4 month old who wakes 4 times a night
Bronwyn has a 4 month old baby who can’t yet self-settle and wakes on average 4 times a night to be fed back to sleep. Mum is confused about whether or not he needs these night feeds based on what she has read.
Baby is awake for around 1.5 hours and has a top up before a nap to get to sleep.
He is settled in the evening between 6.30-7.30pm and has had average weight gains of 200-500 grams a week!
Baby is un-swaddled and has some white noise for naps, and a sleeping bag. He has a dimly lit room.
Baby Sleep Consultant Answer
At 4 months your baby now has the ability to learn to self-settle and this is a great time to start to teach him if he has been previously fed to sleep.
Your baby sounds like he is thriving with those weight gains and you should be very proud!
At this age and with these weight gains, if you are ready to drop a couple of those night feeds he definitely doesn’t need them.
Lots of breastfeed babies have 2 feeds a night until they are established on solids, this is not to suggest you rush into solids but just to normalize the fact that he might be genuinely hungry for 2 feeds between 7pm and 7am. The best way to know is how well he feeds at 7am after a feed that occurs after midnight.
If he is not hungry at 7am you can probably drop your 3am feed successfully.
I feel this baby has a feed to sleep association due to the feeds before naps and the short naps indicating he can’t string sleep cycles together yet.
His night sleep cycles are 2-4 hours long and he is waking at the end of each sleep cycle looking to be fed back to sleep, as he is fed to sleep before his naps and in the evening.
I suggest mum teach him to self-settle with a sleep training method she feels is suitable for her parenting style. Taking into account her babies temperament and her own temperament.
(No point choosing in the room no cry training if you are a highly anxious mum with 4 other children to look after, and no point choosing a version of cry it out if you are an attachment mum who feels the need to protect that bond).
We also need to teach her baby to have at least one consolidated nap a day to get on top of some of this over tiredness he is probably feeling.
He needs around 3-3.5 hours of day time sleep over 3 naps and 11-12 hours at night (broken by feeds).
I always suggest tackling naps and night training at once, so there is no inconsistent reinforcement which prolongs how long you need to sleep train for and means more stress and more tears for all involved.
Consistency is always your best defense against any sleep issue.
Have you experienced the 4 month sleep regression?
Emma is the owner and founder of Baby Sleep Consultant, she is a certified infant and child sleep consultant, Happiest Baby on the block educator, has a Bachelor of Science, and Diploma in Education. Emma is a mother to 3 children, and loves writing when she isn't working with tired clients and cheering on her team helping thousands of mums just like you.
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My baby has reflux can you help?
When your baby has reflux, feeds can be difficult and your baby can be in a lot of pain both during and after feeds. This pain can cause feeding aversions and failure to thrive. This is why true GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) needs to be treated by a doctor. Once your baby's doctor is satisfied your baby is feeding well, and you have the right medication or formula then we can start a sleep plan and you will be successful.
My baby has colic will this help?
Colic is defined as 3 or more hours of crying per day in infants. Crying subsides in the second second trimester. If you are still experiencing colic symptoms speak to your baby's doctor about whether this could be reflux, an allergy, or over tiredness. We can help you work on better sleep with this program at the same time as your doctor investigates the pain and crying.
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My baby was born early, can you help?
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Can this program help with my babies night sleep?
Yes, all our online sleep programs contain night sleep plans. We will teach you how to move from multiple night feeds to 2 or 1 or none (depending on what is age appropriate and appropriate for your baby.) Don’t worry we will show you to figure this out too. If your baby is unsettled at night but not feeding, our plans will help you with consolidate night sleep and self settling when age appropriate.
My baby is cat napping can you help?
Cat napping is a very normal physiological stage that your baby goes through. At this stage (3-8 months old), cat napping can start to be a long term issue and compound into over tiredness and affect night sleep and your babies happiness. Good news, this is a great age to work on re-settling, self settling and better longer naps!
I have 3 children, can this work with my family?
I totally understand how busy life is with 2, 3 or more children! Even if you need a flexible schedule we can still work on settling regular naps (some on the go!), and better evenings and night. Flick our consultants any specific questions about your family's schedule of activities and we can help you work out what is possible nap wise.
I don't want a fixed routine, can you still help?
Yes. A fixed routine is one option, regular naps and regular awake times is another. Both are valid and you are welcome to do what works for your family. We understand you are all different and what works best for one family won't be best for another.
I'm formula feeding, can you still help?
Yes we have specific advice for formula feeding parents, and we support your decision to feed any way you choose. We even have a special video series on formula feeding and everything you need to know. Just ask our consultants about this extra if you need it.
I'm exclusively breastfeeding, can I follow your plans?
Yes! While breastfeeding babies need to feed frequently they still need quality sleep day and night. We have specific advice for breastfeeding mums and an exclusive discount on Julia Daleys breastfeeding course if you need extra help.
I'm bed sharing, can your program help me stop?
Yes. We often fall into bed sharing, we call this reactive bed sharing. Or we have simply changed our mind, and moving on from bed sharing we need some support. Our programs and consults will guide you through gentle sleep methods, which are more appropriate for most bed sharing babies who are moving towards independent sleep in the cot.
I'm feeding to sleep, can you help me stop?
Yes. Feeding to sleep is a common sleep association and one that works well for lots of newborns. Often we need to move on from feeding to sleep when it starts to cause short naps, or prolonged settling or frequent night wake ups as baby looks for their association to go back to sleep over and over again at night. We can teach you how to teach your baby to self settle and move on from feeding to sleep when the time is right.
I'm rocking to sleep, is their a solution?
Yes. These are common sleep associations, we refer to this as assisting to sleep. Let us show you ways you can develop independent sleep and settling strategies with our online sleep program, or one on one consult.
Is this program based on Cry It Out?
No. Cry it out is the common name for a sleep training method where you put baby down and don’t respond or check until they are fast asleep. There is no CIO involved in this program as we feel this should be only done under proper supervision. Instead we have included all our very gentle approaches and more mainstream techniques for you to choose from.
Is this based on Science or Art?
Both! As a scientist I (Emma) have spent over 8 years researching the science of sleep. I have educated and certified over 500 consultants around the world as sleep consultants, and have worked with thousands of clients. I love the scientific explanations of why we see the sleep patterns we see, and this science helps us to shape plans and solutions that we know will work. But there's an element of art to getting a baby to sleep, understanding the right combination of things that will work best, and this is where your instinct comes in.
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