Baby Hints & Tips

The 4 Month Sleep Regression

What is the 4 month sleep regression?

The 4 month sleep regression happens between 4-6 months old, and is not truly a regression as such but more a developmental leap forward which affects sleep. When it happens, parents often think their baby is teething or that they need to start solids, but this is rarely the case. Disruption from teething usually occurs over a few days and then subsides, and hungry babies can be sustained through this time by increasing their milk feeds. Introducing solids too early or increasing their solids to quickly can cause their sleep to become worse because they are not having the correct balance of nutrients that is provided by the milk.

4 month sleep regressionWhy does sleep regression happen?

This ‘regression’ happens because the baby’s sleep cycles are maturing and changing. They move from newborn cycles (which are 4-6 hourly at night) to adult cycles (which are 2-4 hourly – or even less if your baby is overtired from cat napping during the day!). At this time, a baby that you were feeding 4-5 hourly overnight may start waking every 2 hours or less. The only way baby knows how to go back to sleep is by being assisted by their parents. Whilst rocking or patting back to sleep after 4-5 hours is achievable and ‘easy’, parents often quickly tire from having to repeat this every 2 hour over night. To solve this we need to gently teach your little one to put themselves back to sleep with less parent assistance.

Cat napping is also a major contributor to this ‘regression’, while this can be relatively normal and to be expected under 12 weeks, if your baby starts to get grumpy after their 45 minute naps, and wake 2 hourly at night, this is a pretty good sign their short naps are no longer restorative and we need to look at helping them to lengthen their sleeps and establish really healthy sleep habits.

What can I do about sleep regression?

Babies who are taught to settle to sleep on their own and resettle between sleep cycles are far less likely to experience this regression. For very young babies, gentle methods are the best way to go. Cry-based sleep training does not work for babies under 4 months of age, and you should never leave your newborn to cry it out, because they are neurologically incapable of learning to sleep in this way.

Your strategy should be the same if you have a newborn or if your baby has started to go through this ‘regression’ already. Start with their naps at the beginning of the day, and by nighttime, baby has already had 3-4 attempts at self-settling and re-settling. This will take some time, so the key is persistence. Soon enough, baby will start to learn the skill of settling and resettling, and you will be back to your 2 wake-up nights.


Share your thoughts and comments on the 4 month sleep regression below

Jade Acuna

About the Author:

Jade is a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant at Baby Sleep Consultant Australia and mum to two beautiful children. She has 15 years experience working with children and their families, and couldn’t find anything more rewarding. You can find out more about Jade and what she does at Baby Sleep Consultant or if you think you have a sleep problem, you can phone Jade directly on 0415507004, and she’d be happy to help you.

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  1. AvatarAmanda says:

    This explained why this is happening but not really how to change it where/how can i get more info. I think this is what’s happening with my 4 & a half mth old & i’ve started her on farex rice cereals only in last 2days & don’t want to be doing the wrong thing for her

    • JadeJade says:

      Hi Amanda, This is Jade, from Baby Sleep Consultant, the author of this article. Would you like to give me a call so I can discuss this with you? 041507004. 🙂

  2. AvatarAriane says:

    Hi Jade are you able to call me to discuss this issue as well?

  3. Avatarangela says:

    This is exactly my 5 mth old. She only naps 15 to 20mins in day now. I used to vacum etc never woke now house has to be silent. Used to wake 3am 6am now 10pm 12am 3 6.. a a few inbetween for dummy.
    How do i help her get back on track and give her the help she needs?
    We tryied solids too but just seals lips shut. Is bf only.
    Thank yoi

  4. AvatarLaura says:

    I compleTell agree with the above. We taught my son to re settle on his own at 2-3 months old. Now at 4 he’s too interested in everything to do it him self. Do we start back at square one?

  5. Avatarashley says:

    This is had been going on with my almost 2 year old,for a while n no matter what I’ve done she will not put heself to sleep just cry n cry n the eventually gets sick from being so upset. My family always said she isn’t sleeping BC her teeth or a belly ache but now they tell me u spolied her. I rock dance sing jump threw hoops n try for up to two hours since thats usually how long it take to put her to sleep, I am soo exhausted n grumpy all the time she still doesn’t sleep threw the night with sometime more than 4 time getting up just to be comforted or repositioned . HELPPP PLEASE

  6. AvatarEbony says:

    Can you provide tips on HOW we get them to self settle at 3 months before this ‘regression’? My 3mo is a great night sleeper – goes down 7-8pm through until 4-5am. He doesn’t have long naps in the day unless we’re at home, but this has never affected his night sleep. Worried that this will all be out the window in the next month or 2! Also concerned that he needs to be held by us to fall asleep during the day at the moment …

  7. AvatarJustine says:

    Great read but like all the other comments doesn’t really help as to how to help our little ones. How do we go about getting more information?
    Thank you

  8. AvatarKaylene says:

    So pleased you have said not to let babies cry it out. People need to know not to do this and parents need to hear this.