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4 Month Old Sleep Schedule Ideas

Do you have a 4-month-old and are trying to navigate sleep schedules? If you are in search of 4 month old sleep schedule Ideas and routines look no further. First, let us discuss what a 4-month-old requires developmentally for their sleep needs.

4-Month-Old Sleep Needs:

  • We are looking to achieve 3-4.5 hours of daytime sleep, broken up over 3-5 naps a day, this will depend on the length of nap your 4-month-old is capable of having.
  • 15 hours of total sleep in 24 hours, this would encompass daytime sleep plus nighttime sleep. We are aiming for 11-12 hours of sleep overnight.

Now we know how much sleep to aim for with regards to day and night time, but we also need to understand how long a 4-month-old baby can stay awake before they require sleep. The length of time a baby can tolerate being awake is called a wake window, from the time they wake up until they are ready for their next segment of sleep.

Wake Windows:

Happy 4 month baby

On average 4-month-old baby can only tolerate being awake for 1.75-2 hours before needing sleep. However, some babies are on the shorter end of wake windows, meaning they only stay awake for 1.5-1.75 hours before needing sleep. On the other end of the spectrum are those babies requiring longer wake windows, meaning they need to stay awake for 2-2.25 hours before being ready for a nap.

We should always be mindful that the last wake window of the day (before bed) is often the longer wake window of the entire day. If your 4-month-old tolerates wake windows of 1.75-2 hours before naps, we likely will see a 2.25-2.5 hour wake window before bed.

Related read: 5-Month-Old Wake Windows Explained.

Daytime Naps:

I mentioned above we are looking at having multiple naps a day; daytime sleep should span over 3-5 naps total. The reason for this range, a 4-month-old who is a notorious cat napper (taking 15-45 minute naps) will need more naps during the day vs. a 4-month-old who is capable of pulling off 1-2 hour nap lengths.

A friendly reminder, how your baby falls asleep initially for their nap; is what they will expect to fall back asleep at the end of their sleep cycle. A sleep cycle is approximately 40 minutes in length. If you rock baby to sleep, around the 30-45 minute mark, your baby will start to stir, moving in the direction of waking up. Two things will likely happen, your baby will fall back asleep because they entered another sleep cycle, or your baby will fully wake and likely start to cry.

The reason for crying is the method that put them to sleep (rocking) is no longer present. Another reason your baby will wake up crying is due to the fact they potentially fell asleep in your arms and are now in a new location.

It is important to keep in mind because it will impact the length of nap your 4-month-old can achieve.

It is common to see four naps per day at the 4-month mark, this is our starting point.

4 Month Sample Schedule On 4 Naps A Day:

This example below uses some shorter wake windows for a baby who is unable to tolerate 2 hours of wake time throughout the entire day.

  • 7:30 am – Wake Up/Feed
  • 9:00-10:00 am – Nap 1 (1 hour)
  • 10:15 am – Feed
  • 11:45-12:45 pm – Nap 2 (1 hour)
  • 1:00 pm – Feed
  • 2:30-3:30 pm – Nap 3 (1 hour)
  • 3:45 pm – Feed
  • 5:30-6:00 pm – Cat Nap 4 (30 min)
  • 6:15 pm – Top Up Feed
  • 7:30 pm – Bedtime Feed
  • 8:30 pm – Bed

Alternative 4 Month Old – 4 Nap A Day Sample Schedule:

This example is for a baby who takes shorter naps.

  • 7:30 am – Wake Up/Feed
  • 9:15-10:15 am – Nap 1 (1 hour)
  • 10:15 am – Feed
  • 12:00-12:45 pm – Nap 2 (45 minutes)
  • 1:00 pm – Feed
  • 2:30-3:15 pm – Nap 3 (45 minutes)
  • 3:30 pm – Feed
  • 5:00-5:45 pm – Nap 4 (45 minutes)
  • 6:00 pm – Top Up Feed
  • 7:15 pm – Bedtime Feed
  • 7:45 pm – Bed

4 Month Sample Schedule On 3 Naps A Day:

Following 1.75-2 hour wake windows during the day, with a slightly longer wake window before bed.

  • 7:00 am – Wake Up/Feed
  • 8:45-10:15 am – Nap 1 (1.5 hours)
  • 10:15 am – Feed
  • 12:15-1:45 pm – Nap 2 (1.5 hours)
  • 1:45 pm – Feed
  • 3:45-5:00 pm – Nap 3 (1.25 hours)
  • 5:00 pm – Feed
  • 6:45 pm – Top Up Feed
  • 7:15 pm – Bed  

Alternative 4-Month Sample Schedule On 3 Naps A Day:

4 month baby sleeping in moms arms

If a baby can tolerate above-average wake windows, needing 2.5 hours before bed.

  • 7:00 am – Wake Up/Feed
  • 9:00-10:30 am – Nap 1 (1.5 hours)
  • 10:30 am – Feed
  • 12:30-2:00 pm – Nap 2 (1.5 hours)
  • 2:00 pm – Feed
  • 4:00-5:00 pm – Nap 3 (1 hour)
  • 5:00 pm – Feed
  • 7:00 pm – Feed
  • 7:30 pm – Bedtime

Alternative 4-Month Sample Schedule On 3 Naps A Day:

For the baby on bottles and able to go longer stretches feed to feed.

  • 7:30 am – Wake Up/Feed
  • 9:15-11:00 am – Nap 1 (1.75 hours)
  • 11:00 am – Feed
  • 1:00-2:30 pm – Nap 2 (1.5 hours)
  • 2:30 pm – Feed
  • 4:30-5:30 pm – Nap 3 (1 hour)
  • 7:15 pm – Bedtime Feed
  • 7:45 pm – Bedtime

4 Month Old Micro Napper Sample Schedule:

If your baby constantly takes short naps, we may see five naps total. 

  • 7:30 am – Wake Up/Feed
  • 8:45-9:30 am – Nap 1 (45 minutes)
  • 10:00 am – Feed
  • 10:45-11:30 am – Nap 2 (45 minutes)
  • 12:00 pm – Feed
  • 1:5 00-1:45 pm – Nap 3 (45 minutes)
  • 2:15 pm – Feed
  • 3:30-4:15 – Nap 4 (45 minutes)
  • 4:30 pm – Feed
  • 5:45-6:15 pm – Nap 5 (30-minute cat nap)
  • 7:15 pm – Feed
  • 7:45 pm – Bedtime

If you have a 4-month-old who is a notorious cat napper, it would be best to look into how your baby falls asleep for naps. Remember, if your baby is put into their sleep space when they are sleeping, it will likely result in a short nap.

Your baby’s sleep may be disrupted upon placing them down, or the baby may wake up within 30-45 minutes from when they originally fell asleep, which is the length of a sleep cycle during the day.

Hunger will impact your baby’s ability to sleep soundly, we should be offering feeds based on hunger cues, keeping in mind your 4-month-old likely does not need to feed every hour all day long. We usually see feeds occurring every 2.5-3.5 hours during the daytime.

It is best to avoid the feeds reaching 4 hours or more apart. That will help your baby sleep better during the day if they have proper feedings, and it will also help them sleep better at night if they receive proper daily caloric intake.

Nap Lengths:

If you are wondering how long should naps be for your 4-month-old, know this is dependent on the baby’s ability to fall asleep on their own, or not. We ideally want to cap naps at the 2-hour mark, this allows us to maintain daytime feeds, and fits in the appropriate number of naps your baby needs. If your baby wakes up after only napping for 30-45 minutes, you may be able to hold the baby and extend their nap (contact nap).

If you want to focus on improving sleep, 4 months is the age parents move in the direction of sleep training, aiming to move away from sleep associations and allow the baby to learn to self-settle, allowing sleep cycles to connect. 

4 Month Sleep Regression

4-month baby chowing on a toy

You may wonder how or when the 4-month sleep regression will surface in your world. This is a period your baby has a developmental change within their sleep cycles, meaning they will go into deep and light stages of sleep more frequently through the night compared to their newborn days.

Since babies wake more often during the night, parents may note increased night wakings. Just as I mentioned the difficulty connecting sleep cycles during naps, the same rule applies to nighttime sleep. If you want to achieve consolidated sleep at night, this is the time to practice and master placing your baby down and having them fall asleep on their own. You can do this by slowly withdrawing support over time or through the cry-it-out methods.

Every baby will experience a shift in their sleep cycles but not every family will notice disrupted sleep; this is often due to the fact those parents were putting their baby down awake or drowsy, over time baby was able to figure out how to settle themselves to sleep.

Tips For Surviving The 4 Month Regression:

White Noise machine

You know the shift in sleep cycles is inevitable, so how do you best support your little one when it comes to sleep? These tips apply for both naps and night sleep and what to focus on. 

  • Black Out: Keep their sleep environment as dark as possible. A dark room helps with melatonin production, as your baby gets older, this matters more vs. their newborn days.
  • ProperWakeWindows: Having the ideal wake window before naps and bedtime is one of the most important aspects for your baby not treating bedtime like a nap, or having notorious cat naps due to them not being tired enough.
  • Consistency: How you approach night wakings is exactly what your little one will learn to expect, if every wake up (every 45-60 minutes) you go into feed baby, they will continue to wake, expecting they need that same source to fall back asleep. A friendly reminder, a 4-month-old does not need to eat every hour over a 10-12 hour span of nighttime sleep.
  • White Noise: This helps mimic sounds of the womb which the baby found very comforting the entire time they were growing inside. If you have not used white noise yet, I highly encourage you to do this. White noise can also block out external sounds, for example, dogs barking, doorbell ringing, and vacuuming. External sounds may wake your baby mid-nap, and sensitive sleepers may find it hard for them to fall back asleep on their own.
  • Plan Of Action: It is never mandatory to sleep train. You should have a plan of action for how you will handle short naps. You can extend the nap on you, focus on guiding the baby back to sleep within their sleep space, or end the nap and start a new wake window. When you are consistent, your baby will understand what to expect and a pattern follows. I always highly encourage my clients to preserve daytime sleep, if the baby naps under 45 minutes, try to help lull the baby back to sleep even if this helps extend the nap by 15-30 mins; it’s a win! When it comes to middle-of-the-night wakings, wait before responding, your little one may fall back on their own if given a proper opportunity.

Often we are going into the room before the baby has even had a chance to attempt to fall back to sleep on their own. Waiting and assessing with your ears allows your little one to self-settle. Also, babies are very loud when they sleep, you may be entering their sleep space when they are shifting from deep to light stages of sleep. If you do attend to your little one, you may indeed wake them up. I would encourage you to learn more about active sleep, it’s amazing how much a baby can move in the middle of a sleep cycle.

FAQ – 4 Month Old Sleep Schedule Ideas:

Question: Can a 4-month-old sleep through the night? 

Answer: A 4-month-old baby does have the capacity to sleep through the night, it is also developmentally normal for a 4-month-old to require one feed at night. Every baby is different and the process of how a baby falls asleep initially will be a great indicator of whether a baby connects sleep cycles on their own or not. It is developmentally normal for all babies to wake throughout the night.

The difference is whether a baby looks around and panics “where is mom/dad?”, or if the baby looks around and puts themselves back to sleep. Around 4 months of age is when we see a shift in sleep cycles, this is often when parents are noting increased night wakings. If your baby is falling asleep while feeding or through motion, they are going to rely on that same method to put them back to sleep throughout the entire night. If you are struggling with frequent night wakings where you are feeding or rocking your baby back to sleep every 1-2 hours, this can be an indication to help your baby learn to fall asleep on their own.

Question: How many naps should a 4-month-old take?

Answer: On average a 4-month-old requires 3-4 naps per day, some 4-month-olds can connect sleep cycles, and therefore naps can be 1-2 hours, in this case, we may see 3 naps a day. For other babies, we may see some longer naps and some shorter, with a total of 4 naps per day. For a 4-month-old who is a notorious cat napper, we may see up to 5 naps a day; each nap is less than 1 hour.

Question: How long can my 4-month-old stay awake?

Answer: A 4-month-old baby usually requires sleep within 1.75-2 hours of being awake, longer compared to their newborn days. Due to their age, most 4-month-olds can not tolerate being awake beyond 2 hours before needing sleep. If a 4-month-old is awake for extended periods, they can become chronically overtired.

Final Notes:

baby laying down

Following your baby’s age-appropriate wake windows will be the best course of action in creating a schedule for your 4-month-old. You will want to aim for an average wake window of 1.75-2 hours before providing your baby with the opportunity to sleep. Remember, the key to an easier bedtime is to avoid an overtired baby, this would mean between 2-2.5 hours of wake time your baby will naturally be ready for bed. The same rule applies when dealing with an under-tired baby, if you try to put your 4-month-old down for sleep and they have only been awake for 60 minutes, it will likely result in your baby “fighting” sleep or result in a very short nap.

Keep in mind, that the way your baby falls asleep initially is the same way your baby will depend on to connect sleep cycles.

Structuring your day around your baby’s nap schedule can feel daunting, but it can also allow you to plan to leave the house during one of the nap times, motion can be one of the easiest ways your baby falls asleep.

It doesn’t necessarily matter how the day is structured with a sleep schedule, the most important piece is hitting the 3-4.5 hours of daytime sleep and providing age-appropriate wake time. You’ve survived the first four months of life and your baby is naturally settling into a rhythm of sleep. The more you support your baby’s sleep needs with the proper sleep education, the better you are setting your baby up for success.

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