Understanding Your Baby's Sleep, 4-7 Months

0-2mths | 1-3 mths | 4-7mths | 8-12 mths | 1-2 yrs | New baby and toddler

By this age, your baby should be well on the way toward an established sleep pattern. A typical day could include two naps with a long stretch of seven to eight hours sleep at night. Routine still plays an important part in baby’s daily life, so be sure to instill good sleep habits by sticking with a bedtime schedule.

How long will my baby sleep?

Babies at this age will sleep anywhere from nine to eighteen hours per day, with the average amount of daytime sleep totaling three to four hours. Daily naps will range anywhere from twenty minutes to two hours, but still continue to play an important part in his development and contribute to nightly sleep patterns. Most babies tend to follow a pattern of one nap in the morning with another shortly after lunch, but remember that all babies are different and there is no set normal nap schedule at this age.

How and where should my baby sleep?

Safety still remains the most important consideration when it comes to baby’s sleep environment. The crib he’s sleeping in should meet national safety standards, and unnecessary objects such as toys, pillows and blankets should be removed.

Once baby starts to pull himself up in his crib, mobiles and objects such as curtains, blind cords and wall hangings pose a safety risk and should be placed out of his reach.

How can I encourage my baby to sleep?

By this time, routine should play a large part in promoting sleep for your baby at night. If you haven’t started a nightly routine, now is the time! Refer to the information in previous sections for helpful tips.

Soothing activities, such as a warm bath followed by stories and singing continue to be important cues to your baby that playtime is over and bedtime is approaching, as does dressing him in a baby sleepbag. Make sure baby is still awake when you put him in his crib, and if he starts to cry, give him a few minutes to self soothe before going into his room. It’s important for baby to realize that crying will not result in him leaving his crib for playtime, and although it may be distressing to hear him cry, resist the urge to pick him up or rock him to sleep. Using a sleep bag helps a baby understand it’s bedtime and becomes a familiar item that they associate with sleep.

A baby who has been sleeping anywhere from seven to twelve hours per night will still occasionally wake in the wee hours. After ruling out teething pain, illness, or soiled diaper, let him resettle back to sleep before you respond. After seeing that everything is OK, let him fall back to sleep by himself, and don’t forget that any cuddling, feeding, or talking you do may prompt him to wake each night for this attention.

If he is waking up many times each night, perhaps there is an external reason. Is he too big for his bassinet? Do you still have him in your bedroom? Is his room the right temperature? Is his room too light or dark? Is there a noise outside at a particular time of the night (e.g. trucks reversing) which could be waking him up? Once you know the problem the solution is often very easy.

Nightly feeds should never be reintroduced once you have stopped giving them to baby, unless he becomes extremely unwell. . If you do, your sleep schedule will become interrupted and any efforts to have baby on a routine will need to be revisited. If you think baby is thirsty, try giving a bottle with cooled down boiled water. This provides less of an incentive to wake at night and he’ll soon begin to realize that milk is not on offer.

Another common sleep problem at this age is the early riser; a baby who babbles or cries for you before the crack of dawn. Although there may be nothing you can do to prevent your baby from waking when he or she is ready, a few safe toys in the crib may provide enough of a distraction until you are ready to wake up and attend to him. A window shade or dark curtains may help to keep out the first light of day and allow you to get an extra few minutes of sleep in the morning.

Always try to encourage a routine in the morning and getting baby out of bed from 7am onwards any earlier and you will be set with this morning wake up call.

Again, consistency is key and by sticking with a routine you will have no trouble with early risers.

When do I call the doctor?

Once you have ruled out external reasons for nighttime restlessness and you still think baby isn’t sleeping for long enough or is sleeping too much, don’t hesitate to contact your pediatrician. Bear in mind that teething pain can be a common reason for sleep problems at this age, and your doctor should be able to suggest ways to relieve discomfort, or diagnose any other illness you may be concerned about.