At 4 months old, you might feel like you’ve got this sleeping thing nailed… or it might be a hot mess.
And mama, we’re here to tell you it’s all normal.
While establishing a 4-month-old sleep schedule might be the goal, it’s still likely that every day might be a little (or a lot) different.
So what’s the best way to navigate a sleep schedule for 4-month-old babies?
And what’s the deal with the 4-month sleep regression?
Don’t worry, we’ve got the answers to your questions.
Keep reading for our top tips to establish quality bedtime for your 4 month old.
In this article 📝
- How to get a 4-month-old on a sleep schedule
- How long should a 4 month old wake window be?
- How much sleep does a 4-month-old need?
- What is a good 4-month-old nap schedule?
- What time should a 4-month-old go to bed?
- What are the signs of 4-month sleep regression?
How to get a 4-month-old on a sleep schedule
At 4 months old, your little peanut is still very young, so It’s up to you if you want to go with the flow or try and establish a more consistent routine.
Neither approach is right or wrong.
It’s up to you, and really depends on what works best for you and your baby.
One way some moms might start introducing a more structured sleep schedule is to wake their baby at the same time every day, so you start your day with predictability.
This can help establish a morning routine, which may come in especially handy if you have older children to get to school or are heading back to work.
How long should a 4 month old wake window be?
First off, what is a wake window?
Basically, this is the amount of time your babe is awake between naps and is a nifty way to prevent an overtired (read: cranky) baby.
Whether you decide on a strict wake-up time or not, 4-month-old sleep schedules tend to work off wake windows rather than specific times for bedtime or naps.
The average 4 month wake windows are about 90 minutes to two hours, however, some babies may need slightly longer wake windows in order to sleep well.
As baby grows and develops, so will their wake window – expanding from the blink-and-you-miss-it interludes of those early weeks to 120 minute of engagement time.
But aiming for baby to embrace the average 4 month wake window is a great starting point to encourage better sleep.
And hey, there will still be times baby won’t be able to last the full window, even if it is age appropriate.
As long as you’re noticing your baby’s early tired signs and keeping an eye on how long they’ve been awake, you’ll be able to get them ready for their next nap before they become overtired.
Sleepy cues vary from baby to baby, but common ones are:
- Getting fussier
- Staring into the distance and not maintaining eye contact
- Rubbing their ears or eyes
- Big yawns
- Red, flushed eyebrows
As baby sleep expert, Alicia Dyshon says, “unfortunately, some babies tend to be a bit more complicated and may not give you the typical sleepy cues mentioned above so it’s important to tune into your unique baby. If they are fighting sleep it can be an indication that they are overtired, but it may also be an indication that they are undertired (not tired enough). So it’s best to experiment a bit to figure out what awake windows work best for your unique baby.”
How much sleep does a 4-month-old need?
The average 4-month-old will need around 12-15 hours of sleep per 24 hours.
Commonly, this will be divided into 10 to 12 hours overnight, with three to four hours of naps during the day.
But remember, this is an average only, and it’s normal for babies to vary from these guidelines!
What is a good 4-month-old nap schedule?
The three to four hours of day sleep a 4-month-old requires is usually broken down into three or four naps per day.
It’s normal for your baby to need three naps one day but four the next, so remaining flexible will help you until they’re a bit older and their sleep is more predictable.
Naps at this age can vary anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours.
If your baby is consistently taking naps under 30 minutes, it’s important to look at the wake window prior to the nap as your baby may be over or undertired, meaning the wake window may have been a bit too long or even a bit too short for their unique sleep needs.
It might be a good idea to wake your baby if they have been napping for over two hours, so it doesn’t interfere with their night sleep and daytime feeds.
What time should a 4-month-old go to bed?
Bedtimes will vary from day to day and from baby to baby, but the standard bedtime for 4 month old tends be between 6pm and 9pm.
Be aware of the awake time from the last nap of the day, especially if the last nap of the day was more of a cat nap (15-30 minutes), and don’t be afraid to use an earlier bedtime to avoid overtiredness.
Although you may think that a longer awake window before bed might encourage your baby to sleep for a longer period overnight, it can have the opposite effect with some babies, especially during the 4 month sleep “regression”.
Overtired babies will often wake after the first cycle of their night sleep – around 45 minutes after you put them down – and it can be difficult to settle to sleep again at this time.
How long can a 4-month-old sleep at night?
Overnight sleep for a 4-month-old is usually about 10 to 11 hours, which will commonly be interrupted by two or three feeds, sometimes more (breast or bottle).
If your baby is gaining weight and feeding well throughout the day, there is no need to be concerned if your baby is sleeping through the night.
Just don’t brag about it too much!
What are the signs of 4-month sleep regression?
Uh oh. The two words no mama wants to hear are “sleep regression.”
So what do we know about the one that commonly crops up around 4 months?
This one is all to do with your baby’s sleep patterns maturing, so rather than a “regression”, it’s actually a progression into their permanent sleeping ability.
t’s all to do with their sleep cycles changing, and the fact that they are producing their own melatonin (sleep hormones) rather than relying on the hormone stores they inherited from you in utero.
While it all sounds great in theory, it can create some pretty difficult-to-deal-with effects on their sleep patterns.
Babies going through the 4-month sleep regression (that can happen anytime between three to five months) will often:
- Have shorter naps throughout the day (30-45 mins)
- Wake frequently overnight
- Be fussier or cry more upon waking from naps
- Be more difficult to settle to sleep
At this age, babies are more aware of the world around them, so sleep can be more difficult to achieve without an ideal sleep environment, so ensuring that your sleep environment includes white noise and blackout curtains can be helpful.
Although naps on the go or contact naps are still completely fine if they work for you and your baby.
At this age, babies are more aware of the world around them, so if they rely on something to fall asleep initially at the start of a nap or bedtime, they will look for this same sleep association at every wake-up.
You may feel pressured to remove certain sleep associations like nursing or feeding to sleep, rocking to sleep, holding to sleep, or using a pacifier but baby sleep expert Alicia Dyshon usually recommends holding onto these sleep associations if they are working for your family.
The more sleep associations you introduce, the more ways your baby has to fall asleep, especially during this difficult “sleep regression” or developmental progression.
This also gives you options when you’d like to remove a sleep association that may not be working for your family in the future.
Once your child is through the 4 month developmental progression or “sleep regression”, you can decide if there are certain associations that you would like to remove.
As always, there’s no right or wrong, so try not to judge yourself, or your baby, against others.
And remember, if today has gone off the rails before lunchtime, it’s cool.
Tomorrow is another day.
You got this!