There is a lot going on developmentally between 4-6 months, it is undeniably tricky territory. It will be less tricky, if you have been establishing my sleep shaping suggestions from birth, but if you have not been, then along with the “4-month regression”, you may find that your sleep is worse than ever, and there is little scope to make changes outside of the feeding and sleeping suggestions. Don’t despair- you can be preparing the scene and although may not seem helpful at the time, often makes the learning cycle easier when you do go to address it at 6 months onwards.
Somewhere about 4 months or so; sleep characteristically locks into place and now, what used to work because your baby’s sleep was immature, no longer works as their brain has taken over the controls for sleep and now whatever they associate with going to sleep now needs to be repeated –and more in some cases- each time they cycle through sleep.
Essentially, what did work, stops working-this particular regression is mis-named as a higher level of adjustment may be required to help return you to better sleep rather than just waiting it out like some other developmental phases-this one demands adjustments- a most of the time.
Try not to worry, there is a lot more going on than just that. Your child is developmentally racing through neuro-developmental stages, their previously later bedtime biologically gets much earlier, they may be starting to show an interest in solid food, they will be learning that they are more separate to you….potentially start to teeth, possibly experience their first sickness….you may even be thinking about returning to work.
It may be exceptionally challenging at this period. It will improve –but you might need to earn it.
Suggestions that help survive the 4 Month regression
- Introduce my feeding and sleeping age-related balances for this age range with earnest- pay particular attention to the wake time-this now becomes earlier- between 6am and no later than 730am-the suggested nap times, nap durations and cut off points for day sleep
- Avoid allowing your baby to become overtired, encourage the daytime sleep, in any way that works for them. If holding them keeps them asleep longer, commit to this.
- Observe no naps after 5pm, even if they only fell asleep at 4.45pm, curate this nap ending to synchronise bedtime hormonally.
- Establish a Bedtime routine in the bedroom that your child sleeps.
- Bring forward bedtime with immediate effect-there is no need to do this slowly-they are designed to sleep around this 7pm mark.
- Create a dark environment for both bedtime, overnight and naps- we need to strengthen sleep ability now as much as possible
- Share the load and draft in support during this time.
Lucy Wolfe is a Sleep consultant, Co-creational Parent and Relationship Mentor, Author of The Baby Sleep Solution and All About The Baby Sleep Solution, creator of “Sleep Through”, a natural bed and body sleep spray and relaxing rub, and Mum of four. She runs a private sleep consulting practice where she provides knowledge, expertise, and valuable support to families around the world.