HOW TO TURN IT INTO A SUCCESS STORY
If you are reading this blog, chances are you are desperate to solve your current situation with your 4month old baby, you have a newborn and are in absolute fear of the dreaded 4th month regression or you can even be expecting still and want to know what to expect.
Well, we, parents, do not have much free time so let me explain it to you in a very simple way.
What happens during the 4th month sleep regression?
Your beautiful little one is not a newborn anymore and, as such, you can imagine that not only he is getting bigger in size but his brain is also developing at a very rapid pace. Around 3-5 months of age, your baby becomes more aware of the things around her. What was before a blur accompanied with background noise is now colors and sounds that she can perceive a lot more clearly! She is now learning to react to the big world around her and that is super exciting!
Now, what accompanies all this excitement is this famous sleep regression, which is no more than a period of time where your baby is developing mature sleep cycles. Your baby is transitioning away from the newborn sleep pattern! As a newborn, your little one only showed two sleep cycles, but now, he transitions between 4! This is very similar to adult sleep. This cycles last between 1,5 - 2 hours and, if he does not know how to connect those sleep cycles, he will wake up.
How do I know that my baby is going through this regression?
Remember when your little one was a newborn and she slept a lot? (like A LOT). Actually, what was difficult was to keep her awake! Well, now you can observe that, almost suddenly, your baby:
- Wakes up every 1,5-2 hours
- Needs hour(s) of rocking, patting, swaying to be able to fall asleep at night .... with a lot of crying involved
- Does not nap easily and even when she naps, these are short
- Looks tired and even cranky
- Does not take full feedings often
Do all babies go through it?
Yes and no. Your baby's brain will evolve, and that is something to celebrate. Now, if you have been working on your baby getting good sleep habits, you may not even notice this regression but, again, if the little one does not know how to connect this sleep cycles, he will wake up.
HELP! What do I do?
You will usually hear me say "with transitions, do not introduce any non useful sleep habit, just bite hard and wait for the storm to pass". Well, not with this one. The four month regression is incredibly important for your little one's sleep and so what you do know, will set the foundations for sleep for your baby. Ok, don0t worry, you can always change things later but if you do things right now, I guarantee that the ride will be a lot more smooth.
So, what can you do? I will give you a few bullets:
Continue to offer feedings every 2,5 - 3,5 hours following your child's hunger cues and strive for full feeds. It is not rare that we react to the multiple night wakes feeding the baby because "that's the only way we can all go back to sleep" but if you do this, you are probably experiencing very short feeds but still are slowly feeding his tummy. The next morning he is not super hungry so he does not do a full feed and suddenly you are in a very weird cycle.
Follow wake windows: Right now, your baby can stay awake for something between 1,5 and 2 hours and you are counting 3-4 naps so I cannot give you a schedule, but I can tell you that if you follow something like this, things will likely improve:
Keep your baby active and in natural daylight during awake time. Our internal clock is designed to respond to natural light so keeping your child active and in daylight will not only tire her but will also help re-adjust her internal clock.
Create a good sleep environment. Make sure that it’s dark, quiet, and calm! They can now differentiate perfectly between day and night so get your baby to sleep in the dark! It will be a lot more restorative!
Follow a routine before bedtime! bedtime routines help your baby get ready for sleep time and create a natural and gentle break between active and quiet time.
Put your baby down drowsy but awake. Yes, I know, this is probably the most difficult, but it is also what will help you achieve the dream goal: getting your child to connect sleep cycles! Think that the way your baby is falling asleep is the way he expects to be when he awakens from a sleep cycle (the same way you expect to continue to be in your bed and not on the kitchen floor ;-))
Eliminate sleep props! Everything that your baby depends on to fall asleep and cannot control is a sleep prop. If she needs you to re insert the Paci and she cries when it falls out of her mouth, it is a sleep prop. If he needs you to rock him to fall asleep, rocking is a sleep prop....
If your little one wakes up in the night, give her the chance to self soothe, for just 1 minute. You may get a nice surprise! But if she is up and it's time for a feed, try to do it as quickly as possible, keeping the room dark and quiet with minimal interaction.
I sincerely hope that these blog helps you turn the dreaded 4 month regression into your success story, because believe me when I say that you can!
But if you get stuck and need a hand in turning things around, give me a call. Together we can teach your baby some good sleep habits that will help avoid some sleep struggles in the future.
Any doubt? I am happy to reply to all of your questions in the comments section!