Don't Get Blindsided by the 3-Month Sleep Regression
The 3- to 4-month sleep regression confounds and frustrates so many parents. With these preventative tips, you don't have to be one of them!
There’s that point in every parent’s journey when your little baby starts to sleep better. And you’re so relieved and so happy. But you don’t want to be too quick to congratulate yourself… some sleep challenges lurk ahead in the not-so-distant future:
- Your baby will start to roll over. When that happens, you have to stop swaddling, which may mean your baby cries and wakes more often.
- He’ll have a growth spurt. And man, will he be hungry!
- She’ll begin early teething or catch a cold, and be mildly uncomfortable.
- He’ll be aware of the big world around him! And more sensitive to temperature or light.
- Your little party animal will wake up, wanting to play.
And suddenly, your baby is not sleeping well anymore.
This point in the journey has a name—the 3- to 4-month sleep regression—and it can be very confusing to parents. You might think, “I know my child can sleep better…She DID sleep better. What is going on?!”
Most parents are blindsided and don’t know what to do. But if you learn to establish healthy sleep habits, you may be able to steer clear of most, if not all, of it.
Why the 4 Month Sleep Regression Happens
What’s changed? Your once little blob of a newborn is now a 3- or 4-month-old social butterfly. She falls into light sleep, and wakes up…bored! It’s too quiet, too still for her. Your company-loving 4-month-old will wake up and think, “Hey you with the long hair. Come back! I want to play!”
But, what many parents don’t realize is that when you go to your child you are actually rewarding her for waking up, just with presence or attention.
The most common advice for dealing with sleep regression is to use cry it out sleep training. But, nobody feels good about that. And this kind of sleep training can totally backfire and lead to hours of crying.
A Better Approach to the 4th Month Sleep Regression
When it comes to sleep problems, the best cure is prevention. Here’s what I advise:
- Swaddle babies safely. Snug swaddling can prevent rolling over.
- Use the right types of motion and sound, so that when your baby moves into the light sleep part of the sleep cycle, she’s easily lulled back into sleep vs. waking up fully.
- Anticipate (and decrease) nighttime hunger, by encouraging daytime feeds and even a dream feed around 11 pm/midnight.
- Fit in plenty of outdoor time. Fresh air and sunlight exposure will help your little one recognize the difference between day and night.
And here’s where Happiest Baby’s SNOO Smart Sleeper is a big help and parents’ best tool for preventing the 3- to 4-month sleep regression. SNOO teaches babies to be better sleepers by improving their day/night sleep pattern from day one, using the rhythms that are naturally familiar from the womb and by quickly responding to babies’ fussing before they fully wake up. It also allows you to swaddle longer worry free, because SNOO's special swaddle prevents rolling (traditional swaddling must stop when the baby can roll.)
SNOO is so effective, it’s very rare that a “SNOO-baby” goes through a sleep regression.
But if they do, parents can easily help their babies by adjusting SNOO’s settings and “lock” SNOO at a higher level to promote sleep all night long. Just like a parent would rock and hold a baby more vigorously when he’s going through a hard time, raising SNOO’s level similarly “ups the ante.” Customizing SNOO acts as a “spot cure” during any stint of wakefulness (a growth spurt, a cold), giving babies the extra soothing they need so that when they stir, they don’t wake up all the way.