It’s a war on sleep
Everything has been quiet in your household at night for some time now. Your newborn seems to be settling into a more convenient routine. Sometimes even sleeps through the night without waking mom and/or dad.
And then, just when you think all is well, the lights spring on in your bedroom again because there’s a tiny little baby howl letting you know it’s time for food or swaddling. Welcome to the 4-month sleep regression.
It’s not going to be a pleasant time for you. But it will be one more thing that you survive together with your baby. The 4 months sleep regression is just like other sleep regression stages in that it’s a developmental change your baby is going through because their sleep cycles are changing.
They enter into a deep sleep and exit out of it; only babies don’t yet know how to fall back asleep peacefully as we do.
So when their little eyes spring open from sleep the first time, they immediately go back to what they know, and what they know is how to wake you up and let you know it’s time to comfort them.
Going back to an earlier sleep pattern can really cause havoc in your family as you wonder what you did to deserve this 4 month sleep regression. You didn’t do anything to deserve it.
Like all other developmental patterns in your child’s life, it’s a positive change that will sometimes exhibit some undesirable outward outcome for you. In this case, it’s the outcome of your baby waking up sometimes as much as every 2 hours, and that’s even more than they wake up usually as a newborn.
It’s a household shock to all, but it has to happen. If you’re feeling helpless about the 4-month sleep regression, settle in for some quick tips that will probably give you some much-needed relief.
What’s going on
4 month sleep regression is the first of the sleep regressions. Just when things seem all clear at bedtime, the babies begin waking up and having difficulty getting back to sleep. There’s no way to prevent this. It’s a natural process in a baby’s life.
Discouraged parents won’t have to endure this sleep regression forever, and soon things will even out again, only to hit the 8 and 10 months sleep regression stage. There can even be a regression stage at 18 months.
Your primary objective is to find a way to endure the regression with the most confidence and sanity that you can. If you’re worn out, no one blames you. It’s tough. To help yourself and your baby during the 4-month sleep regression, try the following things:
- Baby needs to learn to have some independence. Even if he or she has been sharing your room, it might be time to let them sleep in their own room
- A white noise machine can be very soothing for your baby, and whatever is soothing for your baby will be soothing for you during the night
- Your baby may be better off going to bed when they’re sleepy but not asleep
- Sometimes an earlier bedtime will be of help during the 4-month sleep regression
- If your baby responded to swaddling as a newborn, now might be the time to try swaddling again
You need help too
During this difficult time, your baby isn’t the only person who needs a massive amount of soothing and help. You need a break, too!
Getting good sleep while your baby is in the 4-month sleep regression stage can be a challenge, but it’s not going to be impossible (all the time).
There will be those hectic nights when it seems like your little one will never go back to sleep. At that point, all you can do is put on your mom or dad’s face and work through it as best as you can. Try some deep breaths. You’re going to be okay.
Tips to help yourself get more sleep during the 4-month-old regression stage
- Experiment with sleep times that are more compatible with your schedule. They’re going to need naps and bedtimes, of course. In some cases, you might need to get some quick sleep yourself, so if your baby is open to a snooze, you might be able to nab one, too.
- You need everyone in your life who can help you to know what’s happening so that they can provide support during this time, whether it’s getting up with the baby while you sleep or simply listening to you fuss over a cup of coffee. Pamper yourself during those times when you’re able to get help from partners, friends, and family.
- Set up a soothing bedtime routine for you and your little one. This isn’t just going to relax them but will give you the chance to wind down, too. Pick something soothing like reading to them – yes, you can read to a 4-month-old – and relaxing yourself with a light snack or something that will help you feel secure, too. The more secure you are, the more secure your baby will be. That’s because you’re the boss here.
- Cheer yourself up with thoughts of the peaceful night’s sleep you’ll get in the future. Experts believe that when a child can roll both ways in the crib, it will be a better night for everyone in the house. This ability gives them another tool in their toolbox and makes falling asleep easier for them. Up until now, you’re the source that helps them get to sleep. You provide all the comfort. In the future, they’ll be able to comfort themselves and get themselves back to sleep without your help. Focus on that happy future! 5. If you haven’t heard of it, sleep coaching can sometimes provide relief for some parents. This won’t work for every parent. Some parents will want to skip this altogether. If you want to try it, though, you can find great guidance out there to help you through the process so that it is a success. It’s basically a set of tactics that will help you get your child to sleep. More sleep for your baby means more sleep for you!
Trial and error leads to success
Getting tips for a 4-month sleep regression is a good idea. Ask people in your real life, too, how they conquered this difficult time. As a parent, though, your intuition can play a vital part in helping you through this natural process with your baby.
Your baby will very likely go through sleep regression stages in the future. So, getting creative with your solutions may help out in the future even if it doesn’t help in the 4 months sleep regression stage.
Parents who are panicking that this is a sign of a problem will be pleased to know that it’s not preventable and is just something that happens due to your baby’s naturally evolving sleep cycles.
Babies are getting into deep sleep now, but they’re not great at putting themselves back to sleep. So when they wake up in the middle of the night, they need your reassurance to get back to sleep.
Over time, that ability will naturally come to them, but for now, it’s your job to take care of. If the 4-month sleep regression becomes too much for you to cope with, reach out for help from your pediatrician to make sure that nothing else is going on.
They’re also wizards at letting you know everything is proceeding as normal, and you don’t have to worry about anything being off-kilter right now.
They might also have some terrific suggestions for how to endure this very difficult time. 4-month sleep regression will inevitably disrupt sleep in the household for a while.
If you have other young children, the baby may be waking them up and making life very hard. It’s your commanding and soothing ability to steer the ship that will keep everything above water and everyone in their right mind during this trying time.