You and your baby have learned so much together in the last 4 months. And there are so many more fun things in store for the both of you! Let me share with you common questions I get from parents about four month old sleep schedules, wake windows, and milestones.
Here is a sample schedule for four month olds:
|7:00 am||Wake and feeding|
|8:30-9:45 am||Nap 1|
|11:20 am -12:40 pm||Nap 2|
|2:20-3:30 pm||Nap 3|
|5:20-5:50 pm||Cat Nap|
|10:00 pm||Optional Dream Feed|
Just remember, this is an example schedule for your four month old, so don’t try to follow it to the minute. As always, we need to stay flexible and follow our babies’ unique cues and wake windows for feeding times and naps.
A four month old’s wake window ranges from 90 to 120 minutes. We typically see these wake windows start shorter in the morning and get longer as the day goes on.
Likewise, as babies get older, those wake windows will need to expand. At 17 weeks, not all babies will be ready for wake windows that last the full 120 minutes, even at the end of the day. On the other hand, at 21 weeks, a 90 minute wake window will be too short, even first thing in the morning.
Continue to watch your baby to help determine the best wake windows within this age-specific range. At around four months old, we really start to balance sleepy cues with the time on the clock to ensure we're setting our babies up for sleep success.
Milestones are exciting moments for parents, and your four month old may have a few new ones to show you this month! Just keep in mind that milestones are based on age ranges, and every baby is unique. Speak with your pediatrician if you’re concerned about your baby not meeting milestones.
At four months old, here are some possible milestones you’ll see:
Your baby may now intentionally open and close their hands.
Your baby may put objects in their mouth now that hand-eye coordination is improving.
Your baby may roll from belly to back and start working on back-to-belly rolling!
Your baby may be able to sit with support, showing off their new core strength!
Your baby continues to coo and babble in response to interaction.
At four months old, your baby is noticing more and more around them! Your baby is becoming a little explorer wanting to understand their world. Any activities that give your four month old a chance to explore their environment are great at this age.
Here are a few activities you can try:
Read books and sing with your baby during tummy time.
Use a playmat or play gym for tummy time and practicing rolling (Playmats are also great for promoting independent play.)
Give your baby toys that are safe to explore with their mouth.
Give your baby crinkle books with high-contrast colors and patterns.
Use a mirror to look in and make faces with your baby.
I also have some recommendations in my Amazon store of toys for your four month old.
Naps can still be inconsistent at four months old and can range from 20 to 120 minutes. We do want to cap any one nap at 2 hours. (Yes, that means you may need to wake your baby.) Keeping any single nap at no more than 2 hours allows enough time in the day for your baby to get those good daytime calories and ensures they're not getting too much daytime sleep. At four months, we also want to keep total daytime sleep under about 4.5 hours.
Typically, four month olds average about 4 naps a day, but taking 3-5 naps per day is normal, depending on the length of the naps. Short naps can still be common at this age. So if your baby is consistently taking short naps, your baby may need 5 naps.
As your baby approaches five months old, we do want to begin to aim for 3 naps a day by gently expanding wake windows and working on more solidified naps.
Our goal at four months old is about 3.5-4.5 hours of daytime sleep and 10-12 hours of night sleep. As we think about how much sleep your baby should have at this age, you’ll want to remember that:
No nap should go longer than 2 hours.
Wake windows should be around 90 to 120 minutes.
Your baby’s night shouldn’t last longer than 12-12.5 hours.
I wish I had a universal for you. Here's what I know: By five months old, our goal bedtime is between 7 and 8 pm. Many four month olds do best with that 7 to 8 pm bedtime. However, some babies do hold on to a later bedtime just a bit longer. So please know, if your baby is thriving with a bedtime between 8 and 10 pm, there's no need to change anything yet.
Keep in mind that if your baby is struggling with false start bedtimes, night wakings, or early morning wakings, it might be time to consider shifting bedtime to the 7 to 8 pm range.
If you're aiming for a 7 to 8 pm bedtime, we want the last nap to end between 5 and 6 pm. Ultimately, we’ll need 110-120 minutes of awake time before bed to make sure your baby is ready for sleep. Let that be your guide in determining when to start and end that last nap of the day. (See the schedule above for an example of how this might play out in a typical day.)
Yes! Around four months old, there is a major change in sleep cycles that can disrupt sleep. We often refer to this change as the four month sleep regression. You may discover with these big changes what worked for your baby before doesn’t work now. Read my blog on the four month sleep regression to learn how to navigate it.
Pacifiers are a tool that can be helpful for baby sleep. If you’re using a pacifier and it’s not disrupting your baby’s sleep, there is no need to worry.
If you’re finding your baby is frequently waking because of their pacifier, my Navigating Months 3 & 4 guide can help you by decreasing the need for your baby’s pacifier during the night. You can also read this blog about pacifiers and baby sleep for more tips.
Swaddling all depends on your baby’s skills at four months old. The American Academy of Pediatrics says babies can remain swaddled until they show signs of rolling. If your baby is showing signs they’re ready to roll, it’s time to transition out of the swaddle.
One product that can help with the transition is Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit (use code CARA15 for 15% off).
For the first 12 months, we are always going to lay a baby on their back to sleep. However, if your baby can roll independently from their back to their belly, most pediatricians say tummy sleep is safe. Talk with your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns.
Please keep in mind that it’s never safe for a swaddled baby to sleep on their stomach.
When a baby is overtired or undertired, it may be difficult for them to fall asleep and/or stay asleep. Following age-appropriate wake windows and maintaining a consistent bedtime routine can help prevent your four month old from fighting sleep.
I recommend waiting until your baby is five months old to begin formal sleep training. At four months old, babies just aren’t developmentally ready. Why? Melatonin is still regulating, sleep cycles are still shifting, and so much new learning is happening in your baby's brain. This 4 month sleep regression makes sleep training much more difficult. In fact, those who attempt sleep training at 4 months, often experience more crying and less success.
Every baby is unique, so there is no specific age when babies start sleeping through the night. But, at four months old, some babies can sleep 10-12 hours with no wakings or feedings.
However, it is very normal for babies at four months to still need one feeding at night. For some babies, the dream feed is a good fit, while others may need a feeding a little later in the night. If you want more help working toward longer night stretches, I'm here for you. Start by reading more about the 4 month sleep regression to figure out which resource is developmentally appropriate for your baby.
I have lots of classes, tools, and resources to help your baby become a great little sleeper. Read my blogs on the 4 Month Sleep Regression and Which Class Should I Take? to understand where your baby is developmentally and what resources will work best for you and your family.
Still have a three month old? Read my three month old sleep and feeding schedule.