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I have a 4.5 month little boy. He has never been a great sleeper. He has never slept longer than an 4.5 hour stretch his whole life. He is able to fall asleep on his own most of the time, especially at bedtime. We put him down awake in his crib and he usually talks to himself for a little bit and then falls asleep. We have also watched him on the video monitor and he wakes several times during the night and puts himself back to sleep. He generally sleeps from 6:30pm to 6:30am (5+ night wakings). Here are my problems:

  1. After his first 4 hour stretch at night, he wakes up every 2 hours to eat. When it becomes closer to 4am, he starts waking up every hour. I have tried just soothing him through these wakings, but he won't go back to sleep unless I nurse him. I think he is actually hungry, and not just comfort nursing. How do I get him to sleep longer stretches? Even 3 hour stretches would be great.

  2. During the day he takes multiple cat naps (3-4). Most of the time he wakes up after 25-30 minutes with an occasional 45 minute nap. He is tired after 1-1.5 hours of waketime. I have tried keeping him up longer to see if he would be tired enough to sleep longer, and he still takes a 25 minute nap, and then is overtired because I kept him up so long. What should his nap schedule be like at this age? How can I help him consolidate his naps?

Thanks so much for helping this tired first time momma out!

  • Hi Anna, welcome to the site. I recommend you take a look at the questions in this search, and see if any of them are helpful for you. Particularly, this one. – Joe Mar 16 '15 at 14:38
  • That's pretty normal at four months. My four-year-old still never sleeps more than a few hours at a time. – user3034 Mar 17 '15 at 14:39
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I'm afraid this sounds pretty normal to me and I don't really know that there's much you can do. Even people who are keen on sleep training don't tend to recommend it for babies this young. I remember 4 months being a pretty bad time for our baby too. From what I read, around 4 months a lot of babies start to wake up more as they become more aware of the world.

My advice would be to just wait, try to accept it and try not to stress. Try to find a way which makes this time as manageable for you as possible. For example, see if your partner can help out by giving a bottle of expressed milk at some of the wakings, go to bed early, have your sleeping arrangements in a way that suits you and allows you to get as much sleep as possible (for some this may be cosleeping, others may sleep better away from their baby - you could have your partner bring the baby to you when you need to feed).

When my baby was this age I think I obsessed too much about his sleep, read too much about baby sleep and wasted time and sanity trying to solve this behaviour. I worried if I was getting him to nap 2 minutes late thinking it must be my fault if he didn't nap for long, I tried to force him to go to sleep when he wasn't tired and it wasn't fun for anyone. Some rare babies are good sleepers but I think most are not.

My baby is older now and still not a good sleeper but we do have some nights which are better and ways to cope. If you are really desperate there are various techniques you can try to help your baby sleep from about 6 months old. Some people have told me that their baby didn't sleep well until they stopped breastfeeding, others until they got all their teeth. Then babies who sleep well at one time can start sleeping badly. Just make sure you appreciate all the sleep you can get and try not to let it spoil the time with your baby.

  • Do you have a source for your statement about waking more at 4 months? That would help. Thanks. – anongoodnurse Jul 2 '17 at 13:35
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It's tough for babies to adjust to sleep schedules outside the womb. Before birth, babies use their mother's body's signals as cues for when to sleep. After birth, it takes a few months for them to fully develop what they need to maintain their own schedules. Even then, for a bit they will mostly focus their sleep around feeding.

That being said, including your baby in your daily routines probably has the biggest impact on helping your baby adapt to a "normal" sleep schedule. Citation.

Finally, I would like to mention, do not put anything in your babies crib (not even a blanket) until he is at least 1 year old. Always put him to sleep on his back.

And no matter how tired you are after he wakes up in the middle of the night to feed, never doze off yourself without putting him back in his crib. Babies can't move when they are deprived of oxygen, and a 10 minute doze with your baby can be fatal.

Hang in there. Thankfully, these sleep problems are often temporary. You will do fine, and your baby will probably adjust before you know it!

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