The number one question I get asked as a sleep consultant is how to get out of the four-month sleep regression. Rather than worrying about how to claw your way out of it, I find it way easier to set yourself up so that you never experience it in the first place!
The number one key to avoiding this phase is teaching your baby to fall asleep independently. If your baby has the ability to fall asleep without support for naps and bedtime, they will be armed with the tools needed to get themselves back to sleep without your help in the middle of the night. Of course, this is easier said than done. Practice practice practice during the daytime! Be sure to watch for sleepy cues, and establish some sort of “routine” for all naps and bedtime. In the beginning, this can be as simple and singing a song while you swaddle up your baby before sleep. Place your baby down, turn on some white noise, and give your baby a few minutes to see if they can fall asleep on their own. If they need a little help, that’s ok. A heavy hand on their chest with some loud shushing may just do the trick. Simply commit to helping a little less each time, until they are able to do it all on their own. It won’t look perfect every time, be patient with yourself and with your baby! The more you practice, the more you will be able to identify that “sweet spot” when your baby is tired, but not yet cranky. If you can time it right, your baby just may get to sleep without all the help!
It will also be important to be sure that your growing baby is eating enough during the day. Babies drink approximately 28-32 ounces of breast milk or formula in a 24 hour period. If you can be sure that your baby is taking in enough during the daytime, there shouldn’t be a need for feedings in the middle of the night. Establishing a daily cycle of “eat, play, sleep” will help you to get into a good rhythm of scheduled feeds and naps. The predictability of the day will allow you to better anticipate your baby’s needs while also teaching your baby to sleep when it’s “time”.
Of course, if all else fails, and you find yourself in a situation where your sweet little four-month-old is waking every hour overnight, pick a sleep training method that aligns with your parenting style and implement with consistency. And just remember, teaching your baby to fall asleep independently is one of the best gifts that you can give to your child!