4 month old who wakes 4 times a night
Bronwyn is a mother of a 4-month old baby who hasn't yet learned to self-settle. The baby wakes up around four times each night and requires to be fed back to sleep. However, Bronwyn is unsure whether these night feeds are necessary or not, as she is confused by the information she has read.
The baby stays awake for approximately 1.5 hours and is given a top-up before a nap to help him fall asleep. He usually settles down in the evening between 6:30 to 7:30 pm and has been gaining an average of 200-500 grams per week. The baby is not swaddled during naps and is provided with some white noise. Additionally, he uses a sleeping bag and the room is kept dimly lit.
Baby Sleep Consultant Answer:
At 4 months, your baby has the ability to learn to self-soothe and it's a great time to start teaching them, especially if they have previously fallen asleep while feeding.
It's great to hear that your baby is doing well with those weight gains. You should be proud of your efforts! At this stage, if you feel ready to reduce a few of the night feeds, your baby doesn't necessarily need them.
It is common for breastfed babies to have two night feeds until they start eating solid foods. This doesn't mean that you should hurry to introduce solid foods, but it is important to understand that your baby might be genuinely hungry for two feeds between 7pm and 7am. The best way to determine if your baby is hungry is by observing how well he feeds at 7am after a feed that occurs after midnight.
If your baby is not showing signs of hunger at 7am, it may be possible to wean them off the 3am feed. It seems that the baby has developed a habit of feeding to sleep, possibly because of the frequent feeds before naps and the short naps that suggest they are unable to stay asleep for long periods of time.
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 that mum use an appropriate sleep training method to help her baby learn to self-settle, considering both their temperaments and parenting style.
(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 need to teach the baby to have at least one consolidated nap a day to alleviate over-tiredness.
He needs around 3-3.5 hours of day time sleep over 3 naps and 11-12 hours at night (broken by feeds).
I recommend focusing on improving your nighttime sleep first, and then working on improving your naps to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Consistency is key when working on sleep, but it's also important to be realistic about what you can achieve on a daily basis.
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.