Whenever a baby starts to struggle more seriously with their sleeping patterns, one of the first things that almost always comes up is Regression!
I’d first like to point out that the term “regression” is an inaccurate label. In fact, what your baby is experiencing, particularly with a 4-month regression, is far from regressing, or going backward.
Instead, this is an important time when your baby’s sleep cycle is beginning to grow and mature, and it’s a completely necessary and natural process. One wouldn’t consider growing pains a regression, and this is really no different.
What Causes the 4-Month Regression?
While the whole idea of sleep regressions can be a bit overblown, the 4-month regression is definitely real.
Here’s how it works.
We as adults have four regular sleep stages that altogether constitute one cycle. Stage 1 is when you can feel yourself falling asleep but are still conscious, Stage 2 is when you first actually fall asleep, Stage 3 is deep sleep, and Stage 4 is REM sleep. The first two stages are the lightest stages of sleep and the second two are the deepest.
So, during a baby’s first few months on this earth, they only experience these final two stages, meaning they’re pretty much always sleeping very deeply.
However, right around when they hit that four month mark, their sleeping starts to mature. They trade out some of that deep REM sleep for the first two stages of sleep.
What does that mean?
It means your baby is not used to this kind of sleep and that they’re much more likely to wake up regularly and complain. Usually quite loudly.
Again, this doesn’t indicate any sort of problem with your child. It’s actually a good sign that your baby is developing well.
That being said, it can still be hard to deal with. Luckily, you do have some tools at your disposal…
How To Manage the 4-Month Regression
Keep the noise down
Remember, the issue with your baby is that he or she is not used to sleeping less deeply than typical. Hence, noises are more likely to disturb the baby’s sleep and cause them to wake up. That makes it much more difficult for the baby to get used to lighter sleeping stages.
Make their rooms dark
It’s ideal to keep all lights off and make your baby’s room pitch black. This, of course, is advice often to give adults, as well. The reason being, light stimulates your brain into thinking it’s daytime (after all, humans didn’t always have the wonders of electricity at their disposal), and darkness causes your brain to calm down and rest. If you’ve ever taken melatonin supplements, melatonin is actually a synthetic version of the hormone that your brain releases when it’s dark to tell your brain to power down.
Play your child something soothing
I know, I just said no noise. But certain types of noise can actually be good, whether it be white noise, nature sounds, or what have you. My parents actually used to put me to sleep with a tape of recorded shower sounds, and it worked like a charm.
Need Help Getting Your Baby’s Sleep on Track?
That’s what I’m here for! Whether you’re looking for some advice or are ready to discuss getting a sleep plan together for your little one, I’d be thrilled to help. Get in touch today!