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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 is 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. 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 and the Four Hour Schedule.
Hoggs 4/4 Plan
Information on this starts on page 33 in The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. Hogg says essentially that your child 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. 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!”
Let me just say that I highly disagree with any statement saying that at X age, your baby is ready for 123. That just doesn’t work. Babies are each individuals. I also disagree with pushing to a four hour schedule, 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.
I found it preferable to drop the dreamfeed before moving to a four hour schedule with my oldest two. 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. With my last two, however, I did it the Baby Whisperer way. I found it easier to have longer stretches between feedings in the day and take care of other kids.
What We Did
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. At five months old, we found we were a bit delayed in moving, which we really should have planned on. We were working on our new house. My mom would watch McKenna 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.
Deciding For Yourself
So 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 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. Kaitlyn was just before seven months old when we did each, and we did them a couple of days apart.
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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