4-Month Sleep Regression: What Causes It and How to Survive It

Romeo Vitelli
Romeo Vitelli
Expert Writer
Received his doctorate in Psychology in 1987, spent fifteen years as a staff psychologist in Millbrook Correctional Centre. In 2003 went into full-time private practice. read more
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Medical Advisory Team
Medical Advisory Team
Includes well-known professionals, who together provide decades of sleep medicine experience that enables Talk About Sleep to fulfill its mission of creating access to high- read more
Last updated: August 31, 2023
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The 4th month of life is usually an exceptional one. This is more so for unsuspecting mothers who are not yet aware of the likely developments, such as the 4 months sleep regression.

When the regression kicks in, your baby’s newborn title officially ends here! Your darling starts growing, becomes more attentive and curious. He starts learning to grip and maybe even begins to turn. Then the baby’s waking phases become longer.

In addition to all these significant developmental steps, do you notice that the baby’s sleep patterns have also changed around this fourth month of life? Does your baby suddenly not want to fall asleep and wakes up more often at night? The reason behind this is what is called the 4-month regression.

So, what is the 4-month-old sleep regression? When does it end, and how do you manage things? In this article, we’ll try to answer all possible questions.

What is 4-month sleep regression?

4-Month Sleep Regression: What Causes It and How to Survive It

4-month sleep regression Trusted Source The 4-Month Sleep Regression: What to Do The dreaded 4-month sleep regression is the time when your baby’s sleep patterns shift and they wake up often during the night and refuse to go back to sleep. www.healthline.com is a term used to describe the sudden change in babies’ sleep patterns, usually during the fourth month of life.

Around the 4th month of life, your baby’s sleep cycles change, and it now spends more phases in light sleep.

Your baby spends most of his deep sleep period at the beginning of the night/evening, just when you’re preparing for your night rest. Many babies sleep for a longer time during the first part of the night.

Then, they will spend the second half of the night in a lighter sleep. This means that they will wake up more often. And here, it gets a little more complicated.

To better understand what sleep phases are, we’ll explain what happens during this period. Your baby’s sleep now takes place in 5 phases. These phases include the:

Non-REM phases 1 and 2

These are the light sleep phases. Your baby spends about half of his sleep in this light sleep. When your little one is in phase 2 and hears a noise, the brain waves react to it, but it does not necessarily wake them up completely.

Non-REM phases 3 and 4

These are the regenerative deep sleep phases, also known as “slow-wave,” which predominantly dominate the first third of the night’s sleep. This is usually the time that babies sleep well together.

REM phase (Rapid Eye Movement)

REM sleep is light sleep, but it differs from the other light sleep phases. We dream during REM sleep.

Signs of 4-month sleep regression

4-Month Sleep Regression: What Causes It and How to Survive It

Your baby may have slept very well for the first three months, sometimes for five to seven hours non-stop and regularly. And then, all of a sudden, it’s over.

You may have noticed that from the 4th month, your child suddenly wakes up more often, sleeps less, and is less able to calm down. Something that worked well for him or her before suddenly doesn’t work anymore.

This sleep regression can be recognized by a significant change in your baby’s (sleep) behavior. Some indicators of this sleep regression are:

  • Your baby will feel tired more often and doesn’t calm down.
  • Waking up multiple times during the night
  • Reduced afternoon naps
  • Increase in appetite

How long does the 4-month sleep regression last?

There’s no specific time frame for sleep regression. As soon as you begin noticing the symptoms, the condition can continue for at least two weeks and up to six weeks. It depends on each child. Some children may return to normalcy after some days, while in others, the problem can continue for weeks.

What causes the 4-month sleep regression?

More often, it’s associated with a growth spurt. You may have noticed that your kid has suddenly grown out of his clothes or that his mobility has increased. Many babies also learn to turn around four months of age.

Your baby is a little older now and is constantly developing. Around four months, the sleep phases change into an adult-style sleep. That means there are different sleep phases (REM and non-REM sleep) within one sleep cycle.

Your baby isn’t quite sure how to handle it just yet. If you breastfeed or rock your baby in their sleep, it can take up to half an hour before he or she is (deeply) asleep. Then, 15 minutes later, they are awake again.

This happens because the baby is frightened when they go from one sleep phase to the other. This can wake the baby up. If they haven’t learned to sleep on their own, they will need your help.

Do all babies go through 4-month sleep regression?

While this sleep regression is very common among babies, thankfully, not all babies go through the experience. Some mothers may be lucky with their babies not going through this regression at the fourth month. You should, however, note that sleep regressions all usually occur around the eighth, 10th, 12th, and 18th months.

How to deal with 4-month sleep regression

There is no recommended drug for sleep regression in kids. However, some of the tips which a mother can put to use are:

1. Cuddle a lot

4-Month Sleep Regression: What Causes It and How to Survive It

Accept that your baby needs you a lot, even during the day. Hardly any development step is as strenuous and varied as this one! Put him or her in the stretcher, in the stroller, take him to get some fresh air, and cuddle as much as you can. At least this extra measure of attachment and whining will be over in 2-6 weeks.

Most likely, you are both exhausted right now. Try to stay calm. Give your baby plenty of reassurance. Talk to them calmly and remember that everything is just a phase. Conscious affection and laughing together also help to reduce tension.

You can also make them sleep during the day so you can have time to rest. To achieve this, you have to create an environment that induces sleep. One of these solutions is by getting a portable blackout curtain for the nursery. The Venrey Portable Blackout Curtains is often recommended by sleep experts. Made of 100% polyester, the blackout shade is ideal for babies/kids.

2. Find new methods that work

Try out what will help your little one now to get as much sleep as possible so that they are neither overtired nor overstimulated.

Here are some ideas:

  • Regularly swaddle your baby before going to sleep. By using a swaddle or sleep sack, the baby gets more comfortable, and movements that can waker them up are restricted.

According to most reviews, one of the most comfortable sleep sacks is the Nested Bean Zen Footie PJs. The gently weighted footie is comfy, made of cotton, helps babies sleep longer, and is for 3 to 9-month-old babies.

  • Get a pillow designed to make babies sleep better. You can also consider using a pacifier
  • Try to get the baby to take a nap by taking them on a walk
  • You can also buy or use an electronic swing. Sometimes this leads to a nap

Warning: For safety reasons, you should keep an eye on the baby while sleeping. A nap on the swing shouldn’t be too long – but what can you do to survive?

Pro Tip

Swaddling is one of the methods that have a positive effect on babies’ sleep! Even if some babies protest for the time being, just stay tuned. Many sleep experts and baby sleep consultants swear by it!

3. Accept outside help

You must be tired. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family members for help.

Tell them what you need in a friendly and precise manner. Is it about doing the kitchen or vacuuming the apartment? Or taking the little one for a long walk so that you can have time for a nap yourself?

4. Feed them

Your baby is going through enormous milestones in its development. At the same time, they may be growing out of their regular clothing size. Now, they require loads of calories. Make sure they are fed regularly during the day and night.

During growth spurts, many babies ask for food almost non-stop, especially in the afternoons and evenings. Respond to it, make the most of it (a good book and a cup of tea while relaxing around the baby).

Pro Tip

While some literature says a 3-hour breastfeeding interval is okay from 3-4 months, your baby will most likely need more during a growth spurt. Listen to your feelings, your baby, and be prepared for change during growth and development spurts!

Important: All of these are good at helping a baby get over sleep regression. However, they should not be permanently accustomed to the baby. Otherwise, at six months (or later), you will suddenly face the challenge of having to break these new habits again.

Final thoughts

To put it simply, your baby’s rhythm has just turned upside down. The good news? This likely means your baby is developing. Your baby learns that he can interact with his world.

He or she also begins to realize that his actions affect others and that he has a little more control over his surroundings.

Have you wondered why your baby is suddenly quirky, moody, overtired, and finding it difficult to sleep. What many parents do not notice at this time is that something has also changed in the baby’s sleep rhythm.

If it’s the baby’s fourth month or thereabout, this could be the dreaded 4 months sleep regression. You don’t have to feet. With our 4 month sleep regression tips, you should be able to make the best out of it.

Besides, this sleep regression lasts approximately 2-4 weeks.


The 4-Month Sleep Regression: What to Do
The dreaded 4-month sleep regression is the time when your baby’s sleep patterns shift and they wake up often during the night and refuse to go back to sleep.
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