Sleep Coaching- Can We Start?

Many families feel that they need to do something to improve their situation so that sleep disruptions don’t last long term.

What can I do?  You can wait it out:  Do what worksExhausted parents resting

There is no hurry to improve your child’s sleep at this age. It is fine to continue to nurse, feed or comfort your baby to sleep as long as you like. You can always make changes later on and you will not create a life-long sleep problem, despite what you may have heard.

Many families find it easy and manageable to nurse or bottle feed their babies until fully asleep or very drowsy and then transfer them onto their sleep surface.

If feeding to sleep is not the answer for you, you may have found that carrying, rocking, holding or the motion of the swing, stroller, car or vibrating/bouncy seat does the trick. It is not very difficult to transition out of motion sleep as baby gets older.

What if what you are doing is not working for you?

This fourth month is challenging for many families. Sometimes these struggles are magnified by concerns that that parents are doing things wrong, concerns that the problems will last forever or worries that the baby is somehow being negatively affected by the reduced sleep or increased wakings. If these are the reasons, then understanding the 4-month milestone better will give you some insights that should alleviate your concerns.

Read More:  Surviving the 4 Month Sleep Regression

Try the following gentle sleep strategies:

Gentle Sleep Strategies

• Begin to establish regular bedtime routine…

If you have not already begun to do this, now is the perfect time to implement this sleep step. Start to establish a regular and consistent routine for your baby prior to going to bed. This will help set the stage that the day is coming to an end & help prepare your baby for a good night of sleep.

    • Pick a few simple steps & try not to make your routine too long. A bath, massage, & short book or lullabye are three simple steps.
    • All babies will have a feeding before bed so that will always be part of the routine.
    • One large study found that a routine helped babies fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer with or without putting the babies down slightly awake. You will be amazed at how well this one little step will work.
    • Remember the key is to do the same routine in the same order every night prior to bedtime.

Posted in: Gentle Sleep Strategies

• Make sure to have an optimal sleep environment that is consistent during your baby’s entire night stretch…

    • Creating a sleep friendly environment can be very helpful in getting your baby to sleep better. In the early months – babies have the ability to shut out outside stimulation and will fall asleep easily in crowded areas & with loud noise around. As they get older, they often lose this ability & many will sleep better in an area that is quiet & conducive to sleep.
    • First and foremost – make sure you have a safe sleeping environment.
    • Ensure your baby’s room is dark.
    • White noise is very effective at buffering outside noise.
    • Pay attention to how stimulating your infant’s environment is. Many new babies are rooming in with their parents so be sure to have lights off when they are sleeping and try not to have the tv on or running (laptops, ipads, radios, etc.). Some babies are very sensitive to noises and will wake up if parents are talking in the room or if the tv is on. Respect the fact that your baby is trying to sleep & keep the room relaxing & quiet and dark so they can have a peaceful slumber.

Posted in: Gentle Sleep Strategies

• Keep lights, stimulation & interaction to a minimum…

    • When they wake & need to be fed – do so quietly & in a dimly lit environment. It may not be necessary to change and burp at every waking at this stage.
    • Most babies will be fine going most of the night without a diaper change so if not absolutely necessary, forgo the diaper change and set baby right back down to sleep after a feeding.

Posted in: Gentle Sleep Strategies

• A Dream Feed may be helpful at this stage…

  • This has also been referred to as a focal or rollover feeding.
  • Wake your baby between 10:00 pm – 12:00 am for a feed before you and your spouse go to bed.
  • Pick them up & nurse or bottle feed – then put them right back down to sleep.
  • This will help control a feeding time so that hopefully your baby will take their one long stretch after that time and allow both you and your baby to have a good stretch of sleep.
  • Keep in mind that this only works for 50% of babies. The circadian rhythm typically drives for the deepest and longest stretch at the beginning of the night starting at bedtime.
  • If you find that doing the dream feed adds another waking and feeding after 3 days then stop the feed and allow your baby to take their longest stretch at beginning of the night.

Posted in: Gentle Sleep Strategies

• You can begin to “Practice” putting your baby down Drowsy and Awake at sleep times…

  • When your baby is ready, this will be the cornerstone of helping her learn to independently fall asleep.
  • Don’t worry if at this age she may need more help. Some babies may not fully develop the skill of self -soothing independently to sleep until she is at least 4-6 months of age.
  • If you want, you can “practice” this step at this age. It may or may not work and that’s ok. Some babies need more soothing than others and it’s more important to respond to their needs than to expect them to learn a skill they may not be capable of doing.
  • Avoid letting your baby cry during this experiment (or a least not for more than 5 minutes).

How to put your baby down drowsy but awake:

  • When your baby is very sleepy, you can try putting her down once a day (at bedtime after a nice routine is a good time to try this). Your baby may fall asleep after a while or she may fuss.
  • If she begins to fuss or cry, you can try to soothe her next to the crib for a few minutes.
  • If she begins to cry, then pick her up and soothe her until she is calm and drowsy and try putting her back in her crib again to see if she can do that last piece of falling asleep on her own.
  • If she begins to cry again and is unable to settle, pick her up and soothe her to sleep in whatever way works. You can try again at another time or wait a few days

Posted in: Gentle Sleep Strategies

• Make a plan to get the rest you need…

  • Lay down when baby is sleeping.
  • Nap during the day when your baby naps.
  •  Share night time duties so that you each can get a block of uninterrupted sleep.
  • Try to aim for at least 5-6 hours of sleep within a 24 hour period. Taking that block in one consolidated stretch is ideal but may not be possible due to your baby’s feeding patterns.
  • Try to optimize feeding times so you are able to feed baby and get right back to sleep as quickly as possible at night.

Posted in: Gentle Sleep Strategies

• Recreating the womb experience…

  • Can be very helpful in keeping your baby settled and calm and may assist in extending short sleep episodes.
  • Try swaddling to help your baby feel snug and secure.
  • Add some white noise during sleep times and keep the room dark when sleeping at night.
  • Keep Stimulation to a minimum and make sure to only use dim lights when tending to baby

Posted in: Gentle Sleep Strategies

• Lots of skin to skin and holding during the day…

  • Helps your baby remain calmer and cry less in these early months.
  • Studies show that the more holding you do in the early months – the calmer your baby will be and can result in less overall crying during the newborn months.

Posted in: Gentle Sleep Strategies

• Try to start your day at the same time every morning…

  • This will help kick start that circadian rhythm and aid in syncing up you & your baby’s sleep/wake cycles.
  • Believe it or not – this will help set a nice rhythm to your day and help in regulating their night sleep.

Posted in: Gentle Sleep Strategies


If you feel you and your baby are ready to begin sleep training, click here to learn about Sleep Coaching Methods


We do not recommend sleep coaching if:

  • Your baby is under 18 weeks of age
  • Has not entered the 4 month developmental stage
  • Is experiencing challenges (not gaining weight, medical issues such as reflux, feeding difficulties, etc.)

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