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Just as you’re emerging from the newborn haze and your baby is sleeping for longer stretches during the night it hits—the 4-month sleep regression. Suddenly, it feels like you’ve taken 10 steps back: your baby is taking short naps, screaming through bedtime, waking multiple times per night, and rising at the crack of dawn. I feel you, mama.
First, rest assured that the sudden changes in your baby’s sleep habits are developmentally normal. Although it’s known as the 4-month sleep regression, these changes typically occur anywhere between 3 to 5 months of age. The fact is there’s a heck of a lot going on in your baby’s brain that’s keeping her awake during the day and night. The biggest is that your baby is starting to sleep less like a baby and more like an adult.
Before, she’d fall asleep and almost immediately enter a deep stage of sleep. That’s why you were able to bring your sleeping newborn into a noisy restaurant or transfer her from your arms to her bassinet without her stirring. Now, it takes your baby more time before reaching those deeper stages of sleep so it’s more difficult to get her to fall asleep and stay asleep. She’s also developing more mature sleep cycles. This means that every hour or two she briefly wakes before (hopefully) returning to sleep. The problem is, if your baby is used to being held, fed, or rocked to sleep up to this point, she’s going to expect you to do those same things to help her return to sleep when she wakes throughout the night.
In addition to your baby’s maturing sleep cycles, months 3 to 5 often bring about other changes that can interfere with sleep such as:
While all of the sleep woes you’re experiencing are completely normal, there are several steps you can take to help your baby (and yourself) catch some much-needed Z’s. The 4-month sleep regression isn’t just something to endure—it’s an opportunity to establish healthy sleep habits that will benefit your entire family for a long time to come. Here’s what you can do:
Put your baby to bed drowsy but awake. Start putting your baby down for naps and at night when she’s drowsy (or fully awake). Give her a few minutes to work on falling asleep independently so that she has the chance to develop self-soothing skills. These may include sucking her hand or fingers, rubbing her head back and forth on the mattress, rubbing her little feet together, and more. These will become the tools she’ll use when she wakes during a nap or at night to return to sleep instead of needing you to rock, feed, shush, or bounce her back to dreamland. The better your baby is able to link sleep cycles the more sleep you’ll both get.
Leverage age-appropriate sleep windows. Sleep windows are the times during the day and in the evening when your baby will be able to fall asleep more easily for naps and bedtime. At 4 months old, most babies should be on a 3-nap-a-day sleep schedule. The chart below shows the optimal times for starting those naps and bedtime:
End Nap 1 at 11:00 am to protect Nap 2.
11:30 a.m-1:00 p.m.
The goal is to put your baby down as close to 1:00 pm as possible, but adjust the start of Nap 2 based on the quality of Nap 1.
End daytime sleep by 4:30 pm to protect bedtime.
If naps are short, bedtime should be around 5:30 p.m. If your baby wakes from a third nap at 4:30 p.m., then bedtime can be between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.
*You do not need to cap Nap 2. If Nap 2 is lengthy, skip Nap 3 and adjust bedtime as needed. Nap 3 is always discretionary and simply designed to bridge the gap between day and night.
Make bedtime earlier. When babies are awake for too long, they enter into an overtired state. A chemical reaction occurs in which their bodies convert the sleep hormone melatonin into the stress hormone cortisol, which makes it much more difficult for them to fall asleep. The number one reason for bedtime struggles, waking up multiple times per night, and early rising is a bedtime that’s too late. Your baby’s optimal bedtime depends on the quality of her daytime sleep. If her naps were less than 60 minutes or she skipped the third nap, then lean on an earlier bedtime. If her first two naps were an hour or longer and she took a third nap, then putting her down between 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. is appropriate.
Ramp up tummy time during the day. Babies often practice new skills in the safety and comfort of their crib. That’s not so cute, though, when your baby is attempting to roll over in her crib at 2 a.m. instead of sleeping. Increase her tummy time sessions during the day to help her master this skill so it won’t take such a toll on sleep. Aim for three tummy time sessions per day lasting 10 to 15 minutes each. Get down on her level and encourage her rolling by gently shaking a toy just over her shoulder. This will help her build those core, tummy, and neck muscles needed to roll independently. Remember that once she’s able to roll, it’s no longer safe to swaddle for sleep.
Find a sleep training method that works for you. We don’t sleep train babies prior to 4 months from their estimated due date, but if your baby is 4 months or older, then our sleep training methods can work for you. Sleep training doesn’t have to mean cry it out. Download one of our ebooks or schedule a free 15 minute sleep consultation to get started.
You Can Do This
As difficult as the 4-month sleep regression is, your baby is making major leaps during this time. At the end of this month, she’s going to seem less like an infant and more like a baby—she’s going to be more interactive and engaging; she’ll be full of giggles, coos, and other adorable noises; she may be starting to roll or crawl; she’s going to explore toys and objects with greater curiosity and interest; and she’s going to fill your world with so much fun. The sleep struggles during this time are real, but taking the steps above will help you both get more rest and make this exciting stage that much more enjoyable.
Do you have questions about your baby or toddler and want to learn more tips to improve sleep? Sign up for your free 15-minute sleep consultation with a certified infant & toddler sleep consultant by visiting dreambabysleep.com/scheduler.
About Dream Baby Sleep
Dream Baby Sleep® is a loving group of certified experts who are successfully teaching families how to create and maintain healthy sleep. Our diverse education and team dynamic empower us to customize a plan catered to your family’s personal needs. By studying the temperament of your baby, parenting style and family dynamic we’re able to draw from all sleep training methods available to create success for your family.
ONE LUCKY WINNER WILL RECEIVE:
- Newton Baby - Breathable Crib Mattress
- Raised Real - 12-meal box value
- Woolino- 4 Season Baby Sleep Bag
- Dream Baby Sleep - Mini Sleep Solution consultation + copy of Dream Baby Nights eBook
- Vianetic - 5-in-1 Baby Essentials Bundle (Backpack, Change pad, Organizer, Stroller Strap, Thermal pak)
- Boiron - Tote Bag filled with Camilia, ColicComfort and ColdCalm Baby. Plus teething guide, bib and stroller tag.
- Parasol - 3-month diapers subscription and 3-month baby travel wipes subscription.
- Lactation Lab - Standard Breast Milk Test Kit
- Anjie + Ash - Teething Jewelry Bundle (Capri Silicone Cuff Teething Bracelet in Midnight, Antoinette Silicone Teething Necklace in Midnight & Parker Silicone Teething Necklace)
Deadline to enter 5/22/19 at 11:59 pm ET.
With all the new research on food allergy prevention, it’s easy for parents to feel overwhelmed. Parents have a lot of questions about how to help reduce their child’s risk of developing a food allergy, based on the new guidelines from the AAP and NIH. That’s why we put together this up-to-date guide on the latest research, to help families follow the new guidelines safely and effectively.
Food Allergy Prevention Is Important For All Babies
Food allergies are on the rise, with 1 in 13 children in the United States affected. These allergies can often be inconvenient for families. Worst of all, reactions can be severe, and sometimes even life-threatening - a food allergy sends someone to the emergency room every three minutes. But over half of the children with food allergies have no family food allergy history. Thus, all infants are at risk for developing food allergies.
What The Latest Food Allergy Research Tells Us
Fortunately, three groundbreaking clinical studies show that you can reduce your infant’s food allergy risk by up to 80%, by introducing them to allergenic foods early and often. As a result, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) have issued new recommendations supporting early, sustained introduction of allergenic foods such as peanuts for infants.
Tips To Defend Your Child Against Food Allergies
Starting around 4-6 months of age, babies enter a critical window where their immune system begins to develop either positive or negative responses to foods. Introducing allergenic foods during this window helps train your baby’s immune system to develop the positive response needed to reduce their food allergy risk. Although it is important to not delay, most infants (up to 11 months of age) will still see a benefit in food allergy prevention with introducing allergenic foods.
Consult Your Pediatrician
Before you introduce allergenic foods to your baby, consult your pediatrician. They may want to conduct an allergy screening first, especially if your baby has severe eczema.
Introduce When It’s Best For Baby
When you’re ready to introduce allergenic foods, pick a time when baby is healthy. Also, make sure that an adult can monitor baby for at least 2 hours, to watch for signs of an allergic reaction. Introduce one allergenic food at a time, so it’s easier to determine whether your baby is having an allergic reaction to that food. (Wait 3-5 days between introducing each new allergenic food, as recommended by the AAP.)
Breastfeeding Alone Is Not Enough
According to the AAP’s most recent guidelines, there is not enough conclusive evidence to prove that breastfeeding can prevent childhood food allergies on its own. So, families should introduce their babies to common food allergens early and often, regardless of how they choose to feed their baby.
Introduce Peanut, Egg, and Milk
Combined, peanut, egg, and milk account for more than 80% of childhood food allergies. More importantly, the landmark studies showed that introducing these allergenic foods early and often led to a significant reduction in food allergy development.
Introducing your baby to allergenic foods only once or twice is not enough to help prevent food allergies. Studies show that feeding your infant allergenic foods multiple times per week, and sustaining this introduction for at least several months, are just as crucial factors as starting early. The studies exposed infants to allergenic foods 2-7 times per week for at least 3-6 months. In fact, one of the landmark studies continually exposed infants to peanut for 4 years.
We know that parents need resources and support to implement the new guidelines on food allergy prevention at home which is why we’re proud to partner with Ready, Set, Food! Their gentle, guided system slowly and safely introduces baby to the most common food allergens (peanut, egg, and milk) in pre-measured amounts consistent with the new clinical guidelines. Learn more about Ready, Set, Food! below.
About Ready, Set, Food!
Ready, Set, Food! is an innovative system developed by a team of allergists and parents that can help reduce your baby’s risk of developing food allergies by up to 80%. The system gradually introduces common food allergens in the amounts used in landmark clinical studies, for maximum safety and efficacy. Plus, it easily mixes with breastmilk, formula, or puree, so it makes following the new guidelines simple and easy for parents everywhere. Ready, Set, Food! contains only organic, non-GMO peanut, egg, and milk, and is recommended by over 230 pediatricians and allergists.
And just for our Newton Baby families, use code NEWTON20 to receive $20 off any Ready, Set, Food! subscription.
To learn more about how Ready, Set, Food! can help give your baby the best defense against food allergies, and take advantage of this exclusive offer for Newton Baby families, visit their website here.
Your baby will learn a lot from you over the years. Perhaps the first and most important skill you’ll teach your baby is how to sleep. Fact is, sleep isn’t an innate skill—it must be learned. And while we don’t sleep train until 4 months from their estimated due date, those first few months are an opportunity to lay the foundation for healthy sleep habits. By doing so, you’ll help your baby take better, more consistent naps (you can shower! Drink hot coffee!) and sleep more soundly at night (yes, please!) You can start putting these tips into action right away and they’ll continue paying off for months to come.
Have you noticed that your baby sleeps like a rock during the day, but wants to party all night? This is a very common occurrence for newborns that’s known as day/night confusion. Think back to when your baby was in your womb just a few days or weeks ago. While you were up and about during the day, the motion lulled her to sleep. Then, as soon as you’d lie down to sleep, she’d start kicking and moving because the stillness stirred her awake. Here’s how you can help your baby work through day/night confusion so you can both catch more Z’s after dark:
Use black out curtains to make your baby’s room completely dark. Darkness sends a signal to your baby’s brain that it’s time for sleep. Use continuous white noise during day and nighttime sleep. White noise is very comforting to babies—it mimics the sound they’re used to from being in the womb—and also blocks out background noise in the house or from the street that could disrupt baby’s sleep.
With a newborn, you don’t have to follow a rigid schedule, but it’s helpful to have a routine. When your baby wakes from a nap, change her diaper, have a little play time and tummy time, feed your baby, and then swaddle and put her right back to sleep. You may have heard that you should never wake a sleeping baby, but this isn’t entirely true. If your baby is taking a long nap, cap the nap at two hours and gently wake your baby. This will help make sure that you fit in enough feedings during the day, which can help result in longer stretches of sleep at night.
You might think that your baby doesn’t like being swaddled because she fusses at first, but all babies feel most secure once they’re swaddled. Swaddling helps prevent the Moro reflex from startling them awake. As a result, your baby is better able to stay asleep and connect sleep cycles, leading to longer naps and nighttime sleep. In most cases, if your baby is breaking free from the swaddle it means that the swaddle isn’t snug enough. (Be sure to stop swaddling once your baby is able to roll from back to tummy, around 3 to 4 months of age.)
Even though bedtime tends to be a moving target until around 3 to 4 months old, it’s still a smart idea to have a routine that you repeat most nights before putting your baby to bed. A simple routine may include a bath, lotion, diaper, jammies, and a feeding. Even very young babies will begin to pick up on the cues that this series of events signals that it’s time for sleep.
The key word here is “practice” because it won’t always be perfect. Many newborns fall deeply asleep during or after a feeding and that’s okay during those early weeks. At the same time, look for opportunities during the day when you know that your baby is sleepy and ready for a nap so that you can put her in her crib drowsy but awake and give her the opportunity to fall asleep without being fed, rocked, or held to sleep every single time.
When babies are awake for too long, they can become overtired. When this happens, the stress hormone cortisol floods their brain and makes it even more difficult for them to fall asleep. To prevent this from happening, offer a nap every 60 to 90 minutes from when your baby last woke up.
Article by Carolynne J. Harvey – Baby Sleep Expert, Author of “Dream Baby Nights©” & Founder of Dream Baby Sleep®. Feel free to schedule a free 15-minute sleep consultation by visiting www.dreambabysleep.com/scheduler. You can also join @dreambabysleep on Instagram every Friday for Free Question Friday.
About Dream Baby Sleep
Dream Baby Sleep® is a loving group of certified experts who are successfully teaching families throughout North America how to create and maintain healthy sleep. Our diverse education and team dynamic empower us to customize a plan catered to your family’s personal needs. By studying the temperament of your baby, parenting style and family dynamic we’re able to draw from all sleep training methods available to create success for your family.
One of the best things you can do for yourself when you’re pregnant is to get adequate sleep. It’s recharging and restorative for a body – yours! – that’s working harder than it ever has before on the complex and important task of creating a life. But ironically, pregnancy can also make it tough to get the sleep you need. Here are some sleep changes you can expect in each trimester of pregnancy:
The first trimester can be a time of heightened nerves and trepidation. So much is going on in your body, and you’re looking down the long road of the weeks and months ahead. Just that alone can interfere with your sleep time and quality. But there’s more than can disrupt sleep the first 12 weeks:
These second 12 weeks bring pretty dramatic changes to your body, and it stands to reason that second trimester sleep is affected. The good news here is that your hormones have settled down and you will probably be less bothered by nighttime trips to the bathroom, as your uterus is still too small and high up in your pelvis to press on your bladder much. Here’s what you might encounter:
In the third trimester of pregnancy, sleep can be disrupted by a number of issues, from your burgeoning belly making it tough to get comfortable, to good old-fashioned anxiety about what’s on the horizon. Here’s what else might be keeping you awake at night:
If any of the above sleep-disturbing issues become problematic or worrisome—and can’t be alleviated with some commonsense measures—talk to your healthcare provider right away; he or she may have some solutions you haven’t thought of. A final bit of advice: Take naps!
by Dr. Deena Blanchard
Sleep, it may be the one thing that new parents crave most. With three boys, I have definitely seen my fair share of sleepless nights. As a pediatrician and mom of three, you can bet I get asked A LOT of questions about sleep. Below are some of the more common questions.
How can I create a safe sleep environment for my baby?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends creating a safe sleep environment for your baby. A safe sleep environment is one where a baby is placed on her back to sleep on a firm mattress. Having a breathable and firm mattress like The Newton Crib mattress is a plus! There should be no bedding, pillows, blankets, bumpers, stuffed animals in the crib. The room should be kept between 68-72 degrees F and it is important to not overheat your little one. One light layer more than you are wearing is perfect. It is important not to place wedges or sleep positioners in the crib with your little one.
Why is temperature important for sleep?
The ideal sleep temperature is 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit. Overheating can be a risk factor for SIDS and makes sleep less comfortable. Using a breathable mattress will help in the air circulating and avoid your little one getting a sweaty head which can interfere with sleep.
When will my baby sleep through the night?
Every child is unique and there is not a one size fits all answer to this question. In addition, every family is different and therefore the choices that work for your family may be different than other families. These difference are okay as long as children are sleeping in a safe sleep environment.
Newborn and young infants will wake frequently at night to eat. Most babies will feed every 2-3 hours in the first 6-8 weeks of life. As a general rule of thumb, if your baby is gaining weight well and has regained their birth weight, you do not need to wake them up from sleep to feed them.
Around 6-8 weeks of life most babies will start to sleep one 4-5 hour period without eating. Keep in mind, it may not be the time you hoped for. It may be 7pm-11pm. After that most babies will feed every 3 hours for the rest fo the day.
Somewhere between 4-6 months of life your little one will be able to sleep for even longer periods. Perhaps only waking once a night to feed. Most babies can sleep 10-12 hours at night after 9 months old without waking to feed.
What is a sleep routine and how and when should I create one?
I always say it is never to early to create a sleep routine. However, it is important to have realistic expectations about how long your little one can go without eating. Around 6-8 weeks of age your baby is starting to know the difference between day and night but they are still developing sleep patterns. Help your little one by looking for sleep cues and trying to help them settle before they are overtired. Try to place your baby down drowsy but awake to help them practice and learn to fall asleep.
My baby has started rolling over! Should I keep going back in the room and turn them over?
You should always put your baby to sleep on their back. If your little one can roll, you do not need to keep going in and flipping them back onto their back. Having a breathable sleep surface, like the Newton Crib Mattress, will allow your little on to get the air they need and comfortably adjust themselves for sleeping, and give you the peace of mind to let them settle on their own and get great rest as well.
Setting up a nursery for your little one is a fun and exciting task. You get to choose colors and decor and make this space a unique space for your little one and your family to enjoy. Aside from colors and theme choices, it is important to choose safe products. Here are some tips on how to set up an adorable and safe nursery for your family.
1.) Create a safe sleep space: Choose a crib that meets current safety standards and a mattress that is firm yet breathable. Make sure there are no gaps between the mattress and the crib. Don’t place any pumper, pillows, blankets or stuffed animals into the crib.
2.) Anchor the furniture: It is hard to imagine that your tiny baby will one day be on the move. The goal is to avoid accidental tip-overs. Anchor bookcases and dressers to the wall so that they don’t accidentally fall or get pulled down onto your little one.
3.) Choose cordless blinds: Blinds with cords can be a strangulation hazard as your little one starts to move. When setting up the nursery, choose cordless blinds and as a bonus blackout shades to help keep the room dark so your little one will be able to use that as a sleep cue.
4.) Be mindful of where you hang artwork: The availability of adorable artwork for your little one’s nursery can definitely inspire your creative side. Avoid hanging artwork over your little one’s crib or changing table.
5.) Window Safety: The CPSC recommends installing window guards to prevent falls. Keep chairs and furniture away from windows to prevent your little one from using them as a way to climb up near a window.
6.) Fire safety: Make sure to have a working smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector in your little one’s bedroom.
Your baby’s sleep environment should be one of the safest spaces in your home. Getting off to a safe start when you first set up the nursery can be really helpful. Have fun, be creative and create a magical and safe space for your little one to call their room.
The Fourth Trimester: Dealing with Postpartum Feelings
Some people—accurately—call the first several months of motherhood the “fourth trimester.” The reason that’s such an apt description of this tumultuous time is that you’re still stewing in a hormonal brew; you’re exhausted and possibly overwhelmed; and your body is still not even close to yours again. Here are common postpartum feelings, so you know you aren’t alone:
Exhaustion: Okay, being more tired than you ever thought possible before isn’t exactly an emotion, but the kind of bone-weariness common to new motherhood triggers other feelings. It’s hard to cope with the emotional and physical demands babycare when your mind and body are screaming for rest. In this fourth trimester, the most important thing you can do, not just for your own wellbeing but for your baby’s sake, is to prioritize sleep as best you can. If that means handing the baby off to your partner, mother, or friend, do it. Sleep whenever you can; all other pulls on your time and attention can wait.
Anxiety: Wait, what? You’re just sending us home with this baby by ourselves? If that’s what you thought when the hospital staff wheeled you and your newborn to the door and waved goodbye, you’re hardly alone. You have so many questions! Can I swaddle the way that awesome nurse did? What if the baby won’t latch on without that wonderful lactation consultant by my side? What if I don’t fall in love with my child? If you’re experiencing anxiety, it helps to know that no one is a baby expert right out of the gate, and that bonding is a process, not a lightning bolt. And even fragile looking newborns are far heartier than they look.
Confusion: You may feel an internal struggle between your emerging identity as “someone’s mother” and the person you were before. Even though intellectually you’re well aware that you’re not going out for cocktails with your girlfriends quite yet (instead, you’re a baby cocktail bar yourself!), don’t be dismayed if you stare at your baby in certain moments and wish she would just sort of disappear so you could sleep late, putter around your house, read a book, see a movie, or enjoy a leisurely dinner, a shower, a conversation… anything. Don’t hold these feelings in; talk to your partner or a sympathetic friend.
Joy: It’s true! You will feel pure bliss bubbling up in these early weeks, no matter how grueling the rest of the time might be. Sure, those happy interludes will probably take place when the little one is (finally) peacefully asleep, and you can stare at his sweetly composed face with understandable awe. But even more amazing will be the times – and we swear, they’re coming – that your baby looks into your eyes, smiles, coos, laughs, and the joyful moments will happen more often and stretch out for longer.
Doubt: Did I do the right thing by offering the baby I swore I’d exclusively breastfeed a few ounces of formula, so I could sleep while my husband fed her? Was the woman at the grocery store right and I should have put a hat on him (or, you know, not put a hat on him)? Should I have started saving for college when my baby was still an embryo? And heck, should we have done this whole procreating thing at all? Doubt and second-guessing are part of the landscape now, as you’re finding your parenting feet. To counter the worst of it, remind yourself that you, like every mother in the history of time, are doing the very best you can.
Sadness: This one is tricky, and can be serious. Sadness in the immediate postpartum period is very common, and part of its cause is hormonal. All those pregnancy hormones plummet after you give birth, throwing you into a muddle of chemical confusion for a few days or even weeks. Then there’s the sleep deprivation, which heightens and intensifies all emotions, particularly negative ones. This is what you’ve heard called the “baby blues,” and for most women this emotional jumble of zig-zagging between joy and tears gradually dissipates. But please take note: If your sadness overtakes you, if it lasts longer than six weeks or includes any of the following symptoms, please talk to your doctor right away:
Postpartum depression is not in your head, and it can be treated. For more information, Postpartum Support International.