Reader Four Hour Schedule Questions

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  • 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!
    August 17, 2008 3:23 PM
    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.
    August 17, 2008 10:58 PM

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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. Anna
    August 12, 2009 / 10:21 PM

    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. 🙂

  2. Ivy
    November 5, 2009 / 5:01 PM

    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.

  3. Heidi M
    December 29, 2009 / 5:55 AM

    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! =)

  4. Plowmanators
    January 12, 2010 / 6:38 PM

    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.

  5. HJHatch
    March 5, 2010 / 6:12 PM

    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!!

  6. Plowmanators
    March 19, 2010 / 11:12 PM

    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.

  7. Kristin
    March 27, 2010 / 3:39 PM

    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!

  8. Plowmanators
    April 9, 2010 / 6:29 PM

    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!

  9. Sondra Kay Allen
    September 17, 2010 / 9:57 PM

    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??

  10. mrs. martin
    September 20, 2010 / 8:03 PM

    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!

  11. mrs. martin
    September 20, 2010 / 8:05 PM

    Sorry, I forgot to mention his age. He is 3.5 months old (14 wks).

  12. Plowmanators
    September 30, 2010 / 6:39 PM

    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).

  13. Plowmanators
    October 8, 2010 / 9:31 PM

    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.

  14. Philip & Andrea Kelly
    May 8, 2011 / 10:48 PM

    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!

  15. Plowmanators
    May 27, 2011 / 9:04 PM

    Andrea,I would either drop your dreamfeed or do a 4 hour schedule while still keeping the dreamfeed. Good luck!

  16. Hannah
    January 29, 2012 / 11:25 PM

    I left a comment on of the other blogs, but I never heard back, so maybe you didn't get the notification? Anyways, my son is 6.5 months old and we just moved to a 4 hour schedule. He is doing okay eating-wise, but when it comes to naps, we're having problems. He can only stay awake for the first hour after he wakes to eat in the morning (eats at 7, down for nap at 8), but only takes a 1.5 hour nap, so right from the get-go, we are behind schedule and he ends up eating at 11 right before he goes down for a nap. So his schedule is wake/eat/sleep, instead of eat/wake/sleep. I feel that i've tried everything, but I don't know what to do. I just can't get him to take good naps (usually). He sleeps 12 hours at night though so I know I'm doing something right! But daytimes can be stressful, so I was just wondering what you would do?? Thanks!

  17. Plowmanators
    February 21, 2012 / 3:07 AM

    Hannah, is he hungry when he wakes? At the very least, he won't take a 3 hour nap (and shouldn't), so if he will only be up one hour, the best you could hope for is a 3.5 hour schedule, but few babies will nap longer than 2 hours, so that puts you at 3. So I would either change your feeding times to reflect what his sleep can do, OR I would see if you can extend his waketime a bit (or some of both). Good luck!

  18. Hannah
    February 23, 2012 / 5:38 PM

    No he isn't hungry when he wakes. And I was having problems getting him to take full meals when I was feeding him every 3 hours. Since I last posted, I buckled down and really watched his optimal waketime and started getting him to take better naps! But I still can't get him to stay awake much longer in the morning. Every time I try, he ends up waking up way too early from his nap. I guess I'll keep working on it! Thanks for your help!

  19. Plowmanators
    March 15, 2012 / 3:19 AM

    you are welcome!

  20. Darah Matos
    July 28, 2014 / 6:58 PM

    Help!! My 6.5 months old (adjusted age he's actually 8 months old) has been having weird naps lately I wanna see if you think he's ready for a 4 hr schedule he's still on the 3.Here is what has been happening:6a-6:15 wakes up and whines a little off and on/tries to go back to sleep6:45-7a: I go get him and start bottle feeding breastmilk 5.5 oz. (he used to wake up at 7a.. But now waking up almost an hour early!)7:20-7:25a: breakfast-fruit & cereal. Doesn't eat too too much, just maybe 5-8 spoonfuls.7:40a: change diaper and down for a nap7:50-9:30a nap10am: bottle 5.5-6oz breastmilk10:15a: playtime.. Mainly playing with toys on a blanket, read books, and a little independent play time while I wash bottles11a: down for a nap… End up NOT napping and just rolling around playing12:45 p: bottle breastmilk 5.51p: solids/ veggies/fruits just a few spoonfuls1:10: down for a nap1:30-4p: nap4p: bottles 5.54:15p: solids/veggies/few spoonfuls5p: try down for a nap, NO NAP ends up crying until I get him and bring him to living room and let him play6:45p: bottle, bath, story, the bedtime by 7:30p7:30p-6am ish sleepDo you think he's ready for a 4 hr? I still have him on a 3 hr unless he doesn't nap then I feed him 15 mins earlier so I can put him down for a nap earlier

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