Everyone can agree that being a parent is incredibly difficult and stressful, especially when you become a parent for the first time. In the newborn phase, your baby and you will both work very hard on adapting to each other and the world, but after several months things start to change.
The newborn phase is over and the sleep deprivation is starting to take its toll on you, which is why you should work on your 4 month old’s sleep schedule. Sleep schedules are great for both baby and the parents, but you should first make sure your baby is ready for one.
Signs that your baby is ready for a schedule
The first four months are the most challenging ones because this is the time of 4 month sleep regression. This is the period when your baby wakes up frequently every night and only takes short naps, so it’s important to always change her sleeping patterns in order to help her sleep through the night.
If your baby has already been through the sleep regression, it’s a good sign that she might be ready for sleep schedule. In addition, if your baby can wait longer than 2,5 hours between feedings in daytime and naps, these are good indicators that you can start implementing sleep schedules.
Develop a routine
You should start by paying attention to your baby’s sleeping and eating patterns first: logging the time when the baby eats, sleeps, and takes naps. This log is going to be very useful when you start working on sleep schedules because it’s going to help you understand your baby’s habits.
On the other hand, keep in mind that your baby’s habits aren’t set in stone and that every now and then there could be some changes, for example, half an hour difference in naps every day. Feeding and sleeping variations are completely normal and if they occur you shouldn’t be worried but try to work ‘around’ them.
Take baby steps
It’s always a good idea to start with sleep schedules after your baby’s been through the sleep regression, but on the other hand, regression is rather unpredictable. Sometimes babies go through regression as early as eight weeks while others don’t start until they’re five months old.
If your child already has some habits and fairly predictable schedule, it will be easy for you to start with sleeping schedules, but if you notice it doesn’t go as well as you hoped just take your time and try again later.
Even if your 4 month old’s sleeping and eating habits are all over the place, it doesn’t mean they won’t ever develop a sleeping schedule. Start slowly and give both you and your baby time to adapt to the new routine, only then will you be able to have a predictable sleeping schedule.
Overcoming sleep problems
We already mentioned that sleep regression doesn’t happen at the same time for all babies, but it looks similar: babies wake up after a nap feeling well rested and they want to cuddle and play. Other times, babies will wake up after being in deep sleep for about 45 minutes and start to fuss inconsolably, waking the parents and not being able to fall asleep again.
To make things even more challenging, this is about the time when babies start teething, and aching gums make them fussier than before. This usually happens suddenly and parents become desperate, but there are ways to overcome it.
Use swaddles and pacifiers to help your 4 month old sleep better, and you can even start ‘dream feeding’ them. Using swings and rocking the baby to sleep are also good ideas, as these movements are soothing and help them relax.
Why sleep schedule is a good idea
In the first few months of baby’s life, things are very hectic and there isn’t much you can do, but after about 4 months you should be ready to implement a routine. Sleeping and eating schedules are a great way to add predictability, structure, and order to your baby’s life and it helps them feel safe and comfortable in this strange new world they found themselves in.
If your baby is slow to adapt, this schedule is a great way to help them feel safer and sleep better. What is more, when you know that there’s a routine your baby is following, it means you’ll be able to plan your day a bit better as well.
The easiest way to start is to wake up your baby every day at approximately the same time and follow the same routine for the rest of your day. Give yourself and your baby a 30-minute window every day for waking up and taking naps and try to feed and play with her until that time.
Slowly add in other naps and meals at a fixed point until both of you get used to a daily timed schedule. It’s important to mention that you should be flexible because feeding and sleeping schedule for 4 month old baby sometimes takes weeks.
If you see that your baby’s getting sleepy but the scheduled nap is 45 minutes away, you don’t have to wait – instead put the baby down and let her sleep. You can always shift the timing but an upset and cranky baby is a force you don’t want to mess with.
Before you rush off to try some of these tips, there is one thing you should always keep in mind: all babies are different. Sometimes, tips that work great for your friends’ children won’t work for your baby, and there will also be times when methods you thought to be fool-proof just stop working.
What matters is that your baby will get on a schedule eventually, and if that doesn’t work for your 4 month old, it might work in a couple of weeks or a couple of months. Be patient and gentle and you’ll soon notice that your 4 month old is ready for a healthy sleep schedule.