We know how it goes, lady: You finally start finding your footing in the new mama life, and them BAM! Baby is up again at all hours and you seriously don’t know why—or when you’ll ever get to sleep again. The good news: The 4-month sleep regression is normal, common and temporary. You’ve got this. (But in the meantime, we tip our ☕️ to you!)
We talked to the experts at the Baby Sleep Site. Here’s what they had to say about how to weather this sleepless storm:
The 4-month sleep regression is real.
The 4-month mark is a big milestone, because it marks the first (and usually the most disruptive and challenging) sleep regression of your baby’s life.
At 4 months of age, your baby undergoes some major brain developments that impact her sleeping patterns.
She becomes more aware of the world around her.
And simply put, at 4 months, your baby starts sleeping less like a baby and more like an adult.
This usually means that a baby who may have been sleeping fairly well is suddenly waking up every 20 minutes during the day, and almost as frequently at night.
There is really no “fix” for this 4-month sleep regression; these changes to your baby’s sleeping patterns are permanent.
But don’t despair. You CAN reclaim your nights by simply teaching your baby how to fall asleep without the use of any sleep associations, like rocking or feeding to sleep.
That process is called sleep coaching.
Four months is generally the earliest you should work on sleep coaching, and it’s best to use gentle, gradual methods at this young age.
By no means do you have to try sleep coaching—it’s not for everyone.
But if sleep is a real problem in your home, then sleep coaching can be a nice option.
Sleep coaching includes methods like putting baby to bed drowsy but not asleep, picking up your baby for a bit when she cries and then putting her back down, sitting in a chair to provide a reassuring presence, or even allowing baby limited time to cry-it-out. There is no one size fits all method for babies and families, you need to contemplate and test what works best for you. (For more details about how to implement each of these methods, see a brief overview here.)
As for sleep totals, you can expect about 14 to 15 hours total each day: 11 to 12 hours at night and three to four hours during the day spread out over four or five short naps.
Some babies are able to sleep eight straight hours or more at night by 4 months, but the large majority aren’t; one to three night feedings are still considered very normal at this age.
Your baby may be ready for a more by-the-clock schedule at this age, but many aren’t, so be flexible.
You can see a sample 4-month-old sleep and feeding schedule here.