My baby girl is 4 months old, and I'm confused about what is "normal" regarding sleep. She naps 3-4 times during the day, and goes to sleep without a problem between 6:30 and 7. My question is how many times should she be waking at night? She usually wakes at 1am, 4, 6, then gets up around 7:30. I have friends who swear that she should not be hungry that often and if I leave her she will go back to sleep (she is exclusively breastfed). She wakes up cooing, not crying, but if I let her talk to herself long enough she will cry. I nurse her and she goes back to sleep within 15 minutes. We were cosleeping until a few weeks ago- I'm a light sleeper and I couldn't sleep with her climbing on me and pulling my hair all night :) She's in a bassinet in my room- I don't want to put her in her own room but I would love to get a little more sleep in the wee hours of the morning. I've tried nursing her an extra time before I go to bed around 9:30 but it doesn't affect her sleep patterns. This has been her routine for the last few weeks and I'm wondering if she really could be that hungry or if she just needs the extra mommy time.
Normal sleep patterns for a 4 month old
I'm not an expert, but my DD is also 4 months old (18 weeks) and that sounds pretty typical to me, particularly given the sleep disturbances that can happen at this age. In my case, sleep has always been inconsistent, but generally good--until a week ago. From 8 weeks to 12 weeks, she was sleeping 5-7 hours for the first stretch, almost every night. Then from 12-14 weeks it was just all over the place. She was much harder to settle and was waking a lot more frequently. Then we had three weeks of bliss, including one week of miraculous 8 and even a couple of 9 hour stretches, plus good naps. Then...last week...IT ALL WENT TO HELL. She's been impossible to settle. She wakes every 45 minutes to two hours the first part of the night, then maybe does 5 hours. But she's generally much crankier and clingier. She also does the wake up and coo/babble thing. Very occasionally she will fall back asleep but more often than not it escalates as you describe.
It's so hard, given the sleep training culture, not to panic that we are inculcating bad habits by nursing them back down at these times. But after the first round of sleep disturbances, from 12-14 weeks, I concluded that for whatever reason at this time she just needed to nurse and be rocked more than she had previously. Then the problems disappeared. Of course now they've come back, but I'm trying to keep the faith that they'll work themselves out on their own time.
I asked the leader of the moms group I go to (a child development person) whether I should worry about nursing her down every time, whether this might escalate the night wakings. She said no, just ride it out, that at least until 6 months we shouldn't worry about such things and just give her what she needs. I guess if nursing her down is so quick and easy in your case, go with it if it works for you--it may just resolve itself with time.
All that said, I still feel like I'm bluffing, because of course I'm terrified that I will never see another 8 hour stretch in my life. But I'm trying not to panic. Good luck, mama!
That makes me feel so much better! Of course I'm worried about doing the right or wrong thing- but in the middle of the night when she just wants to be held and nurse, that's what feels right to do. I'll wait it out and hopefully she will drop one of her wake ups. At least she is very consistent!
Glad I could help! I think if it feels right at the time, that's what you should do. I just nursed my DD to sleep for a nap. Lately she has been successfully putting herself to sleep sometimes, so I kept laying her down to see if she would, but she kept starting to fuss. I just hit a point where it was like, "Why am I fighting this battle?" I nursed her for 30 seconds and bam, she was out. So much easier. I figure we'll keep practicing other ways of getting her to sleep, but sometimes she just needs/wants to nurse.
Also, just reread your post--so she sleeps from 7:30-1 a.m.? I think that's actually really good! 5.5 hours--technically that's considered sleeping through the night! Mine also starts the night with a long stretch and then wakes about every two hours. I read somewhere that it's because they have their deepest sleep the first part of the night and then revert to something closer to the daytime pattern--hence the more frequent wakings. Don't know how true that is, but I know it's a really common pattern. I bet she'll stretch her first leg of sleep out over time and you'll see it push the later wakings forward before you know it.
I'm not an expert either, just wanted to chime in that my 4.5-mo ds also wakes several times in the night. He goes down easily at 7pm, then wakes at least three times before waking up for the day at around 6:30am. We also had about 2 weeks of hell in which he woke every 1.5 hours all night, but it looks like we're returning to "normal", if you can call it that. I think it was a growth spurt, because he really nursed hard all night, not just the cuddly type of nursing he usually does at night. Anyway, I don't know if that helps, but at least you know you're not alone!