What to Expect
At 4 months, sleep duration is similar to when he was 3 months (about 11 to 15 hours over 24 hours). Babies at 4 months often take three to four naps per day, each beginning about 2 hours after they last woke. Some babies, though, will take two slightly longer naps, with one in the morning (starting at 9:00 or 9:30 a.m.) and one in the afternoon (starting at 2:00 or 2:30 p.m.)
If you haven’t started a bedtime routine yet, now is a great time! Work toward a bedtime of between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. Know that it is actually harder to get a baby to sleep after 9:00 p.m. The later it gets and the more tired he is, the harder it will be for him to fall asleep. For your little one’s bedtime routine, make sure you choose activities that you and your baby enjoy and are important to your family. Choose three to four activities that you can do in the same order each night. Make your routine brief, about 20 to 30 minutes. You can include a bath, story, song, doing a quiet activity, and/or saying prayers. If feeding is part of your routine, make it the first step of the routine instead of the last to avoid associating feeding and falling asleep. End the routine by putting your little one down awake to help promote self-soothing as he falls asleep..
Now is a great time to start working on helping your little one learn to fall asleep on his own at bedtime, at the end of his bedtime routine. Helping him learn to fall asleep on his own at bedtime, without even having an adult in the room, will help him sleep for longer stretches and become a better sleeper overall, as he will be able to put himself back to sleep when he naturally wakes up during the night. If that is not a goal for you and your family, though, don’t worry. Some babies can sleep through the night without needing to learn to self-soothe at bedtime. If you start having trouble with night wakings, though, working on self-soothing at bedtime will usually do the trick to help him sleep for longer stretches overnight.
On average, babies around 3-months-old sleep 11 to 15 hours per 24-hour period, with great variability. Early infancy is a time that babies can start sleeping for longer stretches overnight as sleep consolidation continues.
All babies wake naturally during the night 2 to 6 times. Some babies wake during the night then return to sleep on their own, without crying and alerting the adults taking care of them. Other babies wake naturally during the night but then cry because they need some help to return to sleep. A young infant may need to be fed or rocked back to sleep because he is used to that at bedtime. Working toward helping your little one fall asleep on his own at bedtime will help him be able to return to sleep on his own during the night. Although some young infants may need to be fed one or two times during the night, many babies can sleep through the night without a feeding.
Young infants generally have one of two nap schedules, totaling about 3 to 4 hours of sleep during the day. Some young infants take several short naps throughout the day, 30 to 45 minutes each, with each beginning about 2 hours after they last woke up. Think of it as a 2-hour rule. Others take two longer naps on a consistent mid-morning and mid-afternoon schedule. These babies nap at about 9:00 or 9:30 a.m. and again at about 2:00 or 2:30 p.m. Try not to let your little one sleep much past 4:00 p.m., as sleeping past that time might interfere with being able to fall asleep at an early bedtime.
Family & Environment
If your newborn was in a bassinet, it’s probably time to transition him to a crib – he’s likely getting big! Continue to put your little one to sleep on his back on a flat surface without any pillows, soft bedding, crib bumpers, or toys. If you haven’t already, check out the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) Guide to Safe Sleep! This document provides information about safe sleeping for infants and ways to reduce the risk of suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It’s also important to think about other elements of your baby’s sleep environment. For example, make sure he’s not too warm. A good range for room temperature for your sleeping baby is 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, if you happen to use music at bedtime, make sure that it is not too loud and that he either falls asleep after it has gone off or that the music stays on all night. This is because babies become quite used to what they have at bedtime when they fall asleep. Then, when they wake during the night, they may also need the music to return to sleep.
General Sleep Patterns
Hang in there! Your baby is still incredibly young. It is expected that your newborn will sleep in short periods (30 minutes to 3 hours) throughout the day and night. However, there is great individual variability. If your little one still has his nights and days mixed up, be sure to wake him for feedings throughout the day, be your typical noisy self, and make sure he gets plenty of morning light. At night, keep the lights dim and playtime at a minimum.