Author Topic: Starting EASY at 4 months - going to four hourly feeds  (Read 1058 times)

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Starting EASY at 4 months - going to four hourly feeds
« on: February 11, 2017, 15:36:41 pm »
My husband has taken a week off work for us to start EASY with our baby who will be 4 months 1 week old when we start in two days time on Monday!!
Our current situation:  My baby has not been on a routine apart from bedtime routine which is working well and he self settles to sleep in his cot at 6/6.30ish. He has been fitting in with his big brother who just turned 3. His naps are in the sling or being held in a dark room. He won't self settle in his cot so we have to put him there asleep and he usually then wakes after half an hour to 40 mins. He did self settle in his moses basket a few times but not since we moved him to his cot a few weeks ago. We have been following his signs as to when to put him down and he has no consistent timings as depends when we are out with sling/can hold him etc as to how long he sleeps. So establishing EASY will be a big change!
My main concern is that he tends to feed 3 hourly or less at the moment but gets very very hungry for these feeds. If we are trying to get him to nap in his cot while establishing EASY 3 hours after he's fed, using PU/PD, he just won't go down I don't think as he'll be hungry so there will be a lot of crying. He dropped from the 75 to 50th percentile last time we had him weighed and I'm concerned he may need to feed more frequently than 4 hourly and I'll find it hard not to feed him when he's hungry. He's also been teething the last couple of days so struggling a bit with taking in lots of milk and this may mean he needs to feed more. He wakes every 3-4 hours for feeds at night with one gap of 5-6 hours between feeds usually. He takes in more milk during his night feeds than his day feeds.
What do you think? Should I go straight to feeding every 4 hours despite hunger and crying?
Thank you!!

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Re: Starting EASY at 4 months - going to four hourly feeds
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2017, 18:47:01 pm »
Hello and welcome to BW forums :)

There is no need to stretch your LO out to 4hrly feeds if he can't do it.  Some people move to 3hr 15 E, then 3hr 30 and so on over a period of time to gently increase up to 4hrs.  Others don't make it past 3hrs until LO is 6 months old and has small solids meals between the milk feeds which help them go longer between milk feeds (this was my DS, 3hrly feeds until 6 months then his milk times stretched naturally as he had solids and naps which just took him beyond the 3hrs).  Many LOs stretch the E times either because they are asleep,  napping, and don't wake due to hunger as they know they can be fed after waking or because they just don't have the appetite at 3hrs and show less interest which is an indication to move towards the longer E time.

You can begin with an A time of say 1hr 45 mins (that's eyes open and awake to eyes shut and asleep including eating, nappy change and activity) and a nap length of 1hr 30 which, if he sleeps that long will bring E times to 3hr 15.  If he wakes from a short nap of say 40 mins you can wait until the 3hrs to feed.  Basically just fit the E around the naps - so no there is no need to leave a hungry baby crying for food!
I hope this helps to answer your question.

Whilst I'm here I will just mention that we usually advise using shush/pat or adapted for sleep training at this age, PUPD is a last resort method and usually we don't suggest using it until LO is older.  With shush/pat you do of course pick up when he is upset and put down when he is calm, but there are no time limits as to how long you hold him and you do not put down crying.  you can begin shush/pat by patting all the way to sleep in arms and putting down in the cot then patting in the cot to keep him asleep. Then make gradual steps towards self settling by putting down earlier (drowsy but awake) and continue to pat in the cot, then gradually reducing the patting in the cot until he learns to self settle.

Good luck :)


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Re: Starting EASY at 4 months - going to four hourly feeds
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2017, 19:45:29 pm »
Hi, thank you very much for replying so quickly it is very kind and helpful!
Your advice sounds a lot easier on our little one which is great.  Because we are establishing a routine for the first time I think we need to stick quite rigidly to timings at first. If we did a 3 hour 15 min EASY starting at 7am with bedtime at 7.30pm so as not to make the day too long, it would mean that the last feed was only 2.5 hours after the previous one. So this may mean he doesn't take in as much at that feed? Do you think that would be a problem? Tracy's 3 and 4 hours routines fit so neatly into 12 hours!
Thanks for your advice on shush pat. We tried it once before and he did go to sleep after 10 mins of his crying in his cot while I shushed and patted him in there. But he only slept for 15 mins and I couldn't get him back to sleep with shush pat. Hopefully we will have more success holding him and doing it. At the moment we always hold him for a bit on the chair and then walk over to the cot and put him in so I guess we could shush and pat on the chair and then go over to the cot still shushing and patting so as not to make it too different for him?

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Re: Starting EASY at 4 months - going to four hourly feeds
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2017, 09:44:10 am »
The thing with Tracy's routines is that they are intended as guides only because the EASY routine is adapted to the individual LO.
For instance if you planned a 3hr 15 EASY and your LO woke from a nap early you might try to resettle in the cot for some time (we usually recommend no more than 45 mins) to establish habit and show LO this is nap time, but you might then feed a little earlier, say at 3hrs because if LO is not asleep she is likely to be using more calories (esp if crying) and be hungry earlier. There are examples in the book of Tracy feeding a LO a bit earlier than the intended routine during sleep training for this reason.  As the day progresses you need to tweak timings a bit to fit in.  You might have a slightly flexible BT too to ensure the last A time doesn't end up over-long.
As for fitting well into 12hrs - some babies just don't sleep a 12hr night no matter what you do. Mine only ever slept 10.5 to 11hrs over night and he was an independent sleeper from very early on (I started gentle sleep training from birth and started the EASY routine when he was 4-5wks old) so he had a longer day and shorter night but was well rested.

The last feed in the day is fine to be less than 3hr15 or even less than 3hrs.  Some LOs do well with cluster feeding before BT (feeding a couple of times and at less than the regular 3hr E).  I always fed mine at whatever time it was due after the last nap and again just before BT even if that turned out only to be an hour or so between feeds.  I noticed he always took a big BT feed even if he had eaten not so long before.

When you transfer to the cot you will need to continue shush/pat until LO is in deep sleep. Tracy covers this in her books. Many parents experience LO going to sleep then stop shush/pat and leave them only to discover they wake 20 mins (or less) later.  This is when they transition between light and deep sleep and is a time they can wake.  If you pat all the way to the deep sleep phase you will likely have more success - it takes time - Tracy said EASY is not necessarily easy, put in the time and effort and it pays off though.

If you like to begin the wind down routine on the chair that's fine, it's the last part of the process which matters when you make changes.  The putting into the cot and supporting Lo whilst they learn to sleep in the cot - then learn to sleep with less help from you.
Here's a bit of info:
Shush-pat - How to

hope this helps - let us know if you have more questions :)


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Re: Starting EASY at 4 months - going to four hourly feeds
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2017, 13:20:17 pm »
Hi again
Thank you for your reply that's very helpful. I think I'm confused about the difference between tweaking timings to suit our little one if he's hungry or wakes from a nap early and what Tracey says about the only time you have to be rigid about timings being when you are establishing a routine for the first time  (which we are doing)? Do you still think it's okay for us to be flexible in this instance?

My other question is about shush pat. If we may need to continue shushing and patting for half an hour or more  (to get our baby to sleep and then to get him into deep sleep) that's fine for the next week but not fine after that as I can't do that as well as looking after my other little boy. Tracey says a week is usually long enough to achieve a routine from scratch but do you think this doesn't include learning to self settle also? I don't want us to slog away all week with some success and then lose all the hard work if I can't continue when my husband goes back to work.  Do you think it's achievable for us to get our little one in a routine and practically self settling in a week?

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Re: Starting EASY at 4 months - going to four hourly feeds
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2017, 18:48:58 pm »
I think I'm confused about the difference between tweaking timings to suit our little one if he's hungry or wakes from a nap early and what Tracey says about the only time you have to be rigid about timings being when you are establishing a routine for the first time  (which we are doing)? Do you still think it's okay for us to be flexible in this instance?
Certainly being more rigid when implementing a routine and sleep training is more helpful and will be much faster.  Examples I've read show Tracy almost using "set" nap times to get the routine in place and sleep train at the same time.  I say almost because even within that she explains how they left the room before the end of nap time and took Lo to have E a bit early due to hunger from loss of calories from being awake and expending energy crying.  The A times for instance can end up huge as when routine setting Tracy didn't seem to count the A from when LO woke up but rather from when the nap "should" have ended so if LO had been awake say 45 mins of the nap time, plus their A time, makes it very long...again more rigid just as you've said but she was a little flexible in this too.  Either way, rigid or flexible Tracy wouldn't have left a baby hungry.  Those E times can extend more naturally when LO is asleep.

Do you think it's achievable for us to get our little one in a routine and practically self settling in a week?
I think you can go a long way in a week especially if you are being pretty rigid (taking that little flexibility into account to prevent hunger and prevent the A time before BT getting too long).  Even fully independent sleepers ned help from time to time, and through phases they need lots of help, but I think you know that and have likely experienced tricky phases with your elder child.
I would imagine that by the end of a week, if you go at it seriously and with your aim always in mind, you could probably get to a place where you are not patting all the way to deep sleep and therefore do not need to spend quite that long when you need to care for your other child.  Through good times (no illness or teething) mine took 5 mins to put down to nap and that included a nappy change a single song with cuddle then put down, key phrase (have a nice sleep, call if you need me) and walk out.


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Re: Starting EASY at 4 months - going to four hourly feeds
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2017, 20:20:39 pm »
Thank you so much for all your help. We're going to give it ago starting tomorrow based on that advice. Fingers crossed!!

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Re: Starting EASY at 4 months - going to four hourly feeds
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2017, 08:41:26 am »
Good luck :)
Let us know how you get on.


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Re: Starting EASY at 4 months - going to four hourly feeds
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2017, 20:34:39 pm »
Hi again
We've now finished day 3 of trying to get the routine going! It's going well but is requiring an awful lot of shush pat to get our little one to sleep and then to deep sleep more than once. He then fully wakes again after 30 mins or 40 mins or 50 mins or one hour and needs another 25 mins of shush pat to get him back to deep sleep! So I've been doing a minimum of 1 hour of shush pat per nap!! Very hard on the back! I am managing to keep him asleep for the nap's length most of the time though.

We've had about one bad nap per day and that's always been because he's been overtired. You recommend trying an A time of 1 hour 45 mins with wind down 20 mins before the end but he's always tired 20 mins before that so seems to only be able to tolerate an A time of 1 hour 25. He's a very quick feeder and only takes about 10mins to feed so this could explain it as he doesn't get much low stimulation time within his A time.

We have also found that the worst nap so far and most crying was when my husband tried to take over unfortunately. Does swapping person tend to cause a major regression? I'm hoping not and it was just a one off as my back needs a break. But I'm worried that we don't have time for a regression as we need to get this done in a week to the point that we only need to shush pat to sleep once so that I can look after my older little boy... do you have any thoughts or tips?
Thank you!

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Re: Starting EASY at 4 months - going to four hourly feeds
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2017, 09:05:08 am »
I would probably not reduce the A time. Guidance time for 4  months is 1hr 45 to 2hrs so you are at the lower end of this.  It can take LOs time to adapt to a longer A time, they look tired earlier, but then they short nap due to being UT (under tired).  All LOs are different aof course and if you are aware and sure that he needs a shorter A time then sure go for it but mostly that would need to be based on prior knowledge and not during a sleep training phase because the sleep training IS going to cause sleep disturbance by the fact he is being put down and shush/patted and he IS going to complain about the change after all he is used to that lovely in-arms  or in-sling nap snuggled up with you.

Stay focused, try to reduce the patting as he is calming and nodding off in the cot, this will help him learn to self settle and that ability will help him to transition from one nap to the next.  Although initially you do need to pat all the way to sleep I think based on your time limit you now need to do a bit of intermittent patting, more then less then more yk?  So he knows you are there but is not becoming too habitualised to constant patting and relying on it. With sleep training you keep moving forwards, you ideally don't let LO get too used to the soothing you are giving.

Sorry but, yes, changing care giver will mean a regression of sorts.  LO is learning in those first couple of days that Mummy means business and where he naps is changing even if he fusses - but when Daddy takes over he thinks "ah okay we can go back to the sling/arms now - oh hang on why is Daddy doing this too? If I scream then maybe Daddy will let me sleep in his arms."  LOs can build a habit per nap and also a habit per care giver.  Being a united front and just getting through this consistently will bring faster results and I know you need that.  I wouldn't usually say to avoid Daddy putting down as it is unfair in many ways but if it is going to be more usual that it will be you doing it then tbh in your particular case I think it might be better you do this for now.  Once sleep is established etc then Daddy can go through it at a later point (by which time actually LO will likely fight less).

Back ache - horrible thing - this is why the sling naps also can't last for ever, those babies get heavy!!  Can you set up a low stool or chair by the cot and fit your arm through the bar so that you are not bending over?  I used a little kiddies foot stool and a little sort of step stool at various points.
As Daddy is there to help out I suggest he does as much "work" as possible to ease the time for you but that you do the actual PD for naps. I  know it's hard.

Keep going - good luck!!


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Re: Starting EASY at 4 months - going to four hourly feeds
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2017, 20:16:57 pm »
Hello
Thanks so much for your reply and help. I am feeling a bit dispirited and doubtful at the end of day 4 that our routine is right and we're going to get where we need to in time.
Our baby has always struggled with A times and been behind those recommended for his age and needed a lot of sleep. Since starting sleep training I have found that he struggles most with his naps when he's overtired and 20 minutes makes a lot of difference in this. I've therefore been taking him up 20 minutes early after an awake time of 1 hour 5 minutes to start winding him down and this avoids him getting overtired and struggling to sleep at all. However if he settles down pretty quickly after taking him up (can be within 10 minutes) this means that he needs to nap for 2 hours to get him to the end of his allotted nap time. He has done this a few times with a few shush pat resettles but I feel it's a lot to expect of him on his own and he possibly doesn't have enough A time to achieve it. I'm also worried that as he takes a varying length of time to settle down and fall asleep his sleep times are only roughly consistent  (within about 20 mins) and so we possibly aren't programming his body clock well enough. The only consistent time is the time we have been taking him upstairs to start the wind down. This is early but I feel it's right for him and don't want to change it this far into the week but it might make our routine unworkable. Help! I'm suddenly feeling very confused. We have made a lot of progress but there's a very long way to go from where we are to him sleeping independently for an hour and a half (or more?!) with only a little help at the start...!! What do you think and apologies for so many questions!

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Re: Starting EASY at 4 months - going to four hourly feeds
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2017, 18:54:17 pm »
If he has always needed lots of sleep and always been on the lower end of A times then, you know best, go with it.  If he has to be asleep at 1hr 25 then I'd just keep with that.  I'd only say, do ask yourself if he could be UT and keep watching for it.  So many people see short naps and automatically think OT and reduce A times when the opposite is more likely needed (especially to set a routine).  UT signs can also be screaming/fussing at nap time in an attempt to tell you they are not ready to sleep, and this can be misinterpreted as OT restlessness and inability to fall to sleep.  just a heads up on what to watch out for.

Tracy said a WD was a full 20 mins and it sounds like your LO needs that. have you ever tired shorter?
Mine only liked a WD of about 3mins and in your situation that would be just the ticket!  it could be that he needs less after this period of sleep training and routine setting.  It's only 4 days, honestly that is a very short space of time for changes but you are already seeing some. x


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Re: Starting EASY at 4 months - going to four hourly feeds
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2017, 09:49:28 am »
Thank you so much for staying with this - it is very helpful and has made a lot of difference.
For some reason our little one seems to get very stimulated by everything and very tired quickly . I once took him to a baby yoga class and it took 3 days for his sleep to recover while other babies seemed fine. I have also noticed other babiies of his age being awake a lot more. This week we have been keeping everything very low key for that reason. Our little one has not even been in his gym and only outside in the garden. Despite this when it gets to 1 hour or 1 hour 5 mins into his A time he starts to squirm and make noises and look tearful. As soon as I take him up and lay him on his swaddle he starts to cry and then makes his loud settling down yelps and jerks as I sway and sing him his wind down song. Then he falls almost instantly asleep/close to sleep when I sit in the chair and I then transfer to the cot and do shush pat if necessary (sometimes he doesn't need it for the first half hour if he is overtired but he then wakes at 30mins). He has always been an extremely jerky baby as he settles down/sleeps - when he was newborn it was almost like a fit.  It isn't so bad now but he still needs swaddling and the jerks are what wake him so frequently. The more tired he is the more jerky. I'm not sure if his short A times are partly due to his being a very quick feeder (10-15mins) so more of his A time is higher stimulation than feeding.
So anyway my point is that our wind down seems necessary then rather than at 1 hour 25 mins but means that for example this morning he was asleep 10mins after I took him up 20 mins early, so 30mins before he should have been in the routine. This then requires a long nap of 2 hours to take him to the next feed 3hours 15 mins after the last feed.
My initial concern was that he needs to feed more frequently than 4 hours and while this is still true I have been surprised that since we started the routine he has been going longer due to sleep  (we have been allowing a flexibility of 15-20mins max to our routine) so seems to be able to go 3 hours 30mins or even more sometimes to the next feed. He once went to 4 hours between feeds as the previous time he had fed early and the second time late but I then noticed that he was very hungry for a feed almost an hour early at his final nap of the day which disturbed that nap and cut it to under an hour..
Does our routine sound okay to you or haywire and all over the place?!

The good news is that I have cut down the shush pat dramatically over the past day thanks to your advice. I'm no longer shush patting him into deep sleep but just for 5mins at the beginning and then for 5 mins each time he wakes and starts to splutter. This can be 3 or 4 times throughout the nap so I still need to be there unfortunately but its still a lot less shush patting than I was doing and my back is very grateful! I am going slightly crazy staying so long each day in a darkened room however!

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Re: Starting EASY at 4 months - going to four hourly feeds
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2017, 10:08:42 am »
It sounds like you know your baby well :)

So anyway my point is that our wind down seems necessary then rather than at 1 hour 25 mins but means that for example this morning he was asleep 10mins after I took him up 20 mins early, so 30mins before he should have been in the routine. This then requires a long nap of 2 hours to take him to the next feed 3hours 15 mins after the last feed.
If LO is on longer E times it's okay to have a little A before E, often routines look like EASAEAS.  Of course he might not be able to reach the longer E time if he is not sleeping so you might need to feed a bit earlier.
I am not sure that you can make him have a 2hr sleep if he is not fully tired enough for it though. If he does a 2hr nap great, but if not I'd settle with 1hr30.

Many LOs are efficient feeders at this age so the short time it takes him to eat is not unusual I don't think.


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Re: Starting EASY at 4 months - going to four hourly feeds
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2017, 13:56:30 pm »
Thank you. I could give him a bit of A before E but I'm just concerned that this will make the total A time before his next nap too long for him. He basically ends up crying if the A time gets too long so it's hard to extend and then also leaves him overtired for the nap. If I then wind him down early for the next nap due to extra A time before his feed then the routine will really get out. Or maybe we should be slowly changing the routine to reflect his actual A time and then 1 hour 30 naps. This would mean we had to add an extra nap to the end of the day, maybe just a cat nap. We haven't been doing cat naps just early bedtimes instead.  If we changed the routine in this way the wind down for the last nap would be 45mins earlier than it is now. Do you think therefore we would have to change slowly otherwise we'll lose the body clock programming we've worked so hard on?  The only reason the routine is sort of working/consistent now is that I'm there to resettle to around 2 hours nap time if necessary...  Sorry for so much posting!