By your baby’s fourth month, her sleep needs have decreased from the time she was a newborn and she may have developed the skill of rolling over to get into a sleeping position, says KidsHealth, part of the Nemours Foundation. However, since your 4-month-old is becoming ever-aware of her surroundings, she may have more trouble falling and staying asleep. Establishing a healthy sleeping routine early on will ensure that she gets enough sleep to fuel her rapid growth.
Most 4-month-old babies sleep an average of 14 hours a day, but babies’ sleep needs vary so drastically that one baby may need only 9 hours a day and another may require 18 hours, according to KidsHealth. On average, 4-month-olds get about three to four hours of this sleep in the day but some babies may nap only 20 minutes.
Most babies reach the milestone of sleeping “through the night”—a stretch of five to six hours—sometime between ages 3 and 6 months, according to BabyCenter.com. You may find that your 4-month-old is able to sleep for much longer, but you may also have to wait until he is at least 6 months old to successfully wean him from night feedings, says BabyCenter.com.
You may be surprised to discover that your baby, who has been sleeping through the night for months, has started to wake up every couple of hours in the middle of the night. She might be waking up because she wants company or because she's practicing rolling over in her sleep, says BabyCenter.com. Be sure that she’s not in pain, ill or uncomfortable due to an extremely soiled diaper, suggests KidsHealth, then try to let her get back to sleep on her own. Multiple night awakenings in a row may signal another problem, such as a sensitivity to noises, lights or temperature. Adjust her sleep environment accordingly.
If your 4-month-old is still having trouble falling asleep on his own, you may want to start sleep training around now, says KidsHealth. To start, perform your normal nightly sleep routine but put him down before he’s fully asleep. Let him cry for a few minutes, but if the crying continues, enter the room and soothe him by patting or stroking his back; just don’t pick him up, suggests KidsHealth. If you continue this routine every night, he will soon realize that crying won’t get him held and he will learn to fall asleep on his own.
Begin your baby’s bedtime routine by making sure she’s fully relaxed before you put her down for sleep. Give her a soothing bath, read her a gentle book, sing to her or rock her and put her to bed at the same time every night, recommends the U.S. Department of Education. Whatever you do, keep the routine consistent so she relaxes in knowing what to expect. Keep the lights dim and household noises to a minimum to avoid waking her up.