleep regression, many babies experience disrupted sleep, shorter naps, and more frequent wake-ups throughout the night.
What causes the 4 month sleep regression?
The 4 month sleep regression is a result of your baby’s brain and body developing rapidly. At this stage, your baby’s sleep patterns start to resemble those of an adult more closely, with more distinct periods of deep and light sleep.
Additionally, around 4 months of age, babies often experience a growth spurt, which can also affect their sleep patterns. During a growth spurt, your baby may be hungrier than usual and need to feed more frequently. This can lead to more night-time wake-ups and shorter naps during the day.
What does the 4 month sleep regression affect?
The 4-month sleep regression can affect many aspects of a baby’s sleep patterns and routines. Some of the common changes that parents may notice during this time include:
- Difficulty falling asleep: Babies who previously fell asleep easily may suddenly have trouble settling down and may require more help getting to sleep.
- Increased nighttime waking: Babies may wake up more frequently at night and have difficulty going back to sleep without assistance.
- Shorter naps: Babies may have trouble staying asleep for long stretches during the day and may wake up from naps more frequently.
- More restlessness during sleep: Babies may toss and turn more during sleep, which can lead to more waking and shorter sleep cycles.
How long does the 4 month sleep regression last?
The duration of the 4-month sleep regression varies from baby to baby. Some babies may experience it for just a few days, while others may experience it for several weeks or even a few months. It’s important to remember that this is a temporary phase. Your baby’s sleep patterns will eventually return to normal.
How to manage the 4 month sleep regression
While the 4 month sleep regression can be a challenging time for both you and your baby, there are several things you can do to help manage it:
- Stick to a consistent bedtime routine. A consistent bedtime routine can help signal to your baby that it’s time to sleep. This might include a bath, a story, and some quiet time before bed.
- Establish healthy sleep associations. Encourage your baby to fall asleep on their own, without relying on nursing, rocking, or other sleep associations. This can help them learn to self-soothe and fall back asleep on their own when they wake up during the night.
- Practice safe sleep habits. Make sure your baby is sleeping in a safe environment, with no loose bedding or other hazards in their sleep space. This can help ensure they sleep soundly and safely.
- Be patient and flexible. This is a normal part of your baby’s development, and it will pass with time. Be patient and flexible, and don’t worry too much if your baby’s sleep patterns change for a while.
Remember that this is a common stage that many babies go through as they develop and grow. You are not alone! There are millions of new parents out there just like you who are desperate for sleep and doing their best. It can be challenging for both you and your baby, but with patience, consistency, and a little flexibility, you’ll both make it through this phase and on to the next exciting stage of your baby’s development.
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