In this post, I have shared some helpful insights to help you understand a 4-month old’s sleep schedule so you are prepared on what to expect and how to get your infant to sleep longer. This post is part of a series on baby sleep guides, methods, gear, and courses you can use to give yourself and your baby a better sleep.
The four-month mark is a transition time for babies, and it causes changes in their sleep patterns. The baby who used to sleep like rock starts to wake more frequently at night, and daytime naps also get shorter. This period is the most stressful and exhausting for many parents. As a result, parents, especially first-time parents, start worrying and having many questions.
In this article, we will be exploring all about a 4 month-old sleep needs and answering most related questions. Our research is a compilation of reliable sleep experts’ opinions. Hopefully, we can help ease your worries and concerns regarding your baby’s sleep at this age. We will also be sharing great tricks to keep your 4-year old sleeping through the night, so keep reading and enjoy restful nights ahead.
Amount of Sleep 4-month old needs
According to sleep experts, 4-month-old babies need a total of between 14 to 16 hours of sleep every day. This means longer nighttime sleep of about 10-11 hours and 3-4 hours during the day divided between 3-4 nap sessions.
4-month-old sleep routine/cycle/pattern
Usually, most babies at 4 months do not have a strict schedule because it is a transition stage where their brain is maturing; as a result, they tend to take shorter naps, but frequently. It is common to have 2-4 naps totaling around 3 to 4 hours of daytime sleep, although this could vary from day to day. This could continue until they are about 6 months when they settle to 2 longer naps.
Can 4-month old sleep on their side?
It is prohibited for a 4-month-old to sleep on their side or tummy. The muscles of 4-month-olds are not strong enough just yet, so sleeping on their side will be risking the baby rolling over onto their tummy and suffocating (SIDS).
It is only advisable to place babies younger than 6 months on their back when sleeping until they can roll from front to back and back to front, and then they can sleep in any of their favorite position.
Sample Schedule for a 4-Month Old by Babywise and by Nanit
This schedule assumes your baby can stay awake for 1 hour 15 minutes before needing to sleep again. At this age, wake-time should be 1-2 hours maximum, to avoid baby getting overtired.
|Time of day||Sleep Schedule Activities|
|6.30 am||Wake and feed|
|8.15 am-8.45 am||Feed|
|5.45 pm||Begin bedtime routine|
|6.15 pm||Bedtime (plus 1-3 night time feeds)|
4 Month Old Sleep Schedule by Babywise and Nanit (And Sample PDF)
Below is a schedule for a 4-month old by Babywise.
4-month-old sleep schedule Nanit (and Sample PDF)
The table below shows the sleep schedule by Nanit. You can also check out this PDF schedule by Nanit.
|Time of Day||Sleep activity for 4-month-old|
|6.15 am||Wake and milk feed|
|8.15 am-9.15 am||Nap|
|9.15 am||Milk feed|
|11.15 am- 12.15 pm||Nap|
|12.15 pm||Milk feed|
|2.15 pm- 3.15 pm||Nap|
|3.15 pm||Milk feed|
|5.30 pm||Bath time|
|6.00 pm||Last milk feed|
4-month-old sleeping a lot
Every parent wants their baby to sleep, but what if your baby suddenly starts sleeping more than usual? -Having marathon naps, unusual extended morning wake-up times, and need to have an earlier bedtime? This change can make many parents get worried, but luckily sometimes it is nothing to worry about. Below are some reasons that would make your 4-month old baby sleep a lot more than usual:
- Experiencing a growth spurt
Growth spurts are usually the first reason a baby or toddler suddenly starts taking extra-long naps and sleeping late into the morning. This is especially the case for newborns during their first few months of life. Most parents note that their newborns seem to sleep almost all day and night.
While teething is one of the milestones parents look forward to, most babies experience horrible symptoms that appear like flu during this season. The flu-like symptoms can include diarrhea, a low-grade fever, and mucus. All these nasty symptoms can make the baby feel lousy and sleepy.
When a baby is ill, just like adults, the body will require extra rest to use every resource to fight off the illness; this will result in drowsiness and sleepiness.
Although the three reasons are mostly the most common causes of extra-sleepiness, it’s important to rule out any medical concerns that could be causing lethargy and more-than-average sleep. For example, if a child has sleep apnea, they can tend to be extra-sleepy.
Our advice is that if you have concerns about your child’s tiredness or unusual sleepiness, start by ruling out medical concerns by consulting with your healthcare provider.
Another tip would be to engage your child with more educational and fun toys for the periods they are awake; this way, they won’t be missing out on learning. There are many age-appropriate toys in the market that are great for enhancing your child’s learning ability.
4-month-old sleep schedule breastfeeding
|8 am||Wake up and nurse|
NB: this schedule can work for most parents since it can be adjusted to work out for your needs. For example, if your baby wakes up earlier, maybe at 7 am, you can change bedtime to around 7.30 pm.
Also, your baby might require a feed at about 5 am since it is common for babies this age to still wake once or twice per night after a stretch of the first 5- 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
4-month-old sleep training
For sleep training to be successful, both you and your baby need to be prepared. At 4 months, it is a great age to start ‘official’ sleep training. Earlier than that, the training would be too harsh on the baby because they need that constant touch from you.
You will need to research various methods of sleep training since not every method can work for your family. This way, you can make an informed choice as you decide on which method is right for you. Your biggest task will be determining the method that works best for you by considering what your and your baby’s crying tolerance is. If a technique feels too intense for you to handle, start with a gentle plan and move up to a lesser gentle method if need be.
Also, you need to set aside a period of not less than two weeks, which is undisrupted by things like traveling or vacation, and be ready to stick to the plan until it is successful.
Some families have enlisted the assistance of a professional sleep consultant and have found it to be beneficial. A sleep consultant has the experience and skills needed to recognize some problems that result in specific symptoms and can work with you to develop a plan for your baby that addresses those specific issues. He/she can also provide you with some much-needed encouragement not to give up when the plan seems not to be working until it works.
That said, sleep experts recommend you start by laying the foundation for sleep training by establishing bedtime routines and healthy sleep habits, which can be done right from day one. If you haven’t started already, try to start as early as possible because they will significantly help with sleep training.
These include using various soothing activities that help to calm your baby and prepare them for sleep, such as swaddling, bathing, and rocking, playing lullabies and white noises, etc. Of course, every family’s routine will be different.
Lastly, remember sleep training takes time, patience, and consistency.
Sleep Training Methods for 4-month Old
Below are the most common sleep training methods you can use:
- No tears method/ No-cry method
This method was created by sleep expert Elizabeth Pantley, and it is also known as the no-cry method. It is one of the ‘gentle’ techniques and involves slightly changing your child’s sleep habits. For example, one trick, known as “fading,” suggests gradually easing out of your baby’s go-to-sleep strategy. For instance, if they always had to be rocked to sleep, you would rock them less and less until you can put them down to sleep without any rocking. Another trick, called substitution, switches out the routine like if your baby always nurses before bedtime, read a storybook for them, or play a lullaby instead.
- Cry It Out (CIO) method
As the name suggests, it involves letting the baby cry without interfering until they soothe themselves to sleep. It is also known as extinction sleep training. This technique is based on the idea that a baby is able to learn to self-soothe and eventually will stop crying and sleep through the night. You can also read bout the magical 5s’s of soothing
- Weissbluth method
This sleep-training method suggests you establish a bedtime routine first, such as a bath, book, or lullaby, then put the baby to sleep, shut the door, and don’t come into the room until the next morning.
It is also known as timed-interval sleep training, modified sleep training, or graduated extinction sleep training. With this technique, a parent puts down the baby to sleep even if she is crying, and then comes to check on her at different time intervals like every five, 10, 15 minutes, and so on. During these checkup times, you shouldn’t pick the baby up, but you can verbally soothe or pat them. As the days pass, the intervals will get longer until she is sleeping through the night.
- Chair method
The method is also referred to as the sleep lady shuffle or gradual withdrawal. It starts with you sitting in a chair next to the baby’s crib, but you can soothe the baby when he cries verbally, patting, and even occasionally picking them up. Then, each night, you move the chair farther away from the crib, until you’re no longer in the room. Although this method can work for younger babies, it would work exceptionally well to help to transition toddlers who experience separation anxiety but can understand that parents are just on the other side of the door.
- Pick-up-put-down method
This method is very similar to the Ferber method. You put your baby to bed when awake but come to check up on her at regular intervals. But unlike Ferber, you can pick her up and soothe her, holding her for a few minutes before putting her down. Eventually, she will become too sleepy and fall asleep on her own.
4-month-old sleep regression
The first sleep regression often happens when your baby is about 4-months old, and others might occur in the following months. During this time, your baby experiences a growth spurt causing a change in your baby’s sleep pattern.
Their sleep becomes more like that of adults- cycling between light and deep sleep. But unlike adults, every time they change between light and deep cycles, they wake and will require you to soothe them back to sleep. This period is usually the most stressful for parents, but the good news is that most babies go back to their usual sleep pattern after about 2 to 4 weeks.
Others will need their sleep pattern to be changed to help them have quality sleep. So generally, sleep regression at 4 months is a milestone achieved just like walking or talking and should be celebrated as you develop a coping mechanism for you.
4-month-old preemie sleep schedule
If your baby was born preterm, you might consider using their due date instead of their birth date to get the most accurate picture of where you should expect them to be development-wise. Your pediatrician can discuss with you how your baby’s milestones may be delayed (affected) due to their premature birth. This delay is also reflected in terms of sleep.
For instance, a 4-month old preterm baby might not be able to sleep for a full 6 to 8 hours at night like their counterparts born at full term. They could take up to 6 or 8 months later to accomplish this.
That said, a difference of fewer than three weeks cannot cause a significant difference in sleep behavior, but beyond three weeks, the differences become more significant.
With full-term babies, they only start to get some semblance of sleep schedule at 4 months, so if your baby was born prematurely, it makes more sense not to expect them to have a regular schedule until much later.
Gestational age continues to affect your baby’s sleep pattern until they are two years old, and then the differences in sleep patterns will become less and less noticeable.
How to change a 4-month old sleep schedule
If your 4-month old is struggling to get quality sleep, or your baby’s sleep pattern is affecting your sleep in an unhealthy way. It is time to consider using the sleep training methods we have discussed above. Many parents have found relief, thanks to these methods and their children have been able to sleep all through the night.
I am Ashley Davis, a mom of three kids and the editor here at MotherhoodHQ (formerly 10BabyGear). I have been a parent since 2011 and have been doing full-time consulting as a baby sleep expert since 2019. When I am not researching or testing the next baby gear hitting the market, you’ll find me teaching my toddlers a trick or two – especially over the last few months with the lockdown. I hope you’ll find my guides and reviews helpful as you make your next purchase decision. If you have any questions, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.