In the beginning, it’s likely baby was eating around the clock, but now that they’re getting closer to four months old, you may be wondering when do babies go four hours between feedings?
When do I stop feeding my baby every 3 hours?
If you’re following a schedule like moms on call or Babywise, it’s suggested that you make the switch from three hour feeds to four hours in between feedings at or around four months of age.
While Moms on Call and Babywise are super popular baby schedule experts, there’s other pediatricians and baby experts that say only feeding baby every four hours is not something they’d recommend, as its best to go off of hunger cues during babies first year of life.
Four hours between feedings may work better if:
- Baby doesn’t seem hungry before four hours
- Baby doesn’t seem to take a full feed at or around 3 hours
- Baby is sleeping well during the night and only waking 1 time in a 12 hour period
- Baby’s pediatrician has okayed this shift in schedule
- You are introducing solids
Sample four hour feeding schedule
7:00 am wake and feed
8:30 am down for first nap
10:00 am up from nap, tummy time and play until next feeding
11:00 am feed
11:45 am nap 2
1:45 pm up from nap, tummy time and play until next feeding
3:00 pm feed
3:30 pm put baby down for last nap of the day
4:30 pm up from nap, play until bedtime routine
6:00 pm start bedtime routine
7:00 pm feed before bed
10:00 pm offer a dream feed
How to ease the transition from a feed every three hours to a feed every four hours
- No matter how many times you feed your baby, in order to thrive and sleep well at night, at four months of age, babies need between 24-32 ounces of breastmilk or formula per day.
- You may find that there is some resistance to the schedule switch initially, and that is likely due to the fact that they simply aren’t getting enough calories in a 24 hour period or that they may be going through a growth spurt. Here are some tips to make the transition easier.
- Set a wake up time each day and stick to it. Ideally this should be between 6:30-7:30. Likewise, set a predictable bedtime, too. Babies thrive when their bedtime is in the 7:00 pm hour.
- If breastfeeding, feed baby a couple minutes longer than you typically do on each side. If bottle feeding, offer an ounce or two more at each feeding than you normally do.
- Consider introducing solids to up calorie count. Yes, most pediatricians say that solids before 1 are just for practice, but if baby is having a harder time adjusting to the four hour schedule, starting solids may be the key. It’s recommended that you start solids no earlier than four months of age. If you’re planning to introduce solids, you typically do this two to three times a day and about an hour after they have breastmilk or formula.
Items to consider when switching to the four hour feeding schedule
How your baby sleeps at night after the switch–The key to baby sleeping well and for long stretches at night is making sure their tank is fueled during the day. If you switch to the four hour feeding schedule and notice your baby is suddenly waking up more during the night, it may be that they’re not getting enough to eat during the day.
If you’re not ready to abandon the four hour feeding schedule, but you really don’t want baby to wake up more at night, consider offering a dream feed. Ideally, a dream feed should be done during the hours of 9-11. Typically you would just barely wake baby up enough to be able to feed, but the idea is that you would give this feed while they are mostly asleep.
If the four hour feeding schedule proves to be disastrous for baby’s night time sleep, consider pausing and starting again when baby is closer to five or six months of age.
When can I stop waking my baby from naps to eat every three hours?
After baby has surpassed their birth weight and you find that you are routinely having to wake them up from their nap to feed every three hours, it might be okay to allow them to sleep longer, granted you take the following into consideration:
Daytime naps should not last longer than two hours, as any longer than that won’t allow you to get in the appropriate amount of feedings your baby needs during the day in order to sleep longer at night. If baby is routinely sleeping past feedings they might start “reverse-cycling,” where they will essentially consume the bulk of their calories at night, rather than during the day. When you’re trying to get baby to sleep long stretches at night, you want to make sure you’re offering enough daytime feedings.