Somebody get a cake, because it's your baby's sweet sixteen! No, they aren't asking for your keys to hit the road (yet), but your baby is turning sixteen weeks old, which, in the infant world, is kind of a big deal.
Sixteen weeks is when your baby officially moves from "newborn" to "infant," which means that the unpredictable newborn sleep schedule of mixed-up nights and days should be coming to an end. Of course, all babies are different and parenting always comes with some sort of sleep deprivation (flash forward once again to those teen driving years, yikes!), but there is hope on the horizon when it comes to catching some zzzzz's again.
The four-month mark brings a lot of exciting developments and changes, especially in the sleep department. Read on for what a sleep schedule with your new 4-month-old might look like, along with some sleep tips to get you there.
How much sleep does a 16-week-old baby need?
At 16 weeks old, your baby still requires lots of sleep, but not as much as a newborn: a baby this age should get 12-15 hours of sleep per 24 hours, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
"Yay, your baby is now 4 months old! At this point their sleep needs are slightly less, with the recommendation between 3.5-5 hours of day sleep and between 10-12 hours of night sleep," says Rachel Mitchell, a certified pediatric and maternity sleep consultant. "At four months, your baby's sleep starts to change quite a bit. Melatonin really starts to produce, their circadian rhythm is driving sleep patterns, and their bedtime should be on the earlier side (ideally between 7-830 pm.). This is a lot for your baby to go through at once, so consistency in this stage is key."
Mitchell says naps should also follow a pattern: "Your baby is hopefully following a consistent pattern of 3-4 naps per day, with two of those naps at least 1-2 hours. If your baby is napping more than 2.5 hours in this stage, you want to wake them up. If the last nap of the day starts to blend with bedtime, then wake your baby up sooner to give them adequate awake time before bed (at least 2 hours)."
16-week-old baby sleep schedule
Sleep tips for newborns:
Although your baby may be on a more regular sleep schedule–or at least moving in that direction–by sixteen weeks, there will still be plenty of things that could interfere with her sleep in the coming months.
From teething to minor illnesses to growth spurts, you can expect that your baby's sleep will be interrupted from time to time, and that's okay. As long as you stick to a pretty regular sleep schedule and work to establish sleep cues and self-soothing techniques as appropriate for your baby's development, you can hopefully create positive sleep habits that will benefit both you and your baby. Here are some more tips to help your baby transition into the infant sleep stage, and how you can encourage healthy sleep habits along the way.
- Always place your baby on their back to sleep, not on the stomach or side. This helps to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Sudden Unexplained Infant Death (SUID). The American Academy of Pediatrics initiated the "Back to Sleep" movement in 1992, and rates of SIDS/SUID have decreased dramatically since.
- Do not put anything else in the crib or bassinet. Keep plush toys, pillows, blankets, loose sheets, and bumpers out of your baby's crib or bassinet for similar reasons as above.
- Avoid overheating. Even though they're itty-bitty babies, you can dress them according to the room's temperature. Don't over-swaddle or over-layer their clothing.
- Try a pacifier. If they reject it, that's OK. If it falls out, that's OK. If you're breastfeeding, you may want to wait until baby is comfortable with latching and effectively nursing before introducing a pacifier.
- Use a white noise machine. Whether your house is quiet as a mouse, or you've got other kids running around making noise, a white noise machine can help your baby feel soothed (and possibly tune out) in their surroundings.
- Snuggle it up. Your newborn wants your cuddles as much as you want to give them—especially if they're fussy. Swaddle them up snugly, then rock them until they quiet down. There's no such thing as holding a newborn too much (for safety reasons, don't fall asleep with them in your arms).