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You’ve crossed the finish line of that whirlwind newborn phase, and your tiny bundle of joy is now celebrating their fourth month on this planet.
You’ve not only survived but thrived, keeping your mini-human happy, healthy, and thriving (Facts.)
I know over these last couple of months, you’ve been busy adjusting to parenthood, getting to know your baby, and learning alongside each other. And you’ve probably begun to learn that sleep can be a bit of a winding path, not a straight line.
Today I’m spilling the tea and exploring some common questions from parents I get regarding the 4 month sleep regression, routines, sleep schedules, and awake times.
What does a 4 month old baby sleep schedule look like?
Here’s a glimpse of what a sleep schedule might look like for a 4 month old:
- Awake Time: 90 minutes up to 105 minutes
- Nap 1
- Awake Time: 105 minutes up to 120 minutes
- Nap 2
- Awake Time: 120 minutes
- Nap 3
- Awake Time: 120 minutes
- Nap 4 (if your baby needs a fourth nap)
- Awake Time: 105 minutes up to 120 minutes
PSA: This schedule is a helpful starting point, but remember, it’s a guide, not a set of rigid rules dictating your every move. Adapt it to your baby’s unique needs and cues.
Flexibility is key.
Pay attention to those adorable cues from your little one and adjust as needed.
Understanding how long your 4 month old can stay awake
Awake times are the intervals at which your baby can comfortably stay awake between naps. This window begins when your baby wakes up and continues until the next nap.
It’s a time filled with feeding, play, and cuddles, which can kinda sometimes feel like a juggling act to fit in before the next nap.
Understanding these awake times will help guide you in planning your baby’s naps and bedtime routines without all the stress.
Typically, a 4 month old’s awake time spans between 90 to 120 minutes.
These periods of awakeness tend to be shorter in the morning and progressively lengthen throughout the day. But did you know your baby’s awake time may also be shorter in length before bedtime?
Let me explain…
Our little ones tend to get tired quickly in the evening, and by using a shorter awake window before bed, you prevent them from getting overtired (And by that I mean fewer tears at bedtime!!!)
Your baby’s awake times will generally remain consistent from one day to the next, with minor 15 to 30-minute variations based on your baby’s activity level during the day.
As your baby grows, these awake times will naturally extend, but some little ones might need a gentle nudge in the right direction and a helping hand to stay awake a little bit longer.
Figuring out how long naps should be for a 4 month old baby
Nap duration, or how long a nap should be at four months, can range from 45 to 120 minutes. If a nap stretches beyond 2 hours, I recommend gently waking your baby as it can be beneficial to keeping your days predictable.
Plus, when you wake your baby up from a long nap, it helps ensure they receive adequate daytime nourishment through their milk feeds. Adequate daytime calorie intake will support more extended periods of sleep during your little one’s naps and overnight. It’s a win-win!
The ideal number of naps for a 4 month old baby
Typically, 4 month olds take 3 to 4 naps each day, depending on the length of each nap.
Short naps are pretty common due to your baby’s developmental stage at 4 months.
So if you find that your baby is a serial catnapper and consistently takes short naps, day in and day out, then they might benefit from having 4 to 5 naps a day.
Adding in the extra nap will help to prevent overtiredness which causes more frequent night wakings.
If you feel ready when your baby is around 4 to 5 months old, you can begin to transition your baby to a more predictable 3 naps a day sleep schedule *Happy dance.*
The nap transition from 4 to 3 naps involves gently extending the time between naps and resettling your baby when they take a short nap.
Understanding the right amount of sleep for a 4 month old baby
How much sleep does my baby need in 24 hours?
I get asked by parents all the time. You’re in good hands.
Determining the appropriate amount of sleep for a 4 month old can concern many parents. And getting quality sleep is crucial to infant development as they move away from the newborn phase.
At 4 months old, their sleep patterns are undergoing rapid changes, and so is how much sleep they might need over 24 hours. Understanding your baby’s sleep needs and knowing the recommended sleep durations for different ages is essential to support your little one’s sleep.
Here’s a little breakdown (rough guideline) of sleep needs:
Daytime sleep (Naps)
Aim for 4 to 4.5 hours of daytime sleep, spread across several naps during the day.
You will find that 4 month old babies typically have 3 to 4 naps, each varying in length. Some babies may be content with shorter naps, while others require longer ones to meet their sleep needs.
For nighttime sleep, aim for 10 to 12 hours.
Quality nighttime sleep is crucial for both your baby’s wellbeing and your ability to establish a predictable routine. While many babies can sleep through the night at this age, they might still require one or two nighttime feedings or wakings.
It’s important to remember that while these are general guidelines, individual babies have unique sleep requirements, and some may sleep more or less than the recommended amounts.
Easy and stimulating activities for babies during the day
Curious about what to do during your baby’s awake time?
Here are some easy activities to fill those precious moments between naps, feedings, nappy changes, and cute giggles:
- Engage in Play: Make playtime with age-appropriate toys like soft rattles, colourful mobiles, or interactive books an enjoyable experience. Explore activities such as peek-a-boo, singing nursery rhymes, or gentle games that foster interaction and strengthen your bond.
- Sing and Talk: Sing songs, engage in conversations, or narrate your daily routines to your baby. This kind of communication enhances their language development, strengthens connections, and stimulates cognitive growth.
- Explore the Outdoors: Take your baby for a stroll in a stroller or carrier when the weather allows. Outdoor adventures offer the benefits of fresh air, sensory stimulation, and a change of scenery, creating an enjoyable experience for both.
- Tummy Time: Lay a blanket or mat on the floor and let your baby explore and play while lying on their tummy. This activity helps develop neck, shoulder, and back muscles, promoting motor development. If your baby doesn’t enjoy tummy time for long, experiment with side lying and always supervise during this floor time.
When should you offer the last nap and bedtime?
For those parents aiming for a bedtime around 7 to 8 pm, the last nap should finish around 5 to 6 pm.
Finishing the last nap around these times allows for about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours of awake time before bedtime, ensuring your baby is ready for a restful night and not overtired.
Keep in mind this guideline can help you decide when to start and end the final nap of the day. It’s not set in stone. Refer to the schedule above for a sample of how this might fit into a typical day.
You might find your baby does well with a later bedtime. Experiment and see what fits your family dynamics best.
But what’s the deal with babies waking 30 to 45 minutes after going to bed?
AKA — False starts.
If your baby begins waking up shortly after bedtime or has difficulty settling to sleep, it’s essential to assess their awake time before bedtime to improve their sleep patterns. These steps will help you tackle the dreaded false start and bedtime battle.
Chances are your little one is overtired at bedtime.
What is the 4 month old sleep regression?
Short answer: It’s a neurological change in your baby’s sleeping patterns.
It often occurs around the 4 month mark, with some babies experiencing it as early as 12 weeks. During this phase, your baby’s sleep patterns transform significantly from unpredictable newborn sleep of light and deep patterns to more structured infant sleep with distinct sleep cycles and endings.
This regression may lead to increased wakefulness, short naps, more nighttime wakes, and difficulty settling. You may find that what previously worked for your baby no longer does. Sleep regressions can cause a baby who previously slept well to face difficulties with falling asleep or staying asleep suddenly.
These can be challenging times for both babies and parents; take a deep breath. You CAN help your bub get back to sleeping well.
Here’s some areas to focus on during this regression to help your little one sleep:
- Begin to establish a consistent bedtime routine.
- Develop a nap routine that supports quality napping and is flexible for everyday life.
- Pay attention to an awake time of 120 minutes max for a 4 month old baby.
- Encourage self-settling opportunities in the cot if you want to.
- Create a sleep-conducive environment that promotes longer naps and easier settling to sleep.
When’s the right time to stop using a swaddle?
The moment your little bundle of joy starts to roll over can take you by surprise and fill you with excitement and perhaps a touch of anxiety.
While there’s no exact age when babies will start rolling, you can generally expect this developmental milestone to occur between 3 and 6 months.
However, when your little one starts rolling, the most important thing to consider is unswaddling your baby. STAT.
As per the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s safe to continue swaddling until your baby demonstrates signs of rolling. So once your little one shows signs of readiness to roll, it’s time to transition out of the swaddle.
Swaddling restricts their ability to use their hands and arms to push and lift their face from the mattress, hindering their safety during rollovers. So, it’s time to set those little arms free.
Read the full article on safe sleep recommendations from the AAP Here.
Is it safe for my baby to sleep on their stomach?
During the first 12 months, always place your baby on their back to sleep. However, if your baby can independently roll from their back to their belly, most paediatricians consider tummy sleep safe.
If you have any questions or concerns, please consult with your paediatrician. Keep in mind it’s never safe for a swaddled baby to sleep on their stomach.
How to help your 4 month old baby to sleep better
Supporting your 4 month old baby in achieving better sleep involves focusing on good sleep hygiene and routines, which build the foundations for healthy sleep habits.
Many parents aim for milestones like having their child sleep through the night, dropping overnight feeds, improving daytime naps, setting up predictable sleep schedules, and encouraging independent sleep.
These goals can be 100% achievable.
The trick is to keep your expectations in check and understand your baby’s age-appropriate sleep needs to find the right balance between daytime and nighttime rest.
Why is my baby waking overnight and not sleeping all night yet?
The age at which babies start sleeping through the night varies from one child to another. By four months, some babies can sleep for 8-10 hours without waking for feedings.
Expert advice incoming!!! Just trust me on this one, ‘kay?
It’s also super normal for 4 month old babies to require one to two nighttime feedings.
Some babies might also benefit from having a dream feed at this age. However, it may not always lead to longer stretches of sleep, so it’s best to experiment to see what works for your little one. But night feeds may not always be the sole reason for your baby’s night waking.
Sometimes, there’s a whole party of factors involved.
Most parents want to reduce feeding on every wake of the night at this age. But before reducing night feeds, consider optimising the sleep environment, establishing consistent bedtime routines, and ensuring your baby receives enough quality daytime sleep.
It’s also vital to know if the amount of night feeds you want to drop to is *actually* appropriate for your little one’s age and weight because hungry babies don’t stay asleep for long.
If underlying medical concerns contribute to frequent night wakings, it’s crucial to address those before focusing solely on reducing overnight feeding. By taking this step, you’ll ensure you’re taking a comprehensive approach that sets the stage for successful sleep.
Has nap time turned into nope time?
Establishing your baby’s flexible sleep schedule is a vital aspect of the Sleep Essentials Program I teach parents. Establishing a flexible sleep schedule helps your little one take great naps and sleep well overnight.
If you’re wondering, “How do I get my baby to fall asleep at nap times?”—it’s a cue to explore the step-by-step process to help your little one sleep well at naps (minus the cry-it-out drama—you won’t find any of that here).
Final thoughts and key takeaways
Whether you’re a new parent or experienced, a consistent sleep schedule is key to your baby’s sleep being less stressful, more predictable and not full of overtired meltdowns by the time it reaches bedtime.
Sound good? You also matter and need downtime to recharge your parenting batteries too.
Embrace routine, cherish these moments, and create the perfect sleep schedule for your little one, setting the stage for a great night’s sleep.
You’ve got this!
Kat – Catnap tamer, parent whisperer & your gentle baby and toddler sleep consultant
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