Just when you think you’ve nailed it as a parent, the 16th week rolls around and everything changes. Welcome to the world of the 4 month sleep regression.
This change can come as a brutal shock to some mums and dad, who may be rejoicing that their bubs are finally sleeping longer than usual. We’re happy to tell you though, that with most things ‘it’s all a phase’ and the 4 month sleep regression does not last forever.
We’ve put together a guide about all you need to know about the 4 month sleep regression.
What is the 4 month sleep regression?
Sleep regression, in general terms, is basically a disruption in sleep patterns. This can really happen at anytime and when adults get this, we call in insomnia.
The 4 month sleep regression hits when your baby is around three or four months ago, and then recurs every few months after this.
The 4 month one is probably the hardest one as you don’t know what to expect. The subsequent ones don’t seem as hectic as you’ve already been this before.
How do I know if my baby is going through the 4 month sleep regression?
Is your baby a bit more fussy than usual? Are they refusing to nap during the day or waking up a lot at night? Does it take them ages to settle them down to sleep? Have they had a change in their appetite?
If the answer to some or all of these questions is YES, then you’re probably right in the thick of the 4 month sleep regression.
What Causes the 4 Month Sleep Regression?
It’s common for parents to attribute the causes of sleep changes to teething or illness. But the main reason is simply due to growth.
In the first few months, babies sleep most of the day. This is often called the fourth trimester, during which the bubs are recovering from being born. However, when this period is over, babies start to sleep lighter. They also become more alert and start to become increasingly aware of the environment they are living in. This stimulates their brains and they start to dream.
The more active and curious the baby becomes, the more they become distracted in slumber.
What are the main signs of the 4 Month Sleep Regression?
There are a number of ‘symptoms’ that may indicate that your baby is going through the 4 month sleep regression. Your baby may show only one or two of these or many – it very much depends on the baby.
Waking More Frequently During The Night
Babies at this age generally wake during the night for feeds, nappy changes or simply a cuddle. But if your baby is waking up more often than usual or is having trouble settling back to sleep, they’re most likely have hit the 4 month sleep regression.
More Fussy and Moany
It’s absolutely normal for babies to be fussy – it’s really the only way they can express themselves. However, if they tend to become more fussy for no apparent reason, they could be going through sleep regression. Also, if your usual methods of comforting your bub isn’t working, this is also a sign that they’re struggling with sleep.
Change in Appetite
Some babies start solid food around the four month mark but those that are still exclusively on breast milk or formula may display signs such as refusing to drink, increase in appetite or difficulty in latching, which could indicate the 4 month sleep regression is happening.
Sleeping Lightly and Restlessly
When your baby does finally fall asleep, you may notice that they are quite restless and shift around alot or wake up easily if there is noise or disruption.
What Can you Expect During the four month sleep regression?
The harshest side-effect of this period is the lack of sleep for both the parents and the little one. Not getting enough sleep with make both you and your baby moody, impatient and emotional. Try and find time to nap when you can and go to bed at night as early as you can.
Your baby will most likely be more clingy during this time so expect to be holding baby for longer time periods, lost of cuddling, rocking and reassuring. It’s hard work but it’s also bonding.
Will My baby definitely go through the 4 month sleep regression?
No, all babies are different. Some babies are amazing sleepers and do not go through any disruptions in sleep. While others go through a number of sleep regressions during their young life.
How Do I Survive Sleep Regression?
Go To Bed Early
This is really a no-brainer. Try and start the bedtime process earlier with baby as to may take longer to get to bed. Stick to an ‘unwinding’ routine that works for you – bath, massage, book and bed. Then you should try and get to bed early yourself as every minute of sleep is precious, while baby is not sleeping well.
Feed More Often
During this period, feed as often baby wants. This may be the only thing that works that gets baby to sleep. Use this if you have to, but keep in mind that eventually, you will probably need to break the habit if this is causing your baby to wake up.
Also, let your baby drink / eat as much as they want, so they are absolutely satisfied. Remember, they are growing and they need their food to fuel this rapid growth.
Lots of Comforting
It can be difficult while you’re feeling tired, but try and give you baby as many snuggles as you can. Hold them, sing to them, chat to them and simply give them lots of cuddles. Even if they’re crying and don’t appear to soothe, don’t give up. Your baby needs your reassurance, even if they don’t even know it yet.
Don’t be shy to ask for help if the lack of sleep is getting to you and your baby. Chat to your family doctor, friends, the community nurse or a specialised sleep consultant.
Just remember, the 4 month sleep regression doesn’t last forever, so just bunker down, enjoy the closeness with your baby and you’ll get through it!
Did your baby go through sleep regression? What are your survivor tips? Tell us in the comments below.