So, what does a sleep schedule for a 4-month-old look like?
At four months, your baby's sleep is starting to mature, and as this happens, your baby's sleep patterns will change.
You may have heard stories about the dreaded 4-month sleep regression. Don't worry, as exhausting as it is; this stage tends to pass reasonably quickly, typically within a couple of weeks.
By 4 months of age, your baby is becoming far more interactive and curious about the world around them. This typically means less daytime sleep and more sleep at night.
At this age, most babies still require 1 – 2 feeds at night. There are a few lucky parents who have a 4-month-old that sleeps through the night without any feeding at all.
Exclusively breastfed babies may still wake at night for a feed until around nine months of age. Bottle-fed babies tend to sleep for longer stretches, require less feeds and therefore tend to drop their night-time feeds sooner, around six months old.
If your baby is waking more than this for night feedings, it is more likely that you have a sleep association issue. In essence, your baby is using feeding to help them get to sleep as they have not yet learned to fall asleep independently. For tips on how to get your baby to sleep through the night read our article here.
How Much Sleep Does a 4-Month-Old Need?
At this age, your baby still needs around 12 – 16 hours of sleep in 24 hours. They will usually have 3 – 4 naps, the duration of which are 1 – 2 hours. Some babies may still take 4 naps which is perfectly normal. Night-time sleep also starts to consolidate into longer stretches of between 6 – 8 hours. Your baby's awake windows will be anything from 75 to 120 minutes.
Tips for Establishing Healthy Sleep Habits
You can continue to focus on helping your little once establish healthy sleep habits with these simple tips.
- Daily tummy time – At the 4-month mark, babies start to learn how to roll or flip over. Sleep regressions often happen when babies are learning new skills, so make sure your baby has plenty of time to practise this new skill during the day. Do not worry if your baby is not there yet. All babies are different, and each one will get there in their own time.
Remember: If your baby is starting to roll over, they can no longer safely sleep in a traditional swaddle, so now is the time to transition your little one to a sleep sack.
- Have a consistent bedtime routine – Now that your baby is more alert and aware of their surroundings, it is even more important to follow a consistent bedtime routine. A bedtime routine helps your baby relax and signals to them that it is time for sleep.
- Have a regular bedtime – You should aim to have your baby in bed between 7 – 8 pm every night. Having a regular bedtime promotes better sleep (this is even true for adults). Your bedtime routine should be between 30 – 40 minutes. If you want to have your little one in bed by 7:30 pm, then start your bedtime routine just before 7 pm.
- Have a routine for naps – This routine should be a shortened version of your bedtime routine. It may be as simple as a song or short book before you put your little one down for a nap. This routine helps to signal to your baby that it is time for sleep.
- Put your baby to bed drowsy but awake – Rocking, patting or feeding your baby to sleep makes it hard for them to learn to fall asleep independently. The ability to fall asleep independently is a learned skill. Provide your baby with plenty of opportunities to practice this skill by putting them down awake.
Sleep Schedule for 4-Month-Old
Some babies do start to settle into a more predictable schedule; however, 4-month sleep regression can cause sleep disruptions for a period (typically two weeks). If your baby does still take 4 naps, you may find that they start to transition to 3 naps during the next few weeks.
A typical day would look like either of schedules below depending on whether your baby has 3 or 4 naps.
Can You Sleep Train a 4-Month-Old?
The general consensus is that you can start to sleep train your baby somewhere between 4-6 months. At this age, your baby is developmentally ready, and they have not had too much time to become used to being rocked or fed to sleep.
At the 4-month mark, babies tend to go through a sleep regression. This can be a great time to work on independent sleep skills.
There are several different sleep training methods. It is essential to research the various techniques and choose one that is right for you and your little one.
Sleep training is not the same as night weaning and as discussed, your baby may still require 1 – 2 feeds a night. It is always best to check with your doctor before reducing night feeds.
What is 4-Month Sleep Regression?
4-month sleep regression is a perfectly normal developmental stage for your baby. Although a very exhausting stage for you as the parent.
The way to look at this is not as regression but as progression. Your baby's sleep cycle is maturing. Your baby is now no longer a newborn (I hear a few melancholy sighs). On the one hand, it is sad to think that your little one is no longer a newborn, but on the other side, you are entering a new and exciting stage of your baby's development.
4-month sleep regression is real, unavoidable and completely normal. Most importantly, it is only temporary.
Take care of yourself, ask for help and keep reminding yourself that this will only be for a short time.
4-Month-Old Sleep Problems
During the 4th month, you may encounter some sleep issues. The most common problems are:
- Fussing during the night – Your baby may fuss during the night. When this happens, try to wait a few minutes before responding to your little one to see if they fall back asleep on their own. If you do have to check in on them, keep interaction to a minimum. Do not switch on the lights or pick your baby up if possible. Offer some gentle patting or shushing until your baby calms down and then leave. If your baby continues to fuss, it may be a sign that they are hungry, need a nappy change or are unwell.
- Naps are not as predictable as they used to be – There are a couple of things that can impact naps at this age. As your baby gets older, they require less daytime sleep and therefore may be ready to transition from 4 to 3 naps. For advice on how to handle nap transitions, read our post here. 4-month sleep regression could also be impacting naps. During this time, it is essential to follow your naptime routine and be as consistent as possible with your baby's sleep schedule.
- Your baby struggles to fall asleep at night – Ensure that your baby is not overtired. Awake times should not be more than 2 hours, and your baby should be put down to sleep when they start to show tired signs but are not overtired.
- Frequent night wakings – The 4-month sleep regression is likely the cause. The maturing of your baby's sleep cycle means that their sleep now has 4 sleep cycles (like that of an adult) as opposed to 2 sleep cycles. These extra sleep cycles mean that your baby is experiencing more periods of lighter sleep. This can take some adjustment for your baby.
Continue to be consistent, help your baby establish healthy sleep habits, and they will soon settle into a regular sleep routine.