The Baby Whisperer Four Hour Schedule

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All about moving baby to a four hour schedule and how to decide if baby is ready. Learn what Tracy Hogg, The Baby Whisperer, has to say about it.

Baby Whisperer's four hour schedule hero image

Looking at the bare bones structure of the systems, Babywise and The Baby Whisperer are really almost the same thing. There are, of course, some differences.

One of those big differences is when to move to a four hour schedule.

When To Move to a Four Hour Schedule

According to Babywise, the order of events are to first, drop the dreamfeed. After some time (2-4 weeks), you can see if baby is ready for a four hour schedule, going over readiness signs.

According to The Baby Whisperer, the events are to first move to a four hour schedule (at 4 months old) and then drop the dreamfeed (at 8 months old).

Over the last year, I have gotten a lot of questions regarding this scenario. I followed only Babywise with my first two kids, but got the Baby Whisperer books when McKenna was a newborn.

Before McKenna reached four months old, I had questions on “what will you do? Which path will you take?” Once she had passed it, people wondered both what I did and why I did it.

So, here is a post dedicated to The Baby Whisperer’s opinions on the Four Hour Schedule.

Hogg’s 4/4 Plan

Information on this starts on page 33 in The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems.

Hogg says essentially that your baby changes cognitively at four months old and therefore needs a four-hour schedule.

Now, take note that she does use words like “Most babies are ready at this point to switch…” (page 33), not all babies.

Even so, the way she writes, I think most parents would read that section and say, “oh, time for the four hour schedule, she hit four months old!”

Let me just say that I highly disagree with any statement saying that at X age, your baby is ready for anything. That just doesn’t work.

Babies are each individual.

I also disagree with pushing to a four hour schedule before baby is fully ready, which Hogg advocates doing.

I do, however, agree with saying things like ‘most babies’ are ready for something by a certain age, but I think we need to be careful to be sure to evaluate things as individuals.

Hogg doesn’t give any other criteria for being ready for the four hour schedule other than age. Four months old is the magic number.

Baby whisperer's 4 hour schedule pinnable image

Benefits of Dropping the Dreamfeed Before Moving to a 4 Hour Schedule

With my oldest two, I found it preferable to drop the dreamfeed before moving to a four hour schedule. I preferred the Babywise way.

That way, you have 10-12 hours of consolidated sleep at a younger age.

I also think that staying up for two hours is a stretch for most four month olds, and if you push it, you are likely going to fight against naps for a couple of months until your baby’s ability to stay up catches up with your plans.

What We Did

While I dropped the dreamfeed first with my first two, using the Babywise way, with my last two, I did things the Baby Whisperer way.

I found it easier to have longer stretches between feedings in the day and take care of the older kids. I also loved having that quiet dreamfeed with my baby without the distractions of the older kids.

With McKenna, we did move to a four hour schedulebefore we dropped the dreamfeed.

This was due to special circumstances. She was ready to drop the dreamfeed at four months old, but we were going to be moving right around the time she turned 5 months old and I didn’t want to be in the middle of dropping the dreamfeed when I moved McKenna to a new room in a new house.

I wanted to be able to check on her and check on the room conditions in the night. I just felt better about it.

But it was really hard to not do something at this point. She was ready for a change in her schedule.

At five months old, we found we were a bit delayed in moving to our new home, which we really should have planned on. We were working on our new house.

My mom would watch McKenna during the day and I would drive to her house to nurse her every few hours. Well, one day, time got away from me and it ended up being a four hour schedule for one interval.

McKenna was reaching all four hour scehdule readiness signs listed in Babywise.

I decided that since she was making it, I should just let it go. It wasn’t the order I wanted it to happen in, but she needed something to happen.

I also figured if the Baby Whisperer suggests it, and she is showing readiness cues, she would be fine.

She didn’t, however, stay up for two hours at a time. She just took longer naps. You can see the baby summaries around that age for more info.

With Brinley, I just had liked having those longer stretches during the day to spend time with my older kids more and like having that night feed to spend time with her more. So I went with that.

Deciding For Yourself

Having done it both ways with two babies for each way, I will say there is no one wrong or one right way. Either way is great! So choose what is best for your baby.

What should you do? Should you drop the dreamfeed or go to four hours first? Here are my things for you to consider:

  • Cues: Look for signs of readiness for either step. See Dropping the Dreamfeed and When and How To Move To A Four Hour Schedule for help. Don’t go solely by age here. You will create problems if you force something your baby isn’t ready for. Combine age with readiness cues.
  • Lifestyle: Which would be best for your family? Would you like to be able to go to bed before the dreamfeed? If so, drop it. Would you like to go on a date with your husband and not have to hurry back for the dreamfeed? If so, drop the dreamfeed. Do you need more time in the day? If so, the four hour schedule would be a good step for you.

In my experience, these two events often happen close to each other unless you do one really early in life (prior to four months old).

So if your baby is 4 months or older, chances are the two will happen within a month or so of each other.

The older your child, the shorter the distance of time between moving to a four hour schedule and dropping the dreamfeed.

Kaitlyn was just before seven months old when we did each, and we did them a couple of days apart.

That means that it isn’t a huge life or death decision. Go with what you think will be best and give it a try!

Conclusion

In the end, go with what you feel is best for your baby and your family. I don’t think it really matters what you do first, so long as you are doing it following readiness cues.

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