What is 4 Month Sleep Regression?

The 3- to 4-month sleep regression confounds and frustrates so many parents. With these tips, you do not have to be one of them!

There is a point in every parent’s journey when your little baby starts to sleep better. And you are so relieved and so happy. But you do not want to be too quick to congratulate yourself… some sleep challenges lurk ahead in the not-so-distant future:

  • Your baby will start to roll over. When that happens, you have to stop swaddling, which may mean your baby cries and awakens more often.
  • He will have a growth spurt. And man, will he be hungry!
  • She will begin early teething or catch a cold, and be mildly uncomfortable.
  • He will be aware of the big world around him! And more sensitive to temperature or light.
  • Your little party animal will awake, wanting to play.

And suddenly, your baby is not sleeping well anymore.

This point in the journey has a name—the 3- to 4-month sleep regression—and it can be very confusing to parents. You might think, “I know my child can sleep better…She DID sleep better. What is going on?!”

Most parents are blindsided and do not know what to do. But if you learn to establish healthy sleep habits, you may be able to steer clear of most, if not all, of it.

Why the 4 Month Sleep Regression Happens

What has changed? Your once little blob of a newborn is now a 3- or 4-month-old social butterfly. She falls into light sleep, and awakens…bored! It is too quiet, too still for her. Your company-loving 4-month-old will awaken and think, “Hey you with the long hair. Come back! I want to play!”

But, what many parents do not realise is that when you go to your child you are actually rewarding her for waking up, just with presence or attention.

The most common advice for dealing with sleep regression is to use cry it out sleep training. But, nobody feels good about that. And this kind of sleep training can totally backfire and lead to hours of crying.

How Long Does 4 Month Sleep Regression Last?

4 month sleep regression can last anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. However, every infant is different and while some may cope with sleep regression in a few days, others can take a longer period of time. 

A Better Approach to the 4 Month Sleep Regression

When it comes to 4 month sleep regression, the best method to aid your baby is prevention. Here is what I advise:

  • Swaddle babies safely. Snug swaddling can prevent rolling over. 
  • Use the right types of motion and sound, so that when your baby moves into the light sleep part of the sleep cycle, she is easily lulled back into sleep vs. waking up fully.
  • Anticipate (and decrease) nighttime hunger, by encouraging daytime feeds and even a dream feed around 11pm/midnight.
  • Fit in plenty of outdoor time. Fresh air and sunlight exposure will help your little one recognise the difference between day and night.

And here is where Happiest Baby’s SNOO Smart Sleeper is a big help and a great tool to aid sleep. SNOO teaches babies to be better sleepers by aiding their day/night sleep pattern from day one, using the rhythms they are naturally familiar with from the womb and by quickly responding to babies’ fussing before they fully awaken. It also allows you to swaddle longer worry free, because SNOO's special swaddle keeps babies on the back (traditional swaddling must stop when the baby can roll.)

Parents can easily help their babies by adjusting SNOO’s settings and “locking” SNOO at a higher level to aid in night time sleep. Just like a parent would rock and hold a baby more vigorously when he is going through a hard time, raising SNOO’s level similarly “ups the ante.” Customising SNOO gives babies the extra soothing they need so that when they stir, they do not awaken all the way.

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