The 4 Month Sleep Regression – What, Why & How

Sleep Regression

What is the “4 Month Sleep Regression?”

The first thing to understand about the “4 Month Sleep Regression” is that it’s not actually a regression at all. In fact, it’s a very positive step forward and marks a major developmental milestone. As your baby’s brain matures, so does your little one’s sleep cycles, and they develop into cycles much closer to adults.

However, you might not be jumping for joy as this change often causes more frequent night waking and shorter daytime naps too. This period of change can last anywhere from a few days to six weeks.

Why does this happen?

Well, previously your little one has been moving in and out of light sleep stages, never fully entering into the very deep stage of sleep like adults do. Now, as your little ones sleep patterns mature, he is able to go into this final sleep stage. Unfortunately for you, this can often cause more nightly wake ups as the transition from their more familiar light sleep into this last stage of deep sleep can be tricky. You might find that your child, who has happily slept for long periods, is now waking up very frequently and needing your help in order to get back off to sleep.

How do I cope?

If your little one was previously falling asleep well on their own in their cot, then avoid getting into any new habits such as rocking, feeding and bouncing your little one back to sleep. However, you can stay with your little one while they fall asleep and support them through this period with love and reassurance.

If your little one has been reliant on dependent sleep associations such as rocking, feeding etc to fall asleep, this is a prime opportunity to start the process of teaching your little one to self-settle – to fall asleep in their cot on their own. Whilst these dependant sleep associations might not have caused any disturbed nights before, now that your child’s sleep cycles have changed, this is likely to impact on their sleep in the long term.  A child who falls asleep independently in their cot at bedtime is much less likely to wake up frequently during the night than a child who falls asleep on a parent and is then transferred.

Take your time with this, go gently and know that you do not need to leave your child alone to cry to make a positive change to their sleep.

Finally, take any help that’s offered and get some sleep during the day if you can. Putting in the time and effort now will really pay off.

For further advice or support with sleep training please get in touch vikki@allaboutbabies.org.uk or click here to have a look at our sleep support packages and workshops.