Can you believe your baby is already 3 months old? Seems like only yesterday she was a newborn sleeping 16 hours a day. She’s well past the coos and gurgles of months 1 and 2.
She’s now a “big girl” smiling, giggling, discovering her hands and becoming more social by the day. 3 months old is a common age for parents to start wondering about normal sleep patterns and how to avoid (or fix) sleep problems. You may already be worrying about short naps, frequent night wakings and/or if your 3 month-old will ever sleep in her own bed.
This is the perfect age to begin establishing healthy long-term sleep habits for your baby. This guide below will show you how! I’ve compiled the most common sleep problems for 3 month-olds along with steps you can take to get your baby’s sleep on track. Plus I made this detailed video below that walks you through it all.
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Video: How To Get A 3 Month Old Baby To Sleep Well!
Sleep Patterns for a 3 Month-Old Baby.
Total sleep in 24 hours
Hours of sleep at night
30 mins – 2 hours
(Ok if it varies)
Naps per day
Time between naps
1 – 2 hours
Baby wakes 4+ times at night
- 3 month-olds can sleep 3-5 hours at night without needing to feed (some can go even longer.) This means that it’s normal for your baby to need up to 3 night feedings at this age. If your baby is waking a lot more than this, she’s probably using feeding (or pacifier, rocking, etc..) as a means to fall back asleep.
- This is the perfect age to gently teach your baby new sleep associations, such as falling asleep independently. You can do this very slowly. If you’ve been feeding, rocking or holding her until she falls asleep make a conscious effort each day to shorten this calming ritual by 1 minute. Just 1 minute! Every day attempt to put her down a bit more awake. After a few weeks she’ll be used to going down drowsy. Trust me, you’ll have a much easier time with the 4 month sleep regression if you start this now. Plus you’ll dramatically reduce the chance that you’ll have to sleep train in a few months.
Baby's bedtime is later than 10 pm
- Often a late nap is the culprit. To get your baby used to an appropriate bedtime of 7:30-9:30 pm, allow for a 2 hour awake time before her new bedtime. So wake your baby from her last nap by 5.30-6:30 pm. It will take several days to work toward this.
- Start a consistent bedtime routine 30 minutes before her desired bedtime to cue relaxation. Babies learn through repetition and consistency. Find out how to move baby’s bedtime earlier here.
- If you think that keeping your baby up late at night will help her sleep in later in the morning, think again! As much as we’d all love to sleep in until 9 am, babies are naturally early risers. It’s in their hard-wiring. Your best bet is an earlier bedtime to avoid an over-tired (and cranky) 3 month-old.
Baby thinks 5-6 am is a great time to start the day
- Is her bedtime too early? Remember, 3 month-olds are expected to sleep only 9-11 hours at night. So a bedtime before 7 pm is too early.
- Is her bedtime too late? It seems counterintuitive, but a really late bedtime can cause early risings. Think of it like jet lag. Even though you’re exhausted after a 15-hour trip, you find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night. If your baby is over-tired, her nervous system becomes overstimulated and she’ll have trouble sleeping soundly.
- Have I confused you yet?? The main idea is to find the bedtime “sweet spot” that works best for your baby. For the majority of 3 month-olds, this falls between 7:30-9 pm.
Will my baby ever sleep in her own bed?
- If your baby is bed-sharing or in a co-sleeper and you’re eager to transition her to her own bed, the best method is slowly and gently.
- The idea is to increase the distance between you and your baby every few nights. So slowly that she barely notices!
- If you’ve been cuddled up together, the first move will be a 1-foot distance between the two of you.
- The next move could be placing her crib next to your side of the bed for a few nights.
- After that you can slowly move her crib to another spot in your room or into her own bedroom.
- Don’t get discouraged if your baby rejects this transition right away. Just keep trying each night. Over time, your consistency will teach her how to adjust.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends sharing a room with your baby until her first birthday. If you need to move your baby into her room before then, try sleeping in her room for a few nights. Using a baby monitor also helps to allay many parent anxieties.
My baby's naps are so unpredictable!
- Start watching the clock. Young babies can handle only 1-2 hours of awake time throughout the day. This is completely normal. Their brain and nervous system need to recharge often. When a 3 month-old refuses to nap, it’s typically because she’s over-tired/overstimulated and her system can’t relax enough to fall asleep. Start planning for her next nap after she’s been awake for about an hour.
- Take your baby to her room 10 minutes before nap time should begin. Do a short winding-down routine: change her diaper, sing a lullaby, and comfy pajamas. (Basically a shortened version of your bedtime routine.)
- For the best quality sleep, make sure you include: white noise, dark room/black-out curtains, semi-quiet household, swaddle or sleep sack. (See my favorite products below).
- At least 1 nap per day should be at home in the same place she sleeps at night (crib, bassinet.) Why? Your baby is becoming more aware of her environment and therefore distractible, so it’s harder for her to sleep whenever, wherever. Plus it’s better quality sleep. Morning nap is usually the easiest to have at home (because you haven’t showered yet! ?)
- It’s completely fine to let your baby nap in the stroller (lying flat, not upright), baby carrier or in your arms. Motion naps often help babies nap longer. Just make sure that all naps are supervised by an awake adult.
- Remember: Don’t go longer than 1.5-2 hours before giving your baby a nap-friendly environment. Don’t stress about short naps or an unpredictable nap schedule- your baby is still young. Just focus on getting quality sleep often. It may take a week or so to see improvements.
- See my video below for more specific nap tips!
My baby will only sleep on my chest
It’s so exhausting when your baby will only sleep ON you. But don’t worry, I DO have a resource for you.
This video gives you advice on getting baby OFF your chest.
My baby sleeps in the DockaTot (or Rock n Play.) Do I need to move her to a crib?
Many parents credit the DockaTot or Rock n Play with helping their young baby sleep well, especially babies with reflux. Unfortunately, these devices are not considered safe spaces for your baby to sleep unsupervised.
In April 2019 Fisher Price recalled all Rock n Plays due to infant deaths while sleeping there.
Both the AAP and NHS recommend that babies should only be placed to sleep on a firm, thin mattress inside a crib, cradle, bassinet or play yard.
It’s interesting to know that only products clearly labeled “crib” “cradle” “bassinet” or “play yard/playard“ are regulated in the U.S. by the CPSC. All other products are unregulated (“sleeper” “napper” “lounger” etc…)
It’s time to get baby sleeping in a crib!
Every day is different. It’s hard to stick to a routine. I feel like I’m always trying to catch up.
- Go easy on yourself. It’s completely normal to always feel tired, overwhelmed and emotional during your baby’s first year. I recommend you avoid all sad films and Adele songs. While you’re at it, don’t watch the news either unless you want to have a good cry. It’s just depressing.
- The best way to get into a daily routine is to set a morning wake-up time, like 7 am. No matter what happened the night before, you and baby wake up, open the curtains, move to another room, and make a coffee! Having a set wake-up time helps each day fall into a similar rhythm. It will help your baby fall into regular nap times as well. Then you can establish an appropriate bedtime. And before you know it, you’re into a daily groove!
Want an Easy Sleep Schedule
for your 3 Month Old?
Products I Recommend for 3 Month Olds
White Noise Favorites
The Best Blackout Products
Keep Your Baby Safe with a Sleep Sack
Top Rated Baby Monitors
For Naps On-the-Go
Important Note: If your baby is really fussy or colicky and the above tips have not helped after 1-2 weeks, then do whatever it takes to get some sleep. You can try again at 4 months old. You’ll get there!
Is your 3 month-old baby having trouble sleeping? Reach out to us in the Comments Section below for advice from Jilly.