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Welcome to the transition from newborn sleep to infant sleep! Though many mamas, including us here at Expectful, commonly refer to any baby between 1 month old and 1 year old as a newborn, they are actually considered an infant by month 4 and toddler by 1 year.
Your infant’s sleep needs won’t change much at month 4, but this is a time when many families will start to think about their longer-term sleep goals. Will you sleep train your infant? Do you plan to transition to a crib? Will you be out of town and need support with your baby while you’re away? Questions like these are just a few examples of how you’ll need to plan and adjust to meet your infant’s needs.
The good news? Your infant will begin to sleep longer stretches and day-time naps are still plenty! So, let’s get into infant sleep from month 4 to 6.
If you read our guide to newborn sleep from months 1 to 3, you’ll recall that there are two sleep stages for newborns, compared to an adult’s four stages. These include:
These stages last anywhere between 40 and 55 minutes, though it can vary from one baby to another. Around months 3 to 6, your baby will start to cycle through the four stages of REM-sleep, similarly to an adult. Keep in mind though, they will still likely startle and wake easily.`
By month 3 to 4, your baby’s nap time and frequency will start to decrease. But take a deep breath mama, it won’t change by too much! At this point, most babies drop to 2 to 3 naps per day and need at least 2 hours of awake time in between. They will still be sleeping between 12 and 15 hours total over a 24-hour period.
You might be lucky and start to get a full eight hours of sleep at night, though this isn’t super common quite yet. Something you should also think about, is that if your baby sleeps 8 hours at night, but their bedtime is 7pm, then they will be waking up around 3am!
If you have a friend or family member with small children, or maybe this isn’t your first child, then you may be familiar with infant sleep regressions. Sleep regressions are usually signs of developmental changes in your baby, and while they can be difficult, they’re actually a good thing!
A sleep regression means that you and your baby may experience a week or two of disrupted sleep patterns, and then go back to a normal sleep routine. For some babies, though, a sleep regression may last as long as a month. Signs that your baby is experiencing a sleep regression include: increased fussiness during the day, fighting naps, more frequent night wakings.
Your infant’s sleep cues will look similar to how they did before. If your infant is yawning, wiping their face, or zoning out, they’re probably starting to get ready for a nap! Some new signals you might be on the look out for include: redness around the eyelids, drooping or “tired eyes,” more fussiness than usual after a feeding, jerky hand and leg movements.
If your baby is showing you any of these signals, you’ll want to reduce stimuli and start your nap time routine. This may include putting away toys, closing blinds and curtains, or rocking with your baby.
Many babies start their sleep journey in a bassinet at your bedside. Whether that’s the case or not, you may be wondering when it will be time for your baby to move to their own full-size crib.
Most babies start to sleep in a crib between months 3 and 6. Though you don’t have to start at this point, the longer you wait, the more difficult it may be for you and your baby to adjust.
If you’ve decided to move your baby, here’s a few pointers from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
If you aren’t sure whether your baby is ready, or if you’ve just got questions about infant sleep in general, you may benefit from meeting with a pediatric sleep specialist.
Sleep training is a hot topic in the parenting world, and we get that. While many parents think of cry-it-out when it comes to sleep training, we want you to know this isn’t the only option! Sleep training is a deeply personal decision, but at the end of the day it is completely up to you and your family. There is no need to apologize for your choices and nobody is judging here!
By month 3 to 4, you may begin to see signs that your baby is ready for sleep training. If they have more energy, are staying awake longer stretches, and eat less during nighttime feeds, then they might be ready.
If you decide to move forward with sleep training, we’ve put together a list of sleep training methods for you right here on Expectful. Remember, the best method is the one that feels right for you, your baby, and your family.
Similarly to sleep training, the decision to co-sleep is personal and one that can only be decided by you and your family. The AAP recommends that parents share a room with their babies for at least the first six months of life, but your baby should be in their own bassinet and not in your bed.
If you decide to co-sleep, it is not recommended to begin until your child is at least 1 year in age. This will help reduce any safety concerns and ensure your child is able to free themselves from restraint if they roll around and move during the night.
Though we wouldn’t say it’s exactly normal, some babies will begin to sleep through the night around 6 months of age. To better prepare yourself, and help your baby make this leap, establishing a bedtime routine early on can make all the difference.
If your baby is experiencing a regression, or they haven’t been a “great sleeper,” since birth, you might want to consider working with a pediatric sleep specialist. Sleep consultants can help you navigate through your family’s unique circumstances with ease and confidence.Remember, no two babies are alike!
Even if you have multiple children, you may come to find that each experience is unique. Rest and better sleep is on the way, just hold on mama. If you need support, the team here at Expectful has got your back.
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