The Babywise 4 Hour Schedule: More Thoughts

The Babywise 4 Hour Schedule: More Thoughts. Tips for knowing when and how to move to a four hour daily schedule.

Close up of baby eyes

I have done a post entitled “When to Move to a 4-Hour Schedule“. Here are some more thoughts on the topic.

When I moved to 4 hours with my two older children, I just decided one day to let it happen. We went from 3 to 4 hours just like that. If you are initiating the change rather than just giving in to it, you will likely have to gradually move things over time.

When I first let 4 hours happen with Kaitlyn, I still fed her at 7:30, 11:30, 3:00, 5:30, 7:30 because I wanted to keep five feedings (for milk supply), but knew she was ready for 4 hours. She went along with it, but I knew it was silly, so after a few days of that I moved it to 7:30, 11:30, 3:30, 7:00 (because I want her in bed by 7:30. Sometimes I start this feeding at 6:30 if I have to be somewhere in the evening and that works just fine).

If it were me, I would not push the 4 hour schedule. Eventually, baby will start being able to stay up longer and will also sleep longer for naps. He will start to sleep past the 3 hour mark. You might only have one time-slot a day like that. Take it! It is okay to have combo time periods (3-3.5 hours for example). He will gradually shift things and you will sense he is ready. It will come.

We didn’t move to 4 hours until Kaitlyn was just before 7 months old. Brayden was even older, though I don’t remember exactly what age. There is no rush. It is lovely to be on four feedings a day, but it is more lovely to be able to enjoy your baby and not stretching and working to get him to go longer between feedings. It is more lovely to not be frustrated because he woke up after sleeping 1.5-2 hours, but it is too early to eat at 4 hours, you know? 4 hours will happen. Remember, don’t measure your success by whether or not your baby is on a 4 hour schedule. Relax and enjoy the life of your baby.

With my two younger children, we moved to a four hour schedule at a younger age, but kept the dreamfeed (read more about the dreamfeed here Dreamfeed FAQs).

Reader 4 Hour Schedule Advice

  • John and Amanda said…
    I just wanted to comment briefly on my experiences with this, too! For me, I started with Caden’s morning nap. He started sleeping for 2 hours consitently with every morning nap. (He was 5 months old and had started solids so I knew he would likely be able to go 4 hours). Once he was napping two hours on his own I decided to see if I could keep him awake and happy for 2 hours during his waketime. It worked! I just watched the types of activites I allowed him to do. Nothing too stimulating in the morning. Playpen time, floor time, reading books, etc… No jumperoo or exersaucer or anything crazy like that at first b/c those would make him overtired and not able to stay up for 2 hours. Still, on rare occassions he won’t make it to two ours of waketime and that is okay! If he is tired sooner, I always put him down! Better to be rested than grouchy and sleepy!!!Once we got the morning nap and wake time at a four hour interval I just went cold turkey one day and did them all… He was almost 6 months old when I did that. I think I do somethign similar to you with dinner as well (from wahat I remember from a previous blog). We only do two naps a day and after the 2nd nap I offer milk and a snack (introducing finger foods here). Then two hours later when he is getting tired and ready for his nap, I feed him dinner to “distract” him, then we do calming, soothing activities in preparation for bed! And then it’s down for the night! Hope my somewhat different experience is helpful to someone! Really, you will know when your baby is ready… trust your instincts!~Amanda
    January 24, 2008 3:57 PM

Reader 4 Hour Schedule Questions

  • Charlotte’s Momma said…
    Charlotte is 5 months old, STTN consistently 12 hours and is moving herself away from the 3 hour schedule, which is great! We are currently doing a combo 3/3.5 schedule. I know nutritionally she could make it 4 hours because we have done it on occasion and she doesn’t eat much at her last feeding of the day but I worry about my milk supply AND, more importantly, she cannot stay awake very long. I know you have said Kaitlyn was/is a big sleeper and Charlotte is the same way. Were you ever proactive about trying to stretch the wake time or did you just let it come? I thought we were moving closer to 1 hour, 15 minutes but today she had a major meltdown at 1 hour! Maybe that was because of a busyThe Babywise 4 Hour Schedule: More Thoughts. Tips for knowing when and how to move to a four hour daily schedule. weekend? Anyway, just wondering if you ever tried to extend wake time in combination with extending cycles or if it all just came naturally.
    April 14, 2008 10:26 AMPlowmanators said…
    Something many moms do is add a pumping before they go to bed once they move to a 4 hour schedule. That is an option for you.I never stretched Kaitlyn’s waketime, but I did Brayden’s. For Kaitlyn, it has been better to just let it come on her time table. Also, I learned to not try new things on Monday. The weekend is busy and we miss a nap for church, so Monday is not the best day for us to switch things up or try new things. We even often have shorter waketimes and longer naps than usual to make up for the weekend.
    April 14, 2008 2:30 PM
  • April Nix said…
    I just have a quick question,I’m new at Babywise and have a 5.5 month old daughter. Before babywise, she was able to eat whenever, nap whenever, needless to say I am very greatful for some structure!Currently out schedule looks like this:
    Wakeup: 6:30am
    Feeding 1: 7:00-7:15
    Feeding 2: 11:00-11:15
    Feeding 3: 3:00-3:15
    Feeding 4: 7:00-7:30
    She usually wakes up around 2 or 3 everynight, wanting to feed. I feel like she is ready for 4hr schedule because sometimes I have to wake her up to feed her and even then she doesn’t act overly hungry. I am wondering if I should do a dream feed at 10:15 or 11:15 or if maybe I should incorporate another feeind during the day. She never is really interested in the 7:00 feeding, and will only eat a little.Also, so takes a longer morning nap (2.5 hrs) and I’m wondering if that is effecting her not sleeping through the night.Any thoughts on how I can get her to sleep through the night??? Thanks!-April
    April 15, 2008 6:28 AM
    Plowmanators said…
    First, my daughter took 2.5 hour long naps for a long time (months). I don’t think I would try a dreamfeed, nor would I feed later. I think I would try dropping the feeding in the night and go from there. See this post: Early Morning Feedings Before Waketime
    April 20, 2008 4:49 PM
  • momtobobby said…
    Do you think that my 14 week year old is ready for a 4 hour routine? He is having longer playtime, is taking longer naps and is not waking to eat. He also just went through a growth spurt and ever since then I can tell that he is trying to extend his schedule. Sometimes he doesn’t make it a full 4 hours, so the schedule is kind of screwed up. Like today, his schedule has been 7, 10, 1:45, 5:30, and I will proabably feed him at 7:30pm and then put him to bed. Is it okay that the last to feedings are so close together? Also, I would rather feed him at 7pm, so should I cut him back to 4 feedings and mske sure that he is only eating every four hours? Thanks for your help!Tami
    April 21, 2008 2:45 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    It sounds like he is ready, but remember a combo schedule is okay (see Combo Schedule is Okay). You can try to keep those last two feedings close together, but he will soon likely need it to be dropped all together. If you want to feed at 7, then I would just cut back to four feedings. I wouldn’t push him to four hours, though. You could try the longer schedule at times of day you know he can go longer and shorter at other times of day. He likely is close to making it four hours easily. Good luck!
    April 21, 2008 8:51 PM
  • mommytoisabella said…
    I have been reading the information on this blog for quite awhile and have gained some valuable information. I started to do some research when my daughter Isabella had some problems with waking early from her naps. By reading some of the information on this blog I realized that she was overtired and I needed to start putting her down earlier which really helped. She just turned 9 months today and it seems as if she is in between a 3 1/2 to 4 hour schedule. Is that normal for her age? She is an early riser she wakes anywhere between 6 and 7, it is my desire for her to wake between 7 & 7:30 but that just doesn’t happen. It seems as if in the morning she can handle less then 2 hours of wake time and more in the afternoon. This is the schedule that seems to work best for her when she wakes between 6:30 and 7nap at 8:40 usually wakes between 10 to 10:30nap 12:40 till 2-2:45 max now here is where I am a bit confused. When wakes between 2& 2:30 she goes down for a 3rd nap around 5 and sleeps till 5:30 but if she naps after 2:30 it seems as if it is harder to put her down for a 3rd nap and it interferes with her bed time. Her bedtime is normally 7:30. When I put her down any earlier she wakes several times in the evening and at 4:00. Should I try to lengthen her wake times? Now she is napping well. It is my desire to see her nap longer in the afternoon. People who have done BabyWise have advised me to try to drop the 3rd nap being that she goes down so early for her 2nd nap I don’t think she is ready to drop that 3rd nap. If she naps till 5:30 should her bedtime be 8 in order to get her to sleep till 7?April 30, 2008 6:05 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    See this post: Dropping a Nap: A Weaning Process: can have a third nap some days and not others. If she needs it but takes a longer afternoon nap, I would just try putter her down for it a little later than usual.
    May 1, 2008 10:00 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    A later bedtime might get you a later morning waketime, unless she is waking early for another reason.
    May 1, 2008 10:02 PM
    mommytoisabella said…
    Thank you so much for your advice. Recently she has been napping till 2:30 or 2:45 and I have been trying to put her down for the 3rd and she just hasn’t gone to sleep for the 3rd nap. I have been putting her down at 4:30 and this afternoon she stayed awake till 5:15 which she is normally asleep by 5 if she wakes at 2:30 from the 2nd nap. Is that too much wake time? She basically has been staying up till close to her dinner time. Because she hasn’t been going down for the 3rd nap this past week I have been putting her down at 7:30 and she is been going right to sleep. I could try a later bedtime but would that lead her into being OT?May 2, 2008 2:56 PM
    mommytoisabella said…
    When she wakes early for other reasons, it is normally around 4:30 because of a really wet or messy diaper. When she wakes after 6 she is happy, playing in her crib.
    May 2, 2008 2:59 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    It is only too much waketime if she can’t handle it. I don’t think I would do a later bedtime yet, and perhaps not for quite a while. They really just rearrange sleep, not really drop it. So she will need an earlier bedtime to make up for the lost nap.
    May 4, 2008 3:32 PM
  • Emily said…
    [My daughter] just turned 7 months and I don’t see us moving to a 4hr schedule. She gets tired quickly but will only sleep 1.5 hours. She can be awake 30min before eating but if she wakes at 11 eats at 11:30, needs to go down 12:30 then will wake at 2:00 so we’re back to 3 hours or at most 3.5 hrs. Is this normal? I feel like she’s kind of old to be eating so often, especially since she eats a good amount of solids. Thanks!
    Plowmanators said…
    For the 4 hour schedule, most babies can stay awake longer at that age, but not all. My daughter couldn’t, she just took really long naps. I wouldn’t worry about it. She should extend waketime before too long.
    Anna said: Emily– I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I have a friend who’s baby was the same way. I think she was a year old before she was able to do the 4-hour schedule. Some babies just get so overstimulated that they need to nap more often. Also I know it’s cliche, and I didn’t believe it when people told me, but it will happen naturally. My baby just naturally transitioned to the 4-hour schedule. It took her a couple days to get used to taking a nap more than 1.5 hrs but once she did she was much happier. So let it just happen and don’t worry that your baby is a little older than others already on the 4-hour schedule. 🙂
    Ivy said: I too have a 6.5 mo old that seems like we will be on a 3 hour schedule (or less) forever. We still take 4 short naps rather than 2-3 long ones. I was just wondering how your daughter is doing now Emily and if she has changed any thing yet.
  • Heidi said:
    HiI have a 4 month old who is on a 3.5 hour schedule. he seems happy on it, but his napping is inconsistent. I usually get at least 2 good naps (1.5-.5 hours) from him. I was wondering how to go about moving him to 4 hourly. do i need to wait until he is older and can handle longer wake times, or start anyway and expect him to stay in his bed until later???I am also confused about 3 -4 hour combination feeding, can anyone tell me what this looks like? I was told by someone from BW that you need to be as close to what you want all the time i.e. if you are going 3.5 hourly then all feeds need to be around that if possible. Help! =)
    Plowmanators said: Heidi, you can have combo schedules.I would wait until he can stay awake longer or naps get longer, which might both happen at the same time, but naps might always stay about that length. His napping is totally fine. Just wait for him to be able to stay awake longer.You don’t need to stick to 3.5 all day. You can do some at 4, some at3, some at 3.5…by 4 months, he should be established and staying consistent with feeding times all day is not really necessary.
  • HJHatch said:
    I think my daily schedule needs tweaked for my 4 month old for two reasons:1. She is waking early in the morning (an hour or so early) consistently for the last two weeks. I have tried darkening her room but she still wakes up early when before she would sleep until I got her up.2. The last stretch of the evening is tough on her. She is pretty fussy and seems to be done with the day. She is awake from 5:30pm to 8:30pm but won’t nap – only chill in her swing.Here is our schedule:8:00am Wake/nurse (although it’s been 7:00am as of recent)9:00am Nap11:00am Wake/nurse12:30 Nap2:00pm Wake/nurse3:30 Nap5:30pm Wake/nurse – usually no nap, I put her in the swing to ‘rest’8:30pm Nurse to bedShould I switch to a 4 hour schedule…?How could my schedule be improved to eliminate evening fussiness/waking early in the morning?Any help would be great! Thanks!!
    Plowmanators said: One hard thing is that four months is a typically normal stage for fussiness (see label “4 month sleep problems” and “wonder weeks”).So I would actually probably wait a couple of weeks (which would be now) to see if it has improved. If not, look at label “four hour schedule” fo guidance there.
  • Krstin said:
    Hi! I have a almost 6 month old and he is just struggling lately 🙂 He has been on a four hour schedule since he was about 4 months- he just naturally went to one because he wanted to be taking 3 hour naps and wasn’t acting hungry any earlier. He has been doing perfectly until recently when he has decided that napping isn’t any fun anymore. He has started waking like he did when he was a newborn after 45 minutes and either playing until falling back asleep or crying really hard. He RARELY has made it to his next feeding for the past 3 weeks or so. We haven’t changed anything in the cues we use to put him down, so it doesn’t seem like he would be overtired/overstimulated. He also had stopped crying when he went down and when he woke up, but often times wakes and cries now. I know that he is still tired and needs more sleep, but don’t know how to get him to take his good long naps anymore. It just throws off the day a lot when he wakes at 10 but eats at 11- then our next nap is pushed back and then by the end of the day we just have a really long period to stretch through, resulting in him needing two catnaps at the end of the day. He also just is unable to stay up very long, it is similar to McKenna’s schedule at this time- 1 to 1.5 hours at most. I’m just so confused why he has changed so drastically and never wants to sleep anymore! He also doesn’t love nursing too much anymore which has been frustrating. So..those are all of the many things we are dealing with. He is a very happy and great baby, so this is just all so weird. Thanks for your help! I really appreciate your blog!
    Plowmanators said: Kristin,one thing to do is check the post “5-8 month sleep disruptions”.I would wonder if he is going through a growth spurt? Are you on solids at all? If not, I would get started if you are okay with that. Be sure to check the post. Good luck!
  • Sondra Kay Allen said:
    Hi there everyone! My 4 month old has been sttn for 2 months…11 hours. He eats on a perfect 3 hour schedule… 7:30, 10:30, 1:30, 4:30 and 7:30. His first nap is awesome, 2 hours and could go 2.5. The next one also goes great, 2 hours, and I have to wake him up again. The third one is pretty good and I usually have to wake him up. The last nap usually doesn’t take and I end up getting him and keeping him up. So I would like to move to 4 hours in between feedings to get to 3 naps instead of four. I dont’ care personally that I am feeding him every 3 hours, but I just think he can’t do 4 naps. He only stays awake between 50 minutes and an hour, I tried to make 4 hours work for a couple days, but he just can’t sleep that long(3 hours). So anyone have suggestions? How long can I keep him on 4 naps a day??
    Mrs. Martin said:
    Hi! I am in a similar situation to what Sondra is going through. STTN since 7 weeks, perfect 3 hour schedule, great naps until evening when he just takes a catnap from 6-7 (he gets his final feed at 7). Then bedtime at 745 and he’s good until 7 the next morning. He dropped the dreamfeed on his own about 3 weeks ago (refused to wake up). He is really acting like he is ready for a 4 hour schedule. Today I stretched out one of his feedings for 4 hours and he didn’t even notice- I still had to wake him up from his nap. So I guess I’m just wondering if, at this early age, he would be ok to get only 4 feedings a day, or should I return to the dream feed for a while to make sure he gets enough calories?Thanks so much for your blog, it has helped my husband and I more than you know! We tell everyone about it; my husband is a pediatrician so all of his new moms are hearing about you too! Sorry, I forgot to mention his age. He is 3.5 months old (14 wks).
    Plowmanators said: Sondra Kay Allen,What I did was just drop the fourth nap but keep a 3 hour feeding schedule. So between 4:30 and 7:30 there would be no nap. You might need to feed at 7 instead of 7:30 and will likely need to put him to bed earlier than 8:30 (7:30 or 8:00).
    Mrs. Martin, you can always try it and see what happens. I think by now he is old enough to be okay. Watch milk supply. If you notice supply issues, pump before bed. Also watch growth. If he starts to change his growth patterns (in a slower way), add a dreamfeed or go back to 3 hours.
  • Philip and Andrea Kelly said: I love this blog!!! Thank you for creating it and offering help to everyone! I am so thankful for this! Here’s my question:I have an 11 week old boy and he just starting STTN – 3 hour schedule: 7:30-10:30-1:30-4:30-7:30 in bed by 8:30 then dreamfeed at 10:30. This schedule is working fine for me but he isn’t hungry after every nap in the day time- his naps are 1.5 – 2 hrs and I have to wake him every time and when I start to feed him he isn’t completely hungry which is why some of our feeding take an hour of off and on of waking him and feeding. Do you have any advice on how I should change the scheduled times? Thank you for your help!
    Plowmanators said: Andrea,I would either drop your dreamfeed or do a 4 hour schedule while still keeping the dreamfeed. Good luck!

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