The 4 month Sleep Regression (what we like to call the 4 month sleep progression)
Allow Liz Harden, MPH and founder of Little Dipper Sleep to add a few tools to your belt. Liz is the mastermind behind Nurtured Nest's Newborn Sleep Class and now she is talking about the 4 month sleep progression--yes, we say progression instead of regression!
In this podcast Liz works with a parent and her 3rd baby, a 4 month old who has added several night wake ups to her flow and can't quite get on board with daytime naps. Listen as Liz offers her simple and sustainable advice on how to help her baby learn to sleep.
Here is the link to Liz's Sleep Needs Guide that she references during the podcast.
Kathryn Dunn (00:37.846)
Hello and welcome to Nurtured Nest's podcast and we're going to be talking about sleep today. We're really lucky to have Liz Hardin, who is the owner and founder of Little Dipper Sleep with us. She is a sleep guru who's going to be talking, actually one of our own. So if you're listening and have watched our childbirth class, you may know this friendly face. It is Stephanie Bartlett.
nurse practitioner and she is the mom of three now. She added a third little baby girl this summer and she's been giving her a little, I don't know, little buck here in the sleep, right? And so we thought that getting Stephanie hearing from her, getting a little history about baby Capri and hearing from Liz may help you all.
in some of your understanding of sleep because ultimately that is what it is for families. Having a better understanding of your child's sleep and having some understanding of some strategies that you can add to your toolkit is going to make it more manageable because it's just not going to be awesome. Kid's sleep is just not awesome.
sometimes, right? But our goal is to make it manageable. So as we get started, I'm going to do a quick little interview with Stephanie to ask her about Capri. So everybody listening, just FYI is that we have had some conversation prior to this recording. So Liz may know things and you're thinking, how does she know that? But it's because we talked before. But so Stephanie, you ready to tell us about your sweet baby?
Okay, so how old is she? She is a little over four months now. Okay. She was born in July. She came a little bit early, so 37 weeks and five days. She was breached, so we had a c-section with her. But developmentally, she's where she needs to be for a four-month-old. Right on. And how are you feeding her?
Kathryn Dunn (02:59.534)
She is breastfeeding when I am home with her. I do work and I did go back to work when she was a little over 12 weeks. So when I'm in the office, she gets pumped breast milk during the day. And I just wanna point out to anybody listening, the reason I ask that is because sleep and feeding are tied so tight. And if feeding...
is not well established or you're having feeding issues, baby's underweight, we're not meeting our developmental milestones, chuck this to the side because this just won't apply. So we want our babies eating well and hitting those milestones. And then some of the strategies that we're gonna talk about today can apply. So tell me about Capri's sleep space in your home. Where's she sleeping?
So we moved her to her own room at 12 weeks, but we do have a video monitor. So she's just right next door to us. I can see and hear her on the monitor. We have, she's in her crib. We have a white noise machine that goes, and we do have blackout curtains and the really cheap blackout shades that you can get from Lowe's that you just tape on to make her room extra dark for the day.
And we do have her in a halo sleep sack. So it's not swaddled or anything like that. Her arms can move around, her legs can move around and that's it, nothing else in the crib. Okay, she was swaddled. Just to give people a little bit of back history. She was swaddled. Yeah, so with this baby, with our third, when she was two weeks old, we just weren't sleeping. So one day I woke up from a nap and my husband said, I'm going to get a snoo, I bought one.
I'm going to get it and picking it up. We'll have it tonight." And so he brought home a SNU. So she was in it from two weeks until a little before four months. Did pretty well in it, was swaddled with arms down. And of course it was like that constant rocking motion. But then you'll hear as she started to hit that phase that she's in now where the night waking started to happen. Whereas previously when she was between like eight and 12 weeks.
Kathryn Dunn (05:12.93)
She was sleeping all the way through the night with one night waking. So I kind of got a clue something was going on when we were approaching 12 weeks, 13 weeks, 14 weeks, when that one waking turned into two and then three. And then that's when we made the decision to transition her out of the snoo, out of the swaddle, just straight to her crib. And she took to that very well. Okay. So that was the old.
Can you tell us about the news? I'm gonna ask you about the nighttime routine, like what is her typical night like? And then I'll ask you about the day and of course naps. So tell us about the night first. Yeah, so we're really structured on what time our kids go to bed. We've always been like that. So Capri will typically go to bed like 6.37.
She's typically in her crib by seven o'clock. We will, do we typically do baths every other night with her, but whether she's having a bath or not, we'll get her pajamas on, get her sleep sack on. And I do nurse her. I don't nurse her to sleep, but I do nurse her as one of the last things. And then sometimes we'll do a book in between. And then I'll rock her for a little while and then I will lay her down.
She is laid down most of the time she's awake unless she has accidentally fallen asleep when nursing But I will tell you when we do transition to her to the crib Um, I guess I'm not as smooth because she does wake up most of the time when I'm laying her down and so typically falls asleep between 7 30 and Recently she's been getting up
anywhere between two to three times a night. You know, before it was where she would wake up around one o'clock and then again at five o'clock and then she'd start her day around seven o'clock. But sometimes she'll even squeeze in an earlier wake up around 10.30 or 11. So that would look like bed at seven 30, wake up 10.30, 11, wake up at one to two, wake up at four to five. That's like our worst night when we have that happen.
Kathryn Dunn (07:30.794)
So, you know, at times I try and just do a pacifier because I know she's not hungry and then she'll immediately stop and I'll go lay back down but then 45 minutes later she's up again. And so then when that happens, I just have fallen into this routine of nursing her because I'm like, well, I can't do this every 45 minutes. And I know if I feed her, she'll sleep for another, you know, she'll give me a longer stretch. But I know she's capable. It's just...
you know, trying to get those tools. No, I'm telling you. So this is like bringing back memories. I'm sure Liz has the same of this period of just needing sleep. And you go into your night, you know, sometimes you go in discombobulated and nobody has a clue what's going on. And you wake up and you're like, how many times did they wake up last night? You ask your partner if they're there and they don't know and you don't know, then you're mad at them and all the things. Or you go in and you're like, this is what we're doing.
I am giving her back, I'm not feeding them. You're like, no, she's not hungry. I'm not gonna feed them. And then it's 1 a.m. And then you resort to it and you have guilt in the morning. So I am so excited because I know that Liz, we did have some prior conversation guys and I know that she's got some tips to help us all through that. So quickly talk to me about nap. I'm gonna make the assumption that the nap routine is similar. This is your third kiddo.
And so routine and having those sleep associations, right? The sleep sack, the sound machine, the dark room, those things you've got. And I'm making an assumption that naps are the same. And then tell me about the naps though. Once she is down, when does she go down? So unfortunately, I say unfortunately because I would love to get her on a more consistent, nine, 12.
four o'clock nap schedule or whatever it's to look like for her. But right now she's not quite in that set pattern. It really just depends on her morning start time. She is right now. It seems like we're putting her down after about an hour and 20 minutes to an hour and 30 minutes because she gets super fussy. So I was trying to follow those wake windows that you read about on Google.
Kathryn Dunn (09:50.706)
She does nap in her crib, so same thing. She does go in her sleep sack. We do offer pacifiers during nap time. And really, I am very lucky that it's very minimal fussing for her as long as we capture that nap right when we think she's sleepy. We don't rock her to sleep or anything like that. We'll put her right in her crib and then leave the room. Feeding.
with naps is a little bit different than bedtime because she gets bottles during the day when I'm not here. And that looks like about three bottles per day and it's about an eight hour day when I'm not here. So about every three to four hours she's getting a bottle. And so she does not get a bottle before every time she goes down because she's going down about every hour and a half. So
probably about every other nap. She's getting a nice full feed before her nap. So I'm, you know, to myself wondering, well, is that causing the shorter naps too? Because she's doesn't have like the fullest tummy, but we can't feed her every hour and a half. That would be too much for her. No. So, okay. I see Liz over there brewing. She's like, oh, I have things to say.
So first off, I have a question though for Liz. Like what I was hearing in 70s is that eight to 12 weeks, is that a typical sweet spot? Yes. Is that why this four month progression like throws us off or a loop because like they finally get in a groove and then bam, it's done. Like, oh, we had it figured out, just kidding. Yeah, yeah. So it's really common and this is why, because as newborns and in the first few months of life, infants mostly have
sort of two types of sleep that they're having, active sleep and quiet sleep. And those two states are fairly continuous. And the only reason they wake up is because of one of three things has happened. Either they're hungry or they're uncomfortable in some other way, like maybe they had a blowout or their diaper super wet or they're cold, or they've had enough sleep.
Kathryn Dunn (12:07.274)
And in the early stages, this is sort of what parents expect. Okay, one of these three things is gonna happen. So it's gonna happen pretty quickly. So my baby's only gonna sleep for a couple of hours at a time. Well, around eight weeks to 12 weeks, and there's some variability on either side from one baby to the next.
they don't get hungry as fast. You know, their little digestive systems are growing and becoming more mature. And so they stop waking up for hunger every couple of hours and they start being able to sleep longer stretches at night. And so you often get this sweet spot where they're still only doing that active and quiet sleep and they're not waking to be fed all night long. It feels great. Well, then something happens.
And it's what's often called the four month sleep regression, but it's really more of a progression because it's a permanent change in sleep architecture. And what happens is around that age, it happens anywhere between three and four months and with some babies a little bit later, they start sleeping like we sleep. And instead of those two somewhat continuous sleep stages, they now have four. And...
they cycle through these four sleep stages all night long. And at the end of a cycle, there's this protective behavior where we wake up briefly and we check our environment to make sure that everything is safe. It's like a ingrained evolutionary safety mechanism. And if they're comfortable and everything is safe,
to them and they're not hungry and they're not confused, they're gonna go right back to sleep. Well, if they fell asleep in your arms or while being rocked or while sucking on a pacifier or while nursing or feeding from a bottle, then when they wake up at the end of each sleep cycle, they're gonna do that biological protective check and they're gonna be like, oh, something changed. This is not comfortable.
Kathryn Dunn (14:23.83)
And the metaphor that I like to give or the example of sort of how that might feel is what if you went to bed at the start of the night, or you probably do every night, with a pillow and a blanket. And then you wake up at the end of a sleep cycle and you no longer have your pillow or blanket. Like you would look around, you'd be like, what in the world happened? Like I am not comfortable, who took my pillow?
Where is it? What'd you do? And you would start searching for the pillow blanket. You would find it, you would replace it. You would solve the problem. And eventually, hopefully you would fall back asleep, but it might've been a little stressful. Well, that's what's gonna happen. That's the sort of same feeling that a baby might have if they fell asleep in your arms and then they wake up between sleep cycles in their crib alone. Now tell me, can I, I'm sorry. I'm like interjecting you mid-sentence.
So we were talking before about Stephanie. So one thing that Stephanie and I, we mothered together a lot actually. And one of the things we do know is to put those babies down while they're awake. Their little eyes are open, but you were sharing something. So she is being nursed and sometimes she does fall asleep. She gets a little drowsy. And that stage one of sleep. So you said there's now four that Capri has. That...
stage one, it sounded to me like that was starting in the arms of Stephanie. Yeah, absolutely. And this can be problematic because when, so maybe it'd be helpful for me to say what the four stages of sleep are. Yeah. So there's light sleep. It's the first stage and the second stage of light sleep. Then we go into deep sleep and then we end the sleep cycle with
Kathryn Dunn (16:18.614)
does and we cycle through those periods every hour, every hour or two all night long.
Well, in the very first stage of light sleep, it's called the hypnagogic, you're in that sort of liminal dreamy space of like, I'm kind of asleep, I'm kind of awake. It's when you get those like weird flash hallucinations, you're like, am I dreaming or am I awake? What's happening? The world is crazy. If that's that sort of feeling, well, when you're in that first stage of light sleep, you're really suggestible. And so if a baby,
is starting the fall asleep process in your arms. Like their eyes are getting droopy. Maybe they fall asleep for a minute and then wake back up. Maybe you're not sure if they're awake or asleep. Like they're still sucking, but not as fast. So they're probably in that stage one of light sleep. So they aren't, and then if you put them in the crib after that and they wake, they wait, like open their eyes and maybe roll around a little bit. You're like, oh, I put them down awake. Fine. Well.
Not entirely because they were becoming drowsy in your arms. So they didn't fall all the way to sleep and to deep sleep or probably not even light sleep stage two in your arms, but they did enter that hypnagogic phase. And so to them, they're becoming drowsy and able to sleep in your arms. And so that's why you might think that you have a little self-soother.
but actually they are as long as you get them really drowsy first. Does that make sense? No, that makes total sense. But now I'm thinking, and Stephanie, you're probably thinking the same, like, okay, so what do I do instead? Right? Like, is there something that you can help us that's a sustainable, right? That we're going to actually be able to do and that she could try this evening instead of that.
Kathryn Dunn (18:19.69)
The easiest thing to do is to move, if feeding is part of the routine, move it up. Move it up in the bedtime routine to the start. And so you're like changing their diaper afterward, you're reading them a story afterward, and you're sure that they're fully awake and aware. And it sounds like you do that sometimes. Is that right? Well, yes, but I will say that I always do diaper and jammies and then I feed her. And then the lights go out and I'm rocking her. Yeah.
So she's even laying down a awake I'm definitely getting her good and drowsy before I let go down Yeah, yeah, and that's super common and you know, it's the way that I think about all of this stuff is that It's never a problem unless it becomes a problem So, you know if it's been working well, it's understandable why you do that. Plus it's like so cozy and sweet
And she's her third baby, right? And I wanted to pin that too. I was thinking that in my head. If you're listening and you're thinking, this doesn't happen in my house, like I nursed my baby, I put him in the bed kind of drowsy. And he's just- Or even full on asleep. Yeah, and he sleeps just fine. You do you, right? Exactly. Just because this is happening for Stephanie does not mean that you need, like don't wake a sleeping baby, right? Like don't change yours.
Just know that if you run into this in a week from now, a month from now, this is probably why. And hey, my brain just went to this and Stephanie, I don't know if yours went there. Okay, so great. So we've changed it up. We've moved nursing or the bottle earlier in the routine. You know, we kind of wake her back up a little bit because we're not doing stage one. She's doing stage one in the crib herself. So that's probably not going to go very well either.
then, right? If she's used to going down drowsy, what are some of the things we're gonna see, Liz, now that this she's gonna protest this? Yeah, yeah. So my first thing to note is that she may not protest. Some babies, yeah, yeah. Some, for some babies, they're just like, oh, okay, so we do it this way now.
Kathryn Dunn (20:31.978)
So you don't necessarily need to expect that they'll fuss because sometimes when we expect that, then our bodies tense up and we're like, oh, what's gonna happen? And then our babies feel that too. So it may go smashingly well. If it doesn't, that would be very typical. And the thing to keep in mind is that you just want her
to fall asleep in the crib. Because when she wakes up between sleep cycles throughout the night, she's gonna be alone in her crib. And so we want her to fall asleep under the exact same conditions that she is gonna wake up in. Because that way she'll be comfortable and she won't feel like something's been, she won't feel like her pillow and blanket are gone. So if she gets fussy,
just keep that end goal in mind. But go to her, soothe her, pick her up, calm her down, give her smooches, tell her she's doing a great job. Soothe her in any way you need, but just put her back down in the crib so that she can fall asleep there. And if a baby's younger than four months, try a couple cycles of that. And if it doesn't work, then...
Try again the next day, don't push it. But baby's over four months. You can keep doing that until she falls asleep in her crib. And most likely, within 45 minutes, sleep pressure is gonna build up to a pretty uncomfortable level and she's gonna conk out. So it's just one of those things, like keep the end goal in mind and try to make steps toward it. Perfect, I can do that.
Yeah, no. So can I ask a question about nighttime then? So nighttime, like let's say she's getting all the calories that she needs during the day and she isn't a healthy weight and our pediatrician is not concerned about her weight gain. So if all that is true and you know she's getting what she needs during the day, on average, do babies truly need to eat at all during the night?
Kathryn Dunn (22:58.674)
Yeah, so there's a lot of variability from one baby to the next. But in this, around this age, anywhere from one to two feedings per night is pretty typical. Okay. Some can sleep through the night, 10 to 12 hours without a feeding. And occasionally I'll see a baby who seems to really need three feedings, but a good way to determine what your baby needs when this sort of like
new waking thing has happened, is to think back on when she was feeding before she started having the extra night wakings and try to stick to that. Okay. Perfect. But that's good. Yeah. In our case, it was about the 1 a.m. feed. Yep, yep. And it's, what often happens is, you know, these night wakings kind of come out of nowhere and you fall back on...
the strategies to get them back to sleep, which is often feeding. And so they get kind of reconditioned to feed more at night because you're assuming like, oh, well, it must be a growth spurt. This is so random. Like I'll just feed them back to sleep. Well, they start to get used to that and then they start eating.
more at night again, at the same time, they're really waking up during the day and super curious and like often too jazzed about life to concentrate on feeding. And so you get into this sort of cycle where now they're not eating as much during the day and now you're feeding them more at night again. Mm-hmm, yeah. No, and I like this because it's just giving us some understanding. So I just wanna point out that like Liz in her newborn sleep class, like she's never going to give us exact,
numbers and windows and things like that. But having this knowledge that then Stephanie can go back and apply to Capri, our listeners can go back and apply to their baby. I think the one big piece of knowledge that I take away even now that provides me with some empathy for these babies is that their brain just changed. How weird is that? Right? Like you were doing these like two cycle, two cycle and all of a sudden...
Kathryn Dunn (25:14.806)
you are like in that weird sleep state where you can like fall off a building, right? Like, so I think that's got to be like a little scary and a little strange. And so then they are seeking comfort from you. And then you get in this yucky other cycle, right? Where they need your comfort and you're so tired. So you just give them a boob or give them a bottle and so if you're in that stage, I think that this should provide you some hope, some understanding of, you know, where they are.
mentally that this is happening to them, that we can take the comfort back and still support them. And so Stephanie tonight is going to be going to change up her routine and really getting Capri in her crib on her back when she's truly not in any sleep state. She's not entered that.
Yeah, just give up like the whole drowsy but awake thing. Just, just forget it for a week or two, like awake. Yeah, just awake. And then we're gonna see what Capri does from there. And, you know, it depends on your baby's temperament too. Really, some of them you've been blessed with these little unicorns, other ones like mine, the Olympic child that needs lots of coaching, you know, and we've yet to see like who is Capri, but if Capri does.
fuss and revolt against this, you know, being put down like this is that we can just be there to coach and soothe her and know that it may take 45 minutes and it's going to be a long 45 minutes and it might be loud, but she's safe in her crib, right? So there's nothing in there. She's on a flat safe surface. She's changed. She's fed. You know those things people. So keep that in your brain.
And one thing I want to add is that if your baby's over four months of age and it's been 45 minutes and they still haven't fallen asleep, then you can turn the light on, turn it on dimly redo the bedtime routine. Don't feed them again because they're going to fall asleep feeding, but redo like read a story, change their diaper, whatever their strong sleep cue is.
Kathryn Dunn (27:33.93)
repeat that and then put them back in the crib to try again. And often the repetition of the bedtime routine, it really, it does two things. It, at first it just helps everyone kind of chill out and be like, oh yeah, it's bedtime. We know what we're doing here. And then the repetition of the routine followed by being put in the crib awake helps speed up the learning process. Cause they're like, oh, after X, Y, and Z, I go in the crib and I go to sleep. So it, it often what I'll see is a baby will, you know,
not fall asleep for 45 minutes. The parents will redo the bedtime routine and then they fall asleep shortly thereafter. It's like they needed to practice yet again. Okay. So one more thing within night sleep and we're going to switch to nap time. But I do think that we have a takeaway here, but some of you might've been thinking this the whole time. We'll wait a pacifier. And I know Stephanie mentioned a pacifier. Well, what do I do with it?
Can you talk us through a pacifier and capri situation and what your suggestion might be? Sure. Sometimes it helps. Other times it causes just as many night waking issues as being rocked to sleep or fed to sleep. And the way that you can kind of figure this out for your child is, are you having to replace the pacifier for them in the middle of the night?
If you find yourself one to two to 15 times going and plugging them back in, and then they're going to sleep, after that, then the pacifier is causing problems. And so you would just do exactly what we just talked about with having your child fall asleep in the crib, but without the pacifier. And you can expect.
when if you're taking the pacifier away that it may, this learning process may be a little bit harder, may take a little bit longer. And if that's the case, you can do it. You can create some baby steps for yourself or maybe before you take away getting drowsy or falling asleep in your arms, you get rid of the pacifier, but then rock them to sleep so that they start getting used to falling asleep without sucking.
Kathryn Dunn (29:53.558)
before they're also getting used to falling asleep in the crib. Yeah. And again, that's gonna vary on temperament of baby. Absolutely. And then you may, sometimes you parents will take away the pacifier at bedtime and like the baby's totally fine. They just like find their finger. My second child would stroke this little tuft of hair on top of his head. It was the cutest thing I've ever seen. So they may just move right on to some other sort of
self-soothing strategy. And one thing that a lot of people ask is, okay, well, if I'm getting rid of the pacifier at night, then do I have to get rid of it all? We just have to go cold turkey. What I tend to recommend is sort of a staged approach where first you get rid of it at bedtime, do that for a few nights, a week, then you get rid of it all night long. And then once they're sleeping all night long without the pacifier, if you kind of...
think that the pacifier may be causing short naps, which is entirely possible, then get rid of it for naps too. But if you do it all at once, it can just be kind of overwhelming for everyone. And if you remove the pacifier from sleep, you can still offer it on car rides, during diaper changes, other times when they're fussy during the day, it won't confuse them. Yeah. Okay, so that step, just to reiterate, is to take it away just when you're putting them down to sleep. So that's the initial one, but you could give it in the night.
So when they wake again, you could offer it during the night. Yeah. And the next stage would be to take it away completely at night. Exactly. And the rationale there is that as they learn to fall asleep under the exact same conditions, they're going to wake up in between these cycles. Then they just naturally start bridging those like sleep cycles without the pacifier anyways. Yeah. No, that's good. Liz, just one more question about nighttime sleep. So, you know, let's say, cause I know you said,
to think about nurse or feed when you did it before, like when she was sleeping really well, so that was around the one o'clock hour. So let's say she wakes up at 11 and I know she's not hungry because she had a full feed before bed. Is there a certain amount of time? I think sometimes I hear her on the monitor and it's the middle of the night, so I just wake up and just hurry up and run in there because I'm just.
Kathryn Dunn (32:17.462)
Like, oh, how long has she been fussing for? Or you're disoriented because you just went to sleep. I know it probably depends on the parent's comfort level too and the situation that's going on, but is there a guide on, do you let them just fuss off and on for 10 minutes, 15? How long does it typically take on average for babies to soothe and fall back asleep if they've laid down in the same condition that they're waking up in?
Yeah, so usually if you give them about 10 minutes, then that's an appropriate amount of time before going in. And that also can be helpful because sometimes we inadvertently wake up our babies because we think they're awake because they're making noise and moving around, but they're actually just like acting out their dreams or getting comfortable and vocalizing. So it's a good rule of thumb to give them 10 minutes.
And that can seem like a long 10 minutes, right? I remember it's been a minute. Yeah, and if 10 minutes is too much for you, five minutes is good too. Just give them, at least give them a chance to do it. They're practicing, right? They're practicing what they're learning. And so we have to give them that space and we have to give them days to do this, right? You didn't learn to play golf or whatever, right? Like these things that they're doing, they...
you know, they come so naturally to adults. We tend to what I love to call adultify. We like adultify our babies. We're like, oh, I showed you how you should know how. And we just have to remember who our audience is here. Right. So, okay, let's switch gears. We're going to switch gears into NAP. So we talked about that. First, can you answer this question for me? Like, where should we concentrate our efforts if like,
both worlds, nighttime sleep and daytime sleep are bonkers. We can't fix the world in a day. Where would you go with the energy? Yeah, so what I tend to recommend is to do two things to start. That is help your baby get onto an age appropriate nap schedule or it's more of a nap flow and to help them sleep well during the day.
Kathryn Dunn (34:38.454)
so that you can teach them to sleep more independently at night. And so that might mean rocking them to sleep or holding them for naps for a couple of weeks while you're trying to improve nighttime sleep. Then once nighttime sleep is improved, then switch your attention to improving their ability to sleep independently at naps if that's something you're wanting to do. Yeah. So I think that's important to hear. So I will reiterate that is that you can't do...
really shouldn't focus both your efforts on both. So, you know, if you're putting energy into the nights and you had a really great night, like you might have to take that for what it's worth and kind of get through our day. But Stephanie, I know your questions were around kind of feeding, right? We had some feeding questions at nighttime, and then of course, like that transfers to the day. I'll acknowledge that we don't have our IBCLC on with us right now.
But I think Liz has had enough experience in this area to answer like, you know, what is a good nap routine? We went from just letting these babies sleep when they needed to. They pulled an ear, they rubbed an eye, and we were like, oh, it's sleep time now, and you can sleep in my arms, you can do whatever, because we knew that that's just what they did. But now their brains have changed. They have different sleep cycles. And so how do we support that in making a flow for their day?
Tell us. Okay, great question. So the first place to start is around three months of age, I recommend stabilizing the morning wake up time. So a lot of the literature you'll read or, you know, blogs online, whatever, emphasizes the importance of a consistent bedtime, but what's really more important is a consistent wake up time.
And the reason for this is that it anchors the schedule and sends a strong signal to the circadian rhythm. So that's like our internal biological clock. Sends a strong signal to our internal clock that this is when we start the day and this is where our flow is gonna follow from. And so if your baby typically wakes up between 6.30 and seven and they're not awake by seven, wake them up.
Kathryn Dunn (36:59.062)
So actually, like you said in the beginning, don't wake a sleepy baby. This is the one time to wake a sleepy baby. Hey, so that's funny. Sue, can I pin you real quick? Because I wanted to say, as I watch our girls, and Stephanie, you have two older girls, think about them. They always wake, so they're circadian rhythm. They could go to bed. Now my girls are five and seven. And so sometimes we, you know, on a weekend, if we have something special, they might be up until nine or 10 o'clock at night. They're always up.
The one wakes up at 630 and the one wakes up by 730. Like, so that is, and so you see that in more mature sleep. And so you're telling us now around three months, that's what we can help them do. And my kids are really great sleepers. Ooh, mind blown, sorry. Okay. Prissy, yeah. So starting three months, yeah. Do it. Wake them up so they're starting the same day or starting the day at the same time.
expose them to natural light if you can, or turn the lights on in the house, whatever, so that their brain gets the message, this is when we start the day, let's program our schedule from here. And so when you have that consistent morning wake up time, then it allows you to have a consistent first nap time. So the first nap will be at the same time every day. And again, don't do this before three months, but after three months, yes. And...
when the first nap is at the same time every day, the body establishes what's called a sleep window. And so the body expects to sleep at that time. So they kind of get a natural dip of where they're like, okay, now I'm drowsy. And that helps the first nap to consolidate and get past that like 30, 40 minute nap situation. And at four months old, most babies need about an hour and a half awake before their first nap. And if...
If you'd like on my website, you can go, and I've got free downloads of sleep schedules for all ages. So- We'll put those in the notes for this. Okay. Yeah, so then you can just look at that to see what the age-appropriate guidance is. And then after that first nap, you'll follow wake windows the rest of the day. Because we can't, at this age, we can't really expect them to like nap the exact same.
Kathryn Dunn (39:12.458)
every day, like their sleep is still maturing. So it's not going to be on clockwork, like maybe it'll be at six months or a year. So anchor the morning wake up time, anchor the first nap time, and you're probably gonna see the first nap lengthen. It's gonna drive more regularity in the subsequent naps and bedtime will probably remain fairly consistent, but time it off of when they wake from their last nap.
So it's okay if one day they had a really great nap day and maybe they don't go to bed until 7.30 or eight. One day they had a really crummy nap day and they go to bed at 6.30 or seven. And that variability in the bedtime is totally fine. Okay, so I'm gonna numberize it because I feel like people need to know numbers, right? Like we crave a system. Yes. So let's pretend.
Okay, so our wake up time that we've chosen is seven. I think that's Capri's, that's kind of been what Capri's has been. And so, and you're telling me that first wake window, it's gonna be shorter? About an hour and a half. It's counterintuitive, but the first wake window of the day is the shortest, the last is the longest. Okay, because this whole thing about sleep pressure. So an hour and a half. And so then that means 8.30. We're gonna start that wind down. The question is, do we wind down?
before 8.30? So if the sort of nap routine is say 15 minutes, then start the nap routine at 8.15. Aha, so that- With the two of them going to sleep at 8.30. That is huge, because the way I interpreted what you were saying, and I don't know, Stephanie's like, maybe agreeing with me over there, because I'm thinking, oh, keep them awake and then start my window. Our routine is part of the window.
Yep. Your routine is part of the window. So you're aiming for them to be asleep at an hour and a half. And then for most four month olds. I was just going to say, which means, because we want to lay them down completely awake, we probably need to lay them down a few minutes before eight 30. Yeah. Probably like eight 25, something like that. Yep. Okay. Yeah. And, um, you know, I don't, it's kind of a balance. I don't want parents to get like, you know,
Kathryn Dunn (41:35.778)
militant about the clock time. It's like if one day it's 822 that you lay them down and one day it's 827, that's fine. I know. That's what I hate. We try so hard not to bring numbers into this because it just really varies. I just think the big takeaway there is after their first wake window, you've got to build that routine, which they need. Into the wake window. You've got to build it into your wake window. Yeah, absolutely. And then you're going to put them down asleep.
they're going to go to sleep. And at this age, what are we expecting from them? Are we expecting? Yeah, so many babies this age, no matter what, whether they go to sleep independently or held, they're gonna nap like 40 minutes. And that it's just kind of this developmental stage. Usually by six months, you'll see it to where their first two naps are like hour, hour and a half.
and then the last nap is 30 to 40 minutes. But at this age, if they take a 40 minute nap one day and an hour and a half nap the next day, great. Don't worry about figuring out what was the precise variable that caused the hour and a half versus the 40 minute nap because we'll never nap. But it's just kind of celebrated if they get a long nap, but if it's 40 minutes, that's fine. Yeah. So again, we...
just applying like other knowledge. Just think about yourself. Like think about, you know, your sleep from day to day. Sometimes you have higher sleep needs and it may be that mentally, they were mentally exhausted. You, you know, did something that really just, you know, their brain was developing in some sort of way and they were challenged in that day that made them tired. We just will never know. But I love that you just gave us permission not to worry about, you know, why was it 40 minutes yesterday and it was an hour and a half today?
and then it was 40 minutes again. What did I do yesterday that I didn't do today? Yeah, exactly. And there's usually like 97 variables going on behind the scenes inside your baby. So unless they can answer a survey for you and tell you exactly what was going on, it's just, it's not worth your effort. Yeah. I have a question. Yeah, go for it. If the naps, like let's say it would be like a 20 to 30 minute nap.
Kathryn Dunn (44:00.246)
because sometimes that happens too. And you know, they're just shorter. Do you ever need to try and like bridge the nap to make it a little longer? Or do you just like wake them up and then, you know, or not wake them up, but they're awake. So you just get up and wait until the next nap time. If you can bridge, if you can help them bridge their nap to nap an hour or more, that's great. Yes, I absolutely recommend doing that. There's your...
And the way to think about it is unless they're going down from a fully awake state at the start of the nap, we really can't expect them to bridge those naps on their own. So if you're putting them to sleep at nap time or they're becoming extremely drowsy in your arms at nap time, and then you're expecting them to fall back to sleep after one sleep cycle, it's really not a fair expectation.
So until they are fully independently going down for their naps, help them bridge those sleep cycles because if they sleep well during the day, then they'll get to bedtime without being overtired and they'll have an easier time learning to sleep well at night. And bridging them we're talking about, we can offer them their PASSE, we can... Catch their bum, go in, pick them up.
Can we pick them up? Did you say pick them up? Yeah. So we can pick them up. So just helping them, but keeping them in that calm. So I'm envisioning Capri's dark cave-like space with her sound on. We're not opening a blind. We're going in, maybe patting her bum, seeing if we can get her to shh, shh and help her back. So that is helpful to know too, is that you don't have to give up. And then I do think that is something, I used to hate this when people would be like, well, you'll just know.
With sleep, you do start to know. You start to know if they are really awake, like, I just need to throw the towel in, or I do have hope that maybe she's still talking. But they might go, and you know how we were talking about, like once they're working toward falling asleep independently at bedtime, then give them 10 minutes to try to settle them back to sleep in the middle of the night. That does not apply to nap time.
Kathryn Dunn (46:24.37)
unless they are going to sleep fully independently at the start of the nap. Does that distinction make sense? That does. Yeah, it's like if you're giving them the blanket and the pillow, you gotta give them the blanket and the pillow. Give them the blanket, go right as soon as you hear a peep. Or if they always wake up at 40 minutes, some babies are so funny, it's like their sleep cycle is 37 minutes long. And so they always wake up at 37 minutes. If you know your baby's cycle,
then you can even preempt the wake up and be there like ready. Yeah. You know, when they stir and start making noise, you can pat, like help them through the sleep cycle right away to try to help them bridge. I love that. Okay, we are gonna wrap in just a second, but the last thing I want to ask is wake windows. So we had a little bit in the epiphany. I told you guys that we chatted before this. We're talking about wake windows and, you know, Stephanie,
maybe was feeling like she was missing a wake window. I think we get really trained into that when we have a newborn and we see them rub an eye or pull an ear or show us whatever their sign is. And if they go ballistic and are very upset, we think, man, we missed the window for their sleep. And now we just have to like crutch them through. Yeah, yeah. So in the newborn- Well, maybe that's not the case when- Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, and so it's one of those things where, so in the newborn phase,
absolutely always want to get ahead of that wake window and make sure that they're not getting overtired. But once babies are a little bit older, and today we're talking about four month olds, once they're four months old, if they're in the habit of taking a little like 20, 30 minute, maybe 40 minutes if you're lucky, cat nap every hour, hour and a half all day, then
that's preventing them from consolidating naps and it could be undermining nighttime sleep. So sometimes when you're nearing nap transitions and as babies get a little bit older and a little bit older, you actually have to stretch them to a point of some, a little bit of discomfort to be able to manage the biologically appropriate wake window. Cause if your baby's always been accustomed
Kathryn Dunn (48:49.462)
to going to sleep for a nap every hour to hour and a half, then they're gonna keep getting fussy every hour and hour and a half. Well, by this age, an hour and a half is an appropriate wake window for the first nap. But then between the subsequent naps, it's probably more like an hour and 45 minutes to two hours that they need to accumulate enough sleep pressure to be able to sleep longer than 20 or 30 minutes.
So sometimes there's an uncomfortable period of a week or two where you're having to stretch them just a little bit so that they can actually nap better. And so that happens sort of throughout the first few years of life as children need progressively longer and longer and longer wake windows. Yeah. And we talked about some strategies for keeping them comfortable during that time because they are gonna get grumpy and we're gonna wanna throw in the towel
You know, the crying, if we're not sleeping at night, it really can get to you. So remember water. I think that's always a good one to remember. So taking a bath, water and fresh air. So getting outside, even when it's cold, bundle them up, throw a blanket over their head. Like, you know, change the environment up as much as you can. I know you're tired, but I promise, just changing the environment. It happens, and that's a skill, man. You just keep that with you. It still works.
Yes. Later in life. Okay. I know we need to get going. These fabulous ladies need to get back to work. But Stephanie, do you have any last questions? And I also want to schedule maybe a follow-up in two weeks so we can maybe hear. So fun. Again. Yeah. If you guys would be up for that to kind of hear. Totally. I know Stephanie has some travel plans. So, and that always throws things into the- I haven't even thought about traveling. Yeah. Sorry. I am. I'm on to it.
Starting tonight, we're gonna change up the routine for bedtime just a little bit, just switch my order and I'll record her on my phone on the monitor. So maybe that'll be helpful. Maybe we can show it somehow. Well, I just wanna see that cute baby falling asleep. Yeah, so we'll see how she does. No, I think all my questions have been answered, but I'm sure I'll have questions on the followup to say, like, what's been happening.
Kathryn Dunn (51:07.33)
but I'm so excited for these helpful tips. The two biggest takeaways for me that I've learned today, even as a mom of three, is change up the bedtime routine. So she's fully awake when laying down. And then also it's okay to stretch her wake windows. She's going to be uncomfortable, but we need to do that in order for her to get those naps on them, you know, consolidate them more. So, yeah.
I have to say one last thing because you know I always have to talk more, but the tears and the crying, it's her communication, right? And I think we forget that, you know, when they're little, but that's the only thing she has to say to you. And so, you know, even bringing some humor to that situation when they're doing that, you know, maybe you can narrate it and be like,
it, you know, just trying because it's hard. I just empathize so much with anybody who's listening and is not getting a lot of sleep. But hopefully this knowledge from Liz and from Stephanie, thank you for talking to us about your sweet baby and opening up and sharing all the nitty gritty. Liz, thank you. Every time I listen to you, I gain knowledge and I don't even have little babies in my house anymore. But
Thank you both so much and stay tuned. You know, we'll meet again in two weeks. And so hopefully if you're listening to this, I'm gonna try to get it out before and then we will release the follow-up as soon as we can. So, okay. Thank you. Bye.