23 answers

4 Month Old Wont Sleep Through the Night ... Help!

My son never had a problem sleeping very well at night until now! He just turned 4 months at the end of November and this is when it all started. Some nights hes waking up every 2 hours.
Any sugguestions?
I should also add... started him on rice cereal in his bottle at night at about 3 3/4 months. He just recently started eating it with a spoon. When he wakes up and night, he will only drink about 1 - 1 1/2 oz of formula, so I dont believe hes hungry. His eyes are usually closed when he is fussing around and or crying, so I have reason to believe he is still in a state of sleep?!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hi, A.,
Yes you are very lucky that he WAS sleeping through the night before this! Mine is now 9.5 months and he has never slept through the night YET! But I feel it is still pretty normal. Just try to get him back to sleep when he wakes up. His sleep patterns will change again. Maybe just pat his back and hum quietly to get him to go back to sleep.

4 months is exactly when my little guy started doing the same thing. It took me a while to realize he was genuinely hungry. I started feeding him a huge bowl of rice cereal with banana in it right before bed and he started sleeping through again. Plus this introduced him to "solids" and it was the perfect time to do so.

More Answers

There is a great book called The Wonder Weeks and an even better website, askmoxie.com. You will find lots of information about development and SLEEP REGRESSIONS that occur during periods of intense change. You are right, he very well may be asleep when fussing and going through lots of brain rewiring. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

he is probably hungry and may be having a growth spurt, nurse him back to sleep. My son did not sleep through the night until 9 months old. Try taking naps during the day when you can

This happened to my son when I went back to work, he also started teething at that time.

Hi A., we went through the same thing with our daughter at the same age. For her it was a combo of teething and developmental changes. We practice AP parenting, and i can never let my l.o. cry it out...Soo our solution was to move our baby from her crib into our bed...Now she sleeps with me, and feeds whenever she wants too..because i no longer have to get up to pick her up or put her back, even if i wake up it's only for a second to help her latch on. She's sleeping much better now, waking up only about 3 times at night...Sure it took some getting used to on my part, but i feel soo much closer to her now.


Hi A.,

It must be something about the 4 month mark because the same thing happened to my son at that age and several of my friends' babies, too. It must be a change in their sleep pattern or something. After a few weeks, he started sleeping well again. If you think he's still in a state of sleep, you might try just leaving him for a few minutes and see if he goes back to sleep. My son went through a period of waking up sometimes several times at night and would fuss for 5 or 10 minutes, then go back to sleep. If it turns into a cry I'll go get him.

Believe it or not some babies start teething at this age, or it could be a growth spurt. Trial and error... Good luck!

Is he teething? You might want to check on that, it could definitely be a cause. If so, it will subside and he will go back to sleeping. I think we had some similar issues with our son, who is 20 months now and has been sleeping straight through the night.

Hi there,

I seem to remember 4 months being when our daughter stopped sleeping through the night as well. It could be teeth, a developmental change, anything really. Our daughter is now almost 15 months and sometimes she sleeps through the night and sometimes she doesn't.

Does your son seem to be healthy? If he calms right down when you pick him up then he is probably okay. But you could always have his ears checked to make sure he doesn't have an infection? But you'd probably know if there was something wrong.

One other thing we realized is that sometimes we were responding too quickly. We don't do the cry it out method (tried that and regretted trying), but you could try waiting just a bit before going to him and see if he gets back to sleep by himself. Doesn't hurt to try that a few times to see if he is just fussing a bit between sleep cycles.

Just try to be patient and remember that he'll be all grown up and sleeping through the night soon!

Good luck!!!


any new motor or cognative skills developing? This can disrupt sleep patterns but will pass. Good luck to you - it can be so difficult to troubleshoot at this age!

He is most likely hungry. If you haven't introduced solids, it's time. If you have, feed him his cereal at dinner time, so it makes him nice an full. He will sleep longer.

Hi, A.,
Yes you are very lucky that he WAS sleeping through the night before this! Mine is now 9.5 months and he has never slept through the night YET! But I feel it is still pretty normal. Just try to get him back to sleep when he wakes up. His sleep patterns will change again. Maybe just pat his back and hum quietly to get him to go back to sleep.

He may just be going through a growth spurt. I think it's supposed to happen at 3 months, but not all babies are the same. So, maybe his is coming a little later. I know it's difficult to go from sleeping well to being up so much, but he's still so tiny, so he must need something... a little comfort, food, repositioning. You may have to go through this for a while, but he'll start sleeping longer and longer again.

Hang in there.

When my little guy was two months old, I remember saying to my husband, "What's the big deal with sleeping through the night? Our baby sleeps through most nights..." Two months later, life was different.

The best advice I have is put your baby on a nap schedule and try to be consistent about it. Getting enough sleep during the day helps babies sleep through the night. When they are tiny babies will sleep anywhere through any noise when they need it, until they are done.

Around 3-4 mos, they start having a hard time doing that. They start needing to sleep in chunks in more controlled circumstances.

After about two hours awake, they need to nap. Watch for sleepy signs, rubbing eyes or ears, glassy eyes, fussing, and lay him down right away (nursing down, laying down and rubbing tummy or head softly, singing, whatever works for you).

You will see a big difference in night waking.

Other things that might help: develop a bedtime routine, keep room dimly lit or dark at night, don't talk or play with baby when he wakes in night, not every night sound is waking up (they often make little noises and go back to sleep, count to five before going to him until you can tell the difference).

For help understanding baby's sleep needs, read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby by Dr. Marc Weissbluth.

four months is really young to sleep through the night. If he slept through the night before this than count yourself lucky for that time. They have growth spurts throughout the first year & this could be why he is waking up more. Also, humans were not designed to sleep all night from birth. Babies need nourishment at night & shouldn't be "stuffed" (with formula, cereal, etc.) to try to keep them asleep all night like many grandmothers will recommend. Breastmilk is a live food which their bodies will break down quickly. This is good and will usually lead to a more healthy bodyweight as an adolescent and adult.

Do you let him sleep on his tummy or side, or is he flat out on his back? My son started sleeping well once we let him sleep on his tummy, which he definitely preferred. My sister lets her baby sleep on her tummy and she sleeps 9-10 hours (her problem is that baby starts that long sleep at midnight or 1pm, mom wants to go to bed!)

He's hungary. Begin feeding solids. It says in many of the books babies are ready from 4 to 6 months. I have a 5 month old. I began her on rice cereal in her bottle @4 1/2 months which helped her sleep a little longer because she wouldn't wake quite as hungary for her night time feedings therefore she would still wake up to eat but she would go longer periods of sleep. 6 hours instead of 4 at a time. Now she is on oatmeal 1 tbs w. milk during the day fed with a spoon. No more rice cereal (just because oatmeal has fiber so after I knew she could tolerate rice I moved her on so that she can benefit from the fiber) & she is sleeping better than with the rice. I read that not only @ 5 months can they naturally begin to sleep better but solids @ any age can help them to sleep better as long as they can tolerate it. The more they eat,(with milk &/or solids) the more frequent during the day the better they sleep.If I were to do it again I would start her @ 4 months because the reason 4 month olds drool is because they are getting ready to learn how to eat & digest solids. The drooling can also be a sign of teething but that is secondary to this. Also for the most part teething does not cause night waking & you would know if it was teething because the baby would be shoving her hand in her mouth & the crying would be a painful cry. Plus you can often feel the hardness on her lower gum. (this is where the first teeth sprout) My daughter is teething right now. Ask most Mothers that have 30 year olds or older children (maybe your Mother?) & they will tell you that they started you or your siblings on rice cereal in the bottle from the day you came home. & that it helped the sleeping thru the night. Your Dr. most likely won't tell you to start until 6 months because that is what is 'recommended' & most don't go against the grain for legal purposes with any advice. However, mr Dr. told me that my daughter was ready @5 months...Use your Mama instincts, you have them even if you think you don't & it will be right for you & your baby. Whatever your first feelings are are usually right. If you think he seems hungry, he probably is. You know your baby best. Good luck.

Could be...

Teething. Hylands makes some great melt in your mouth tablets for this.

Growth spurt of a physical nature, it can be uncomfortable growing so fast.

Growth spurt of a cognative nature -- suddenly he is more aware and doesn't know how to handle it.

Hunger. Growing is a hungry business.

Climate change. The seasons are changing, his body temp may not be regulating the same because of the seasonal changes, or he may be suffering from dry skin.

Needs more Mommy time. Sometimes you just need some extra mommy time.

Likely a combination of the above. Hope this helps. Good luck!

You don't say how big he is. Most infants can sleep 8-10 hours after they reach about 12 pounds.
Rice cereal is a carbohydrate and is digested more quickly than milk. He should be drinking atleast 24 ounces of breast milk or formula in a 24 hour period.
Rice cereal in the bottle is a huge NO NO. It takes up space and decreases the amount of milk in the bottle. Solids need to be offered by spoon in small amounts as a tool for learning how to eat solids between 4 and 8 months of age.
Check with your pediatrician if he continues to wake up.


Hi A.,
I love the book The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. The author, a nanny, talks about 4 month olds needing to be on a 4 hour feeding schedule instead of a 3 hour one that 3 month olds usually are on. Strangely enough this greatly affects a baby's sleep. She's got a whole plan in the book on what to do and how to do it as well as addressing sleep issues in general. I have used this book myself and both of my kids were sleeping through the night at 3 months. Whenever these kinds of sleep issues came up, we referred to the book, followed her suggestions and were back on track with good sleeping.
Good luck whatever you choose to do,

The exact same thing happened to us at that time. I read "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" after several moms suggested it. We applied the methods and after 3 nights, my now 9 month old sleeps from 7pm-7am about 90% of the time. Sometimes he needs a bottle in the night, but usually not. This method advocates "crying it out", so it's not for everybody. I needed my husband's support to make it through 3 nights of hearing my l.o. cry for an hour straight but it was well worth it because, for us, it worked like a charm. But as I said, not every mother is going to like this method. This one did!

4 months is exactly when my little guy started doing the same thing. It took me a while to realize he was genuinely hungry. I started feeding him a huge bowl of rice cereal with banana in it right before bed and he started sleeping through again. Plus this introduced him to "solids" and it was the perfect time to do so.

At 4 months a baby develops a REM sleep pattern, much like an adult, and will need to learn how to comfort and put itself back to sleep. You can help him by being very calm when go to comfort him, as unfortunately at such a young age it's not see easy to accomplish on one's own. Wow, in any case, it's surprising such a young one already makes it through the night, so he does also probably need to be fed. Once you are convinced he's fed, changed and all is right with him, he'll just need to be helped back to sleep. I've got a great book to recommend, and must seek the name of this for you from a friend who once lent it to me. I'll get this and write you back soon.

Hi A.,

It sounds like your little one has an imbalance and that is what is causing him not to sleep. He could be lacking in nutrition, or having problems relaxing his little body.

I put my granddaughter on a magnetic pad when she was 2 days old and added wholefood nutrients to her bottle and she slept well and was very rarely sick.

She is 7 today and knows what to do when she does not feel well.

If you would like to learn more check out www.nikken.com/ninamarie and read about me.

Have a happy and safe holiday.

N. Marie

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