Responsive Settling

The Four-Month Sleep Regression

Written by One Mama Midwife

Comfort Items From Birth and The Dummy Debate

As mammals, humans are born very immature when compared to all other mammals. This means that they are born completely relying on their parents to meet all their needs from hunger, thirst, comfort, security, love and warmth.

Any new parent would know that your baby relying on you is not reserved for during the day, however it is all day and all night. As babies grow, they develop at a rapid rate and this may impact their sleep at different periods of time. Often around 6-8 weeks, you may find that your baby has started sleeping for longer stretches especially overnight.

Then all of a sudden around the 4-month mark, your baby is starting to wake up more frequently overnight again!! This is often referred to as a sleep regression. It does not mean that your baby is going backwards as the word regression suggests, however it is due to your baby going through a developmental leap. This may mean that they have developed a new skill, they are growing emotionally or intellectually. At four months, babies are also transitioning away from their newborn sleep patterns and moving towards sleep patterns that are more similar to adults. Which is a good thing, right?!!

But why does the four-month sleep regression send us new mums into a tizz of trying to change every little aspect of our babies sleep in order to try and get back to our unbroken sleep? I personally, believe that the stress that accompanies the four-month sleep regression is due to the fear that we will never get those full nights of sleep again. But I’m here to tell you – you will sleep again!!

Here are some tips to help you through the four-month sleep regression:
- Firstly, do not stress and try not to change everything about your current sleep routine. Try to keep doing what was working for you and create a calming sleep environment for your baby.
- Keep your baby in your room as per the SIDS Red Nose Guidelines as research has shown that moving your baby out of your room at four months does not help your baby sleep better, however it can increase your baby’s risk of SIDS. It is important to continue following all of the SIDS Red Nose Guidelines for Safe Sleep.
- If you aren’t already, use your Riff Raff Sleep Toy to help create a familiar and calming sleep environment using the white noise function.
- Watch for your baby’s tired signs and follow your baby’s lead. During this period your baby may be wanting to spend longer stretches of time awake to build up enough sleep pressure to sleep overnight. Make sure that you are playing with your baby and enjoying your time together when they are awake.
- Try to get outside every day. Getting outside during the day every day, especially in the afternoon, has been shown to help your baby develop their circadian clock and therefore sleep better at night.
- Create a bedtime ritual. This does not mean your baby goes to sleep at the same time every night, however it means that you do the same set of activities every night before bed. This could mean you give your baby a bath, massage, then read a book, have a cuddle with you and your baby’s Riff Raff, then feed them and put them into bed.
- If you feed your baby in the night, try to keep the room dark and try not to stimulate your baby. This will help reduce any day or night confusion.
- Know that it does not last forever!! It may feel like it is not going to end, but it will end your baby just needs a little bit of extra love and support to help them get through this new period of life together.

It is important that if you are struggling with sleep that ask for help from your partner, family, or friends so that you are able to rest when you need or have a break. Taking time for yourself to rest or do something that you enjoy is so important in ensuring you look after yourself, so that you can look after your baby.

If you ever have any concerns about your baby’s health or weight gain always consult your health professional immediately.