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What is the deal with the 4 Month Regression?

Parents often hear about the dreaded 4 month regression and worry about how it is going to impact their baby’s sleep so here is everything you need to know.

What is the 4 Month Regression ?

It is when a baby’s sleep cycle changes and becomes more adult-like in structure. This is a normal developmental phase which all babies will go through. Lyndsey Hookway refers to it as a progression, rather than a regression because sleep can’t developmentally go backwards. It is always moving forwards but there will be bumps along the way! 

When Might It Happen ?

It can happen from around 4 months of age but it can happen as early as 3 months and as late as 6 months.

How long will it last ?

It usually lasts anywhere between 2-6 weeks but this very much depends on your baby’s temperament. Some babies will naturally be more sensitive to these changes and therefore they will take longer to get used to them, whereas others with a less sensitive temperament will get used to them very quickly or they may not even notice them! 

How do I know if my baby is going through the 4 month Progression ?

These are some of the behavioural changes you might see if your baby is going through the 4 month progression:

  • finding falling to sleep harder

  • waking up after a very short time

  • resisting naps

  • finding it more difficult to settle for naps and bedtime than before

  • being less interested in feeding during the day 

  • needing more feeds during the night

  • being more unsettled at night

  • being more unsettled during the day

  • not wanting to be put down and appearing more 'clingy'

  • feeding, rocking or bouncing no longer easily puts your baby back to sleep

Not all babies will struggle with the 4 month Progression 

Try not to dread this phase because not all babies are sensitive to the changes that happen around 4 months of age and your baby may sail through this phase!

What can I do if my baby is finding the 4 month progression really hard  ?

If your baby is finding these changes difficult, then ‘lean in’ and know that this is the time that your baby will need lots more support than usual. This is not the time to try and ‘teach your baby to self soothe’ (this isn’t actually possible and usually means leaving your baby to cry which is the last thing you want to do when you know that your baby is going through a difficult time).

'Leaning in' may mean:

  • having all naps as contact naps or on the move (if your baby finds this easier),

  • safe bedsharing (if that gets you and your baby more sleep) 

  • offering your baby more support to fall asleep

  • offering more feeds

  • having more skin to skin time

Both of my babies were very sensitive to the 4 month progression (they woke every 45 minutes during the night which nearly broke me!) but they both came through the other side. If you are going through a similar time, remember that you are not doing anything wrong (this was always going to happen) and that it is just a phase which will get better. 

I hope this provides you with some understanding and reassurance around the 4 month ‘sleep regression’ .If you are after any more sleep tips or advice, check out my Instagram account @teachtosleep where I run a weekly Q and A session or take a look at my self paced online courses.


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