A lot of you have heard of it and a lot of you have been through it – but what exactly is the four month sleep regression? Can you sleep train through it? These are a few of the questions that I am asked weekly. Let’s talk about what is going on and what to expect.
Biological Clock/Circadian Rhythm
Circadian rhythm is our internal clock that regulates our sleep/wake cycle. It runs on roughly a 24 hour clock, and we all have one. We know that in the first four months (calculated from estimated due date), your baby’s biological clock/circadian rhythm matures. If you can sync her sleep with her internal clock then she will get the most restorative sleep possible. If she isn’t getting enough sleep at the right times, then she will become overtired. Overtired babies have a harder time falling and staying asleep.
For the first few months I tell parents that they can have their babies sleep on the go and not worry about it. After four months, you really want to focus on motionless sleep because it is more restorative. Your little one cannot get into a deep sleep on the go. Sleeping on the go, while it might extend naps, can cause your baby to accumulate sleep debt, resulting in more wakings or early rising.
Around this age we often see babies working on rolling. Rolling is a super exciting new skill, but they are going to want to practice during sleep time, when they are shut off from the world.
TIP! Offer your little one lots of floor time to practice these new skills.
Negative Sleep Associations
For the first few months, some babies need more help than others to fall asleep. I encourage families to keep the ABC’s of safe sleep in mind and not to worry if they need to rock to sleep, feed to sleep, use a pacifier etc. After four months though, they can fall asleep on their own, and if you continue to help then your little one will look for that help at every waking.
Can You Sleep Train Through It?
Yes you can! In fact, it is a great time to get started because you will be working towards a biologically appropriate schedule, and this will help to chip away at the sleep debt. Find a method that you can be consistent with, put your baby down awake and then respond until he is asleep.
Your baby is ready if you are, and I am here to help if you need it!