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Your 3-month-old's sleep schedule: Make it happen!

Your 3-month-old's sleep schedule: Make it happen!

 

Meet our expert

Rachel Turner

Certified Sleep Sense™ Consultant, Owner, Hello Sleep 


You’ve read that at 3-months, your baby’s finally in a regular sleep routine. But many parents I’ve coached feel like they’re backsliding. Let’s do a deep dive—and get you back on track.


What’s happening?

Many parents settle into a more predictable sleeping pattern—a big improvement since the 2-month mark. Fewer naps. Fewer night feedings. Longer sleeps (from 10pm to 6am, on average). Add in a few 1½-hour naps, and your baby should now be sleeping about 14 to 16 hours a day.

But at 3+ months, new issues can crop up that throw everything off: Sleep regression. Restless sleep. Growth spurts. Teething. Or (wait for it)—a combination. And sometimes, it’s all happening just as you’re going back to work after parental leave.

Is it normal?

For babies? Yes. For their parents? Not so much. Knowing what to expect at the 3-month mark is the best way to stay ahead of sleep setbacks.

What to expect—and how to be ready

Check out these common parent challenges—then see the solutions at a glance.

Negative sleep associations

Learning to sleep independently can be hard for babies; being placed alone in a crib, out of your arms, some babies start to make negative associations with bedtime.

How to be ready: Get your baby on a consistent bedtime routine that she looks forward to. Include a warm bath, a feeding, cuddles, a dark nursery and a white noise machine.


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Fitful sleep

3-month-old babies start needing fewer night feedings; four feedings may be too many, by this point, and can make babies restless sleepers.

How to be ready: Start reducing the number of late-night feedings by making sure your baby gets enough to eat all day long, and slowly stretching the time between night-time feedings.


Teething

If your baby is drooling, biting or irritable during the day, it may be because she is teething. Some babies grow their first tooth as early as 2 to 3 months.

How to be ready: Before picking her up at bedtime, try giving your baby a teething ring. If tender gums persist, talk to your pediatrician.


Sleep regression

Sudden, frequent wakefulness at 3 months is common---but it can test your patience. 3 to 4-month sleep regression is actually a sign that your baby’s sleep cycle is maturing.

How to be ready: Keep to your sleep training routine, and be sure your baby’s getting enough naps! Overtired babies have a hard time settling down at night. Use Zen Sleepwear, weighted to mimic your touch, to give your baby a head start on peaceful sleep.


Getting baby on a schedule 

At 3 months, your baby's sleeping patterns will start becoming more defined—unlike the first couple months of their life. This change in your baby's sleep cycle means they're ready to get on a more defined schedule. 

How to be ready: Start getting baby into a sleep-eat-play routine, using our sample schedule below to guide you. A good day-time sleep schedule will set the foundation for better night-time sleep. 


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Your baby’s ideal schedule

Time

Notes

Wakeup

Between 6-7 AM

Wake, feed, then play (in that order)

Nap #1

1.25 to 1.5 hours after wakeup time

1-3 hours long

Nap #2

1.5 hours after last nap

1-3 hours long

Nap #3

1.5 hours after last nap

1-3 hours long

Nap #4

1.5 hours after last nap

1-3 hours long

Nap #5 (optional)

1.5 hours after last nap

This nap can be shortened to 30 minutes to an hour long - don't let baby sleep past 6:30 PM.

Start Bedtime Routine

Between 7-7:30 PM

Incorporate a full feed into your bedtime routine

Bedtime

Between 7:30-8 PM

Put baby in the crib drowsy, but awake

 

Your Action Plan at a glance

When those 3-month-old sleep struggles do pop up, use our Action Plan to determine what it means—and how to get back to a good night's sleep.

 

 

Sleeping through the night at 3 months

If you’re an especially lucky parent, your baby may actually start sleeping through the night at 3 months. Of course, that may not mean the civilized 8-9 hour stretch you were hoping for. Most 3-month-old babies will sleep about 5 hours at a time. But if your little one isn’t yet sleeping through at 3 months, don’t worry—it won’t be long now.


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WHEN WILL MY BABY SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT—AND WHAT'S PREVENTING IT?

 

New mom sleep hacks you’ll love

See how Sarah got her baby to sleeping better & longer!

 

Common questions from new parents

Q: How much sleep does a 3-month old need?

A: 5 hours of daytime sleep ( 3-5 naps a day)  & 10-12 hours at night

Q: How long should my 3-month-old nap?

A: At 3 months old your baby should be taking 3-5 naps per day, each 1 to 3 hours long—with the exception of the last nap of the day which should not go past 6:30, so you may need to cut that nap short. 

Q:  My 3-month-old is sleeping a lot—especially at naptime. Is this ok?

A: An average 3 month old should be getting 5 hours of daytime sleep. If you think your little one is sleeping too much, start tracking their nap times for a couple days to see how much they are actually getting!

Q: Can I start sleep training at 3 months?

A: You can start teaching healthy sleep habits as young as newborns. Sleep training could start once your little one is gaining good weight and on a healthy growth curve per your doctor. Be sure to talk to your doctor about their weight gain and if they could make it through the night without a night feed.

Q: Should I wake my 3-month-old baby to feed at night? Should I feed about 4x a night if I’m breastfeeding?

A: If your little one is having 6 - 7 good feeds per day, during daylight hours then you can usually see three “night feeds” . Make sure to also check in at each wellness doctor visit to make sure your little one is on a good growth curve.

Q: My baby is almost 4 months. What should his 4-month feeding schedule be?

A: Overall, at 4 months your baby should be getting 4 hours of daytime sleep with 3-4 naps and 10-12 hours at night. Here's a sample schedule: 

Between 6:00am - 7:00 am: Wake up, feed, play (in that order)

Feed #1: 10-60 mins after wake-up (depending on last feed right)

1.5 –1.75 hour after wake-up: Begin Nap #1 (do not start this before 7:30am)

Feed #2: at least 10 mins after she wakes from nap

1.75-2 hours after wake-up from Nap 1: Begin Nap #2

Feed #3: at least 10 mins after she wakes from nap

1.75-2 hours after wake-up from Nap 2: Begin Nap #3

Feed #4: at least 10 mins after she wakes from nap

1.75-2 hours after wake-up from Nap 3: Possible Nap #4 (do not let her sleep past 5:30 p.m. this nap should be short, buggy/car/sling is okay)

Feed #5: at least 10 mins after she wakes from nap 4 or a full feeding at 5:30 p.m.

6:30pm – 7:00pm: Begin bedtime routine

Feed #6: Full feed in the bedtime routine

Between 7:00pm – 7:30pm: End bedtime routine and into crib awake

If a nap ended after 3:30pm, do not try for another nap, plan on starting the bedtime routine at 6:00pm and into the crib at 6:30pm (this doesn’t mean she can’t sleep past 3:30pm, it is simply that I find it can be hard to fit it in and then still have a smooth bedtime).

Q: When do babies start to self-soothe?

A: Babies can learn to self soothe at a young age, even before 3 months old! Use a Nested Bean Zen Swaddle to help comfort your little one as they sleep. The Zen Swaddle is gently weighted to help babies sleep longer and more peacefully!

Q: Why should I follow a  EAT - PLAY - SLEEP pattern?

A: Eat. Play. Sleep. Eat. Play. Sleep.
This is the perfect pattern. Being consistent with this pattern throughout the day will help establish a routine for your child to know what is coming next.
Children thrive off of routines! Not to mention, it also avoids an eat-sleep association that allows your child to learn to fall asleep independently and not rely on always nursing or having a bottle in order to fall asleep!

Q: What’s the typical bedtime routine for a 3-month-old baby?

A: Bottle feed (be sure they stay awake for this entire feed and it’s a good feed), bath, diaper change. Then into the Zen Swaddle or Zen Sack for story time and cuddles, before kisses goodnight and putting baby into their sleep area.  

 

You might also like:

Simplifying Baby Sleep

10 Tips for Surviving 4-Month Sleep Regression

Bedtime Chart by Age

3-Month-Old Naps