How to Survive the 4 Month Sleep Regression

The dreaded 4 month sleep regression. The time in a babies’ life where we seriously contemplate sleeping while standing up at work because we aren’t getting more than 3 hours at home. I swear, this is the sole reason that makes me debate having more kiddos (but in the end, the squishy cute baby faces ALWAYS win). The truth is, being sleep deprived can make us crazy but in the end, these little babes are worth every second of lost sleep. I can promise you this. You just need to survive this period of time (AND YOU WILL).

The dreaded 4 month sleep regression, tips & tricks for making it through!

How to Survive the 4 Month Sleep Regression

Before I tell you about our TWO experiences with this regression, I asked Melissa Perry from the Cradle Coach a few of the questions you posted on my #latenightnursingfeed and she answered them for you! 

1. Why does the 4 month sleep regression happen?
Around 4 months of age, your baby transitions from a newborn who can sleep anywhere regardless of noise, stimulation, environment, to becoming much more aware of their surroundings and going from newborn sleep to baby sleep. Many babies aren’t happy with this realization and it can cause a disruption in sleep. Your child may also be working on new physical skills as well, such as being able to roll over from tummy to back and can distract them from sleeping. 
 
2. Is there a way to “sleep train” without the CIO method?
Absolutely! In fact, most of the time at this age we highly recommend working on your child’s sleep process with a very gentle sleep method. There does’t need to be a full fledge cry session happening. Slight adjustments to your habits can go a long way! 
 
3. How do you get a 4 month old to nap longer than 30 minutes on her own?
Around this age, naps aren’t necessarily consistent quite yet. Their bodies are still changing and as they continue to adopt sleep habits more in line as adults, they haven’t quite reached their with their naps. I would make sure you set the stage up right though. Make sure their room is DARK, cool (68-72 degrees), same routine as bedtime, and stick to the same sleep training technique if needed. Three to four naps is common at this age but make sure you are spreading them out so they aren’t overtired by bedtime. Go ahead and aim for 1.5-2 hours after wake up for their first nap, roughly 2.5-3 hours after their first nap for their second, and finally 2 hours after the second nap for the last nap of the day. One of those naps needs to be at least a 1.5 hour long nap. If it’s not, you have to reinforce sleep training. Here are more additional tips on getting your child to sleep longer for those naps. 
 
4. Is it ok to still be swaddling my 4 month old (arms only) if he isn’t rolling back to front yet? 
Yes! I’m a big fan on swaddling as long as you can until the they begin to start rolling. Then it’s time to transition. 
 
5. How can I stretch out those late night feedings? It feels like my baby is waking up so frequently at night!
Slowly! Your baby might still be needing those feeding – make sure they’re getting plenty in the day. Then you can stretch the feedings by choosing a sleep training method that is based off of your parenting philosophy and your child’s personality. Every other time they wake, feed your child. The other wake ups, handle with sleep training. See what feeding is needed verse out of habit. Keep the ones that are needed but any wake ups in between should be handled with your technique. 
 
6. Do all babies go through this 4 month sleep regression?
No! The regression is a developmental growth and if your baby is healthy, they will go through the stage but not every child regresses in their sleep habits.
 
7. My first didn’t go through this and now my second is smack dab in the middle of it! Every night she’s waking up crying and the ONLY thing that makes her fall asleep (even for a short time) is feeding her. She’s slept through the night since 6 weeks. Any tips?!
Even though she slept through the night, that doesn’t mean now she doesn’t need a feeding. In fact as she continues to grow and develop, her body maybe requiring her of a feeding or two. But when you find that her feeding in take has increased in the day and she doesn’t necessarily need a feeding, slowly wean her. Every few nights, drop the feeding down to two minutes if you’re breastfeeding and 1/2 an ounce if you’re bottle feeding. Once the feeding is completely gone, you might need to use your sleep training technique. Don’t continue the feeding if you have been able to completely eliminate the feeding. Here are additional tips on helping you wean gently. 
 
8. Do you have to ditch the paci in order to sleep train? Give me hope that we can keep it!!
Nope! You can absolutely keep it. If it’s becoming a dependent item that makes you have to go replace it throughout the night, then I would say it’s time to get rid of it. Otherwise, you’re good to go. 
 
9. How can I start the transition from a bassinet in our room to a crib in my baby’s own room?
Start with the naps! Bring the bassinet into your child’s room and begin working on placing your baby down awake the crib. Once naps are down, then work on the nights! 
 
10. How do you sleep train when your baby is also teething?
If your baby is extra fussy during the day, gnawing on their hands, chewing on everything, or drooling all over, you’re definitely is showing signs of teething. These signs will also give you a good picture as to how your night will turn out….rough! That being said, you can ask your pediatrician if you can give your child a pain reliever like Motrin or Infant Tylenol at the start of bedtime and again in the middle of the night to help alleviate the pain. If you’re nursing, you can expect your baby to wake for more feedings as it helps alleviate the pain on their gums. All that being said, don’t hold off for sleep training! Sleep training is challenging and bumps in the road like teething can make you want to stop. But sleep is what your child needs more then anything else during this time so keep at it. 

 My Experiences

My first experience with the 4 month sleep regression with Liv was actually easier and I will tell you why. Liv gave me a run for my money from the very start. She was very colicky and she cried every day/night from around 4 pm – 11 pm when she went to sleep. She woke up at 3 months and never cried again but it also made it easier for me to lightly sleep train her when she went through the 4 month sleep regression. I don’t believe in letting your baby cry it out endlessly but I do believe that giving your baby the sleep that so desperately need is key. We followed an approach that I was completely comfortable and worked closely with Melissa from The Cradle Coach to train Olivia to sleep through the night. On night one, we put her down awake and she cried for about one hour total (and we went in every 3 minutes to sing to her and put our hand on her belly and then we would walk out after 10 seconds). If she stopped crying for more than 10 seconds, the 3 minute time clock would go back down to zero (when they quiet down, they are teaching themselves to self soothe, which is key!) On night two, she only cried about 20 minutes (again, with us going in every 3 minutes) and night three, she slept through the night. I made the active choice to still nurse her once around 3 am, but honestly, she didn’t need it in terms of her nourishment… I just wasn’t ready to drop that feeding. I did drop it at 8 months and she easily slept right through the entire night for 12 hours. 

 

With Ellie, things were slightly different. We keep her in our room slightly longer than with Olivia and I also nurse Ellie on demand. So, every time she woke up at night, I would nurse her back to sleep. This is great, for the first three months, but after that, we started to create a habit. Ellie would wake to eat out of habit, not because she was actually hungry. One night, Ellie woke up every 20 minutes for the entire night and I completely lost my mind. The next night, we moved her into her own room and her own crib and that was the first step to success. Having her out of our room allowed her to feel safe in a different space without me right next to her. Plus, she didn’t smell the milk. It’s like a tease having the milk right next to her and then saying, “Oh no, you can’t have this right now”. We put her in her crib awake and started the same routine as we did with Olivia. This was a bit more difficult for me because Ellie never cries and it was so hard for me to hear her cry for even a second. However, I know that she needs her sleep and that in just a few nights, she would feel completely comfortable and be able to soothe herself easily. The first night went similarly to Liv’s first night. On the second night, she would let out a cry here and there but we never had to go in the room. The third night, she slept great! I still nurse her once throughout the night and that time will vary. For example, last night, she slept 845 – 5 and I fed her at 5, she went back to sleep until 845! 

If you have any individual questions, you can forward them to my email or post them here and I will try my best to answer them!

Now, off to get Ellie to take three naps in her crib! 🙂 

OTHER GREAT RESOURCES FOR MOMS:

GENERAL // Things I Wish I Knew Before Our Baby Arrived (Written by over 50 other mothers!) //  What to Bring a Mom after she has a Baby // New Mama Must-Haves // How to Transition from a Bottle to a Sippy Cup // Why you Should Hire a Birth Photographer // What I’ve Learned as a Mom Thus Far

BREASTFEEDING // Best Foods to Eat while Breastfeeding // Nursing Essentials // 10 Tips for those that Plan to Breastfeed // Nursing Essentials II // How to Increase your Milk Supply including a recipe for Lactation Cookies!

BABY REGISTRY GUIDES // Baby Registry List AND Free Printable Checklist  // The Ultimate Baby Registry Checklist // 

FOR AFTER BABY // A Letter to My Postpartum Body // 10 of the Best Online Kids Shops // 30 Going on 13: A Tale of Postpartum Puberty //

12 Comments

  1. Jenni
    March 3, 2016 / 11:19 am

    My 4 month old goes to sleep around 6:30 and falls asleep quite easy. I put her in the crib sleepy but awake. The problem is she will usually wakes starting an hour and a half later and then has random wakings throughout the night. We usually go right in and put the pacifier back in and she falls back to sleep. My question is if I am doing the right thing by immediately going in and replacing the pacifier. She only has one feeding in the night but it is the wakings that I don’t know if I am handling it right. She is a short napper all day…25-35 minute naps. I put her down about every 2 hours throughout the day. By 6:15 she is ready to eat and for bed. Any advice would be appreciated.

  2. Flora
    March 3, 2016 / 12:39 pm

    Thanks for the great post! I’ve recently transitioned our baby from co sleeping to crib. He was great before, feeding every 4 hours or so. However, he’s waking up every 2 hours. We have no idea whether to console, feed, or ignore him. He’s currently 9 weeks old. We don’t want to create any bad habits with feeding /consoling him every time. Thanks very much!

  3. Jenn
    March 3, 2016 / 2:59 pm

    Love your blog! Thanks for sharing! We have a 7 week old baby (our second, we have a little girl around the same age as Liv). Our 7 week old baby will not sleep in his bassinet or crib. He will only sleep on us or in his swing. He has gas/ tummy problems and starts to scream whenever we put him down to sleep. We have tried swaddling him (he fights it like crazy) and we’ve tried elevating his crib, thinking that he may sleep better this way given his tummy issues. We didn’t ever have these issues with our first. She went down in his bassinet/crib very easily but she also LOVED being swaddled. He sometimes will fall asleep if he has his pacifier in his mouth but will wake up as soon as it falls out. Any suggestions? I feel like I’m failing as a mom and I don’t want him sleeping in his swing! All the swinging all night worries me!

  4. Dee
    March 3, 2016 / 4:39 pm

    I will be going back to work when my son is 5 months old. How do I manage sleep training and a napping schedule while he is in day care? I hope his daycare will follow my instructions but to some extent he will be part of the class schedule. What if that interferes with the # of naps, etc? Any tips for having daycare providers support the parents’ sleep training efforts would be great. Thanks, this post was really helpful!

  5. Jenni
    March 5, 2016 / 10:14 pm

    Thanks for replying to me. So we have tried not to go in every time she cries out. She went to bed around 6 and seemed so ready for bed. Since then she has woken up about 6 times. We have done it all..tried to cry it out but she is going longer than 15 minutes (what the pediatrician recommended), trying to burp her, replacing the pacifier. She just keeps waking up crying out. She falls back asleep pretty easy but it keeps happening. She is 5 months this week. Any more helpful advice would be greatly appreciated.

  6. Melanie
    March 8, 2016 / 11:01 am

    I was disappointed to read that this post turned into a post about sleep training infants. There are ways to survive changes in infant sleep that don’t involve leaving babies to cry and I wish those had been covered.

  7. Krystal
    May 24, 2016 / 2:39 pm

    Hi. Great article. My little one is 4 months and goes down easy at night around 9 or 930. We started this around 2 months and she was sleeping until 3 until she was 3 months. Now she wakes at 12:30 or 1. Sometimes she eats but not much, but if I put her next to me in bed she will go back to sleep. So I’m not sure if is comfort or hunger that’s waking her. So I guess my question is what to do when your LO wakes in the middle of the night?

  8. June 2, 2016 / 1:40 pm

    My first didn’t really do sleep regressions. In fact, she always loved to sleep, super easy baby, never got the evening crankies, etc. This baby? Oh my word! Night and day. She’s 7.5 weeks right now and after starting to sleep pretty great at night, went through a regression at 6 weeks. I am pinning this so I have the resource in a couple months. I bed she’ll also go through the 4 month regressions since she is the polar opposite of my first baby. 😉 (visiting from This Is How We Roll)

  9. Sara
    January 29, 2017 / 8:28 am

    Help. My baby is going through this. He knows how to roll from back to belly and just wants to roll all night. How can I help this

  10. June 4, 2017 / 11:57 pm

    Great post! Love the Q&A – tons of great info! I feel like our sleep training beliefs and methods are on the same page! Linking to your post from my blog if that’s ok? Thanks for the info!

  11. Jergen
    September 14, 2017 / 1:29 pm

    This is a great post my daughter just went to sleep for 8-12hours lastweek then lastnight she was just crying incosolably then she went back to sleep then cry again until I nursed her. Is this sleep regression?we have a routine starting at 6pm she usually go to sleep between 8-9pm. Should I adjust her sleeling time between 6-7?

  12. Shannon
    November 8, 2017 / 3:53 am

    You said this method isn’t CIO. But isn’t letting them cry for an hour, even with going in every few minutes, considered CIO? I know CIO works but I’m just not ready to let my 3 month old cry for that long, especially when I know all he wants is the comfort of his mommy (nursing). But he went from waking up once or twice a night to 5-6 times. Isn’t there any other way to help him sleep longer other than CIO?

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