At around three to four months, your baby will be able to tell the difference between night and day, and that gives some hope for a more settled sleep pattern from that point on. Which means that you’ll need to start some bedtime rituals…
A four-month-old baby sleeps for 13 to 15 hours per day, but despite all that snoozing, they’ll start to be able to recognise when it’s daytime – which means that you’ll need to help them settle down at night (if you want a good night’s rest!).
Here are a few tips on how to speed up that process.
Associate sleep with food
During the first few months of life, your baby will often fall asleep while feeding. As they get older they won’t fall asleep quite so easily: take advantage of this. Try to gently coax your baby into being put down to sleep during the day after they have eaten and played. This way sleeping won’t always be associated with milk.
If your baby is still used to being nursed to sleep, try moving the last feed of the night back incrementally each night.
Whenever you put your baby down to sleep, don’t make eye contact. Try whispering something like: “Shush now, off to beddie byes,” and rock them gently to settle them. Many babies protest when they are put down to sleep, and it usually takes a little while, somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes, before they nod off. If your little one becomes unsettled hold them for a bit and rock them.
Introduce evening rituals
Now that baby can start telling the difference between day and night it’s very important to introduce some evening rituals. Always try to have your main emphasis on letting your baby fall asleep, rather than making them fall asleep. This isn’t always easy, we know!
Introducing a few bedtime rituals can help. Let your baby know that it’s getting close to bedtime with an end-of-day activity that happens every night like a bath, putting on sleeping clothes, playing a relaxing song, or even reading to them.
Now is also a good time to give them a teddy or a comfort blanket – from about four months, babies start to get attached to items like these as they act as ‘stand-ins’ for mama. So when you’re not in the room, teddy or blankie is, and that feels safe.
Sleep regression may happen, but it’ll pass
Also at around four months, some babies may experience sleep regression: things might’ve been going smoothly, sleep-wise, then suddenly it’s back to square one. Don’t despair, it happens, and it just means that it’s really important to introduce rituals and to get them to sleep independently.
It also means that you need to take care of yourself, because sleep deprivation can take its toll at this stage. Get your partner to take over the night shift, ask a friend to watch baby during the day if you need a nap…
Introducing a sleep routine can be one of the biggest challenges for new parents, but it can be done.