All About the 4-month Sleep Regression

When it comes to baby sleep, you’re in one of two camps:

Camp 1: Your child has never slept well, is up all hours of the night, and you feel like you’re on the brink of utter exhaustion.

Camp 2: Your child is a unicorn baby and actually sleeps fairly well.

Regardless of what camp you’re in, one thing is certain: your baby is not immune to the 4-month sleep regression.

Now, before you start panicking, I will qualify this statement by saying: Not all babies will regress in their sleep patterns. Babies aren’t robots. If they were, there would be a handbook that we’re given at the hospital with a day-by-day guideline of what to expect and what to do.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly didn’t get that handbook.

So yes, some babies will continue to sleep as they always did, and nothing changes.

But on average, between months 3-5, your little one will hit a small regression in terms of their sleep.

And, just to prepare you now, this is the first of many regressions.

But this isn’t something to be scared of. In fact, I believe that knowing when regressions are likely can empower you to respond appropriately in the moment. So instead of stressing out when your child suddenly wakes all throughout the night, you can confidently know what’s going on and what to expect.

What is the 4-month sleep regression?

Just when you begin to hit the groove of parenting your new bundle of joy, the 4-month sleep regression can hit like a ton of bricks. I usually find this regression to be the hardest for parents, because if their baby was a great sleeper, it’s the first time they’re experiencing something different.

And if their baby wasn’t a great sleeper, the additional wakings can be extra exhausting.

When a regression hits, you can expect some or all of the following:

  • Your little one may go from sleeping longer stretches to waking more frequently during naptime.
  • Your babe may wake more frequently overnight. Sometimes they’ll want to feed, and sometimes they’ll just want comfort.
  • Baby may protest sleep a little more: they may fight naps or bedtime.

Although it can seem exhausting and never ending, no, you won’t be stuck in this phase forever. Typically, within 2-6 weeks, your baby will be back to sleeping a bit more regularly.

Why does the 4-month sleep regression happen?

Gone are the days when you could lay your baby anywhere (bustling rooms with noise and commotion) and expect them to sleep soundly. I know you may think this is bad, but this is a good thing! 

Your baby is becoming more aware of their surroundings, taking in the sounds, lights, and action. Their little mind is grasping on to everything and learning so much!

Also during this time, your babe may be trying to master new physical skills, like rolling over from their back to the tummy, or from tummy to back. Additionally, object permanence is taking hold – the understanding that mommy and daddy still exist even after they put baby in crib and leave the room.

These factors combined, along with the fact that your baby is developing sleep patterns more similar to an adult, will cause her to take longer to fall asleep, move around more while sleeping, and have a harder time falling back to sleep when she wakes up.

How can you survive the 4-month sleep regression?

First, understand that this sleep regression is completely normal. And good news: it’s temporary. The best thing that you can do for your baby is to establish a solid sleep routine for naps and bedtime, if you haven’t done so already.

Babies crave consistency. When they are given a routine, they begin to know what they can expect.

After bath time, I get a massage, we read a book, mom sings to me, and then I go to sleep!

Providing this consistency day after day helps them to feel safe and comforted.

Here’s a simple routine you can implement starting today:

  • Bath or wipe down
  • Lotion
  • New diaper
  • Pajamas
  • Last feed before bed
  • 1-3 short books
  • A few minutes of cuddles, tickles, or laughter
  • Sleep sack
  • Night time!

How is the 4-month sleep regression similar or different than the other sleep regressions my baby will face?

Your baby will go through, on average, 7 sleep regressions throughout the first 2 years of life. These regressions usually exhibit the same “symptoms” of your child’s sleep patterns becoming disrupted.

However, the 4-month sleep regression is the only regression due to your child’s sleep development changing. Between 4-6 months, babies’ sleep cycles mature, which means longer stretches of sleep. However, before those cycles solidify, you’ll see many short naps and frequent wakings.

The other regressions your child will face commonly are due to physical and mental developmental milestones: crawling, walking, talking.

If you’re curious about all of the sleep regressions and want to get a brief picture of what to expect for each one, you can grab my free regression survival guide here!

I know this time in life can be so exhausting, but hang in there! In just a few weeks, your little one will be back to their old sleeping patterns.

And if the thought of your child going back to their old habits is still exhausting for you, consider a 1:1 support package. With these packages, I will personalize a sleep plan for your child and support you as you make changes in your baby’s routine. Let’s get started today!

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I’m Katie

certified pediatric sleep consultant

Fueled by equal parts caffeine and passion, I spend my days helping exhausted mamas get their babies the sleep they need. 

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