Understanding the 4-Month Sleep Regression (Progression): A Guide for Parents

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The 4-month sleep progression is a phase that often leaves parents feeling puzzled and exhausted. It’s a common time for sleep disturbances to occur, prompting many to seek support in managing their baby’s sleep patterns. This progression is driven by a combination of four significant changes in your baby’s development:

  1. Breastfeeding Impact: For breastfeeding mothers, the longer stretches between feeds that may have been experienced earlier can affect milk supply. Before the 6-8 week mark, supply is hormonally driven, but around 3-4 months, a decrease in breastfeeding frequency can impact supply. Babies may compensate by waking more frequently to feed, especially if there are issues with tongue function that prevented baby from taking full feeds and draining the breast. If you are a breastfeeding parent and have concerns about feeding, you are best to reach out to an IBCLC for support.
  2. Increased Awareness: Babies become more aware of their surroundings around this age, leading to increased distractibility during daytime feeds. Consequently, they may prefer feeding at night when there are fewer distractions and higher milk supply levels.
  3. Changes in Sleep Cycles: Around 4 months, babies undergo a permanent change in their sleep cycles, becoming more adult-like. This transition can significantly affect their sleep patterns, leading to more frequent awakenings.
  4. Rolling Milestone: Many babies begin to roll around this age, which can disrupt sleep. Babies who roll onto their stomachs may struggle to return to their backs, leading to nighttime awakenings.

Surviving the 4-Month Sleep Progression:

During this challenging phase, self-care becomes paramount. Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup. Prioritize self-care to ensure you have the energy to care for your baby effectively.

Baby-Led Strategies:

  • Tune into Your Baby: Pay attention to your baby’s tired cues to ensure they get the sleep they need.
  • Support Sleep: Utilize motion, carriers, and in-arms naps to help your baby settle for sleep.
  • Allow Time for Skill Practice: Create opportunities for your baby to practice new skills during the day, minimizing disruptions to nighttime sleep.
  • Be Flexible: Let go of rigid schedules and embrace flexibility to meet your baby’s evolving needs.

Parent-Led Strategies:

  • Seek Support: Consult a lactation consultant if you’re concerned about changes in milk supply.
  • Build Your Support Network: Don’t hesitate to ask for help from friends, family, or support groups.
  • Establish Routines: Maintain consistent daytime and nighttime routines to help your baby understand what to expect.
  • Be Responsive: Trust your intuition and continue to respond to your baby’s needs with sensitivity and respect.

The 4-month sleep progression can be a challenging time for both babies and parents. By understanding the underlying changes driving these sleep disturbances and implementing supportive strategies, you can navigate this phase with patience and care. Remember, this too shall pass, and with time, both you and your baby will settle into more restful nights.

For more support during this time, book a coaching call with one of our amazing coaches or sign up for one of our incredible sleep courses.