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4 month old waking at night


4 month old girl

My husband and I are having a bit of a debate... he thinks my daughter wakes up so much at night because she sleeps too much during the day (because he saw a bunch of sleep schedules online where the babies only slept 30 minutes). My daughter typically has 3 naps, the first 2-3 hours, second 30-60 minutes, the third 1-2 hours (works out to about 4-5 hours of naps per day). He wants to limit her naps to 30 minutes at a time, which would require waking her up. He thinks that would make her more tired at night and able to sleep better.

She generally sleeps from 9-8 with brief but frequent night wakes (somewhere between 11pm-12am, 2-3am, 4-5am). I think tackling her night wakes has more to do with getting her better at self settling (she has about a 50% success rate when put in the crib awake) and weening her from night feedings as it's become clear to me she's
waking out of habit, not necessity (she's 4 months old and 20lbs and easily goes 4 hours between feeds during the day). I've tried to put her to sleep without feeding her and she gets extremely upset, even if she falls asleep on me 2 minutes later (so clearly not hungry). My husband can put her back to sleep without feeding, no problem. I'm convinced the answer is having my husband handle night wakes (so she doesn't expect to be fed) and when a bottle is used, feed her as little as possible to ween her. I think eventually this method will cause her to become disinterested in waking. I have concerns about disrupting her nap schedule.

What's your opinion?

Once a child is 4 months old, 12 pounds and has spaced their daytime feedings to every 4 hours they should sleep well at night. I’m surprised you are not getting at least a 6 hour nighttime stretch. Continue to keep the daytime “bright and stimulating” and the night “dark and boring”.

The first thing you need to do is reduce and eventually eliminate nighttime feedings. The main idea is to settle her down doing as little as possible. You could offer her a pacifier. It sounds like your husband has the ability to get this done. Hopefully, he can comfort her without having to feeding her.

Once the night time feedings are reduced, I agree that the next thing to work on is self settling. Children who do not learn to self settle usually begin to have sleep problems between 8 to 10 months. It is at this time that they acquire adult sleep cycles and wake about every 4 hours. Children who are rocked or fed to sleep will demand their parents wake up and rock or feed them to sleep.

I do not recommend “crying it out” until 6 months old as most children will learn to sleep through the night without it. see crying it out.

The main thing you need is time and persistence. It sounds like you are close to sleeping through the night.


Written January 2011 by
Dr. Gordon, Orlando Pediatrician



 is intended to help parents understand the needs and behaviors of children. The information presented in the site is the opinion of Gregory Gordon, M.D.and does not reflect the opinion of his partners. This website is owned exclusively by Doctors insights LLC. The advice in this site does not apply to all children. Always consult your healthcare provider for your individual needs.

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