The 4-month sleep regression is a short-term phenomenon when a baby’s sleep patterns shift—they frequently wake up during the night and may struggle to fall back asleep. This phenomenon means that the baby is going through a growth spurt or learning a new skill. The 4-month sleep regression can be a frustrating time for a baby, and that stress is reflected in their disrupted sleep patterns.
The 4-month sleep regression starts when a baby is between 3 to 4 months of age and can last up to four weeks. It can also occur around 6 months, 8 months, and 12 months, but they’re not as common as the 4-month sleep regression.
Our article reviews 4-month sleep regression signs and shares tips on managing this tricky period in your baby’s life.
Signs of 4 Month Sleep Regression
If your baby was sleeping through the night but is suddenly waking frequently, they may be going through a 4-month sleep regression. Other signs include the baby practicing a new skill, like sitting up or rolling over, and they seem more interested in their surroundings.
Baby is Waking More Often
One of the most common signs of the 4-month sleep regression is frequent nighttime wakings. It may seem like the baby wakes every hour instead of sleeping throughout the night. The baby may also struggle with naptime.
Baby is Practicing a New Skill
During the day, you may notice your baby trying to roll over. This is a big milestone as the baby learns motor skills. Babies typically start rolling over at 3 to 4 months and master the skill by 6 to 7 months.
Baby is More Interested in Their Surroundings
As you feed the baby or try to put them to sleep, the baby may seem distracted, with their eyes focused elsewhere. This is a sign of brain development as the baby learns to extend their focus to their surroundings instead of what’s immediately in front of them.
How to Manage 4 Month Sleep Regression
4-month sleep regressions are stressful for both you and your baby—the baby is trying to learn a new skill, and you’re not getting enough sleep because the baby keeps waking up. The good news is that sleep regressions are temporary and should only last a few weeks. The following are tips to get your baby out of regression and into a consistent sleep routine.
Full Feedings During the Day
During a 4-month sleep regression, babies may lose interest in eating because their attention shifts elsewhere. Try to limit distractions by feeding your baby in a less stimulating environment, like an empty corner of the room with the TV off. Full feedings ensure your baby doesn’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night. Also, once the baby starts sleeping through the night, try not to feed them when they wake up crying, or they may expect this response every time they wake up.
Instead of holding your baby until they fall asleep, place them in their crib when they’re drowsy and leave the room once they’re settled. When a baby wakes up crying at night, don’t immediately get up. Wait a few minutes to teach your baby how to self-soothe. If they continue to cry, then get up and go to them. Be quick and soothing—you want to keep them tired and avoid talk and play to reinforce the idea that nighttime is for sleeping.
Parents need a dark room to sleep in, and so does the baby. A dark bedroom encourages better sleep because it blocks out light that would otherwise make sleeping difficult. Any light source could disrupt sleep, especially during the 4-month sleep aggression. When the baby wakes up in the morning, make sure the bedroom is full of natural light to ensure normal sleep cycles.
At 3 to 4 months of age, babies need 10 to 15 hours of sleep, including frequent naps. Establishing a baby’s sleep patterns is best through a consistent bedtime routine, including a bath, changing into pajamas, or singing a lullaby. Following a routine helps the baby associate these activities with bedtime and allows their bodies to unwind and prepare for sleep.
Pay attention to your baby’s sleep cues, like rubbing their eyes or yawning—these are signs your baby is drowsy and the perfect time to put them down for a nap. During the 4-month sleep regression, the baby may struggle with nighttime sleep and take longer naps during the day. Establishing good nighttime sleep habits will ensure healthy nap times, too. Make sure the baby doesn’t nap for more than 2 hours at a time during the day.
Even with a consistent routine, it’s important to be flexible regarding your baby’s sleep regression. Your baby’s normal sleeping patterns may be disrupted, but adjusting accordingly helps reduce sleep aggression. Remember that your baby will feel frustrated as they learn new skills—as long as you do the best you can and show plenty of affection and support, you’ll both feel better and experience less stress.
Can you sleep train during the 4-month sleep regression?
Even though your baby frequently wakes at night or takes short naps during the day, sleep training is possible during a 4-month sleep regression. Be flexible and try to soothe your baby at night and keep them active during the day. Before bedtime, establish a routine so the baby can sleep without distractions like toys and TV. During the day, expose the baby to natural light, and when they show signs of sleepiness, put them in a quiet area for naptime.
Is it normal for 4-month-old babies to cluster feed?
Cluster feeding is a normal part of a 4-month sleep regression. If you automatically feed the baby when they wake up crying at night, the baby will think it is normal. Instead, fully feed your baby in an area of the house with the least amount of distractions at night. The baby can focus on eating instead of their surroundings.
This method decreases the risk of the baby waking up at night feeling hungry. Plus, the baby will be less fussy when it’s time for bed.
How do I teach my baby to self soothe?
Self-soothing means your baby can calm down and go back to sleep on their own after waking up. A few common ways to teach a baby to self soothe are establishing regular sleeping times, offering a security object, like a stuffed toy or blanket, and when the baby wakes up crying, wait a few minutes before going to them.
Self-soothing is an excellent way for a baby to learn how to process moods, so they’re less fussy as they grow older. Every baby is different—experiment to see what works best.
At what age do babies link sleep cycles?
Around 6 months is when most babies start to establish healthy sleep habits. As a general rule of thumb, don’t start until the baby is old enough to fall asleep on their own at nap time. When it’s time for bed, make sure the baby’s room is dark and cool to prevent distractions, and put them to bed and wake them at specific times every day. Guiding a baby in linking sleep cycles helps establish a regular circadian rhythm and ensures better sleep.
What age do babies roll over?
Around 3 to 4 months is when babies start to roll over. It may seem like a simple action, but it’s a big milestone for a baby. Rolling over is a sign of the baby building strength and mobility—it also means a baby can sense trouble while asleep, so they can move to their sides if they have trouble breathing. If the baby hasn’t learned to roll over by 6 months, talk with your pediatrician.
The 4-month sleep regression is stressful for both you and your baby, but know that this period won’t last forever. Be flexible and patient, and follow our helpful tips on managing 4-month sleep regression. The baby may still fuss and wake up at odd hours, but staying consistent helps the baby get back to regular circadian rhythms. If the baby has a fever or seems fussier than normal, talk with a healthcare professional.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.