Transition from 3 to 4 hour schedule...awake time issues...

Ashley - posted on 01/13/2009 ( 9 moms have responded )

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At what age did your baby transition from a 3 hour routine to a 4 hour routine? My son is 4 months and I think he could be ready to move to a 4 hour routine, but the issue is that he doesn't stay awake long enough. His optimal awake time is only about 1 hour and 15 minutes...at this time he goes down easy and no crying. If he stays up longer, he has a hard time going down or wakes up at the 45 minute mark. That being said, to get him to a 4 hour routine would include a 2.45 nap...and that just doesn't happen...

Has anyone else struggled with this? How long did your baby stay awake at 4 months? When did you move to a four hour routine? Should I try and force him to stay awake longer at this age?

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Ashley - posted on 01/15/2009

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Thanks everyone for your help. I guess I am probably trying to hard to force a longer routine on him when he's not ready. I think he is just at that age where their sleep patterns start to change. He is staying awake a little longer, but his naps seem to be shorter. Right when i thought we had a really solid routine figured out, he goes and changes things up....such id the life of an infant I suppose.



Did you all wait to drop the 4th nap until you were on a full 3.5-4 hour routine? From the BW book, I gather that he should be dropping that last nap anytime (3-5months). And in fact, sometimes he can stay awake longer in the evenings, so we jsut forego that last nap and just have an earlier bed time. But other days, he still seems to need that nap.



 



I'm hoping this is just a transition phase and that things will get more consistent again soon. Thanks for all your advice. It's nice having other moms to bounce things off of.

Raegan - posted on 01/14/2009

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At 4 months our waketime was similar. We had to stick to a 3 or 3.5 combo schedule until she was staying up longer. If she isn't refusing to eat at the 3 hour mark, I'd stick with a good thing until neccessary. If it isn't broken, don't fix it. :)

At the 6 month mark they say that you can start waiting a little while before feeding and don't have to stick so close to the eat/wake/sleep cycle. We didn't go to the 4 hour until after she was 6 months, but that's also b/c she didn't sleep the entire time she needed to in order to make it work.

You can do a combination of 3 and 3.5 if that will work as far as naps go, though.

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Lucy - posted on 06/23/2014

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Hi there, I am having the same problem with my baby not staying awake long enough. How do you do bedtime when on 3.5hr cycles. I.e. if you start the day at 7am do you do the last feed at 5.30pm or 9pm... One seems too early and one seems too late?

Lucy - posted on 06/23/2014

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Hi there,
I am having the same problems with my baby being fine to feed every 4 hours but not staying away long enough. I was wondering how it works on a 3.5hr cycle for bedtime as if the day started at 7am then is the final feed at 5.30 or 9pm?

Kristin - posted on 03/27/2012

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I have a 5 month old and we are struggling with this big time right now. It feels like he's changing but I just don't know how.



He can't stay awake too long with out tears/fussiness (2 hours max, usually not even that long). But his feeding habits seem to point towards wanting a longer routine. Any tips? Am I "making" him nap too much? I don't feel that I am- he wouldn't sleep if he didn't need it, right? He gets 5 feedings a day with 4 naps (eat, awake, sleep- usually).

Laura - posted on 01/27/2009

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My son didn't transition until 6 months for the same reason. He just couldn't stay awake long enough for awake time. I wouldn't rush it. He will get there in a month or two.

Cathy - posted on 01/15/2009

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We did what you are doing--if he needed it, we put him down.  He will still take one occassionally. 



Yes, everything is a phase--it just depends how long it is!!  You'll get through this one, only to move on to another one.  Enjoy the ride! :-)

Cathy - posted on 01/13/2009

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Hi, Ashley.  My littlest guy is 6 months and is still trying to make that change to a 4-hour schedule.  I think at 4 months he was staying awake for about 1.25 -1.5 hours.  He's been slowly stretching that awake time to about 2 hours and now, like Jennifer, we're pretty much on a 3.5 hour schedule.  I'm assuming what you're saying is that he could probably go more than 3 hours between a feeding, but the sleep times aren't matching up.  I've found, with my babies, that that transiton begins about 4 months and can either last a week (one of my kids) to a couple months (as is the case now.)  I would say you have a couple options.



First, if you like the three-hour schedule, you can just stick to it and wait for signs he can stay awake longer.  Just in the last couple of days, my son's suddenly been able to stay awake for over 2 hours at a time in the mornings.



Second, you could try stretching awake time by 5 minutes.  After a few days of success, stretch it another 5 minutes.  This gradual approach really worked with my second daughter.  The downside is that the schedule is always in a state of flux and it takes awhile to get back into a normal routine again.  If that's too scary, you could try 10 minutes at a time and try to get through this transition period sooner.  I wouldn't try to force him to stay awake any longer than 10 minutes, though.  An over-tired baby usually won't nap as well.



It's also OK to do a combination schedule.  Maybe he'll go 3 hours in the morning, but can then stay awake longer during that next wake time and stretch that period into 3.5 hours.



I know you didn't ask about this, but I'll just offer my two cents.  If it is because he doesn't seem to be hungry after 3 hours, take that as reassurance that he is getting enough to eat.  Starting solids will not move him to 4 hours.  Don't worry just yet about getting those "three squares" into him.  He'll let you know when he's ready for that.



But, above all, I say just follow your instincts.  Despite the usual criticism of BW, I think BW moms know their babies better and are able to "listen" to them better.  As you watch him and give him guidance, you'll both understand what it is he needs and how to bring him through this.  You're doing a great job!

Jennifer - posted on 01/13/2009

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My son stays awake for 1.5 hours and is on a 3.5 hour schedule. He does really well on this. If your son can only handle 1hr 15min. of awake time at a time, then it doesn't seem like he's ready to move to a 4hr. schedule. Don't rush it, there's plenty of time. If he can't stay up any longer than what you're doing with him now, and he takes a good nap, then I would leave him there, until you feel like he can start going a little longer during wake time. You'll make yourself miserable if you try to force anything. Good luck!

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