Understanding baby sleep 4-6 months survival guide
Parents’ guide to getting through the 4-6 month stage
You’ve reached the four-month milestone when most babies can start to tell the difference between day and night. Babies this age need an average of 14 hours’ sleep a day and at four months, some babies may go six to eight hours without a night feed. Of course - this doesn’t mean they all will! This is where the first phase of sleep regression tends to occur.
So what is sleep regression?
The four-month regression tends to indicate development change as babies become more like adults, at least in relation to sleep patterns. Up to four months, they tend to sleep a lot of the time but after this stage they become more like us - alternating between light and deep (REM) sleep. It’s a normal milestone, and shows that your baby’s brain is developing well, but that doesn’t make it any easier for weary parents.
Some babies experience a week or two of disrupted sleep patterns, and then go back to sleeping soundly at night and taking their regular daytime naps. Other babies, however, take longer to pass through this stage - as do their poor, exhausted parents.
Signs of 4-month regression:
1. Appetite changes: Baby may feed more or less than usual. (You should not assume that this is a sign to introduce solids and plenty of studies have shown that introducing food will not help your baby to sleep longer).
2. More frequent night wakings - whereas before baby had been sleeping through or for at least sleeping for longer periods of time.
3. Increased crying and fussiness – during the day as well at bedtime
4. Missing naps and/or shorter naps.
So what can you do?
Once you understand the ‘what’ and ‘why’ behind the 4 month sleep regression, and taken steps to cope and stay rested in the short-term - you can and will get through this stage.
The good news is the 4-month sleep regression phase is just that - a phase. To get through it you could try:
1. Offer extra feeds in case of growth spurt
2. Offer extra cuddles - who doesn’t need cuddles?
3. Try an earlier bedtime
Some parents find putting baby to bed when they are sleepy-drowsy helps baby begin to have the opportunity to fall asleep without help from you and in time, baby may begin to put themselves back to sleep at night when they wake. This 'drowsy but awake' theory isn't proven and the idea doesn't work for all babies, yet most babies naturally learn to wake and return to sleep when they no longer require night feeds.