What's the 4-Month Wakeful Period?

I've heard that babies can have a wakeful period at around four months, where a baby who's been sleeping fine all of a sudden starts waking during the night. Why does this happen, and how should I deal with it?
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ByConner Herman and Kira Ryan
Dream Team Baby Sleep Consultants
Updated
Jan 2017
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Photo: Getty Images

It’s not uncommon for babies to start having sleep difficulties around their four-month birthday. This age marks a huge cognitive and emotional turning point for babies, as they become much more aware of — and interested in — the world around them. That means they’ll sometimes want to play during the night. This is actually a good sign, because it means baby is bonding with you and having a good time during the day. However, it’s challenging to cater to his desire to be with you around the clock.

So, that’s why the wakeful period happens. Now, what can you do about it? If you’re up for sleep training, now is a good time to start. Pick an approach that you and your partner both believe in so that you can support each other through the sleep teaching process. Start when baby is healthy and when he’ll be sleeping at home every night for a couple of weeks.

If you’re not interested in sleep training or just not ready yet, our advice is to be minimally invasive at night. When you go in, soothe baby without picking him up. If you feel baby needs to be fed, give him enough to satisfy him but not fill up his entire stomach. While these things may not get him to sleep straight through the night, they are steps toward encouraging him to become an independent sleeper.

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