The words 4 months sleep regression scare moms all over the world. Unless this is your first baby and you don’t know what to expect. If you have no idea what you’re going to deal with, or if you know what baby sleep regression is but couldn’t find the right ways to get through it, this guide is for you.
Let’s understand this important developmental stage. Then, take the time to learn how to overcome the baby’s four months sleep regression quick and easy.
WHAT IS THE 4 MONTHS SLEEP REGRESSION?
The four months sleep regression is the first time in the development of a newborn when the child starts facing difficulties in getting and staying asleep. As a new mom, you’ll probably be surprised how well your baby sleeps in the first months.
But this is only the silence before the storm. The brain of the baby is developing during this stage and at around four months of age, your bundle of joy will start to experience the transitions from deep sleep to light sleep for the first time.
Because this is something new for the baby – and because babies don’t like changes too much – your little one will find it challenging to put herself back to sleep once awake. This will make her fussy, and you’ll have to deal with spending sleepless nights trying to soothe her.
As highlighted in the past, establishing a good bedtime routine from an early age is good practice, and during this stage, you’ll appreciate having implemented a bedtime routine. If you haven’t, it’s a great idea to start it now.
The four months sleep regression usually lasts about four weeks, although in some cases it can take less or more. Babies who don’t follow a bedtime routine will generally find it harder to learn how to soothe themselves and get them back to sleep once awake. In some cases, if you fail on implementing a routine, the four months sleep regression can last for months or even years.
To avoid getting waked up in the middle of the night for too long, learn the tricks below and use them for a smoother transition during this delicate stage.
FASTEST WAYS TO OVERCOME THE 4 MONTHS SLEEP REGRESSION
There are many tips and tricks to use to overcome the baby’s 4 months sleep regression. In my experience with my kids, I identified the following five tricks as the most effective. So, here’s how to deal with this phase.
1. STICK TO A BEDTIME ROUTINE
This not-so-phenomenal phenomenon called the four months to sleep regression is tricky to deal with. But a bedtime routine can help. Babies live better when they know what’s coming next, so my advice is to implement the bedtime routine as soon as possible after birth.
An ideal bedtime routine for newborns comprises few elements. Start with a soothing bath, clean diaper, pajamas, and bedtime feeding.
Because the baby has spent much of his time until now in a dark womb, it’s ideal to conduct the bedtime routine in dim light; turn the lights off completely during feeding if possible and lay the baby into the crib before he falls completely asleep.
In fact, the secret to teaching your baby to sleep on his own is by placing him in the crib while drowsy, but awake.
2. PROVIDE OPTIMAL SLEEPING CONDITIONS
As already mentioned, the baby has spent a little over nine months in a dark – and noisy – environment. To help her get asleep after birth, it’s a great idea to recreate womb-like conditions in her room. At this stage, a white noise machine and a dark environment can help.
Yet, even if the baby is accustomed to noise, she may not like the noises coming from the outside world. Try to be quiet when the baby’s sleeping to avoid waking her during the light sleep phase.
The temperature of the environment also matters. Although the baby has developed in a warm environment, studies have shown that newborns prefer cooler temperatures. Therefore, it’s best to invest in a cozy sleep sack and keep the temperature cooler in the house.
3. TEACH BABY TO SELF-SOOTHE
Newborns can learn how to self-soothe and get themselves asleep quite easily and it’s often our fault they don’t actually learn how to sleep alone. Yet, if you want to get out alive from this period, teaching the baby how to fall asleep on his own is crucial.
The essential thing is to always lay the baby in the crib while drowsy but still awake. Avoid making too much eye contact before bedtime, as this is stimulating for the little one.
Once the baby has learned how to get asleep on his own, he’ll just self-soothe during nap times, at bedtime, and during the tricky 4 months sleep regression.
4. AVOID SLEEP ASSOCIATIONS
An important step in overcoming the four months sleep regression is by avoiding sleep associations. Exhaustion can easily take its toll on you, but teaching your baby to get asleep while breastfeeding, eating from a bottle, or only with a pacifier is a poor idea.
By learning sleep associations, it will be harder to get the baby asleep. If any element the baby associates with sleep lacks, the little one will have a hard time soothing and won’t sleep well. This means a harder time for both of you.
To avoid this, once again stick to the bedtime routine. As the baby grows, just introduce new elements in the routine that can drain the energy before bedtime. But at this stage, avoid bedtime stimulation, create an ideal sleeping environment and let the baby self-soothe herself to sleep.
5. LET THE BABY TO FUSS
As a parent, you’ll tend to leave everything and run to your baby as soon as you hear the first noise. But this won’t teach your baby to overcome the 4 months sleep regression. At this stage, babies are fussy when the transition from deep sleep to light sleep awakens them mainly because it’s something new.
But if you already implemented a bedtime routine, the little one probably know already how to get himself asleep. That’s why experts and experienced parents recommend leaving the baby to fuss for a minute or two before going to their room.
In most cases, if the cause of the annoyance is this phase of development, the baby will get back to sleep on his own in no time. If the fussiness has a different origin, such as hunger or a dirty diaper, the baby will continue being fussy for more than a minute or two.
In case the baby is hungry or needs a change, try to fix things quickly and without making eye contact – this stimulates the baby and it will be harder to get him back to sleep. It’s also recommended to feed the baby with the lights off if possible.
The 4 months sleep regression is one of the hardest baby milestones, but the tricks above make it easier to overcome. Yes, it’s a rough time. Both you and the baby will be exhausted and you’ll have to get up many times a night. Yet, implementing good sleeping habits during this stage will pay off in the long run.
Have you ever dealt with the 4 months sleep regression or are you just getting ready for it? If you’ve been through it already, which ways did you use to overcome it? What would you change or add to this list? Looking forward to reading your comments.