top of page

Baby Sleep Progressions

Updated: Apr 10

Sleep regression and progression

Navigating Baby Sleep Progressions: Insights into the 4-Month and 6-Month Milestones

by Lauren Weber, Founder of Isla Grace Sleep

The journey of parenting is a tapestry of moments, each woven with love, care, and, sometimes, sleepless nights. Among the myriad challenges parents face, sleep progressions often emerge as significant milestones, albeit ones that are frequently misunderstood. Contrary to the term "sleep regression," these phases mark profound developmental leaps in a baby's journey.

Understanding and embracing these transitions can empower you as a parent to navigate them with grace and resilience.

Demystifying Sleep Progressions / Sleep Regression:

At the heart of sleep progression lies the paradox of regression and progression. While sleep patterns may seem disrupted, it's crucial to recognize that these shifts signify developmental milestones propelling babies forward. Rather than viewing them solely as challenges, reframing them as signs of growth can foster a positive perspective amidst the exhaustion.

The 4-Month Sleep Progression:

The 4-month milestone often heralds one of the most challenging phases for parents. Several factors converge to create this perfect storm of sleep disruption:

Breastfeeding Dynamics: If you are breastfeeding, and your baby has been going longer stretches at night, your supply can be impacted. Before the 6-8 week mark, your supply was hormonally driven (meaning it does not matter how many times the baby empties the breast; your supply will remain the same). Around that 6-8 week mark, if the baby doesn't empty the breast for a long period of time, your supply may be impacted, and this can show up around the 3-4 month mark. Babies will then do their job of being up all night to feed in order to increase your supply. Just as the longer stretches may have led to not draining the breast, restricted tongue function could do the same.

Heightened Awareness: Babies become more attuned to their environment, leading to heightened distractibility during the day and a preference for nighttime feeding when distractions are minimal.

Sleep Cycle Changes: Around this age, babies undergo a permanent shift in their sleep cycles, mirroring adult patterns, which can disrupt established sleep routines.

Developmental Milestones: The emergence of skills like rolling can disrupt sleep as babies navigate newfound mobility, leading to frequent awakenings and cries.

Surviving the 4-Month Progression: Amidst the challenges, prioritizing self-care is paramount. Recognizing that caring for yourself enables better care for your baby lays the foundation for resilience. Both baby-led and parent-led strategies play a crucial role:

  • Baby-Led Strategies: Tuning into baby's cues, embracing flexibility, and providing ample opportunities for skill practice during the day can ease the transition.

  • Parent-Led Strategies: Seeking support, maintaining routines, visiting an IBCLC if you are breastfeeding, and nurturing instincts foster a supportive environment for both you and your baby during this phase.

The 6-Month Sleep Progression:

Around the 6-month mark, another significant progression unfolds, often catalyzed by milestones such as rolling and sitting unassisted. Increased physical activity and cognitive development can lead to disrupted sleep patterns and heightened fussiness.

Surviving the 6-Month Progression: Similar strategies apply to navigate this phase, emphasizing self-care and support networks. Encouraging skill practice during the day and facilitating the safe exploration of newfound abilities will equip both you and your baby for this developmental leap. In the intricate dance of parenthood, sleep progressions emerge as moments of growth intertwined with challenges.

By reframing these transitions as milestones of development, you can approach them with patience, understanding, and resilience. Remember that amidst the sleepless nights, each phase is a testament to the remarkable journey of nurturing and watching your baby thrive.

Photo by Helena Lopes

bottom of page