How Do I Get My 4 Week Old on a Schedule?

Updated on January 22, 2011
S.M. asks from Denton, TX
18 answers

I have a 4 week old baby. This is my second baby, but my daughter is 10 years old, so it's has been so long, I don't remember how I got her to be on a schedule. I am going back to work Feb 1. I work at home and he will be staying with me, but it is really important to get him on a feeding and nap schedule so that I will be able to get my work done. Going back to work later or quitting my job is not an option because of finances. Right now, he is still eating every 2 hours or sometimes more often. I am breastfeeding. And he doesn't really have any schedule as far as naps go. He still sleeps pretty often during the day, but sometimes he just wants me to hold him for a while. Obviously I can't work with a baby in my arms. Any suggestions will be helpful. Thanks.

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answers from Dallas on

I worked on getting my babies on a schedule as soon as we got home and it worked...granted, at this age you have to be flexible but you can have a schedule you strive for. The key to a schedule is to *try* to get baby down at the same times each day and always get them up at the same times each day. If you don't control them waking, you won't be able to control when they want to go back down. Something like..
7 up, eat, a little awake time, then back down
10 up, eat, wake time, down
12:30 up, eat, wake time, down
3:30 up, eat, wake time, down
6 up, eat, wake time, down,
9 eat, maybe some awake time??, back down
11:30 eat, back down
let them sleep until they wake on their own, feed, and back down till as close to 7a.m. as you can get. Eventually they'll start napping less often and you can space out a new schedule accordingly. Granted, they're babies and you can't really count on anything working perfectly but you can work toward a schedule at this age. Just be flexible.

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answers from Dallas on

The only advise is you can't get a 4 wk old on a schedule. I would give him another month to get used to the world before you start worrying about a schedule. You are luck that you can work from home, if you can't put him down then you might want to invest in a good front carrier. My favorite is the ERGO Baby.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Provo on

I respectfully disagree with some of the others about not being able to get on a schedule. You can have a schedule and it will be liberating!

With my first I was going crazy at about 4 weeks, I didn't feel like I could get anything done, not even shower. Until I realized that If I get a routine, there can be consistency and prediction.

This is my favorite schedule.... (and My babies get on it right when they are born. And it always works, even for my friends that have tried it so I know it is not just genes). :)

Because it takes 2 1/2 to 3 hrs for babies digestion, I split the routine up in 2-1/2 to 3 hr increments. With the last night time feeding, right before I go to bed, a little closer then that.

During those 3 hr increments, he should Eat, "Play" for a bit and Nap

At four weeks he needs 7- 8 feedings in 24 hrs. (nursing) if he is eating more often then that, he is snacking and not getting the hind milk which has the most fat and nutrition.

Side note: to help him get the Hind milk, I start on one side and half way through (which is 5min for my babies) switch sides and then let them finish on the other until you know he is not eating anymore. (this could change lengths of time each nursing) the next time your nurse him, start on the side you ended on. He will get the hind milk and you wont be so lopsided:)

During the Play Time he needs a little interaction from you and also at least once a day some tummy time. And it is okay for floor time to not include you right there next to him. It is good for babies to experience life with out you holding them all the time. Making sure you are attentive to what he is needing and doing. Play time at 4 weeks last about (depending on how long of a nurser they are) 15-30 min. as soon as you notice him not engaging in eye contact, rubbing hands on face, yawing, fussing or any other sign that he is tired, then it is nap time.

However many feedings he gets is how many naps he should have. New babies, should get about 16-20 hrs of sleep in 24hrs. I know that seams like a lot, but they are growing fast and need it. Naps should be 1 1/2 to 2 hrs long with a long stretch at night that keeps gradually getting longer.
Mine sleep about 4 hrs at night right off and work up to 8 by about 2 months and 12hrs definitely by 6-8 months.
you will find this is such a natural process for them to sleep longer and longer and comes with little struggle.

For nap time, I like to have a routine right off the start, so I change the diaper, sing a song while I snuggle and kiss and love my baby and then I put them down to sleep. Some of my babies needed to cry a little first, some would just be quiet for a min and then cry out a few times and then sleep. One would whine soft and then cry loud and in the middle of crying fall asleep. They were all different.
But one thing that was the same, was, I knew I had just fed the baby, she wasn't hungry, she had just been loved and awake for a while, I just changed the diaper, so I knew she was tired. And with that, it made it easier for me to start doing other things that I needed to get done.

Like I mentioned above naps should be 1-1/2 to 2 hrs long, so if he is not napping at least that long, or is crying for a long time, try shorting the wake time, he might be over stimulated.

When he wakes from his nap, it is time to feed him. He will be hungry especially if it has been 2 1/2 to 3 hrs. And you start all over again:)
Do wake him up if he is sleeping longer then 3hrs and try to put him down earlier if it happens often. you want to try to stick close to your routine.

I start my routine from the first morning feeding (when they wake up on there own), This is the only time I don't wake them up in the first few months of life, to feed them. Also, the only time I don't do play time, is in the hrs that I would be sleeping. These two things are how they naturally lengthen their night time sleep.
So usually it is between 2-4 am. I nurse and put back in bed. doing that twice (3am and then 6am) in the morning hrs, with 8-9am being when I would incorporate the play time too.
Example: If he woke up at 2am I would feed him and put him back down, then let him wake on his own, probably around 5am, then wake him up and feed at 8am then 11am and 2pm, 5pm then 8pm and 10pm(or when I would be going to bed) then let him sleep naturally waking and start all over again, adjusting your schedule accordingly.

The three most important parts of this schedule are, that there are 2 1/2- 3 hours between when you start nursing to when you start nursing again.
That he is getting a nap in between feedings.
And you let him wake you up at night (I usually wait until they are fully awake crying. so that I am not the one disturbing their active sleep.)

Of course you know, as a mother what will work for you and what wont, keep in mind, that what ever you do, it just needs to be consistent. Babies do very well with consistency. So if you choose to nurse your baby before you put him down for a nap, just do that every time. You will find that once he is used to whatever you choose to do, he will become very predictable.

It is very liberating to have some predictability! So Good luck and if you need more details or help figuring out your schedule, just write me a message, I would be happy to help.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

You can't get a 4 week old on a schedule.

You can get a nice baby swing or a baby wearing sling.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Try a baby sling so that he feels snuggled while you are working. You can't put a newborn on a schedule. Their sleeping and eating schedules and needs change so frequently that it is simply futile.

Have a myriad of things to keep him entertained when you need to work and do what you can to schedule yourself alternative work hours. I know that I used to write my grad school papers late at night b/w feedings. I knew that I had two uniterrupted hours and my husband was sleeping.

Swing, bouncer, play mat, exersaucer... try a bunch of things! I used a baby sling b/c the "carriers" were all really uncomfortable for me (I'm short-waisted). The sling worked well and my arms were free (even when I was nursing).

Work when he's asleep and be okay with letting the housework slide a little!

**Can you hire someone to come and watch him for a few hours a day in your home?***

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

4 weeks old is WAY too young, for a schedule.

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answers from Rochester on

It is impossible to get a 4 week on a schedule...About 3 months is when they start getting a routine down and even then it sometimes varries...My youngest of 5 is 5 1/2 months...I run and in home daycare and I am really big on schedules...My sons and most kids in my care(18 years worth) where all pretty scheduled by three months....I wouldn't push it now...All you will do is stress yourself and the baby out...babies at four weeks sleep most of the time....When he is staying awake for longer periods of time then you can start working towards it... Good luck...Enjoy your cuddle times while you can..Just a though....Maybe you can get a family member or friend to come and hold the baby if you need time to work...I am sure they wouldn't complain! everyone loves to hold a baby! LOL

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answers from Detroit on

I agree with the previous ladies. You won't get a 4wk old on a schedule. My son didn't get onto a noticable schedule until around 8-10wks.

I also agree with a swing that you can put near where you're working or a carrier. Once he's nearing 8-10wks old, wake him up when you get up for work, feed him, and let him swing for a bit. If he falls asleep in the swing, stop the swing and just let him sleep. If he's taking an 'evening nap', wake him up before you're ready to go to bed and feed him, change him, and lay him back down... That way you'll get the maximum sleep you can. That will help get him on a schedule by waking him up in the morning and waking him up before you go to bed so he goes to bed with a full belly and fresh diaper. : )

That's what worked for me!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Gainesville on

Get a mayawrap! You can nurse baby and he can be held when he needs it and it leaves your hands free. This will decrease a lot of your frustration. He is running purely on instinct at this age. you can't dictate to him when he wants to eat or sleep. And for the love of all that is holy, please don't let anyone sell you on Becoming BabyWise. Written by a crackpot with *zero* medical training!

I like Dr. Sears and The Baby Whisperer for routines. Note routine, not schedule. A routine is flexible and follows baby's needs. A schedule doesn't.

And he is nursing just as he should-he is building and regulating your supply to get it to the right amount that he needs for about the next 5 months.

Take the time to google 4th trimester. That's where he is.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Madison on

Yep, sorry - you'll only frustrate yourself and the baby trying to get on a schedule -a 4 weeks old is too little to be on a schedule. You'll make it!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

our baby is 3 months old and just now started napping on schedule, however she still eats whenever. I would say getting a carrier is a good idea.



answers from Dallas on

Well, a baby this young can't be "put on a schedule". The baby needs to nurse this often to support his rapid growth and brain development. You might consider checking with your church or the moms of the kids in your older child classes at school, to see if they know of any affordable in home care-givers who could take care of your baby for you between feedings.



answers from Dallas on

That is all normal. I dont think babies that little have schedules. My kids (1 and 2-1/2) developed their own schedules as the months went on. I tried really hard to entice my son into a schedule, and didnt do anythign with my daughter, and they both sort of ended up on the same kind of schedule anyway.

At 4 weeks, my son was DEFINTELY eating every two hours, and sometimes more often.

One good book on sleep schedules is called, I THINK Healthy sleep habits, Happy baby?

Do you have a sling? For a little baby, you could get a Moby wrap. That way, you can hold him and have both hands free.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I assumed that all infants work on the same schedule at this age - q 2-3 hours - eat, change, play, sleep, repeat (round the clock until somewhere between 6 and 18 weeks, then at least a little relief at night). Depending upon what work you are trying to do, wearing him may be a good option for a while. If you need to work uninterrupted at home I think you might need to form of childcare.


answers from Chicago on

Right now he's got you on a schedule. And that's just the way it will be for awhile. Before long everything will fall into place. Enjoy your baby!



answers from Chicago on

I think you just need to work around his schedule right now until he gets a little older or hire a nanny for a couple hours a day.



answers from Los Angeles on

Please talk to your pediatrician! Babies at this age need to feed on demand, they also have different sleep needs as they start to mature. Your pediatrician should be able to guide you making sure the baby still gets what he needs. Wearing the baby in a wrap (I use the moby wrap) saved my sanity. It kept the baby happy and I had both hands free! Good luck!



answers from Boston on

I think that at this age, you can have a "routine" but not a schedule. A routine suggests that you are following the changing needs of your baby rather than imposing something that works for you and not him. I think a three hour routine of eat, nap, wake is probably about where he's going to be now. But that will change soon, so I wouldn't get wedded to anything too specific.

Snuggle him as much as you can now, and invest in a good baby carrier (I recommend the ergo). Then you can work with a baby close, but not in your arms. Also, get a good swing for him to sleep in.

Good luck.

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