How to Create a 4 Month Old Nap Schedule

Creating a 4 month old nap schedule can solve sleep regression and bedtime battles. Learn best practices to get your baby on a sleep schedule using real life examples.

4 Month Old Nap ScheduleWhen my eldest was 4 months old, I felt like I did the impossible: I went to a clothing store with him, tried on some clothes, and even bought some (win!).

You see, at that stage, I felt like I could never leave the house because of his nap schedule. He was taking shorter naps (45 minutes was a “long” one for him) and had equally short wake windows. Any outing seemed impossible when we had to rush home for his many naps.

I had no idea how to reduce the number of naps to a more manageable three times a day without keeping him awake past his usual two hours. It seemed like we were stuck with either frequent naps or an overtired baby who’s been awake far too long.

Best practices for creating a 4 month old nap schedule

As a first-time parent, it’s easy to second-guess your decisions or to feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

After having three kids, I’ve made it my goal to share what helped me, so that others can try it for themselves and hopefully have a better experience. Because as different as each baby is, certain best practices are common among 4 month olds.

Take a look at these best practices for creating your baby’s sleep schedule:

1. Experiment in 15-minute increments

Many moms feel stuck trying to create a nap schedule because of the length of naps and wake times. Outings feel impossible when the baby is already cranky after an hour. Getting to even three naps a day means hardly any sleep and a lot of time awake.

I can definitely relate. My baby wasn’t exactly taking the two-hour naps I kept hearing other babies his age were taking. Still, there’s a way to work with what you’ve got.

To get better sleep, start experimenting in 15-minute increments. If he only naps for 45 minutes, extend his official wake-up time to an hour. If he only stays awake for an hour and a half, keep him up for an hour and 45 minutes.

Stick to this new schedule for a few days and see how he adjusts. I know that feeling of panic when the baby has been awake too long, or that he hasn’t had much time to nap. By experimenting with just 15 minutes, you’re able to fine-tune his schedule without stretching him too thin.

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2. Base nap times on when your baby last woke up

When you think of a “schedule,” you probably think of set times of the day, every day. After all, in an ideal world, babies would sleep and eat at the same time, no matter what. And you likely followed a schedule in the past, like eating lunch at noon or leaving work at 6pm.

So, it’s easy to assume that schedules are the same with babies.

Except they’re not exactly the predictable type. Some naps stretch for three hours, while others are a mere few minutes (or none at all). Sometimes they’re done eating in five minutes, while other times they can nurse for an hour.

Trying to base their naps on set times like a 9am nap and a 12pm feeding schedule isn’t realistic.

Instead, base nap times on when your baby last woke up—and put him down to sleep no more than two hours later.

If he woke up for the day at 6:30am, his next nap should be no later than 8:30am. If the next day he wakes up at 7am, then his first nap would be at 9am. By basing naps on when he last woke up, you’re ensuring that he isn’t overtired and is sleeping when his body needs to.

Now, two hours is a general range. Some babies are ready to sleep even sooner than that, while others can stretch their awake time a little longer. But two hours is a good place to start for this age.

3. Follow the EASY sleep routine

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As a first-time mom, I quickly saw how breastfeeding my baby would lull him to sleep. Any time he got sleepy, I took that as my cue to feed before putting him down. Unfortunately, this created an unsustainable habit. Each time he felt sleepy, he needed to feed to fall asleep.

Then I heard about Tracy Hogg’s The Baby Whisperer, where she talks about the EASY routine (Eat-Awake-Sleep-You). Rather than feeding him to sleep, I started feeding my baby after he woke up. Now our routine looked more like this:

Then the cycle would repeat, feeding him after he woke up instead of feeding him to sleep.

Not only does this routine avoid the dependence on feeding to sleep, but it also gives you a steady rhythm to your day. Rather than following set times of the day, you do what’s next based on what had just happened.

Is your 4 month old waking every 3 hours to feed? Here’s what to do.

4 Month Old Waking Every 3 Hours to Feed

4. Have a (really) early bedtime

Many parents who have a hard time reducing the number of naps their babies take struggle at the end of the day.

They find that even with 15-minute increment stretches in both naps and awake times, the last few hours of the day can feel miserable. Plus, you’re dealing with the physical toll at the end of the day where willpower fades and exhaustion sets in.

The secret? Have an early bedtime… a really early bedtime.

Some parents swear that a bedtime routine as early as 5pm has helped give their babies the sleep they need as they adjusted to a new nap schedule. But even small increments can help, especially when your baby doesn’t seem like he can stay awake much longer.

And remember, the early bedtime is a temporary situation to help him adjust and feel better rested. As they say, sleep begets sleep, so the more rested he is during nighttime sleep, the likelier he is to nap better the next day.

5. Drop the last nap

As babies begin to sleep in longer stretches, they’ll likely have fewer naps throughout the day. If you find that your 4 month old is ready to drop a nap, try ditching the last one.

Let’s say he naps four times a day. See if you can stretch his awake and nap times in small increments so that you can eventually drop that last nap.

Another option is to put him down for a “cat nap,” or a short nap, and wake him up with enough awake time before bedtime. And yet another option is to skip that last nap, short or not, and simply move bedtime earlier.

How do you know when to change the nap schedule?

Perhaps the biggest question lingering in your mind is: How do I even know WHEN to change our nap schedule?

A good time to transition and experiment with your baby’s naps is exactly when it’s messy. When your go-to patterns become less predictable, and he has been extra fussy. After all, if it’s working fine, then you wouldn’t find yourself with a need to change anything.

For instance, if you find that he has been extra fussy for that last nap, especially for five days in a row, that’s a good sign to experiment with or drop it.


As you can see, a 4 month old nap schedule isn’t one that’s set in stone.

Rather than going by the clock, base naps on when your baby last woke up. Then, Follow the EASY routine and feed him after he wakes up. Stretch his sleep and awake times in 15-minute increments as you transition to fewer naps.

If needed, have an earlier bedtime—even if temporary—and drop naps starting with the last one. And finally, you’ll know it’s time to adjust your nap schedule exactly when it seems to throw you off.

Despite the rushed shopping trip, I felt proud that I was able to take my baby on an outing I normally didn’t do. We even got home in time for his second nap—but to be sure, we spent the rest of the day just hanging out at home.

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  1. I can’t seem to move the bedtime up earlier than 10-10:30 for my 4 month old! I’ve tried waking up earlier in the morning like 6:30 and still it seems to go longer. We’ve tried gradually moving up her bedtime to 9-9:30 so it’s not a huge jump to earlier bedtime but she still keeps waking up after 30-40 minutes like her day time Naps. What should we do? I make sure that her wake time is 2 hours in between. Thanks,
    Mary Kate

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Hi there! I would do it even way more gradually than that, like in 15-minute increments. So if she usually sleeps around 10:30pm, move it to 10:15pm. Then if she’s able to fall asleep at that time, the next time, move it to 10pm., and so forth. Stay at a particular time until she can fall asleep before moving on to the next 15-minute increment. Also, see if you can put darkening curtains in the room to block out light in the early evening and morning. Hopefully that helps!

  2. Hi

    My little one is currently doing the following:
    6.30 wake
    8.45 nap 30 mins
    11.30 nap 1 hour 45 (not every day sometimes only manages 40 mins and won’t resettle)
    12.15/1.15 nap 20/30 mins
    2.30/3.30nap 20/30 mins

    My trouble is on days she doesnt sleep longer at 11.30 I run out of time for naps and she really resists the last few meaning I have to do them in the pram of car and its making my days impossible ive tried doing a quick 15 min nap at 5 before bedtime but its such a struggle to get her off. What can I do to combat this. She usually goes to bed between 6.30 and 7pm.

    Thank you

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Hi Katie! It sounds like the issue is extending her naps from 20-30 minutes to lengthier ones. If she’s not ready for sleep training yet, I suggest trying to get her to nap longer for each time. Another option is to see what happens if you drop naps from four to three. That might consolidate her sleep into three longer ones. I hope that helps!

      1. I’m experiencing some sort of 4 month sleep regression. My daughter was sleeping 5 hours after her bed time feeding around 9:30pm. Then Wake up at 2:30am and 5/5:30am for additional feedings. Now she wakes up crying every HOUR and won’t take a pacifier.

        1. Nina Garcia says:

          So sorry to hear that, Shelby! It’s so hard waking up every hour after getting good stretches in the beginning. Do you think she might be overtired? Instead of 9:30pm, try moving bedtime closer to 8:30pm at the latest and see if she’ll be better rested that way.

  3. As a first time mom and living thousands of miles from family I am trying to navigate the 4 month sleep regression. I have successfully transitioned my baby girl into her crib (a week ago) from the bassinet and she sleeps through the night, waking once for a feed. However bedtime is a struggle and she has now associated nap time and bed time with breastfeeding, and will almost always fall asleep at the breast. I am struggling with trying to move the feeds away from her sleep times so she has the opportunity to self soothe in her crib. Any advice on this would be helpful.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      I can imagine how difficult it must be to not have family nearby to call on for help.

      As far as your baby’s habit of feeding to sleep, it’s definitely a common problem that, as you’ve realized, only makes them more dependent on us to fall asleep. Moving forward, feed her after she wakes up in the morning and after naps, instead of feeding her to sleep. For instance, you’d feed her after waking up for the day, have her play, then put her down drowsy but awake at the next nap. After she wakes up, you’d feed her, then have her play, and the cycle continues.

      This can help disassociate feeding and going to sleep, so that she has a better chance of self soothing to sleep.