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How to Get Your 3 Month Old Baby on their Best Sleep Schedule

Meet our expert

Rachel Turner

Certified Sleep Sense™ Consultant, Owner, Hello Sleep 

 

Nested Bean contributor Rachel Turner has helped many families overcome sleep hurdles with their babies. She is  a Certified Sleep Sense™ Consultant, Owner of Hello Sleep, and author of this article.


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 with the 3 month sleep schedule—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 at this age can be caused by cognitive and physical  developmental milestones like becoming more aware if their surroundings, 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.

Amount of Sleep 

A common question I get from parents is: How much sleep does a 3 month old need? Every child is different, but at the 3 month old stage a general rule of thumb is 15-17 hours in 24 hours.

How to be ready: Plan your sleep schedule, during the day and at night, and take advantage of resources like our sample 3 month old sleep schedule below! About 5 hours of daytime sleep (3-5, 1-3 hour naps per day) and 10-12 hours at night should do the trick.

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, a white noise machine, and gently weighted sleepwear.


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. Zen Sleepwear can help you maximize sleep between feedings.


Teething

If your baby is drooling, biting or irritable during the day, it may be because they are 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 or one of our 8 teething tips. 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 3 month old sleep routine

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. 


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 and Zen Sleepwear into your bedtime routine

Bedtime

Between 7:30-8 PM

Put baby in the crib drowsy, but awake


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 old. 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.

Headed back to work? Get our Back to Work Action Plan to learn what sleep struggles might pop up, and how to overcome them.

 

 

New mom sleep hacks you’ll love

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

 


Common questions from new parents

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