Your baby is a miracle. They aren't even 4 months old yet and they are sleeping through the night and napping during the day. You feel like a whole new woman! You're showering regularly, your dark circles are disappearing, and you can't believe how lucky you got! And then you hit one of those pesky little milestones. This one is called the 4 Month Sleep Regression, and it is about to turn your little angel into something akin to a bad wifi connection (yeah, the frustration is that bad). He's waking up every two hours again at night, and is barely napping during the day. What happened? What did you do wrong? WHY?!Well, take a deep breath and stay tuned: You are not alone. All babes go through this developmental milestone, and it's not something that any of us can avoid. As your child is developing, learning new things, and getting more stimulus their sleeping is affected. While all of this info is helpful, it doesn't really change the fact that you aren't getting any sleep! So here's a few things to keep in mind about the 4 month sleep regression that should help you understand your babe a little better, and a I'll give you a few tips on how to keep your sanity during your waking hours... which are many.
What is Sleep Regression?Sleep regression is known as a developmental marker that is typical for babies to experience at 4, 9, 10, and 18 months. Basically all that means is your kid goes from sleeping a lot to waking up all the time and ruining your life. Just kidding... Kind of. There is some research to suggest that this happens during periods of not only mental growth, but physical growth as well. The most prominent and noticeable of these regressions happen at 4 and 18 months. Once your little one hits 4 months, technically their sleep changes from newborn patterns to infant sleep patterns. This just means that they no longer only sleep in their deep REM sleep, but are able to have periods of light sleeping. The 18 month regression is usually something that accompanies this age due to your child's growing independence and skills. Because they are able to do more on their own, they want to show you that they can decide when they want to wake up and go to sleep. Which is just a joy when they go from sleeping 12 hours at night and taking two naps, right? Wrong.
What Can You Do?
Once you've reached the 4 month regression stage you can be feeling totally defeated, and not sure what to do. This period of sleep regression is not going to be temporary, so you need to start some new habits if you want to get any shut eye. A lot of parents (myself included) decided this would be a great time to start sleep training our little guy, and establish a more consistent nap schedule and nighttime routine. Sleep training will be different for every child, and you may not succeed on your first attempt, but chin up! You can do this! Keep up with the things that helped your babe sleep before, like swaddling with some of your comfiest blankies, like this cutie from Little Unicorn. You can also try putting them to bed with a pacifier to help them self-soothe if they wake up at night, and my go-to solution to anything: nursing. This may be a great time to start having your child cry it out, which is what my husband and I decided worked for us. You can start out slow, or go full on, or find another technique that will work for your family!
The 18 month sleep regression is a whole different beast. A big, ugly one. Because your little tot is doing things their own way, like learning to use that new fork, or putting puzzles together her own way, she also has a few ideas about when she's ready to go to bed. If you've noticed some resistant behavior during the day when you tell her to do things she doesn't want to, or when you take away her favorite things in the whole world (yes, I am talking about my cell phone), it may not be a huge surprise that she acts the same way when you try and put her down for a nap, or even for bed. The best news about this stage: It won't last forever! So try your best to dig in your heels, and keep up with your sleep schedule that has been working for you. The more consistent you are now, the easier it will be for your child to fit back into their normal sleep schedule once this regression passes.
What to Do in the Meantime
While you're in the thick of these sleep regressions, it can be downright impossible for you to feel like you're making any headway, especially when you are so pressed for sleep. Do yourself a favor and get some Z's every time your little shuts their eyes, and don't feel guilty about it! You need the sleep too. Ask for support from your main man, and let him know you need a couple of hours to recharge by taking a shower and taking a nap. It's also important that you're both on board with the schedule. The more in sync the two of you are on the sleep schedule, the more your child will benefit. Also do your best to make sure your babe is well fed, whether your still breastfeeding or not, and make sure they're being active enough to tire themselves out. Go out to the park and let your babe run around to their heart's content to make sure they're ready for a nap when you get back. You can do this! You'll be tired for a few weeks, but I promise if you trust your instincts and stay consistent, your babe will be back to sleep in no time. You got this, mama! XO