What is the 4 month sleep regression? To start, I like to call it a progression instead of a regression because when your baby is going through this "sleep regression", it means your baby's sleep cycles are maturing properly and your baby is developing appropriately. Here's the info: The Science: Once babies hit 3-4 months of age, their sleep cycles move from newborn sleep cycles into adult-like sleep cycles. At the end of each of these "new sleep cycles", there is a mini "wake-up”. If your baby knows how to put themselves back to sleep after that mini "wake-up” then merging sleep cycles may be seamless and a "sleep regression" may never happen. If your baby does not know how to put themselves back to sleep independently, these "new sleep cycles" can cause some sleep disturbances. The Regression: Aside from your baby's sleep cycles maturing and possibly affecting their sleep, at around 4 months, babies become much more social and aware of their surroundings. Sleep doesn’t seem as fun as everything else going on outside the crib, which may cause your baby to protest sleep. The Solutions: If your baby has developed the skills to fall asleep independently beforehand, then you may never deal with a 4 month regression, but if you do run into a sleep regression, here are a few things you can do: 1. Drowsy but Awake — Practice putting your baby in the crib when they are drowsy, but still awake so they are aware of their surroundings and learn the skills to fall asleep independently. 2. Daytime Feedings — At this age, babies tend to get distracted easily while feeding. If this happens, move feedings to a quiet and less stimulating environment to make sure your baby is feeding well during the day instead of needing the calories at overnight. 3. Take a Pause — If your baby starts crying during sleep, give them a few seconds to resettle before intervening. They may surprise you and fall right back to sleep without your help! 4. Practice The 4 C's — Keep this in the back of your mind when dealing with sleep struggles: Calm (regulate yourself so your baby can too) Confident (trust yourself and the process) Connected (fill up your baby's connection and love cup during the day) Consistent (predictability and repetition are key)
During the first 8 weeks, sleep tends to be unorganized and day/night confusion is normal. This time is all about recovery, bonding, and feeding. Do what feels right, rest, and enjoy. Here are 5 tips to help you and your baby get some sleep during these early weeks!
Swaddle: The Moro reflex can cause your baby to startle and wake themselves up. When a baby’s arms are swaddled in a womb-like manner, they feel safe and secure. A swaddle should fit snug around the shoulders and loose on the hips. I recommend secure swaddle with velcro or zippers instead of a loose blanket.
Wake Them Up! Waking a sleeping baby feels so counterintuitive, but at times, newborns should be woken up to feed during the day. You do not want your baby to go more than 2-3 hours without a daytime feed. Why? Not only do they need it, but babies know how many calories they need in a 24-hour period. If they don’t take these calories in during the day, they will end up taking them at night.
Important Note: Your pediatrician may recommend you wake up your baby for night time feeds until your baby reaches a certain weight and is growing properly. Please follow your pediatrician’s recommendations.
Encourage Proper Feedings: It is important to encourage a proper feeding during each feed. Try to feed your baby when they wake up instead of when your baby is already sleepy. Your baby will be more alert and in turn will have a better feed. If feeding and sleeping are too close together, your baby may be getting tired and will have a harder time feeding well. Doing skin to skin while feeding is also recommended so your baby is alert and able to feed properly.
Day/Night Confusion: Why are some babies sleepy during the day and active at night? While your baby was in utero, your daily activities (walking, exercising, and moving) rocked your baby to sleep, while your resting period (overnight), caused your baby to stay awake. Once your baby is born, it is possible that their schedule is still reversed. To help correct this confusion, you want to: 1. Expose your baby to lots of light during the day (natural light, if possible). 2. Minimize interaction with your baby at night and keep things boring. 3. Keep the lights dim or off and use a red/orange tone night light or lamp for all feedings and diapers changes. Blue/white light is very stimulating and can prevent your baby from easily falling asleep.
Practice the 5 S's When your baby gets fussy, try Harvey Karp’s 5 S’s to help soothe and relax your baby. 1. Swaddle, 2. Side or Stomach Position, 3. Shush, 4. Swing, 5. Suck. This can be done while you are standing and holding your baby in your arms or in the crib/bassinet (omitting the Side/Stomach and using your hand on their chest for motion instead of Swing). Click here to read more about the 5 S's.
And please feel free to share with a friend!
Child Sleep Consultant
When your baby gets fussy, try The 5 S’s by Dr. Harvey Karp to help soothe and relax your baby. This should be done while you are standing and holding your baby in your arms. You can try this in the crib/bassinet (omitting the Side/Stomach and using your hand on their chest for motion instead of Swing).
1. Swaddle, 2. Side or Stomach Position, 3. Shush, 4. Swing, 5. Suck
If you decide to practice this in the crib/bassinet, you will inset the pacifier (if your baby will accept it), make a shushing noise or use a white noise sound machine, then place your hand on your baby’s chest and gently rock your baby from side to side.
Important Note: When I say you can “practice” this in the crib/bassinet, I am saying “practice” because this is the long term goal. You want your baby to be able to fall asleep in the crib/bassinet in the next few weeks.
Child Sleep Consultant