4 month sleep

The 4 Month Sleep Regression

4 month sleep regression help by Dr Sarah Mitchell

The 4 Month Sleep Regression has signs and symptoms that are real and wreaking havoc on happy homes all over the country and causing babies to wake up more frequently at night.

In my practice, I see the 4 Month Sleep Regression occurring anytime between 3.5 and 4.5 months of age. 

When it hits, the days of “sleeping like a baby” have passed.

You may have been fortunate enough to get a 6 -8 hour stretch of sleep sometime before the 4 month sleep regression. 

It was such a tease, as those stretches may now have passed and your child wakes up more frequently at night. 

It is sooo hard to feel like you are moving backwards. 

The Signs Of The 4 Month Sleep Regression 

  1. Increased night time wake ups
    • Usually, every 3 hours as your child surfaces from one 3 hour sleep cycle at night and looks for you.
  2. Short naps of 30-45 minutes
    • A 45 minute nap here is normal and nothing to worry about. 
      • However, if you are only getting 30 minute naps with some 45 minute naps in the mix, your child will have a hard time meeting the 3-4 hours of daily naps that she needs to be well rested and this tips you into being overtired.
      • When a child is overtired she will have these signs:
        • Trouble falling asleep
        • Trouble staying asleep
          • Waking up 20 minutes into a nap 
          • Waking up frequently at night
        • General fussiness during the day

The Reasons Behind Sleep Regression:

1. Increased Awareness and Attention

  • Your loved one is becoming more and more aware of her environment and where YOU are
    • From the book The Wonder Weeks,  your child starts to understand “The world is made up of objects that continue to exist, whether or not we can completely see them at the time.” This is the concept of “object permanence.” the idea that you exist even if she can’t see you, so she cries out to see you more often to test that concept. 

2. Consolidated Night Sleep

  •  Your loved one will start to develop a regular wake up time
    • Usually sometime between 6 and 7 am, where previously it could have been between 7 – 9 am
    • In addition, your bedtime is likely getting closer to 7 pm, and the witching hour should have passed

3. Naps transition from 4 to 3

  • Between 4 – 5 months, your child may start to move from 4 naps down to 3 naps
  • Bedtime becomes earlier  

What you can do about it?

Now you understand why the 4 month sleep regression is happening. So You probably want to know what you can do about it! 

With any developmental leap, you will always offer more attention and more reassurance. 

You need to help your child through this leap by continuing to respond to her calls to help her establish the concept of object permanence.  This might be for 2 weeks.

Then you’ll have to figure out what’s working for you and what’s not with respect to your child’s sleep.

The challenge with this regression is that it doesn’t really go away.  This can tend to become the new norm.

Your child will likely continue to wake every 3 hours if she’s got a sleep crutch helping her fall asleep at bedtime. 

A sleep crutch is something external helping her relax into a drowsy state at bedtime. Such as nursing, bottle feeding, being rocked, when she surfaces from a nighttime sleep cycle, she’ll cry out for the same thing that helped her fall asleep.

You can go with these night wakings for some time.  At some point,  you may decide that the frequent night wakings are taking their toll on your family and that the fractured nighttime sleep is leaving her tired in the morning. 

At this point, it is time to do some “sleep training” where you remove the sleep crutch so she develops some self-soothing skills where she can relax herself to sleep from being completely awake in the crib at bedtime, and then consequently when she wakes up through the night. 

You can read more about different sleep training techniques here.

If you are not ready to sleep train yet, don’t fret!  There are small things you can do.

One of the most effective ways to set your baby up for sleep success is by focusing on SLEEP TIMING. 

In my sleep summary by age, I’ve mapped out how long your baby can comfortably stay awake for at 4 months all the way to 14 months. 

My cheat sheet will tell you how many naps she needs by month. It will include “awake time”, and how many hours of sleep she needs in 24 hours. 

Bay Area Sleep Consultant

You can download my sleep summary by age chart here.

Check out my YouTube video where I discuss this topic in person! 

If you want to learn everything you need to know about helping your baby to sleep from 4 months to 24 months. You need to check out my online class and community. You can learn on your own time via video and then connect with me for a 1:1 phone call. 

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Online Sleep Class

for ages 4-24 months
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So, If you need any help regarding 4 month sleep regression, make sure to comment below. I would love to reply.

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