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You brought your newborn home and you’ve spent the last few months adjusting to life with the new member of your family. You know baby’s preferences, baby’s personality, baby’s schedule, maybe you start back to work, and…wait, what happened to her schedule?! Say hello to the 4 month sleep regression. All of a sudden she’s fussier, waking up more at night, napping at odd times, eating differently, is this normal??
Welcome to parenting, where just when you have things under control…there’s a “new normal.” But fear not! Kim West LCSW-C, the Sleep Lady®, author of The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy, has some great advice about how to get through the bewildering phase known as the “4-month sleep regression.”
What’s going on with 4 month sleep regression?
According to Kim, two big things can contribute to baby’s schedule going awry around four months. First, this can be a time for one or more of the developmental leaps documented by Frans X. Plooij and Hetty van de Rijt in their book, “The Wonder Weeks.” The times when a child makes a major leap forward in her mental development are marked by what they call the three C’s: clinginess, crankiness, and crying. At four months, your baby isn’t just getting bigger, he’s learning to interact with her surroundings: perceive changes, reach for and kick at objects, and even roll over. These are big changes – and even grownups feel restless and unsettled for a while when big changes happen in their lives!
The second contributing factor during the 4 month sleep regression, your baby’s sleep rhythms are themselves changing. Newborns often have clear sleep-wake cycles, but most of their sleep is deep, restorative sleep. Older babies, like adults, have both “deep sleep” and “active sleep.” Baby may be awakened by his own startle reflex as he enters active sleep, or he may wake at regular intervals during his active sleep. And when this happens, he looks to you to help him get back to sleep. (Eventually, he should learn to fall back asleep on his own.)
What can you do?
Most importantly, says Kim, don’t panic. This period of unpredictability and fussiness should only last a couple of weeks.
Do be aware that the daily schedule might have to change to accommodate baby’s growth, but remember that babies thrive on consistency and routine. Make sure your baby gets regular feedings and naps, and stick with your bedtime rituals.
Pay especially close attention to your baby’s sleep cues so she doesn’t get overtired.
This is a good time to try putting baby down while he’s drowsy, instead of already asleep. This will help her learn to fall asleep on her own. But if this doesn’t work, no worries. Keep up the lullabies, rocking, patting, or death metal – whatever gets your baby to sleep. Many babies aren’t ready for sleep training until around 6 months.
Finally, be gentle to yourself and to baby – lots of cuddles, snuggles, and soothing words, and will help you both feel calmer and more secure.
And watch for those signs of growth! Celebrating the milestones, and appreciating what an exciting and exhausting time this is for your baby, can help you through the fussiness.
Of course, if you have any medical concerns you should always check with a doctor.
How can Evoz Smart Baby Monitor help?
In the sleep-deprived world of infant parenting, sometimes a simple reality check can be helpful: has baby been waking irregularly for a month, or only one or two weeks? The Evoz Smart Baby Monitor automatically records the times your baby cried while he was near the monitor, so you can check your baby’s cry alerts within our app.
If you’re a parent of the geekier persuasion, recording when you put baby to sleep and when he naps away from the monitor can help you work out what schedule will work best for you and your baby going forward.
Either way, the information in your baby’s sleep data can be helpful when you talk to a doctor or sleep coach.
And of course, your Evoz Smart Baby Monitor is always listening for baby’s cry so you can use those precious moments when baby sleeps to catch up on the other parts of your life…or your own sleep!
For further reading:
Kim West LCSW-C, the Sleep Lady®
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