The four-month sleep regression. Is it real?
Well, this is tricky because yes, there are some things that go on in four and five months old, and it can often be seen or feel like there’s a regression. But I want to give you some thought points today. Things to think about that will help you maneuver your way through this phase with more ease, because having a good understanding of it will definitely help you with this.
The first one is, I really like to think of these things as a progression, not a regression. So maybe you can re-look at this as the four-month progression. What’s really happening is your child is progressing. Your baby is developing physically and mentally at a rapid, rapid rate. And in that fourth and fifth month, there’s a huge amount of developmental growth. So really it’s all about progress. They’re not going backwards.
And it might feel like sleep goes backwards, which is why people call this a sleep regression. But, actually there’s nothing going wrong with their sleep. They just have different needs at this kind of age. Why? Because sleep’s taking shape, things are changing.
The second thing I want you to think about on this exact topic right now is the old tricks. The old tricks stop working.
So for instance, if … And this might not happen at four months, this might not happen until later, but for lots of babies, it does happen at this stage. If you have been rocking your baby to sleep, but suddenly it’s not working so well, or you’re trying but then they’re waking up, or feeding to sleep, or pacing them to sleep, whatever it may be, a trick, a thing, a little technique that you were using that worked to get your baby to sleep, or to get them back to sleep in the night when they wake, perhaps is not as effective now.
And you think, “Oh, it’s a sleep regression. But actually, it isn’t. It’s just that your baby is wise to it. And it was kind of just masking and doing the job for them until they were ready to learn. And now your baby’s going, “Yeah, this isn’t going to cut it anymore.” And it’s a sign that they’re ready to learn a bit more.
They’re ready, to develop some better sleep skills and start doing a little bit more of that sleep stuff. And not have you do it all for them.
So, the old tricks might stop working. That was my second point there.
The third thing is naps become a bit more organized around this stage. They start to fall into better rhythms. So up until now, naps have probably been quite haphazard, snapped and grab, short and often, and not really very predictable. And that’s very normal for the first few months, but you’re coming into a stage now where they may be taking better shape.
They’re a bit more structured. Your baby is managing to be awake for a chunk of time and then needs to sleep, and then awake for a chunk of time and needs to sleep. And it’s much more rhythmic and patterned and structured. You could be there already, or maybe you are not there, but the fact that your baby’s sleep might be looking like it’s regressing at nighttime is possibly because they are looking for that structure.
Your baby’s ready for a bit more rhythmicity and structure to those naps and wants you to help accommodate that so that they are getting enough. And then they’re able to sleep better at nighttime. So, it could be to do with that.
And then the fourth point that I want you to think about is the bedtime routine. It really is key. Bedtime routine is key at this stage because again, if you haven’t had one … If you have one in place, amazing. And keep that going.
But if you haven’t got one in place, it’s absolutely important. So it’s imperative that you do this now, having those same steps in the same order every evening, that lead up to bedtime and then enable your little one to know, first of all, this is bedtime.
Bedtime’s coming. It cues them. It sets the scene for them. They go into a dimly lit room or a dark room, finish off the routine, have the milk, and then one more step and then down.
So, it’s not milk sleep. You’re going to help your little one learn that they can get to sleep after that.It’s really, really important to have a bedtime routine now. So, if you haven’t got one, that’s your homework.
Go and get your bedtime routine in place. So really to conclude, I just want you to consider that at four or five months, your baby’s sleep, isn’t regressing. Everything else is progressing and your baby is looking for your help to just line things up a little bit and help them to get where they need to be, and where they’re ready to be.
Because sometimes they’re ready and able to do a lot more than we give them credit for. And your baby is ready to learn some better sleep skills, practice a bit more, go down awake rather than asleep. Get those naps in where they’re needed and for a better length of time, rather than just going completely with the flow because the flow might be off.
So, is the four month sleep regression real? Hmm. Some stuff goes on at four months, but I wouldn’t say it’s a regression. And if you are expecting it and if you are … You must be willing it unconsciously.
You could almost be, because you’re so conscious that there’s a sleep regression you are going to blame any little tweak or any little adjustment on this so-called regression. And then you either are paranoid and hung up on it, or you dismiss things and excuse it and go, “Oh, it’s just that. It will pass,” rather than actually addressing it.
So, I think it’s safer to go, “Look, four-month sleep regression – My baby’s developing and needs more from me. What do we need to work on? Let’s get the best from our little one’s sleep.”
So, I hope this has helped you with the topic of the four-month sleep regression. If you know any friends that this would help, please do share it with them because the more people we can reach and help the better.
The more babies we can get sleeping, the parents we can get rested, everybody’s happier and healthier.
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