4 Month Old Baby Schedule: What You Need To Know
Congratulations! You and your baby have made it through the first 3 months. Your little one has gone from keeping their eyes shut and loving to snooze to being bright eyed and taking short naps. The good news is that the short naps are part of normal infant development. The bad news is that they make having a consistent schedule feel impossible. So, just what does a 4 month old schedule look like?
At 4 months, babies need 14-16 hours of sleep per 24 hours. This is typically broken into 11-12 hours of sleep at night and 3-4 hours of sleep during the day, divided into 3 naps.
4 Month Old Nap Schedule:
At this age, naps are still based on wake windows and not the clock. This means that you will calculate when to start your babies next nap based on what time they woke up. Typically, a 4 month old baby will need a nap after being awake 1.5-2.5 hours.
You will know you have nailed the correct wake time when they are falling asleep within 15 minutes and are not very fussy before you start attempting a nap. If your baby is fussy and not falling asleep easily, try shortening the length of time between naps until you find the sweet spot.
Sometimes, the wake window will get a little bit longer over the course of the day. For example, a baby may have a 1.5 hour wake time in the morning and a 1.75 hour one before bedtime. The last wake time of the day will typically be the longest.
It is very normal for naps to be short at this age. Your baby will likely have a mix of naps ranging from 20 minutes to 2 hours.
A 4 month old nap schedule can feel overwhelming because it is almost impossible to predict with certainty from day to day. On the challenging days remind yourself that more predictability is just around the corner at 5-6 months.
A simple way to build some consistency into your schedule is to chose your Desired Wake Time (DWT). This is the time you will wake your baby each morning and start the day. For example, let's say your baby's wake time is 2 hours and your DWT is 7:00 AM. Then, you know that your baby's first nap will be at 9:00 AM. The second nap will start two hours from the time your baby wakes from the first nap and so on for the rest of the day.
4 Month Old Feeding Schedule
As a general rule, breast fed babies are eating 6-8 times a day and formula fed babies are taking 4-6 ounces every 3-4 hours. Again, these are averages.
Time for the big question: how much should your baby be eating at night?
The answer: it depends. I know, I know - quite non-committal. But, it is the truth. Some babies are sleeping 11-12 hours through the night. Others still need nighttime feedings. Both are normal. Your pediatrician can help you determine exactly how many official feedings your baby needs at night.
If your baby is eating more frequently at night than every 3-4 hours, it is likely because they have hit the 4 month regression. This can result in babies waking fully between sleep cycles and being unable to fall back asleep without feeding or rocking. If this sounds like your baby, it may be time to consider sleep training and teaching your baby a new way to fall back asleep.
Putting It All Together
4 month old sleep schedules are tricky because, as I said above, naps happen based on wake times and not clock times. But, there are still things you can do to give your days the feeling of routine and order.
First, have an official start to your day. Most babies naturally wake between 6:00 - 7:00 AM. Pick a time in that range (your DWT) and don't start your day prior to that time. If your baby wakes earlier, it is okay to go to them but treat it as you would a waking at 1:00 AM. Then, when your official morning time rolls around, throw open the blinds, turn on the lights, and cheerfully greet your baby - making it clear that you are getting them up because it is morning.
One benefit to this is your baby's internal clock will start to set itself to start the day at this time. A secondary benefit is that you will have a predictable bedtime window to aim for: you want bedtime to be approximately 12 hours after morning, typically between 6:00 - 7:00 PM. So, the naps may vary wildly from day to day but your day will have a structured beginning and ending.
Then, make an outline starting with your DWT and ending 12-13 hours later at bedtime. Fill in your baby's first nap (1 wake time from your DWT) and approximate times for other naps. Next, fill in your feedings. Remember, some babies cluster feed in the evenings so will eat more frequently than they did earlier in the day.
Bam, you have a rough schedule for your baby! Babies being babies and not robots, it is important to remember that this schedule is just a framework and not carved in stone, especially at 4 months of age. But, it is a starting point and a great way to feel like you have a little bit of structure in the day.
Sample 4 Month Old Schedule
Wake: 7:00 AM
Feeding One: 7:15 AM
Nap One: 8:45 AM - 9:30 AM (1.75 hours wake time)
Feeding Two: 9:45 AM
Nap Two: 11:15 - 12:15 (1.75 hours wake time)
Feeding Three: 12:45
Nap Three: 2:15 - 2:45 (2 hours wake time)
Feeding Four: 3:45
Nap Four: 4:45 - 5:15 (2 hours wake time)
Feeding Five: 6:30
Bedtime: 7:15 (2 hours wake time)
Feeding Six: 12: 30 AM
Remember, the entire point of the schedule is for it to give you some predictability and not for it to feel like a burden. Those naps will change in length from day to day, meaning the entire schedule will shift. Some days baby will be extra hungry. All of that is normal and to be expected.
Before you know it, your baby will hit the 5-6 month mark and start taking those nice, predictable naps, especially if they have the ability to fall asleep on their own. Until then, embrace the differences that each day with a 4 month old brings.
Are you ready to make sleep a thing at your house, but feel stuck or unsure how? Working with parents 1-1 to take the stress out of baby and toddler sleep is my joy.
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