That newborn phase is a whirl of feeding, rocking, snuggling, feeding some more, changing nappies, and hardly sleeping. But after a while, you can feel yourself starting to get into a rhythm. And around that 3 month mark you might even be rocking this sleeping and eating routine.
Then, 4 months rolls around.
That routine you had is not so down pat. In fact, it is right out the window. Why is that?
It's called the 4 month sleep regression.
Let's have a look what it is all about.
What Is The 4 Month Sleep Regression?
Before we can fully explain the 4 month sleep regression, we need to have a quick look at sleep cycles.
When both adults and children sleep, we go through repeating cycles. The cycle begins with light sleep, a time when you can twitch, dream and still be woken up quite easily. We then move into deep sleep where the real rest happens. It is also a time when your body heals and grows.
During both daytime and night time sleeping, we move through cycles of light and deep sleep. Between each sleep cycle we stir and generally fall back asleep until we are ready to wake fully.
But when you are only 4 months old, this doesn’t happen.
4 Month Sleep Regression
You might have managed to get your baby into a good sleeping routine, when suddenly they begin waking alot at 4 months and you aren't sure why.
This is a common phenomenon, so much so, it has been given a name - the 4 month sleep regression. Around 4 months of age, your baby will go through a big biological shift that changes the way they sleep. They will begin to wake every 45 minutes to 2 hours.
Why does this happen?
Why 4 Months?
Anywhere between 3 and 5 months your baby’s brain will mature and they will begin to sleep in cycles for the first time. They did not do this as a newborn. Newborns do not have a defined sleeping pattern, they simply sleep deeply every time.
But at 4 months, instead of drowsily sleeping their way through naps and night, they will go through defined phases of light and deep sleep. These cycles usually last for 30-45mins during the day and 2 hours at night. At the end of each cycle, instead of entering the next, they will wake fully.
That means their eyes will open and they will be fully aware of their surroundings - aware of the fact that you are not with them. They probably won't have the skill to self settle and navigate themselves to the next sleep cycle, so will cry out for you.
That’s why you will find they are waking every 2 hours, or more regularly.
What Can You Do About It?
Your baby's sleep will be forever changed from the newborn stage. That doesn't mean they will always wake a lot in the night. Most babies will relearn good sleeping habits, but they will need your help. Just remember that while this phase can be frustrating, it also means that your baby's growth and development is right on track, so not to worry.
The first thing you want to do is to survive those first few days as you will be exhausted. Then you want to formulate a plan for how you are going to instill good sleep habits in your little one.
One of the easiest ways to begin, is to try one of our inbetweenie sleep sacks. Your baby’s mobility will have increased and their feelings on comfort have changed. They no longer enjoy the restriction of a swaddle, but still like the feeling of being enclosed. That is why the inbetweenie is the perfect solution. Warmth and comfort are two of the things that your baby will need to settle themselves back to sleep.
Couple the inbetweenie with a nice calming bedtime routine so that your baby can learn the great sleeping habits that will set them up for a lifetime of sleeping.
Different things work for different families, so make a plan that will work for you. There is also no harm in changing the plan if it didn’t work as well as you expected.