Sleep Regressions: Here’s What Parents Need to Know
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The Health Impact of This Sleep Disorder on Newborns
4 Month Sleep Regression – First time parents often feel relief once their baby starts to sleep longer and better, but if you think that everything is going to be smooth-sailing from here, you might want to reconsider this. At 3 to 4 months, your baby will start becoming inquisitive and more aware of the world that they are quite ready to explore more and even socialize more frequently hence your good night’s sleep is thrown out of the window.
What is the 4 Month Sleep Regression?
It is quite exciting to finally see your baby getting his or her night’s sleep already as it means that you too will be able to get back your lost sleep. But as they reach their fourth month, everything changes. Babies become awake at night which means that you too will lie awake at night listening to your baby’s cries or movements. This is called the 4 month sleep regression which is completely normal. The only problem is that you will have to deal with night wakings once more.
What is 4 month sleep regression? Baby sleep regression is just a fancy term used to refer to changing natural sleep patterns in babies as they reach their fourth month which leads to waking more often, changing the schedule of naps, and disrupted sleep at night.
Factors That Contribute To 4 Month Sleep Regression In Babies
What causes 4 month sleep regression? There are many factors that can contribute to your baby 4 month sleep regression such as:
Brain development. At 4 months, your baby’s brain is becoming matured which means that your little one is starting to become more like you in terms of sleep cycles. Your baby will start to navigate between light sleep and deep sleep which is completely normal at this stage in their life just like when they start to learn how to walk.
Grown up sleep pattern. Unfortunately, the change in your baby’s sleep habits that cause more waking moments at night and taking short naps during the day. This means that there will be more instances of you getting up from bed and helping your little one fall asleep.
Change in sleep needs. Babies can also experience changes in the amount of sleep that they need at this point, so don’t be disappointed when the bedtime routine that you have goes out of whack. This is just your baby’s way of telling you that they don’t need as much sleep compared to before which means that you should try adjusting their nap time.
How Long Does 4 Month Regression Lasts?
Aside from the question, “What is 4 month sleep regression?”, you’re probably wondering how long does a four month baby sleep regression last? For first time parents, having to deal with this regression period may feel like an eternity, but usually, it lasts from two to six weeks. Keep in mind, however, that babies have different growth spurt or stages, so don’t compare your baby’s growth with others. During this phase, babies start to learn self-soothing skills themselves to sleep especially when they wake up in the middle of the night.
What Are The Sleep Stages?
It is understandable for parents to feel confused and frustrated once babies enter the 4 month regression, but if you want to be able to alleviate the common problems that you and your partner will face, it’s important that you understand what the sleep stages are first.
- Stage 1. This is where you are starting to drift off to sleep, but not really there yet. Your baby can be easily woken up at this stage.
- Stage 2. If you or your baby have been taking naps, you’ve probably reached the second stage of sleep which is also referred to as true sleep. This is where, when you wake up, you’ve realized that you were able to fall asleep. Naps should be until this stage only to avoid waking up feeling groggy and out of sorts.
- Stage 3. This stage is referred to as the slow wave sleep or nREM sleep. This is where the repair and rejuvenation process kick in. And it’s not just the muscles or the tissues that are repaired at this point but also your immune system. Your baby needs to enter this stage for their growth and development.
- Stage 4. This sleep stage, also referred to as REM sleep, is where all brain activities happen, from recalling memories and absorbing them. All of us, whether young or old, undergo through these four stages of sleep cycle, and it is at stage 4 when we start to wake up or close to it until another round of sleep stages occur.
How do these sleep stages affect your little one? During the first three months, your baby will be navigating between the first three stages of sleep. As they enter the fourth month, they will be able to enter the fourth stage of REM sleep. And because of this change, your baby wakes up easily hence the 4 month regression.
How To Prevent Four Month Baby Sleep Regression
Sleep regression may be inevitable in babies, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t alleviate its effects. If you want to be able to reduce the impact of sleep regression in babies, here are a few tips that can help them sleep throughout the night.
Swaddle your baby. If you want to keep your baby from rolling over on their stomach when they wake up at night, learn to swaddle your baby correctly. This way, they will simply fall back to sleep when they can’t move around very much.
Enjoy the outdoors. Make it a point to bring your little one outdoors when there is plenty of sunshine, so they will become accustomed to the different changes of morning and night. This will help with the development of their circadian rhythm too.
Make the right sounds and motions. Another thing that can help you lull your baby back to sleep during their light sleep stage is by playing some white noise, or casually rocking their crib to make them fall asleep.
Learn to anticipate their hunger. It would be a good idea to learn when to feed your baby to minimize their nighttime hunger. You can breastfeed your baby at 11 in the evening so that they will be able to sleep for hours afterwards.
Tips On How To Deal With 4 Month Sleep Regression
Now that you know the answer to the question, “What is 4 month sleep regression?”, you’re probably wondering how you will be able to deal with the disruption in your baby’s sleep habits. Here are a few tips on how you can handle this sleep disorder, so you and your little one will be able to sleep better at night.
Break your sleep associations. Sleep associations include rocking them to sleep, singing to them, and any other habit that they associate with sleep. If you want to reduce the impact of sleep regression, you will need to cut back on your sleep associations little by little. It’s going to be tough, but it will be better for the both of you.
Prepare their sleep environment. Another factor that can contribute to your baby 4 months sleep regression is the environment that they sleep in. Even if you ask a sleep consultant, you will find that they will recommend this step too. Consider darkening your baby’s bedroom and make sure that there are no traces of light coming in as your little one is sensitive to it.
Use a sound machine. Aside from light, babies have a startle reflex when they hear a loud noise. And when your baby wakes in the middle of the night, it might be difficult to make them go back to sleep. With that being said, masking outside noise with a sound machine can be of good use. This way, even when the dogs are barking outside, your baby will be able to sleep soundly.
Stimulate their brain. Another way to help you deal with the sleep regression in your baby is to do some activities such as tummy time, peek-a-boo, singing, cuddling, dancing, or even talking to your little one. These activities not only help you create a bond with your baby, but it is also helping them become overtired so falling asleep won’t be difficult to do.
Skip the use of gadgets. Some parents expose their babies to tablets or smartphones to help them stay awake or busy. Unfortunately, this exposure to blue light affects your baby’s bedtime hence you end up with a baby who can’t fall asleep.
Allow your baby to self-settle. If your baby wakes sometime in the night, instead of rushing to his or her side to pick them up and lull them back to sleep, pause for a while and watch your little one settle on their crib on their own. You might find this is a good way to teach them how to move on to the next sleep cycle without your help, plus they stay asleep this way too.
Dream feed. There are studies that show that giving your breast to your baby while they are sleeping and feeding them for a while can put them into deep sleep after. This habit has been found to be effective with your baby’s sleep training. 
Keep it down. If you need to change your baby’s nappy in the middle of the night, do it quietly as much as possible. Talking to your little one at this point will only stimulate their brain thus leaving them quite awake and unable to go to sleep.
Create a sleep routine. Your baby needs routine to help them settle down at night. A good example here is to give your baby a warm bath, then a few minutes of massage with lotion, then dressing them up in comfy clothes such as Magic Merlin sleepsuit.
Allow your baby to become fussy. Parents have the tendency to rush to their baby’s bedside when they become fussy in the hopes that they can prevent a full-blown waking baby. However, you are teaching your little one to rely on you constantly for them to fall asleep. This can prevent them from sleeping on their own. It’s better to leave your baby to fuss around for a little bit because it is here when they learn to soothe themselves to sleep.
Move their bedtime. Changing your baby’s bedtime to an earlier time may help them get a good sleep. If you usually tuck your baby in at 9 pm, change it to 7:30 in the evening so they will be able to sleep longer. Remember that babies need longer sleeping hours even when they are taking naps in the morning. 
Talk to a baby sleep consultant. If you have tried all the tips mentioned here, but your baby is still wide awake, talking to a sleep consultant can help. They are in the best position to provide you with their recommendations on how you can make your baby fall asleep during the 4 month sleep regression.
It is understandable that dealing with the sleep regression in babies during their 4th month can be challenging and trying at times. However, being prepared for it and knowing how to prevent it from happening in the first place, can reduce the frustrations that you are feeling and ensures that your little one is getting the most sleep. Although there are many mistakes that parents can do at this point, take it easy. This is a learning curve for you and one that you will get the hang of soon enough. Remember that this is just one of the milestones that you will encounter as you raise your baby so have patience and you will be rewarded.
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