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4 Month Old Waking at 4am

4 Month Old Waking at 4am

The Baby Sleep Problem

I have a four-month-old daughter. She is bottle fed and happily settles to sleep easily by herself. She sleeps regularly throughout the day, not for long periods of time but she is easy to put down. She sleeps for about ten hours at night, BUT most nights she wakes up at four (ish) for a feed, then refuses to sleep and plays for an hour and a half!? It is doing my head in, how can I teach her to go back to sleep?

Additional information

Where does she sleep?

She sleeps in a bassinet (soon to be cot) in our teeny room next to our bed. Not ideal but our house is super small and that is pretty much the only space! I was secretly hoping to put her in with her bigger brother but with the way things are going at the moment that may not be good!!

Is she in a routine & what times are her feeds & sleeps? Do you use feed/play/sleep?

She is in a general routine, I have never been particularly strict enforcing the times etc but maybe I need to? Generally: first feed at seven am, then every three-ish hours afterwards. Usually 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm and then 7pm, give or take an hour or so. I do use feed-play-sleep but again am not strict on it. But she is not fed to sleep. She was initially breastfed but that didn't work for us. She is now bottle fed and I am struggling to get used to it (i.e, I used to demand feed, which does not seem to be so easy with the bottle).

How do you settle her at sleep time and bedtime?

She is wrapped, with both arms in. She usually struggles to get one out and then is happy. I put her in her bed, wrap her, give her a dummy and turn on her music box. That is usually it, although the last few days she has been upset at this.

What times does she wake in the night? Always about the same times?

Usually she wakes at the same time. She always wakes around three or four in the morning, this is when I feed her. Sometimes she wakes two or three times, between about ten and one.

What happens when she wakes? Is she feeding during the night?

She is happy when she wakes, and doesn't ever cry. I usually wake up to her talking to herself. Either I pop her dummy back in or I feed her, usually at fourish. I pick her up, keeping her wrapped and give her a bottle. No eye contact or talking. Then burp her and put her back in her bed. Other times when she wakes I just give her the dummy and tuck her in, and sometimes put on the music. The music is one of those toys that has a light shining on the ceiling so I try to avoid using it at night.

How do you settle her in the night?

I give her a dummy and tuck her in. I don't talk to her and I only pick her up if I am to feed her.

Is she swaddled or in a sleeping bag? Does her swaddling come unwrapped?

She is swaddled. Not in a sleeping bag yet though I would like to try it. She seems to needs her hands tucked in or she wakes herself up. She does come unwrapped when she wakes up if she is wriggling around!

Does she move about in her cot? Kick off blankets?

Definitely kicks the blankets off but as far as I can tell, only when she is properly awake, for example in the morning!!

Does she have any sleep cues, like fed to sleep, rocked, needs you there, mobile or sleep music?

When she is put to bed at night she has sleep music. And she is wrapped. But nothing else. Oh, and a dummy.

Have you tried any white noise (e.g. vacuum, static) with her and what happened?

When she was born she was very unsettled and we couldn't do anything to calm her. Except she would sleep with the vacuum on. Worked fantastically but she would only sleep with the vacuum on and if we turned it off she would wake! Soooo many times we slept through the night with the vacuum on, I was scared it would blow up!! Recording the vacuum did not work nor did radio static! But then we sorted out her physical problems and she slept much better and didn't need the vacuum to sleep anymore!!

Does she use a dummy just to fall asleep or while she is asleep? Do you put it back in during the night?

She uses a dummy just to fall asleep. She is not that keen on it to be honest (I think I need her to have it more than she does!) It falls out while she is sleeping and she doesn't cry for it. I put it back in only once she is awake and I want her to go back to sleep.

How do you feel about leaving her to grizzle or cry? Have you tried it, for how long and what happened?

I have no problem leaving her to grizzle. Although she is generally not a grizzly babe, she just chats happily to herself LOUDLY! This is only a problem at four in the morning!!

Our recommended baby sleep solution

Thanks for all your information. It sounds like you have done an awesome job teaching your baby to sleep, and I think a few key things will have her sleeping through in no time.

Her sleeping environment

At 4 months she may be getting too big for her bassinette, so just check she’s not whacking her arms on the side or waking up from bumping her head etc.

If you can move her bed it would be a good idea, so she can’t see you!

There is some new research out that suggests keeping your baby in your room until they are 6 months slightly reduces the SIDS risk. Personally I have found that the sooner they are out of your room, the quicker they sleep through the night. So you need to weigh that up yourself and also see what is realistic in your house.

If your son is a good sleeper, it’s unlikely that her talking will wake him up. I know with my boys, one of them can be screaming and the other sleeps right through it. The sooner they are in together the easier it is likely to be.

Once your baby is in your son’s room, you won’t hear her talking in the night. This in itself is likely to be the main thing that helps her sleep through the night, as no feed/cuddle/dummy etc, means she will just chat for a while to herself and learn to not need you to go back to sleep. Given she is not crying in the night, it sounds like she is quite happy and has everything she needs, so she should just drift back to sleep.

Swaddling & sleeping bag introduction

If you are going to continue wrapping your baby, wrap her at bedtime how you want her to stay right through the night. Consistency in the sleeping environment is really important for a baby to resettle.

If having her hand out helps her settle, I would wrap her that way to start with. You will also need a really big wrap now, either one of my stretch ones or a fitted wrap one are best for that age.

Once you are wrapping her with one arm out, you can start to wrap her with the wrap over her sleeping bag. This will mean she gets used to the sleeping bag and in a month or two you can get rid of the wrapping. It also means you no longer need to use any loose bedding in her cot, which means there is nothing to kick off and is also good from a safety point of view.

There are lots of sleeping bags available on my site however the best option is a Woolbabe, as these can be used from now until age 2, can be used year round and have 100% natural, low fire danger fibres.


The next thing that will solve your baby waking at 4am is adjusting your routine during the day. With a structured routine you are basically anticipating what your baby needs before she knows she needs it, so I find it works better with an older baby than demand feeding. It also makes life with two children so much easier, as you know when you can go out, when she needs bottles and sleeps etc. So if you are going to be out, you will know if she needs a bottle or sleep when you are out and you can plan accordingly.

I recommend the routines from ‘Save Our Sleep’, as they are really simple to use and are very effective for solving night waking.

The recommended routine for your baby is

  1. 7am feed

  2. 9am sleep

  3. 11am feed

  4. 1.00pm sleep

  5. 3pm feed

  6. 4.30 nap if needed

  7. 6.30pm feed

  8. 7.00pm sleeping

  9. 10.00pm dreamfeed (feed while baby is swaddled and asleep).

The main changes for you are having her into bed earlier, and doing a dreamfeed at around 10:00pm. This should mean she doesn’t need that feed during the night, and you can either let her keep chatting or use the dummy to resettle her without the bottle. The ‘dreamfeed’ means you feed her while she is still asleep, which is far easier to do if she’s well swaddled or in a sleeping bag. Don’t worry about a nappy change or burping at this feed. Just gently take her out of bed, give her the bottle and put her back into bed still asleep.

Positive sleep associations

You can also start to build some additional positive associations for your baby, so when she sees/hears particular things, she knows it’s time to sleep and has the tools to help her resettle herself during the night. These differ from dummy, mobile, feeds etc, as they don’t need mum there to help baby resettle!

The best ones are:

Sleep music – You are currently using music from her mobile, which sounds like it’s reasonably effective. Try leaving a baby sleep CD on repeat quietly during the night, so it doesn’t need you to turn it back on. I would use either a White Noise CD, or something soothing like Music for Dreaming.

Swaddling or Sleeping bag – the process of getting swaddled or zipped into a sleeping bag every time you sleep quickly forms a clear message to babies that it’s time to sleep. You can take it anywhere and also ensure baby is warm. The main thing is to ensure when she wakes, she is still in the same sleeping environment she was in at bedtime.

Comfort blankie – something small, soft and that your baby can find & hold during the night. You can get her attached to it by holding it when you are feeding or sleeping a couple of nights with it under your top, then only give it to her at sleep times. Once she is wrapped with one arm out, you can tuck it under her arm when you put her down. We have lots of lovely ones to choose from - Cuski's are perfect for babies of her age.

Self Settling

It sounds like your baby can already self settle really well, and the above suggestions should solve her night waking. However if she continues to wake, you may want to stop using her dummy for settling or start to teach her to put it back in herself.

There is also lots of information in my article on Teaching Your Baby to Self Settle, which covers controlled crying, no cry sleep techniques and more.

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