Dealing with sleep regression

Q: Is there such a thing as a 4-month sleep regression? Our daughter was sleeping seven hours a night and now — at 3½ months — she gets up every three hours! 

A: Sleep regression at four months is challenging: Parents — whose babies begin to sleep through the night — are just finally feeling like they can get uninterrupted sleep. 

But babies keep changing as they grow, and their needs are different. As their brains grow, babies’ sleep cycles become more regular, which may include some deeper sleep and lighter sleep periods, too, making them more prone to wake up. 

Frequently, four months is a transition point from four short naps each day to three naps, which can cause irregularities in overnight sleep schedules, too. As babies’ emotional needs deepen, they need to know that their parents are still there for them when they sleep and when they wake up. 

Babies are also just learning the physical skill of rolling over. If they inadvertently roll over during sleep, they may need their parents to rescue them. And, as their bodies grow, babies need more calories and may wake for a feeding, often a sign that they’re ready to begin some solid foods soon. 

All of these reasons and more may be contributing to parents’ interrupted sleep. Sticking with your baby’s sleep routine will help you and your baby get through this regression. Remember that babies should be placed in their crib on their backs when they’re sleepy, but not fully asleep. 

This will help them learn to put themselves back to sleep — should they have an arousal in the middle of the night — so, hopefully, you won’t have to!