The 4-month sleep regression - how to survive

4 min read

by Becca Smith @beccasmith_tomlins

Here at moKee we have talked about sleep and importantly how to get as much of it as possible and making your baby sleep… well like a baby. Once those early newborn days are gone you will get into a good pattern and your baby will probably be sleeping well.

But then…

Your baby suddenly doesn’t want to sleep. Up every hour? Not going down for naps at the right time? Or at all? Fighting sleep? I bet most mother’s recognise this and it’s usually at about 16 weeks – the 4-month sleep regression.

The word regression is thrown around a lot and new mum’s talk about it a lot! Regression means “a return to a previous and less advanced or worse state, condition, or way of behaving.” And this is exactly what happens at around 16 weeks for newborns. But don’t worry as it is entirely normal and it doesn’t last forever.

What is the sleep regression?

Your baby will suddenly not want to nap or sleep through the night and this can start at any time from 3 months but usually around 4. It happens because your baby is going through a big development such as mastering rolling over. Babies are also simply more awake and are no longer a newborn. They want to see the word and are inquisitive.


How long should it last for?

The sleep regression usually only lasts a couple of weeks but make sure that you don’t pick up bad habits. Try to keep to your usual routine and your baby will quickly get back to sleeping like an angel as they once did.

Some tips for getting back to your routine

  • Don’t rely on feeding! It’s easy to rely on giving your baby a bottle of milk in the night. I did this and it got us into a whole lot of trouble. My son then relied on food and expected it in the middle of the night. Try other ways to get them to sleep such as singing them a lullaby or simply holding them and letting them drift off. This isn’t a good option either but better than feeding them more milk!
  • Don’t let your baby get overtired! Babies need 12 to 17 hours of total sleep, including night time and naps. So if your baby is up most of the night try to give them some rest in the day – you don’t want to swap night with the day but an overtired baby simply will struggle to go to sleep.
  • Routine, routine, routine! Stick to your routine and your baby will remember it and look for those cues for bedtime. Remember, the 3 B’s. Bath, book, bed. This has always been our routine in our household and it still is even with my eldest almost 5. Whatever works for you, but stick to it!


Will it happen again?

Yes! Babies go through many sleep regressions. At 8 months your baby will probably regress with their sleep because they are developing quickly now. They’re learning to crawl, their learning to feed themselves and they’re probably trying to pull themselves up and cruise.

And again at 9 months and 10 months they will probably regress. I remember sleep between 8-12 months wasn’t great but in the middle of the night when you are tired and emotional just remember that it doesn’t last forever and everything is just a phase. My 20-month-old now sleeps solidly for 12-13 hours and a few months ago I wouldn’t have thought that could be possible!

Just remember to stick to what works for you and don’t get worried about it. It’s all very normal and nothing lasts forever. What are your sleep tips you want to share with other moKee Mums? Let us know in comments!

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