The 4 month sleep regression is one of the most dreaded phases of parenting.
You’ve finally gotten the hang of this parenting thing, you think it’s all smooth sailing, and then the 4 month sleep regression steps in to knock you off your parenting pedestal.
It’s brutal. Even the happiest babies aren’t immune.
Perhaps you have a child who skipped right over this sleep regression, and if that is the case feel lucky… very lucky.
No amount of good sleep habits or bedtime routines can ward off the 4 month sleep regression because it doesn’t happen due to something a baby learns in their environment. It’s developmental. Part of growing up.
What is the 4 month sleep regression?
Throughout a baby’s early life they go through rapid growth and development. As they hit peak points of development, usually called developmental leaps, babies will get very out of sorts. This includes having disrupted or poor sleep.
Their brains are developing and they are acquiring new skills, even the way that they view the world changes dramatically as they gain more and better concepts.
So while it is called a “regression,” the 4 month sleep regression is really a PROgression in your baby’s development.
What are the 4 month sleep regression signs?
Crankiness, frequent waking in the night, difficulty falling asleep, new skills, and more.
For my kids, they all basically started having colic or crying uncontrollably with no way for me to console them at bedtime.
While they were never the best sleepers, the always woke a few times in the night for milk, they did almost always fall to sleep fairly easily and return to sleep easily if woken.
But when that sleep regression hit… they would literally just scream and fuss until tiring themselves out and passing out. All I could do was hold them and let them know I was there for them.
It was so stressful and concerning to me that my husband and I actually took my daughter to the ER because of it. She was totally fine, and it was a wasted trip, but I guess we got peace of mind. When my twins came along and did the same thing, it wasn’t any more fun, but I was able to better handle it just because I knew what to expect.
When does the 4 month sleep regression start?
Not surprisingly, it happens right around 4 months. Though this can vary by a couple of weeks. So if your baby is 3.5 months or 4.5 months is all of a sudden a terrible sleeper, this could be why.
If you’re wondering if the 4 month sleep regression can start early, the answer is yes, but if it’s more or less than a couple of weeks away from their 4 monthiversary (just made that word up)… it’s probably something else.
How long does the 4 month sleep regression last?
About a month. According to Wonder Weeks (a MUST download app for parents), this leap in development lasts from around 14.5 weeks to 19.5 weeks. A very long 5 weeks.
This doesn’t mean the 4 month sleep regression will last that entire time, but it can, unfortunately.
How to survive the 4 month sleep regression?
For me, I survived just by knowing and understanding what was happening. I was able to roll with it and go with the flow because I knew it would end… eventually.
While many websites will give tips upon tips to help manage this sleep regression, the truth is that there isn’t anything you really do to stop it from happening or shorten the period.
So my best advice is this. Do not under any circumstances try sleep training your baby during this time. I’m not a big fan of sleep training that involves tears, and always recommend the No-Cry Sleep Solution instead of cry it out methods, but this time is a particularly TERRIBLE time to try to sleep train a baby.
They are literally incapable of doing anything other than what they are during this time because their whole world is a hot mess as they go through this developmental leap.
Settle in. Focus on lots of self-care and compassion for yourself too because chances are you will be stressed and overtired. Sleep as much as you can, rest, eat well, and know that this too shall pass.
When you’re in the middle of the 4 month sleep regression it might feel like it will never end and your baby will never just be their sweet little self again, but they will! It will eventually be ok.
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