We started sleep training right after our LO turned 4 months old and initially he did great. He’s getting better and usually falls asleep before the first or second check in. However, he cries but not necessarily wakes up every 2-3 hours. He would feed every time but now I’m trying to give him a pacifier to help him get settled again. His naps during the day are super short (only 20-30 minutes) and he takes between 3-4 usually. How do I help him get back to his sleeping 6-9 hours at a time that he was doing at 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 months?
A few thoughts for you!
His naps look a lot different now than they did several weeks ago, because his sleep cycles have adjusted to be more adult-like (the four month regression!), and he’s still figuring out those new cycles.
Most babies’ naps consolidate somewhere between 3-6 months; that being said, when I work with kiddos this age, we aim to get at least one solid nap over an hour long each day, and it’s generally in the morning one.
That crying throughout the night is likely him slipping out of one sleep cycle and into the next, and some babies just tend to be noisier transitioners. However, if he’s still relying on a pacifier to fall asleep at night and to fall back asleep in the night, he’s not reaching that full independence that we’re looking for. When babies experience those natural wakings, the goal of independent sleep is that they would slip right into the next cycle, without needing a pacifier or anything else to get back to sleep.
At this age, he very likely still needs a night feed, which is totally fine! The aim is to simply keep him fairly awake during the feed so that he’s aware he’s being fed, and he’s aware that he’s being laid back in his crib. And try to keep those feeds 3+ hours apart, so you’re doing great not always giving a feed with those wakings but trying to help soothe him back to sleep.
And just as an aside, I’m not sure what his awake windows are right now, but they should be around 1.75-2 hours.
Let me know if you have any questions!
Thank you. He’s been a short napper since he was about a month old. Sometimes he’ll nap 40 minutes or an hour but not typically.
So what you’re saying is that even though he used to sleep in a 9 hour block he may have lost that abilility now? He actually doesn’t use a pacifier to fall asleep we put him down awake but drowsy and he is usually asleep before the first check in. It’s the staying asleep that he’s been having difficulty with but can do sometimes. Last Saturday night he slept for an 8 hour stretch.
Yes his awake windows are typically 1.5 to 2 hours. It’s almost like clockwork when he gets sleepy however, he’s waking up cranky and I know he needs to sleep more.
Those awake windows are spot on!
From 0-4ish months, newborns have two underdeveloped sleep cycles, however around four months old (four month regression!), their sleep cycles switch to four adult-like sleep cycles! Which is often why we see an uptick in night wakings and/or naps getting shorter, because it’s such an adjustment.
So with that sleep cycle adjustment, one big adjustment to make as parents to help our babes continue sleeping well is actually laying them down awake now, not drowsy! Drowsy is not the first stage of your sweet boy’s sleep, so even if he still falls asleep well after being laid down drowsy, it can cause more challenges with his nap lengths and/or night wakings.
You can read more about it in this blog post: https://viagraces.com/baby-sleep-tips/
Let me know if that all makes sense!