As you can imagine, we think about baby sleep schedules a lot at Batelle. Wake windows, nap durations, number of naps, bedtimes, and overall sleep duration is kind of our jam. However, we know not everyone is this obsessed with baby sleep schedules, so we’ve created a series of blogs to help you figure out the perfect nap times, and bedtime for your little one. Dive in to discover more about your 4-month-old’s sleep schedule.
Around 4 months, your baby’s sleep is undergoing some pretty big changes. Over the last few weeks, you may have noticed a little more predictability in the sleep and feeding departments. If not, then you will be soon thanks to the 4-month sleep regression.
Maturation of your baby’s circadian rhythm means more consolidated sleep during nighttime hours, an earlier bedtime, and more predictable rhythms. All of these things mean that a sleep schedule can be a more effective tool to help you manage your little one’s sleep.
Before we dive into discussing sleep needs and wake windows for your 4-month-old, it’s important to understand that when it comes to sleep, one size does not fit all. There’s a wide range of normal when it comes to sleep duration. Additionally, know that sleep recommendations should be determined using your child’s adjusted age if they were born early.
While sleep duration recommendations can give you a good idea of how much sleep your baby needs, it’s important to remember these are guidelines, not strict quotas. If your little one seems well-rested, they probably are—regardless of the total hours of sleep they got.
At 4-months old, your little one needs 12-16 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. This includes both nighttime sleep and naps. Keep in mind that your little one may do just fine with more or even less sleep than what is represented in this range, this is just an average.
At 4-months old, your little one can likely comfortably handle being awake for 1.5-2.5 hours at a time before they’re ready for sleep. This means you should be on the look out for sleep cues every 1.5-2.5 hours.
Wake windows refer to the period of time during which your little one can comfortably stay awake between sleep sessions. I emphasize “comfortably” here because we all know there are instances when your baby may stay awake for longer than they can handle, resulting in fussiness and crankiness. The concept behind using wake windows is to avoid the cranky tiredness in your baby by putting them to sleep at the perfect moment – that elusive time when they are ideally prepared for slumber.
In order to use wake windows effectively, you need to understand how to calculate them. Start counting a wake window from the time your little one wakes up to the time they go back to sleep.
Most 4-month olds are taking 3-4 naps per day and getting 3.5-4.5 hours of sleep split between those naps. The number of naps your little one takes will depend on how long their naps are.
A baby who takes longer naps will be able to stay awake longer between those naps, and will do well with a 3-nap schedule. A baby who takes shorter naps will likely need 4 naps, and here’s the fun part—the number of naps your 4-month old needs might shift between 3-4 naps on any given day. Short naps and irregularity in the nap schedule is very normal at this age. Spoiler alert – it’s normal all the way up to 6 months.
In order to bring a little more structure to this nap equation and regulate your baby’s sleep schedule, it can be helpful to start the day at a consistent time each morning (ideally no earlier than 6am). This makes it easier to establish the optimal time for the first nap, and the rest of the day will flow from there. After all, you can control when your baby wakes up, but not when they sleep. Control the things you can, and let go of the rest.
In general, your little one will be ready for bed 12-13 hours after they started the day. That means bedtime for your little one will depend on what time they woke up in the morning and how many naps they took that day. Bedtimes anywhere between 6-8pm are normal, but it’s still important to be flexible at this age.
Aim for 10-12 hours of nighttime sleep, but know that your 4-month-old will not get all of those hours consecutively. It’s common for your baby to have their longest consecutive stretch of sleep at the start of the night, possibly sleeping 4-8 hours before waking for a feed, with shorter and shorter stretches of sleep as morning approaches. However, it’s also very normal for your 4-month old to wake up every 2-4 hours or more often as they’re going through the 4-month sleep regression.
So there you have it, a rundown on the numbers for your 4-month old’s sleep schedule. Keep in mind that knowing these numbers is really only one part of the puzzle of building a flexible routine that works for your family. The other important piece is to pay attention to your baby’s cues and remain flexible.
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