All parents remember the days when they got no sleep. They would finally be able to lie down after a busy day of parenting, close their eyes and suddenly a cry would wake them up an hour later. Some parents get lucky and their baby is born with a love for sleep. Others are blessed with the infant who wants to party like it’s 1999.
Eventually, most babies and toddlers start sleeping through the night, giving their exhausted parents some much-needed downtime. For a few glorious months they are able to sleep through the night without the sound of a crying child waking them up – but then something changes. Sleep regression comes knocking on the door like an unwanted guest. Suddenly, parents are thrust back into the horrifying reality of three-hour naps at night and 64 ounces of espresso during the day. It can feel like a nightmare that they may not ever wake up from, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Sleep regression doesn’t have to be permanent.
Following a few tips could get the baby on the right path. And mom can finally start taking her melatonin supplement again and get some rest.
What Is Sleep Regression?
Sleep regression is exactly what it sounds like, a time when a baby who has been sleeping well suddenly has trouble getting to or staying asleep. Although this can happen at any time during the first few years, it’s very common around the four-month mark.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, one of the reasons sleep regression occurs around four months is because that’s when infants start to develop their circadian rhythms. Those are the 24-hour cycles that are part of a person’s internal clock, like the sleep-wake cycle.
Research shows that around four months, a baby stops sleeping really deeply and starts to sleep more like an adult where they go from lighter sleep stages to deeper ones. When they are sleeping lightly, they wake up easier and that’s where the sleep regression comes in.
Tips and Tricks
Unfortunately, there is no magic cure for sleep regression. You’re going to be tired for a little while, there’s no way around it. There are some tips you can try to promote sleep, though.
Keep the baby’s bedroom dark and cool. A cool bedroom can help combat insomnia because a person’s body temperature naturally drops at night.
It’s a great time to establish a nighttime routine, so your baby gets used to going to bed at a certain time every night. Try giving the baby a warm bath with lavender before you put them to bed. Read them a bedtime story. That will help relax them and, as a bonus, it’ll help them expand their vocabulary.
Once the baby is settled, you might try putting on white noise. The theory is that the sounds from the machines create an atmosphere that mimics what the baby heard in the womb. So, they sleep better because they are comfortable.
You’re also going to want to make sure your baby isn’t hungry when they go to sleep. A four-month-old baby eats about 24 to 36 ounces of formula throughout the day. If you haven’t increased the amount they are eating to keep up with their growth then hunger could be the reason their sleep is regressing.
Of course, if you believe the sleep regression isn’t normal or if something feels off, don’t be afraid to reach out to the pediatrician and have a talk about what’s happening. If nothing else, the doctor might have other tips that you haven’t tried yet.