Oh yes, it truly can feel like a curse if you have experienced the dreaded 4 month sleep regression in your household. Something truly terrifying happens to many (many, many) parents when baby is somewhere between 3.5 and 5 months of age. Your newest addition was sleeping pretty decently, but suddenly all has gone array!
Baby sleep - can it be any more complex? Just about the time you've acclimated to less sleep with a new baby, your little one throws you quite the curveball and decides that they can go the entire night without much sleep at all! No, no - but it may feel that way, because your little one's system is in the ongoing process of make some major changes. Spun in a positive light: your baby is growing, and doing so appropriately. Before, baby's sleep was just that - baby sleep. Now, your 4 month old is more alert, with newfound hormones at play, plus is experiencing sleep cycling for the very first time. This means that your baby is waking approximately every 35-50 minutes, transitioning from deep sleep to light sleep, and back again all through the night.
Perhaps you have already noticed this if you find yourself reading this with heavy eyes. It's true, at this stage most babies need a little more help to fall asleep initially and get back to snoozing than ever before. This can feel completely discouraging as a parent due to your tedious efforts in this department. After all, I'm sure you have been implementing much of the advice you've gathered from seasoned parents and have scoured one website after another searching for clues. Please know, the changes within your baby are a natural occurrence and this is all par for the course; this is not necessarily the result of anything you have or haven't done. Sure, some babies make it out of the 4 month zone with sleep unscathed, but more often than not, this is a typical experience.
So, where do you go from here? First off, try to remain consistent with what's worked in the past. Just because it didn't work last night, doesn't mean it won't tomorrow. Additionally, attempt to place your baby down drowsy, yet not quite asleep. This is an excellent skill that is never to late to learn, and aids your baby during middle of the night wake-ups. If you try this and your child is having a particularly tough time, try it again another night. Comfort your baby how you see fit, and know this regression shall pass in a few weeks.
If your baby is continuing to have a challenges with sleep, and is well into their fifth month, you may find yourself feeling stuck (not to mention exhausted). I recommend at this point to touch base with your baby's provider to rule out anything medically that could be lurking (don't panic - this could be anything from minor allergies to an ear infection). Once you have you cleared that checkpoint, 5-6 months is a wonderful age to begin working with a Certified Sleep Consultant to instill some lasting sleep foundations for your baby. And that mean's more sleep for you too.