Your baby’s sleep needs are evolving, and you may be wondering what a sleep schedule for your 3-month old should look like.
Your baby has now indeed left their newborn weeks behind them. Your little one will start to fill out and become more alert and aware of their surroundings.
You may also notice more predictable patterns when it comes to your baby’s sleep – how many naps they are taking, how long they nap for and how long it takes them to fall asleep.
You may also find that your baby has started to consolidate some of their night sleep into longer stretches of between 5 – 6 hours. Do not worry if this has not happened yet; every baby is different. It is around this age that babies start to produce the hormone melatonin. This helps to set your baby's sleep cycle into a more regular rhythm.
How Much Sleep Does a 3-Month-Old Need?
At this age, your baby still needs around 14 – 16 hours of sleep in 24 hours. They will usually have 3 – 4 naps, the duration of which can be anything from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Although nighttime sleep starts to consolidate, many 3-month-olds are still waking 1 – 2 times to feed at night.
Naps are often the source of much frustration and can be as short as 30 minutes, and this is normal. You may find that your baby takes one long nap and then catnaps for the rest of the day. Your baby's awake windows will be anything from 75 to 120 minutes.
Tips for How to Get Your 3-Month-Old on a Sleep Schedule
Whilst your baby is still not quite ready for a strict schedule, you can help to set up the foundations for a routine by doing the following:
Continue to have a pattern to the day
Continue with the pattern of Feed, Play, Sleep.
Introduce a couple of fixed points to the day
Although the days may still be flexible, introduce a couple of fixed times into the day. The easiest to start with is bedtime and the 1st nap of the day.
Continue to practice putting your baby down awake
Place your baby down awake but drowsy as often as you can. This will help your baby learn how to fall asleep independently. If you are not doing this yet refer to our Sleep Schedule for a 2-month-old for some tips.
Pay attention to the amount of day sleep
You want to ensure your baby is not sleeping too much in the day. If a single nap is going longer than 3 hours, then wake them up. Do not, however, keep your baby awake during the day thinking this will help them sleep longer at night. All this will do is make your baby overtired, which will make it more difficult for them to sleep.
Continue to distinguish night from day
During the day, expose your baby to lots of light and ensure that you feed them often.
Transition to a crib
If your baby sleeps in a bassinet, side-sleeper or you bed share, consider transitioning your baby to a crib. Ensure that you keep the crib clear of blankets and toys.
Put your baby down to sleep in the same place
It is not always possible to put your baby down for sleep in their crib, in their room for every nap. This is especially hard if you have other children that need to be ferried around, however where possible put your baby down to sleep in the same place for every nap. This will help your little one to get better quality sleep.
Try letting your baby sleep without a swaddle
Your baby will need to be out of a swaddle by the time they can roll over. Now is a good age to start transitioning them. Your baby's startle reflex is disappearing, so this will not interrupt their sleep. Your baby will now start to sleep in a sleep sack. This will ensure that they stay nice and warm without the need for blankets which are not safe. You may also find that once your baby’s arms are free, they start to use their hands to self soothe.
Have a consistent bedtime routine
If it seems like we talk about this a lot (we do) and the reason is that having a consistent bedtime routine is vital for creating healthy sleep habits for your baby.
Sleep Schedule for 3-Month-Old
At this age, you still cannot expect your baby's sleep schedule to be consistent, and days will vary. However, a typical day would look like the schedule below. This schedule is based on 90 minutes of awake time with the most extended period of awake time being just before bedtime. Four naps of between 30 – 90 minutes each. Remember some naps may be only 30 minutes long. You will have to adjust the schedule accordingly, being mindful of awake times so that your baby is not overtired.
3-Month-Old Sleep Problems
You may be doing everything right, but sometimes your little one does not sleep well, or it seems like they do not want to sleep at all.
Below are some of the more common issues that you may experience:
- Your baby won’t go back to sleep after waking in the night – When you feed or change your baby at night, try to keep the lights off and do not interact with your baby as this will stimulate them too much making it difficult for them to go back to sleep.
- Your baby does not fall asleep independently – Continue to put your baby down drowsy but awake as often as you can. Feeding, rocking or patting your little one to sleep will make it harder for them to fall back to sleep when they wake in the middle of the night. If they do not know how to fall asleep independently, they will need you to put them back to sleep by feeding, rocking or patting when they wake in the night.
- Your baby fusses a lot in the night – If your baby does fuss, wait a few minutes before responding to see if they manage to go back to sleep on their own. If you do have to go to check on them, try not to pick them up. Offer some comfort with a gentle pat or shushing, but once your baby is calm leave.
- Constant feeding during the night – A 3-month-old will still require 1 – 2 feeds in the night. If your baby is waking more than this, it is more than likely for comfort, especially if you currently feed your baby to sleep.
If your baby is not on a set sleep schedule just yet, do not worry. Keep helping your little one establish healthy sleep habits by being consistent. As each week goes by, you will see your baby’s sleep start to settle into a more predictable schedule.