How to Survive the 4-Month Sleep Regression
The dreaded four-month sleep regression! Your baby was JUST starting to fall into a routine, and now their sleep is a total wreck! What happened? Can it be fixed? Will you ever sleep again?
It might surprise you to learn that this “regression” isn’t really a regression at all. Rather, it’s a huge step forward in your baby’s development. Their circadian rhythm is really starting to develop, their day/night confusion has mostly passed, and they’re ready to have a real pattern to their sleep. The habits you start setting now are the foundation for healthy sleep habits for life.
Schedule and routine are imperative. Your baby can only handle being awake for a certain period of time (at 4 months, it’s between 1.25 and 1.75 hours). Getting them down at the ideal time means their naps will be more restorative—this means better night sleep, too. The more you can respect your baby’s need for a consistent sleeping place (think crib!) at the right times, the easier they will pull through this transition and come out on the other side a healthier sleeper.
Does that mean you can never get out of the house? Of course not. But try to respect the routine *most* of the time, and only go out during naps sometimes. Think about when you nap in the car--is it as restful as when you’re in your bed? Not likely. Motion naps just aren’t great quality. The same is true for your maturing baby—they’re going to get better sleep in the crib than they will in the car seat or stroller.
If baby isn’t currently able to put herself to sleep, now is also a great time for some gentle sleep training. It’s easy to incorporate night feedings at this age.
If you’re suffering through this phase, there are a couple of things to keep in mind: 1. If you start with good habits now, this WILL get better; and 2. It’s actually a really amazing turning point for your baby. They’re developing quickly every day, and able to recognize patterns… use that to your advantage. Establish a quality bedtime routine, use a consistent sleeping environment, and gently encourage self-soothing. A baby who’s encouraged to sleep becomes a child who enjoys sleeping.
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