Skip to main content

What is 4-month sleep regression (and how to keep it from ruining your life)

Here's what you need to know if you're dealing with 4-month sleep regression

Mother comforting a crying baby
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

A good night’s sleep is hard to get when you have a baby. So, when your little one starts sleeping for longer stretches, and dare we say through the night, it is a cause for concern. Not many parents may have heard of 4-month sleep regression, even though they may be experiencing it. Four-month sleep regression is perfectly normal and happens to some little ones around the 3- to 4-month mark. Of course, when baby isn’t sleeping, neither is anyone else in the house. Here’s everything you need to know about 4-month sleep regression, including when your baby will start going down for the night once again.

A mother watching her baby sleep in their crib.
Trendsetter Images / Shutterstock

A guide to 4-month sleep regression

By the time babies are 2 to 3 months old, they typically sleep for 5 or 6 hours stretches. By 4 months, babies can sleep through the night without being fed. Whether a baby does depends on the child. Most babies will sleep for that heavenly stretch of 7 to 8 hours by the 4-month mark. If your kiddo has been snoozing for a solid 8 hours at night and has suddenly stopped, you could be dealing with 4-month sleep regression.

What is 4-month sleep regression?

When babies around the age of 3 to 4 months start having trouble sleeping through the night again, it could be a sleep regression period. Regression means to revert or go back to a previous pattern. This is what happens with sleep regression. Babies begin to have trouble falling or staying asleep at night and during their usual naptimes, regressing to those short intervals of slumber you thought had gone by the wayside.

When can 4-month sleep regression occur?

Despite the name, 4-month sleep regression can happen at any time. This change in sleep pattern typically happens to babies at around the 3- to 4-month mark.

How long does 4-month sleep regression last?

It may seem like ages, but 4-month sleep regression doesn’t usually hang around for long. Provided parents make an effort to keep baby’s sleep routine consistent, 4-month sleep regression lingers for around two weeks.

What causes 4-month sleep regression?

Since most parents want to avoid any interruption in the much-needed good night’s sleep in the household, it’s important to understand why this sleep regression happens in the first place to babies happily sleeping through the night. As infants, babies don’t have a sleep and a wake cycle. They pretty much sleep when they want and wake when they’re hungry or need a diaper change. When babies reach the 4-month mark, they begin to understand the sleep/wake cycle. They snooze longer at night and take fewer naps during the daytime. It’s this important developmental adjustment that can actually interrupt their newfound sleep pattern.

Another potential cause for 4-month sleep regression is not yet having the ability to go back to sleep on their own. Just like adults, babies wake in the middle of the night. Some can soothe themselves back to sleep, while other babies cannot. Learning to go back to sleep on their own is an important baby milestone little ones are trying to work out during this sleep regression period.

Other factors may also come into play as to why some babies experience this sleep regression and others don’t. These elements play a part as well.

  • Lack of a structured bedtime routine
  • Becoming more alert
  • Having a harder time settling down in the evening

There is, of course, another reason why your baby may be having trouble sleeping and staying asleep. Physical and health issues like teething, a cold, an ear infection, or stomach issues can wreak havoc with a good night’s sleep. So, the first step in figuring out if you’re dealing with 4-month sleep regression is a visit to your pediatrician. Your doctor can rule out any physical or medical reasons for baby’s sudden change in sleep patterns.

Signs of 4-month sleep regression

Everyone, including babies, has a bad night’s sleep once in a while. It becomes a pattern when your baby has multiple nights of sleep issues. Signs your little one is experiencing 4-month sleep regression may include:

  • Poor napping during the day
  • Taking longer than usual to fall asleep at night
  • Waking up multiple times during the night
  • Unable to fall back to sleep on their own
  • Crankiness
Crying baby being soothed by mother
Brytny.com / Unsplash

What to do when experiencing 4-month sleep regression

A good night’s sleep makes for a relatively happy day for all. If your little one is going through a 4-month sleep regression period, take heart. It won’t be forever, though it may seem like it. Thankfully, there are ways to manage. First off, make that doctor visit to ensure your baby isn’t teething or has an ear infection brewing. Then, keep these tips in mind to help develop and get baby back on track to a good night’s sleep.

  • Help baby understand the sleep and wake patterns by having the curtains open during the day and closed at night. Babies and kids do well with structure, and daytime should be filled with activity and playtime while the evening winds down with quieter pursuits.
  • Set up a bedtime routine and stick to it as much as possible. A soothing bedtime routine can include bath time, story time, soft music, and cuddling.
  • Make a nighttime bottle part of the nightly bedtime routine.
  • Avoid putting baby to bed when they aren’t sleepy. Read a couple of more stories.

If your baby does wake up in the middle of the night, avoid the temptation to go into the nursery right away. Learning how to soothe themselves back to sleep is an important developmental milestone.

If your baby is dealing with 4-month sleep regression, know that it won’t last. You will eventually get those treasured 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep back. Remember, whenever baby’s sleep patterns are disrupted for multiple nights, consult your pediatrician to rule out any possible medical causes. While you can’t necessarily prevent 4-month sleep regression, you can develop a consistent and comforting bedtime routine early on that will put your little one on the road to lifelong good sleep hygiene habits.

Editors' Recommendations

Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
Your baby fell off the bed! Do these things immediately to ensure proper care for your child
Have a little roly poly? Here's what to do if baby rolls off the bed
A mother changing a baby on a bed.

Parents are only human and sometimes things happen in the blink of an eye. If you've ever put your baby down on a bed and turned your back for even a quick second only to have your baby fall off the bed, you know this is true. In fact, babies falling off beds is the leading cause of injuries for children. You happen to have your baby lying there — away from the edge, no less. You turn around for just a few seconds and then you hear that telltale cry.

What do you do? First, you’ll need to keep from panicking. Taking a deep breath and making some initial observations is a vital step to ensure your baby gets the right help. Once you've calmed down imagining your little one going over the edge, we have advice for you to follow in case this unfortunate accident happens to your child.

Read more
Should babies sleep with a night light? Tips for using this handy gadget
Are night lights for babies or parents?
Baby sleeps in crib with blue night light

Babies historically do not sleep through the night. Parents are typically up and down during those midnight hours tending to baby. Sometimes it's for a wet diaper or maybe it's that 2 a.m. feeding. So, it's easy to see why having a night light in baby's room is a great idea. How else are sleep-deprived parents supposed to see what they're doing Biologically speaking though the best lighting to use in your baby’s nursery is none at all.

A dark room helps set your infant’s circadian rhythm for sleeping more at night and less during the day. Babies aren’t born afraid of the dark which means night lights are more for the convenience of parents. If you are more comfortable using a night light, a dim red light is by far the best option. The red light stimulates the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone. So, should babies sleep with a night light at all?

Read more
Should I wake baby from a long nap? 4 times it’s OK
Know when to cut your baby's nap short and other times your tot need to be woken up
Dad holding baby in the nursery.

If you’re a new parent, you know sleep is so extremely precious. In some cases, you could be only sleeping when your baby sleeps (if that), making that time all the more valuable. But if you’re finding your baby’s sleep schedule is pretty erratic, and more frequent and longer naps are hurting your routine more than helping it (like if those late-afternoon naps are resulting in later nights), you may feel tempted to wake up your napping baby. Should you though? Are you asking yourself, "Should I wake Baby from long naps?"

Are you facing doubts on whether you actually should wake a napping tot? Turns out, the myth you should never wake a sleeping baby is just that, a myth. There are actually several instances when you should definitely wake that little snoozer. Here’s when and why waking a baby from a long nap is something a parent might have to do every so often.

Read more