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4 Month Sleep Regression: Your survival guide is here.

4 Month Sleep Regression Tips

 

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:

  • Learning to roll over
  • Teething
  • Increased awareness of her surroundings
  • Trying to crawl

 

Survival Tips

 

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:

 

 

Start

End

Notes

Nap 1

8:30-9:00 a.m.

11:00 a.m.

End Nap 1 at 11:00 am to protect Nap 2.

Nap 2

11:30 a.m-1:00 p.m.

N/A*

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.

Nap 3

2:30-4:00 p.m.

4:30 p.m.

End daytime sleep by 4:30 pm to protect bedtime.

Bedtime

5:30-7:30 p.m.

N/A

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.

 

By Carolynne J. Harvey – Sleep Expert, Author of “Dream Baby Nights©” & Founder of Dream Baby Sleep®

 

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.

 

www.dreambabysleep.com

info@dreambabysleep.com

Instagram: @dreambabysleep

 

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5 Steps to Prepare Your Sleeping Baby for Daylight Savings Time

 
You know you’re a parent when you start thinking (or worrying) about how daylight-saving time (DST) on Sunday, March 10th is going to interfere with your baby or toddler’s sleep. Fear not! With a solid plan, you can sail through DST with minimal disruption to your child’s sleep.
 
Daylight Savings Time Starts on Sunday, March 10th at 2am.  We will move our clocks forward one hour. This means 6am is now 7am – and 7pm is really 8pm.
 
  1. Plan ahead. About 7 to 9 days before the time change, start shifting your baby’s nap and bedtime by 15 minutes earlier every few days. For example, if your baby goes down for a nap at 1 p.m. every day, put him down at 12:45 p.m. for a few days, and then at 12:30 p.m. for a few days, and then at 12:15 p.m. for a few days. That way, on the day of the time change and beyond, when you put him down for a nap at his usual 1:00 p.m. naptime, he has no problem falling asleep because you prepared ahead of time. Do the same with bedtime, and be sure to move mealtimes up accordingly as well.
 
  1. Adopt the new clock immediately. If your baby normally takes a 9 a.m. nap, on March 10 (and beyond), put her down for a nap at 9 a.m. If your toddler normally goes to bed at 7 p.m., put him to bed at 7 p.m. Don’t overthink it—on the day of the time change abandon the old clock and embrace the new one right away.
 
  1. Start the day no later than 7:30 a.m. While DST may be the only day of the year when your child actually sleeps in, allowing her to do so beyond 7:30 a.m. can throw her sleep schedule off for days to come. In most cases, it’s not worth it. Got an early riser? Set awake for the day no earlier than 6:30 a.m. On the morning of the time change and every day after, wait until 6:30 a.m. to get your baby. Being consistent with this wake time can help improve early rising.
 
  1. Install blackout shades. Longer, brighter days are glorious; bedtime battles are not. Blackout shades block the sunlight from entering their room so they can drift off to dreamland even when bedtime is at 6:30 p.m. (If blackout shades are still on your to-do list, you can create a temporary solution by hanging black construction paper or tinfoil with painters’ tape over the windows—of course be sure that all parts are out of your child’s reach.)  
 
  1. Get outside. Sunlight naturally helps set the body’s internal clock. On the day of DST, try to get outside at least twice—ideally before and after lunch. If you have a baby, place her play mat in a sunny spot by a window.
 
There’s no need to lose sleep over the time change because following these steps can help rapidly reset your child’s internal clock. Have your baby sleeping better in no time! And the best part is, Mamas, DST means that spring is just around the corner!
 
By Carolynne J. Harvey – Sleep Expert, Author of “Dream Baby Nights©” & Founder of Dream Baby Sleep®
 
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. By studying the temperament of your baby, parenting style and family dynamic we’re able to draw from all sleep training methods available to improve sleep. If you have additional sleep questions feel free to schedule a free 15-minute sleep consultation by visiting www.dreambabysleep.com/scheduler.
 
www.dreambabysleep.com
Instagram: @dreambabysleep

 daylight savings tips

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