Updated: Sep 22, 2021
The story usually goes like this, you've survived the sleep deprived newborn haze and baby is beginning to sleep longer stretches at night and napping relatively well during the day. Some even see a routine forming and your days become that little bit easier now you're all experiencing more sleep within your household. Life is good...
Then the 4 month regression comes into play...
The 4 month regression is actually your baby progressing into adult like sleep cycles, which will benefit you all in the long run. Newborn babies only cycle between active and non active sleep (2 cycles) in those early months.
Our internal master clock (controlling our circadian rhythm) is located within a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. Prior to 4 months, the hypothalamus is not connected to any other parts of the brain controlling sleep and wake times.
When the 4 month regression arrives, which can be anywhere from 3.5 months - 5 months, the majority of babies will experience multiple wakes during the night & shorter naps as they transition to matured sleep cycles.
We all wake at night in between sleep cycles, we're just not aware we've woken up as we get ourselves back to sleep instantly. As I always say, every baby is different; one baby may sail through this regression (progression) in a few nights while another may have disturbed sleep for a few weeks.
Here are my top tips for getting through the 4 month regression:
Remain consistent and try stick to your previous routines / parental responses as much as possible
Caffeine can be your best friend
This time is also a great opportunity to settle your baby in different ways; for example if they were previously rocked to sleep try changing the rock to a sway to reduce movement needed to fall asleep
Ensure baby is falling asleep within the same environment you want baby to sleep to remove any chance of waking once placed down e.g If you want baby to nap in your bedroom in their crib ensure this is where baby falls asleep
Do not introduce additional feeds during the night to try get baby back to sleep. After a few nights of extra night feeds suddenly baby will have a new routine of multiple night feeds again
If baby is awake and content in their sleep space leave them be
Try get some help from family or friends to catch up on your own lack of sleep during the day
This is a very tricky for everyone and it's totally normal to have these restless nights, please don't feel like you're doing anything wrong. Every baby will go through the 4 month regression.
Lots of love,