By the time babies are 4 or 5 months old, most parents are feeling more than ready to have some semblance of a daytime schedule going! After the erratic feeding and sleeping patterns of the newborn stage, a lot of moms and dads are eagerly looking forward to a predictable eating and sleeping routine.
But while some babies will naturally develop their own schedules starting around 3 or 4 months, plenty of other babies don’t. If that’s the case for your baby, you may be wondering if your 4 month old is, in fact, ready for a daytime schedule.
Signs Your 4 Month Old or 5 Month Old Baby Is Ready For A Schedule
The following are good indicators that your 4 or 5 month old baby may be ready for a semi-consistent daytime schedule:
- Your baby has already been through the 4 month sleep regression. The 4 month sleep regression tends to blow a baby’s sleeping habits to pieces, so you’ll want to wait until your baby is past the worst of the 4 month sleep regression until you try to establish a daytime schedule. If your 4 month old is not sleeping at night, this is a big clue you’re in the midst of this regression.
- Your baby can go about 2.5 hours between daytime feedings. Most 4 and 5 month old babies can space feedings at least 2.5 hours apart, but if your baby has a medical issue or weight gain problem and requires more frequent feedings, you might want to wait a bit before establishing a daily schedule.
- Your baby can comfortably stay awake for about 2 hours between naps.
- Your baby is not overly sensitive to small fluctuations in awake time. Sensitive babies who become overtired easily may need to wait until closer to 6 months for a predictable daytime schedule.
- Your baby is at least somewhat consistent in their daily eating and sleeping habits. This point is debatable. If your baby is already fairly predictable, then it will likely be easier for you to carve out a schedule that works. However, if your baby’s naps and feedings are all over the map from day to day, this does NOT mean that you can’t eventually have a predictable schedule; it just means that you may have more work on your hands to get there! 😉 And some parents of unpredictable, irregular babies find it easier to wait until baby is a bit older before working on the schedule.
4 Steps To Creating A Schedule For Your 4 Month Old or 5 Month Old Baby
Feel like your 4 or 5 month old is ready for a daytime sleep and feeding schedule? Use these 4 steps to create a schedule that works:
- Log your baby’s sleep for 2 weeks. Note any patterns in eating or sleeping, and try to work those into your baby’s daily schedule.
- Outline a basic schedule that you think will work, and use fixed points as your guide. Use your log for guidance. You may also want to use our sample 4 month schedule or sample 5 month schedule for guidance. Remember to leave plenty of room for flexibility. If feedings or naps vary by 30 minutes or so, that’s totally normal! For babies this age, we usually recommend picking a few ‘fixed points for baby sleep‘ that you aim to hit each day. You can consider all other schedule points flexible. Also don’t forget to build in any regular activities you have – like preschool pick-up, for example, or your morning moms’ group.
- Ease your baby into the schedule gradually. Again, use your fixed points for guidance. In the first week, you might try just timing up bedtime and the morning wake-up time, for example. Give your baby (and yourself!) time to adjust to the new schedule.
- Be prepared to adjust based on your baby’s sleepy cues. Your baby is king – not the schedule. If your baby is showing signs that he’s tired, but nap time is still 45 minutes away, DON’T WAIT FOR NAPTIME. Put your baby down quickly for his nap! This is key. You do not want to let the schedule call the shots. Instead, use your judgment and your baby’s cues to shift the timing of naps and feeds as necessary.
Need Scheduling Help For Your 4 or 5 Month Old Baby? Check Out Our Resources!
If you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.
For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
Or, join our VIP Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources! VIP access includes e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a VIP member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant.
If you are looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation, and want plenty of support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations. Your consultation package will provide you with the chance to interact one-on-one with a trained sleep consultant. She’ll create a Personalized Sleep Plan™ for your family and then work to help you implement it at home.
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4 thoughts on “Is Your 4 or 5 Month Old Baby Ready For A Schedule?”
@ Clare – oh no! This is rough 🙁 Let me ask – have you ever considered getting personalized help from one of our consultants? Miriam, one of our sleep consultants, is a lactation consultant and a nurse. You could request her as your consultant and get her insights into what might be going on here. We are generally able to accommodate these kinds of requests from mom.
Just putting it out there, in case you’re interested! We’re running a sale right now, so you could take advantage of the discounted pricing and invest in a consultation, if you are feeling like it’s something that might help. You can see our consultation packages here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-toddler-sleep-consulting-services/
@ KP – Clare’s advice is good! (Thanks, @Clare, for chiming in!) You might be interested in our naps book, Mastering Naps and Schedules – the whole book is devoted to gently creating a workable nap schedule for your baby. You can read more about it here: http://www.babynapswell.com
Hi kp. I’m not going to knock sleep training as i don’t know enough about it and i wouldn’t describe myself as being a success with baby sleep. But what i can see from my experience with my daughter, fleur, and from what you say is that sleep training has a time and for some babies 4-6 months is just too early. I’ve given up trying to sleep train fleur for the time being. What works on one side back fires on the other. For me the bottom line is that babies of this age still need huge amounts of physical comfort from you as they are developing so rapidly. Basically you are their one constant.
I wouldn’t worry about the naps at child care. Whatever you have in place will probably go out the window whilst your baby adapts . Professional carers also have their ways of getting babies to sleep-it’s their job. If they do get your son to follow a schedule maybe you could follow it on days at home. Otherwise i would work on giving him the opportunity to nap every 1 to 2 hours after waking. Slowly, slowly he’ll fall into a schedule esp if you have a routine elsewhere.
Hope this makes sense and feel free to ignore it all
We just went through sleep training our 5 half month old. He is sleeping through the nigh for the most part. I just added in a feeding at about 4 am when he wakes. Then he is going back to sleep for about an hour and a half. One of our problems has come in with the bed time routine, he has now started crying though the whole process (bath, pjs, book, song, then we put him down) it seems like when we try to start earlier he cries for longer. We can’t seem to get him on a nap schedule. The sleep training got him overtired, so I have resorted back to old ways of getting him to sleep without breastfeeding (stroller rides, wearing him or car rides until he falls asleep). At least to get him caught up, then how do we start a routine? Plus he starts day care three times a week this week??? Help
Hello, how about this for really not knowing what to do with your little one. I started trying to get my little daughter, Fleur, into a vague nap schedule when she was about 4,5-5 months. I was very inspired by this website (and read the posts often) and very motivated because Fleur’s older sister would never nap without me and the boob (slept through at 23 months – I will spare the gory details).
I was amazed on reading the site that babies of 4-5 months should only be awake for a couple of hours and set to in giving Fleur a nap opportunity every 1-2 hours, creating a routine and then to trying to disassociate going to sleep using breastfeeding. Worked a treat! Within a week or so I could nearly put her down by herself and she would nod off by herself… but she promptly went on a nursing strike! I’ve subsequently tried a little sleep training but to my total dismay every time it seems to affect her feeding. I don’t know if anyone else has had or has this problem…
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