Your Baby’s 4-Month Sleep Regression: A Parent’s Guide

As a parent, the journey through your baby’s first few months is filled with joy, wonder, and yes, challenges too. One of the biggest hurdles you may encounter around the four-month mark is the notorious 4-month sleep regression. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure about how to help your little one through this phase, you’re not alone. Many parents fear the 4 month sleep regression and many may end up feeling like they have done something wrong to impact their baby’s sleep. Let’s explore what actually causes this regression and how you can support your baby (and yourself) during this time.

Around four months of age, your baby undergoes a significant shift in their sleep patterns. They transition from the sleep cycles of a newborn to more mature patterns resembling those of adults. This means now experiencing stage 1, 2, 3 and REM sleep. Alongside this change, they become more alert and aware of their surroundings, which can affect their ability to settle and stay asleep. At this point your baby is going to be aware of what is putting them to- and keeping them asleep. This newfound awareness may lead to disruptions in their sleep routine, leaving both you and your baby feeling tired and frustrated.

Understanding Your Baby's Sleep Regression

Mom with sleeping baby

Navigating the Regression Together

As a parent, it’s natural to want to ease your baby’s discomfort and help them sleep better. One common concern during this period is whether to continue swaddling your baby. While swaddling can offer comfort in the early months, it may become restrictive as your baby grows more aware of their environment. Consider transitioning to a sleep sack or allowing your baby’s arms to be free to promote self-soothing while maintaining a sense of security. It is also important to unswaddle your little one when they can roll for safety reasons. If you are worried about transitioning out of the swaddle another alternative to the above sleep sacks is to slowly stop swaddling. Start with one arm out of the swaddle for 3 nights. Then the other arm out for three nights. Finally take both arms out of the swaddle on the 7th night.

It’s also crucial to pay attention to your baby’s developmental milestones during this time. While these milestones are exciting signs of progress, they can disrupt sleep patterns as your baby practices new skills. Research indicates that learning new skills can lead to increased wakefulness during sleep, as babies spend more time in light REM sleep. By encouraging skill practice during awake times, you can help your baby master new abilities and reduce nighttime awakenings.

Supporting Your Baby Through Milestones

Encouraging your baby to practice new skills during waking hours is key to minimizing sleep disruptions. Whether it’s tummy time, rolling exercises, or simply engaging with toys, providing opportunities for exploration and learning can tire your baby out for their next sleep. Remember to create a safe sleep environment that supports your baby’s changing sleep habits and offer gentle reassurance if they become upset during sleep transitions.

Tips for Managing the Regression

  • Allow your baby time to practice new skills during waking hours.
  • Create a safe sleep environment that promotes self-soothing and independence.
  • Offer gentle reassurance if your baby becomes upset during sleep transitions.
  • Encourage skill practice during awake time, such as tummy time and rolling exercises.
  • Be patient and consistent in your approach to sleep training, recognizing that it may take time for your baby to adjust to new routines.
baby asleep in safe space


The 4-month sleep regression may feel overwhelming, but remember, you’re not alone in this journey. By understanding the reasons behind the regression and implementing strategies to support your baby through this phase, you can help ease the transition and promote healthy sleep habits. Trust your instincts, be patient with yourself and your baby, and don’t hesitate to reach out for support if you need it. Together, you’ll navigate the 4-month sleep regression and emerge stronger on the other side.


Smith, L. B., & Thelen, E. (2003). Development as a dynamic system. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7(8), 343–348. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1364-6613(03)00156-6

Tarullo, A. R., Balsam, P. D., & Fifer, W. P. (2010). Sleep and infant learning. Infant and Child Development, 20(1), 35–46. https://doi.org/10.1002/icd.685

Tham, E., Schneider, N., & Broekman, B. (2017). Infant sleep and its relation with cognition and growth: A narrative review. Nature and Science of Sleep, Volume 9, 135–149. https://doi.org/10.2147/nss.s125992


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