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4 Month Old Sleep Schedule

Updated: Mar 18

This article will help you to create at flexible sleep schedule for your 4-month-old - both for bedtime and naps.


header image titled nap schedule with baby sleeping

At 4 months of age, a huge development happens in the way your baby's sleep cycles work. This is due to the maturation of the internal clock (aka circadian rhythm) and if your baby had previously been sleeping relatively well they may now be waking multiple times a night and they may be fighting naps during the day. Just to reassure you, there's nothing you're doing wrong here, this is a normal phase, but there's a lot you can do to adjust your baby's routine to improve sleep.


In this article:


4 Month Old Sleep Schedule


How many naps should a baby have at 4 months old?

Most 4-month-old babies will have between 3 and 4 naps a day at this age. But many babies are chronic catnappers at this age too, so don't be alarmed if your baby needs more than 4 naps a day if they are having very short naps.


How long should a baby nap at 4 months old?

At 4 months of age your baby will nap, anywhere between 20 minutes to 2 hours. If left many babies of this age will sleep for longer than 2 hours during the day. As a general rule, at this age, I suggest you cap your baby's naps to a maximum of two hours in length. This is for a couple of reasons, at this age feeding and sleep are so intrinsically linked, so it it very helpful to make sure you are waking your baby up during the day to ensure they are taking in enough calories in the daytime, so you don't get into a situation where they may 'reverse cycle' which is where they may start waking in the night to feed more than they do in the day. Secondly, it's helpful because a baby can usually only manage one long consolidated stretch of sleep in a 24-hour period, and we want to make sure that stretch is more likely to happen at the start of the night rather than during the day.

How often should a baby nap at 4 months old?

Wake windows are the length of time a baby can be awake between periods of sleep - be those naps or overnight sleep. Wake windows are a modern concept and are not evidence-based, and by that I mean that there are no comprehensive studies that prove babies have generic wake windows when they are at specific ages. This is why wake windows will vary from source to source. At 4 months of age I tend to suggest babies should have wake windows of between 1-3 hours.


Wake windows tend to stretch as the day progresses with the shortest wake window usually being in the morning. However, if your baby has a short nap particularly one less than a full sleep cycle (usually between 30-45 minutes), they will be unlikely to last for a full wake window and will get tired much sooner.


How long are the wake windows at 4 months of age?

As I mentioned above, wake windows at this age are between 1 and 3 hours in length.


How much daytime sleep should a 4-month-old baby have?

At 4 months of age your baby may be getting around 10-12 hours of sleep overnight and 3.5 to 4.5 hours of sleep during the day. But you'll see on the chart below, the range of recommended sleep over 24 hours for an infant aged 4-11 months of age is vast. So please don't fixate on these numbers. Focus on your child - if your child is happy and they are meeting their weight and developmental milestones you will not need to worry. The amount of sleep a baby needs is impacted day-to-day by many factors.

Sleep needs at 4 months of age

Where should a 4-month-old sleep in the day for naps?

In the UK, safe sleep guidance says that for the first 6 months of life, a baby should be in the same room as you for all periods of sleep, be it for naps or overnight sleep. During the day it is fine to allow them to nap in a pram, sling or Moses basket. If your child falls asleep in a car seat they must not be in the car seat for longer than 2 hours at a time while you are driving in a car. If they are still in a car seat when removed from the car, they should not be left in the car seat to sleep.


You do not need to place your baby in a dark room for naps in a cot, but you may find at this age your baby sleeps better in a cot if the room is pitch black - it's not a requirement, however.


Sample 4-Nap Routine for a 4-month-old baby

Remember, this is just a sample routine, and your baby's naps might never look like this. This is just a guide to how you might structure your day.

4-Month-Old Sleep Schedule - 4 Nap Routine

Sample 3-Nap Routine for a 4-month-old baby

Remember, this is just a sample routine, and your baby's naps might never look like this. This is just a guide to how you might structure your day.


4-Month-Old Sleep Schedule - 3 Nap Routine

Bedtime Routine


What is a good bedtime routine for a 4-month-old?

If you still don't have a set bedtime routine for your 4-month-old, this is a good time to establish and introduce one. Your routine needs to have three parts to it:


  1. A calm and engaged parent(s)

  2. 3-5 consistent and calming steps

  3. It should take 10-30 minutes to do


Some suggestions of things you can include as part of your bedtime routine:

  • A bath

  • A baby massage

  • Stories

  • Sing songs

  • Listen to lullabies

  • Dim the lights

  • Turn on white noise


Not everyone chooses to bathe their baby every night for many reasons, such as eczema. If your child only has a bath sometimes and not every night, then I'd suggest you have that right at the start of your bedtime routine so that all the steps after serve as the cue for sleep.


Does a bath need to be part of a bedtime routine?

No. Some babies have eczema or skin issues and bathing every night can serve to irritate skin which can in turn have an impact on your child being able to sleep soundly. It also sometimes gets some babies excited too, and they struggle to wind down after a bath as they find baths too exciting.


But there is some research to suggest baths are beneficial for sleep 1 to 2 hours before bedtime


Should a feed be part of your 4-month-old's bedtime routine?

At 4 months of age many babies, particularly if they are breastfed, are still establishing feeding and feeding very much on demand. However, as they get older it can help to add some space between the last feed of the day and when you place them in bed to be settled. This is because babies do have very small stomachs, and very often we feel we need to 'tank up' our babies so that they don't wake during the night out of hunger. But a baby is then left to digest their food while sleeping, which definitely isn't comfortable.


But a lot of babies still fall asleep while feeding at this age, so don't stress too much about this. If you need help finding a gentle way to get your 4-month-old to fall asleep independently without needing to be fed or rocked to sleep, then my affordable online course and private Facebook community can help you do just that.


What is an ideal bedtime for a 4-month-old?

At this age, it matters most about it being a time that works for you so that you can maximise the amount of sleep you get, as your baby will still be waking in the night to feed and they may still wake multiple times. Many 4-month-old babies still have very late bedtimes, but starting to work towards a bedtime between 7 and 8pm can be helpful.


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

For most babies, the answer is a firm no. There are studies that show that 70% of babies at 6 months of age will still need one or more middle of the night feeding.


The 4 Month Regression


What is the 4-month sleep regression?

The 4-month regression is where a baby's sleep cycles mature so they are more similar to that of an adult and they cycle through phases of light and deep sleep and they may wake briefly between each sleep cycle. Not all babies will experience the same sleep disruptions.


What causes the 4-month sleep regression?

It is a biological change in the sleep cycles from being quite passive states of sleep to more complex phases of sleep. In addition at this age, your child will be developing in other areas too - growth spurts, teething, separation anxiety, etc. All these things combine and can cause really disrupted sleep patterns.


What are the signs of the 4-month regression?

The signs of the 4-month-regression might be difficulty falling asleep, resisting naps, short naps and frequent night wakes where they wake after most sleep cycles.


How long does the 4-month regression last?

How long is a piece of string? For some babies, it might be hardly noticeable, and for some sleep can change and never really get better, for others, it might only last for a few days or weeks.


Does the 4-month regression impact naps?

Yes, you may find your baby really fights their naps and they might also only have short catnaps and they may only want to nap on you.


Common sleep issues at 4 months


Why is my 4-month-old fighting naps?

Your baby could either be overtired or undertired and they are fighting sleep because they have had too little or too much sleep.


Why is my 4-month-old only napping for 30 minutes?

This is a common problem as a baby experiences the 'regression' and they may wake between sleep cycles. At this age is can help to begin to teach them to settle independently in their own cot to sleep rather than rocking or feeding them to sleep and then transferring them. This is because when they wake between sleep cycles they often need help to get back to sleep again. It can also be because they are overtired or undertired.


As a rule of thumb, if your baby wakes from a very short nap and they are crying, you probably left it too long to settle them for their nap. If their nap is short and they wake happy, they may need a little longer time awake.


But remember, a nap is a nap, so if the nap is short, try to resettle if you can, particularly for naps in the middle of the day. But don't stress too much.


Hello!


Headshot of Janine Orford Baby Sleep Consultatn based in London

I'm Janine and I'm a certified Sleep Practitioner, Mum of two and the founder of The Bedtime Champ. The Bedtime Champ is a sleep consultancy service offering in-home consultations in London (England) and remote consultations worldwide. One-to-one consultation packages start at £89, and I also have an online course and community which is a comprehensive sleep resource for parents of babies aged 4-18 months of oge. To find out more about The Essential Gentle Baby Sleep Course for babies aged 4-18 months of age, click here.

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