The Four-Month Sleep Regression

The Four-Month Sleep Regression

Erin Burt

Dear moms of young babies, 

I’m a toddler mom who wanted to warn you of something no one told me about before my tiny human got to your stage. My little angel slept like a dream (for a newborn). She’d get up every 3 hours or so, eat, be changed, and drift right back to dreamland. At some point she eased into a once a night schedule. It was wonderful!  This mostly continued through my maternity leave, and I transitioned back to work with few sleep complications. I thought we’d reached a good routine, and while I knew we would have rough patches, I didn’t worry too much about it.

Then one day everything changed.

Out of nowhere, my little angel started waking up over and over again, there was lots of exhaustion and lots of crying. I drank way more coffee than I like to admit, and I did what most new moms do, I started researching. I found out about the dreaded 4-month sleep regression.

Cue the Nerdy Science Moment
So what I learned was pretty cool. You see, when your baby is new he or she just has two modes, asleep and awake. But at around 4-months old your baby’s brain starts to achieve sleep cycles, like your brain. They sleep deeply and lightly, and experience REM sleep for the first time. So, if you think through that, your baby is just learning what it’s like to sleep and wake up, and soothe himself or herself back to sleep. Understanding the developmental milestone, to me at least, made the experience a little less difficult. The bad news is that this is a difficult process, and takes some babies some time to adjust. You can find any number of articles and tips for helping you navigate this sleep regression.

How to Deal
I used a few tips in the articles above, and I can’t say whether they made any significant difference. Some tips work, some don’t, I can’t promise success with anything in particular, because at the end of the day, your baby is just going to have to figure it out. I think the most useful tip that worked for us is to give our baby a couple of minutes to settle herself down before we went in to comfort her.  I generally gave her a minute before going to go rescue her. Sometimes that worked, other times, she was losing her crap completely and I didn’t do that. Use your instincts, and when in doubt, go with consistency and routine.  

Most importantly, always remember, this too shall pass.


A mom on the other side

Jenny Ditch is a mom of one toddler in Illinois who finds understanding the why of something frustrating makes it much easier to deal with the situation. 

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