5 Sleep Tips For Ages 4-9 months
Updated: Jul 11
With the newborn phase coming to a close, many parents find themselves exhausted when baby hits 4 months old, and sometimes sleep is getting worse, not better! Never fear- there are many sleep tips you can utilize to help set up healthy sleep habits for your little one, and start getting the sleep you all need!
Between ages 4-9 months are a perfect time to make sleep adjustments. A baby goes through a developmental progression around the 4 month mark that causes their sleep patterns to become more adult-like. This is perfectly normal and healthy, but can also causes (what understandably FEELS like) a regression because baby is suddenly cycling through more light phases of sleep, and therefore can start waking up more often, looking for help getting back to sleep. At the same time, at this age they have usually not become too attached to current sleep habits, and therefore can sometimes make changes fairly easily. Implement the tips below to help baby sleep their absolute best in the coming months!
SLEEP TIP #1: CREATE A SLEEP-INDUCING ENVIRONMENT
Make your child’s sleep space a haven of comfort and calm!
First, do a safety check to make sure there are no hazards in their room. Use the ABCs of safe sleep- Alone in their sleep space, on their Back, and nothing besides baby in their Crib. I love putting my babies in a cozy sleep sack to safely help them feel more comfortable and keep them warm at night.
Secondly, use blackout shades or curtains so that street and car lights cannot come through the windows. Even a small amount of light can suppress melatonin production! If you don’t have blackout shades, you can even tape aluminum foil or cardboard onto the window for a budget-saving solution!
Next, use calming sound machine on a steady sound setting (think less “lullaby,” “thunderstorm” or “ocean waves” and more “static” or “white noise.”) If you don’t have one, there are a ton of great apps you can use. I also like to use a decibel-measuring app to check the volume. From your baby’s sleep space, it should measure between 55-65db.
Finally, I love to use lavender essential oil in a diffuser in my child’s room. Studies have shown that lavender promotes calm and sleep
SLEEP TIP #2: CREATE A SOLID SLEEP ROUTINE
A good bedtime routine should be about 20-30 minutes long, and consistent- as much as possible- every night. The four components of a great-quality sleep routine are:
I love to start our routine out with our final feeding for the night (bottle or breast), followed by a bath, fresh diaper and jammies, book and a song or prayers, and final snuggles. Following this routine, lay your child in bed. Nap times should also follow an abbreviated routine, about 5 minutes to allow them to wind down.
SLEEP TIP #3: FOLLOW A FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE
Children sleep their best for both naps and nighttime when they are awake long enough to be tired, but not awake long enough to get overtired. Sound stressful? Not to worry.
There are straightforward wake windows that work well for the vast majority of children that you can follow as they grow. For instance, most 4-5 month olds do well with about 2 hours of awake time at a time.
I have a sleep schedule calculator that can give you a great schedule custom tailored to your child’s adjusted age, as well as your preferred bedtime! (link: https://sweetpeasleep.outgrow.us/sleepschedulecalculator)
SLEEP TIP #4: START DISCERNING HUNGER CUES
Is your baby waking up many times a night looking to eat? Talk to your pediatrician (and use your parental instinct!) about how many night feedings are appropriate for your child at their age. Every situation is different, but for instance, generally at 4 months, 1-2 feedings is still normal. At 6 months, one feeding is common and by 9 months it is typically appropriate to night wean if you want to! (Keyword is WANT! If a night feed does not bother you and you are all well rested, some families continue night feedings past this age.)
Also know these are general guidelines based on what I see in my practice with clients, some babies wean themselves much earlier or families enjoy a night feeding for much longer than this age range. Start to discern when your baby wakes up if they are truly hungry, or if they are using eating as a prop to get back to sleep. Has it only been a couple hours since their last feeding? Are they falling asleep within a couple minutes of latching? Are they sucking actively, or intermittently? If they seem to be waking out of habit rather than hunger, consider a different way of soothing when they wake up and save feedings for a designated time at your comfort level.
SLEEP TIP #5: CUT OUT SLEEP PROPS
Nine out of 10 times, a child’s sleep issues stem from the use of a prop to get them to sleep. This could be a pacifier, bottle, nursing, rocking, bouncing or any number of tricks we use to get our little ones to sleep! The trouble with props when a child is older is that they have never learned to consistently fall asleep in their sleep space on their own on their own, so when they wake through the night they are constantly needing us to provide their prop to get them back down. Eliminating the prop and allowing your child to fall asleep independently in their bed or crib is the cornerstone of better sleep for the whole family!
For some ideas on different sleep training methods visit this blog!
We know these ages can feel really tough for sleep because SO MUCH is going on for them!
From rolling to crawling, from 4 naps to all the way down to 2 naps, it may feel like sleep is CONSTANTLY changing– but it doesn’t have to be that way. These tips help solidify your routine so you remain their calm to their (somewhat) chaotic development!
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