Has your baby been waking up more than often in the early AM, and then finding it hard to go back to sleep? If you’re a new parent, we know you will definitely be needing this article.
It’s that time of your journey as a parent where you experience extreme sleeplessness and anxiety if not guided well enough to handle such high-stress situations. If you assume sleep regression happens only to adults, think again. The 4-month sleep regression is the most ill-waited common occurrence in babies, but there are a few tips and tricks to help parents and babies to cope with this phase!
What Is Sleep Regression?
This is the time in your baby’s life where sleep patterns turn out to be unstable and your baby wakes up at odd hours, with no intention of going back to sleep. Timings are never set, schedules are rocky, and of course, parents are bleary-eyed and constantly irritated. Even though it sounds like a nightmare, sleep regressions are very normal for babies. It usually implies that they’re going through a phase of development or growth spurt, and are eager to comprehend and learn new things! It could last anywhere between two to four weeks, and not all babies might have it.
Why Does Sleep Regression Happen?
There are various reasons as to why your baby’s sleeping patterns are disturbed. One of them could be that your baby is rolling or flipping around too much, therefore prone to waking up. Another reason states that the more you activate the environment around them (like adding new toys or lights), the more excited they get in discovering new things! This leads to an unwillingness to sleep, thereby starting the regression.
Sleep regression is often spotted at around 4 months when your baby is approaching new milestones in terms of growth and development. Whatever be the reason, know that the 4-month sleep regression is a permanent change, carving the way for your baby to become an adult and solidify their patterns.
What Are Signs Of Sleep Regression?
The first sign would be that your baby is around 4 months old. Look out for this period, it’ll cost you a few weeks’ worth of sleep. Although, don’t confuse one night of randomness with the pattern! Other signs include crying, less napping or short naps of 30-45 minutes, waking up multiple times in the night, change in eating habits, excessive fussing, refusal to be put down, and more. Although temporary, the babies can be quite a handful to work with, but remember, they’re on the right track!
How Do You Manage The 4 Month Sleep Regression?
To be honest, there’s nothing extraordinary that you need to do to cope with this phase of your baby’s life. It’s all about sleep training your baby, or getting them re-familiarized with it once more. Here are a few tips on how to manage your baby:
- The classic “let-them-cry” method is a favorite. Granted that no parent likes to hear their baby cry, but the sooner the baby starts to get more independent of your soothing tactics, the faster the baby will rely on himself/herself to calm down. This doesn’t mean you ignore your crying baby, just don’t mollycoddle them.
- Keeping their tummies full always pays well. Make sure that you feed them well during the day so they don’t wake up crying for food in the night. This makes them fussier, and harder to put back to bed even if they’re fed well.
- Let your baby sleep while awake. This ensures that the baby develops sleeping habits that do not depend on your preferences as they learn to sleep on their own. Make sure they’re only slightly drowsy when you decide it’s nap/sleep time for them. Additionally, ensure the environment is calming and relaxing with no external stimuli by switching off the lights and using a white-noise machine.
- Set a routine for your baby. The earlier you establish this, the easier the process gets for you. A good bedtime routine goes a long way, especially if followed in the correct order. A simple one like ‘Bath – Book – Bottle – Bed’ helps your baby in understanding the routine and they will automatically get used to it with practice!
- Set realistic sleep goals. If your baby is used to sleeping only 10 hours at night, and 4 hours during the day, stick to it. Don’t try to force your baby to sleep more. It just leads to instability in sleep cycles and doesn’t allow the process to develop organically. Know how much sleep your baby requires, and don’t forget – every baby is different.
- Re-evaluate occasionally. As we know, babies are unpredictable. What works today might not work out for you tomorrow. Ever so often, your baby tends to change his/her routine, as they tend to grow and change quicker than we do. Keep this in mind when you set routines for your baby so there’s always a little space for change.
When Do You Call The Doctor?
If you notice the usual night wakings more often, if your baby is eating less during the day, skipping naps altogether, not gaining weight as before, or isn’t going through as many diapers as they normally would, it’s time to call your doctor. Keep your pediatrician in the loop always. Nothing ever is too small an issue for you to approach your doctor. If you think it’s taking too long for the sleep regression to pass, or if it’s getting harder rather than easier with this phase, your doctor should be your go-to person! Even if you think your doubts are irrational, call your pediatrician. At the very least, they’ll calm your fears and make sure it’s all good with your baby!
The best advice to deal with 4-month sleep regression? Cope as best you can. We know you’re beyond exhausted during the early days of sleep regression, but hang in there! Try to maintain your calm as your mood definitely affects the environment you’re in. If you are in the early days of the regression, you are no doubt frustrated. Know that this is normal, and a lot of parents go through the same. Spend the next few days/weeks reading and researching, take advice from friends and family, plan a sleeping schedule that suits your family and baby, and just go with the flow.
ImmunifyMe helps you understand your baby’s journey and provides you with the resources that are helpful to your child. From milestone tracking to digitized prescriptions and vaccination records, we can make things easier on you.
FAQs On 4-Month Sleep Regression
How Long Does The 4-Month Sleep Regression Last?
Usually, the 4-month sleep regression can last anywhere between 2 to 4 weeks. Also know that a lot of babies don’t necessarily go through this; every baby has a different sleep cycle to adapt to! Just be calm and ride out yours, you’ll be fine!
What Are The Signs Of 4-Month Sleep Regression?
If your baby is active excessively during the night, sleeps less during the day, has more frequent nighttime awakenings, increased crying or fussiness upon awakening and an overall reduction in sleeping, get ready – the regression is setting in!
Is The 4-Month Sleep Regression Really That Bad?
The 4-month sleep regression isn’t all that fun, but it’s a normal part of babyhood. Maintain a routine for you with respect to the baby’s usual sleep habits as much as possible. Within a few weeks, you and the baby should be back to better times!