10 tips to manage 4-month sleep regression

Someone bring me coffee, please. My youngest is 4 months, and until now, we were plodding along quite nicely, still feeding on demand and seeing each other maybe twice in the night (by night, I mean between 10 pm and 5 am) for a quick feed and back to sleep. Then we hit a bit of a stumbling block. He was back to hourly feeds and very unsettled all night long. It was like being right back at square one in those early newborn days. 

It turns out there’s a significant amount of development happening at this point in your baby’s life. At 4 months, there is a huge developmental leap. You may have noticed your baby’s skill set increasing at this stage. They’re learning to roll over, starting to grasp objects with more accuracy, and might be starting to show signs of wanting to sit up by arching their neck and back forwards when in your arms.

It’s not just physically; you’ll also notice the interesting new language (total nonsense) they’ve discovered. Hopefully, they will respond to your voice with their own gorgeous noises as they have a full-on conversation with you in baby speak. Not to mention all the growing they’re doing at the same time. And all of this is pretty tricky for a small baby to get to grips with, so they need lots more of your love and contact and a whole load more fuel.

If you haven’t discovered it already, take a look at The Wonder Weeks as it highlights the key developmental leaps your baby will take and what to expect at each stage. A great resource to prepare for the next leap in advance. See below for 10 top tips to manage 4-month sleep regression...

10 Tips To Manage The 4-month Developmental Leap:

If you're really struggling with sleep deprivation at this point, especially if you have other children to take care of too, see if you can implement some of these into your daily routine...

1. Find Time For Naps

Sleep when your baby sleeps. Or if you’re anything like me - don’t, but really wish you had…

2. Slow Down!

Don’t overdo it. If you have a huge to-do list, try to plan your week, so you manage a few things each day. Can you delegate jobs to family members or friends? Could you make arrangements with a neighbour to share the school run? Do the baby’s clothes really need ironing? 

3. Create a Nest

Set out your space at home more conveniently. It looks great having a changing table and neatly organised supplies up in the nursery, but would a changing mat, basket of nappies and spare outfits be helpful in the lounge where you spend your time? This way, you won’t have to go far when you’re feeling totally zapped of energy.

4. Try a Dummy

Controversial, but... have you thought about trying a dummy? It might be something you’re hoping to avoid, but for us, it worked! We managed successfully to introduce a dummy to our breastfed baby (once successful breastfeeding was established) without too much trouble. More on this subject in a later blog post. 

5. No Late Nights 

If you have a difficult night, go to bed early the next day. It’s tempting to stay up after the children go to bed but if you’re running on empty, get yourself to bed by 8 pm latest.

6. Let Baby Nap

Do not be tempted to reduce your baby’s nap time or wake them up during the day. As the old saying goes, ‘sleep breeds sleep’. They will not sleep any better if you keep them awake for hours during the day. All you will achieve is a very cross baby and absolutely no time to rest yourself.

7. Practice Responsive Feeding 

This was once referred to as feeding on demand, now more appropriately named responsive feeding as you are responding to your baby's early indications that they are hungry, rather than waiting for them to demand (cry) to be fed. As mentioned above, all of this growth is hungry work, and your baby may need to up the calories. By responding to their cues for feeding, you will satisfy their need to increase milk, which supports healthy development. Equally, babies use feeding time to be close to you, which helps them feel calm and content.

8. Get Outside

Go out and get some fresh air. Go for a walk, take the dog or other children to the park, have a wander around town. Sometimes a little bit of sunshine and light exercise helps reduce that tired feeling and brighten your mood.

9. Share Your Feelings

Meet up with friends. Especially if they are going through the same thing. Having a support network is vital during such a challenging stage. If you don’t live close to friends, check out the local village hall or children’s centre to see if there are any baby groups you could attend. These are often play-sessions with tea and coffee which are either free or a small charge, and an opportunity to get to know some other local families.

10. Final Option?

If all else fails... open wine.