Before becoming a mum, I had never heard the term Sleep Regression. But after having children of my own I have experienced and discovered the mystery that surrounds sleep regression. It all starts with you searching for ‘why won’t my baby sleep’ and you will come across a bucket load of information about baby sleep regression. So, if you are reading this, I’m guessing you may be experiencing a sleep regression, most commonly, the dreaded 4 month old sleep regression. So for all you tired mammas, here is what you need to know about the 4 month sleep regression and how to survive it.
What is sleep regression all about?
A sleep regression is described as a period of time when a baby who is normally sleeping well begins to wake frequently at night, skipping naps, fight or refuses naps/bedtime, or starts waking early from naps for no apparent reason. It can happen anytime around 6 weeks, 4 months, 6 months, 8-10 months, 12 months, 18 months and 2 years old. These periods usually relate to developmental milestones that are occurring in your baby. The 4 month sleep regression seems to be the hardest to get through, mainly due to the major development changes happening to your baby.
What causes a 4 month sleep regression to occur?
The 4 month sleep regression usually occurs because your baby is going through a growth spurt and is reaching developmental milestones. It is actually a good sign that your baby is reaching these development milestones and in effect is changing your baby’s sleep patterns into more adult-like sleep patterns. Your baby’s sleep will change and usually, this 4 month sleep regression can be a permanent change, meaning you will need to teach your baby a new way to sleep and self-settle.
What are the signs of a 4 month sleep regression?
The reality is that sleep regression is real and just when you think you can predict your baby’s sleep patterns, bang, just like that it suddenly changes. Some signs that your baby may be experiencing the 4 month sleep regression include your baby starting to wake multiple times throughout the night, your baby starts to have shorter naps, baby starts waking every 45 minutes throughout the day/night or your baby fights falling asleep.
How to help your baby with the 4 month sleep regression.
Whilst this regression is really a progression of your baby’s maturity, you may need to help and teach your baby some new sleeping skills. Your baby will need help from you to learn a new way of sleep and self-settling. Here are some basic tips to help you establish a new healthy sleep routine.
1. Bedtime routine – Start to implement a new bedtime routine with no more than four or five steps. Try not to end the routine with a feed as your baby will most likely fall asleep and this will create an ‘association.’ Be sure to be consistent each night with the same routine.
2. Bedroom environment – ensure your baby has a dark room. Try to keep the bedroom as dark as possible during bedtime and naps, as any kind of light tells their brains it’s time for activity and alertness. Ensure your baby is in a swaddle or sleeping bag and that the room is quiet. It’s important that where you put your baby down to sleep, is where they will wake up. Remember that babies will wake throughout the night and will protest if the environment that they fell asleep in has changed (e.g. from your bed to their cot).
3. Try to put your baby to sleep whilst they are still awake or are drowsy, as this will teach them to put themselves to sleep, therefore when they wake during the night they will be able to put themselves back to sleep. This may take some time and practice.
4. Limit awake time during the day to 1.5 to 2 hours. Keeping them awake any longer will overstimulate them and make it more difficult to get them to sleep.
Remember that babies love and learn from consistency and predictability.
Sleep regression is hard (especially when you start to feel exhausted from the lack of sleep) so you need to try and hang in there. If you can, try and get some extra sleep yourself (I know, not always possible.). If you find you are exhausted, stressed and your baby is miserable and things are starting to spiral out of control then why not contact a baby sleep expert who will be able to help and assist you through this difficult time. Just remember you are not alone, the 4 month sleep regression is a common sleep issue. Baby Sleep Support can help you find the right baby sleep specialist to help you and your baby.
If you would like to learn more about the 4 month sleep regression and get some more tips on how to deal with it, I have compiled some blogs written by some of Australia’s best baby sleep experts. Just click onto the link to take you straight to the blog.