Updated: Nov 8, 2021
One phrase that pops up on every social media outlet, in your monthly book club, and at the neighborhood party is sleep regressions when discussing our children's sleep. When it comes to sleep you will see several times during a little one’s growth and development that experience sleep regressions; however, I like to view these as progressions, meaning the child is hitting a milestone, cognitive developments, changes to grow, and are progressing onto the next stage. There are typically 4 sleep regressions you hear the most about when moms start asking for help in the sleep regression department.
The first regression I am going to address is the 4-month regression. I do not see this one as your typical regression in relation to the later sleep regressions down the road. At this age babies are moving out the newborn stage and into a more active and aware baby. Young babies sleep patterns are much different than older babies and adults sleep. Babies have two sleep states, active and quiet. Active sleep comes first, this is where you will notice quicker movements, fluttering eyelids and more easily woken. Then baby moves into quiet sleep about halfway through the sleep cycle, where slower movements and steady breathing happens. It is much harder to wake baby from the quiet and deeper sleep. During the newborn days prior to 4 months, parents are able to rock, nurse, bounce or hold to sleep and then putting baby down more easily without them waking; however, around 4 months old babies are much more aware of their surroundings and sleep changes making it tougher to lay them down asleep without them waking easily as the active and quiet phases of sleep are being to transition to mature sleep cycles.
Regressions tend to happen around the same ages that naps are working to consolidate such as the “4-month-old regression”. Babies between the ages of 3-5 months of age are working to move from the 4 to 3 naps per day. Babies also between this age are developing more solid sleep patterns along with a true schedule and routine.
As discussed, the 4 to 3 nap transition is taking place during this time along with the wake windows growing a bit more between each month. This can be tricky for parents to find the right “timing” for each nap and on top of it baby is infamous for waking at the 20-30-minute marker for each nap another part of this 4 months “progression”.
Next for the 4-month regression, is many babies begin to roll around 3-5 months of age and therefor the swaddle needs to be removed as it is no longer safe for a rolling baby. The startle reflex has decreased, but it is still very much noticeable, and babies have a tough time adjusting to having more freedom as they sleep. Click Here to check out a great way to work on transitioning baby out of the swaddle.
I am a huge advocate of charting and documenting your baby’s daily habits. When another regression is approaching, you will have solid facts of bedtime, overnight sleep, wake time, nap lengths and routines. Therefore, you will be able to asses where and how changes need to be made. It is vital that you are prepared and ready for the changes. The first year of baby’s life is filled with various changes and growths, so as parents we need to be flexible and be ready to make the changes to meet their needs.
As you can see the 4-month regression is much different than the later regressions I will discuss in future post, because your little one is truly changing and developing in so many different areas. This is not a typical regression where there is bumps in the road and in a short time all will go back to the way it was during the new born phase. Babies are changing and growing into the next stage, and saying adios to the newborn days. I fully feel that parents that setup the healthy and safe sleep foundations early on during the new born days, this helps the 4-month sleep progression and can be avoided or a much lighter blow than the intense “regression” most momma's are use to seeing.
If you feel you have taken on the 4 month sleep regression and need extra help getting everything on solid track, we have a guide to help you not only though this sleep regressions but all of the sleep regressions in the first 3 years of your little one's life! I also offer customized sleep plans with 1-on-1 assistance to establishes a foundation for healthy sleep!