Two weeks ago, my baby suddenly started waking every
one to two hours at night. He won’t go back to sleep unless I feed or hold him.
Does this mean I need to do sleep training?
is a question I hear several times a week from parents of babies in my Baby and
Me! classes and drop-in groups. Many have heard about “sleep regression,”
but don’t know how to fix it.
about 4 months of age, your baby’s sleep pattern changes and becomes more like
an adult’s, in that he progresses slowly from drowsy to light sleep and then,
finally, deep sleep after about 45 minutes. Because he is spending more time in
non-REM (light) sleep, there are more transitions between deep and light sleep,
requiring him to use whatever soothing methods he has learned to return to
sleep. If he has become accustomed to breastfeeding, sucking on a pacifier, or
being rocked to sleep, he will be looking for that in order to return to sleep.
This is why, by about this age, it can be helpful to start putting your baby
down for sleep while he is still drowsy but awake. Often, after you begin
this routine, your baby can put himself back to sleep in the night.
important to note as well that babies at 3 to 4 months are also so much more
social and aware of the world. They want to engage anyone and anything and
are very easily distracted by just about anything they see or hear.
Sleeping in a darkened room, even during the day, possibly with some
white noise to drown out the mailman or barking dog down the street, usually
helps, the same way that adults sleep better in darkened hotel rooms than
light, noisy ones.
Does this mean that the only remedy for frequent night awakenings after 4
months of age is “crying it out?” No!
are many other factors that can contribute to a baby’s night awakenings—and
certainly not all babies will have a 4-, 6-, 12-, or 18-month “sleep
regression.” Feeding needs are constantly changing, teething and illness occur,
and growth/developmental leaps cause them stress. Each variation from recent
patterns warrants consideration and different interventions.
what is developmentally appropriate for your baby’s age and temperament, as
well as your own preferences, is key to knowing how best to help your family’s
family consultations are also available by appointment.
Cherie Tannenbaum, NP, IBCLC
has been a Nurse Practitioner specializing in Family Practice for over 30
years. Since the births of her own children, she has furthered her
education and training in the fields of breastfeeding medicine, infant growth
and development, and early parenting, and for over 10 years, this has been her
focus. Clients and students of her individual, family and group
consultations and classes attest to her knowledgeable, empathic, and
nonjudgmental style and enthusiastically recommend her to their friends and
acquaintances. She is certified by the International Board of Lactation
Consultant Examiners. Cherie is the mother of four daughters, two of whom
Consultant, Parent Educator, First-Year Program Coordinator
Email: Cheriezt@jfcs.org Phone: 415-828-1700