Babies at three months start to become so much more active during the day, making this such a fun age for interaction. Let me share some of the common questions I get about three month olds and a sample three month old sleep and feeding schedule.
The typical wake window for a three month old ranges from 75 to 110 minutes. At 12 weeks, some babies may not be ready for the full 110 minutes. On the other hand, by 16 weeks, 75 minutes may be a little too short first thing in the morning. Also, keep in mind that wake windows are typically shorter in the morning and longer before bedtime.
Sleepy cues continue to be an important way to tell if your three-month-old is ready for a nap, so be sure to keep watching for your little one to give you those cues.
An example sleep and feeding schedule could look like this:
|6:30 am||Wake and feeding|
|7:45-9:45 am||Nap 1|
|11:10 am-12:40 pm||Nap 2|
|2:15-3:00 pm||Nap 3|
|4:40-5:20 pm||Nap 4|
|10:00 pm||Optional dream feed|
Please know: This sample sleep schedule for your three month old is not intended for you to follow rigidly. Instead, watch your baby’s unique cues when it comes to her sleep and feeding needs. (Some babies at this age need more frequent feedings especially in the afternoon and evening. Navigating Months 3 & 4 has so many more examples of how this could play out.)
Milestones are exciting developments to watch for as a parent. It’s so magical to experience your baby’s first smile or to hear their first laugh.
At three months old, your baby may start to:
Open and close her hands on purpose
Show continued improvement in his vision
Begin rolling from belly to back during tummy time
Bear weight on her legs when you hold her upright
Swipe at objects with his hands
Make babbling noises
Smile in response to your voice or social interactions
Remember milestones are based on ranges, so you may not see all of these this month. It’s so important to continue to meet your baby right where he’s at developmentally. I know you may hear from other moms about what their baby can do at three months, but every baby is unique. Some babies hit the milestones early, and some babies will hit them later. Just because your best friend’s three month old started sleeping longer stretches at night doesn’t mean your sweet baby is ready yet. But he can get there eventually!
If you have any concerns about your baby hitting his milestones, make sure to speak with your pediatrician.
The best activities for a three month old are the ones that allow them to explore the world around them! Spend time on the floor, read books, sing songs, and have lots of tummy time with your baby. These are all wonderful activities that allow your baby to get that special time with you.
If your baby is happily playing during tummy time, it is okay to sit back and watch her explore independently (you might even get to drink your coffee or read a book). Independent play is a great skill to develop and encourage. I have some great toys for a three month old in my Amazon store that can help build these independent play skills.
For three month olds, it's common for some naps to be short and inconsistent. For example, your baby may take a 2 hour nap in the morning but, later in the day, take shorter naps lasting only 20-40 minutes. Just keep in mind that we don't want to let any single nap go longer than 2 hours. Why? This ensures that your baby has enough awake time during the day to meet those developmental milestones and to get their daytime calories. Prioritizing daytime calories helps you work towards longer stretches of sleep at night.
This really depends on the length of your baby’s naps. Most babies around 3-4 months will take about 4-5 naps per day, and that will likely vary from day to day as well.
Most babies at three months old do best with no more than 5 hours of total daytime sleep and 10-12 hours of night sleep.
We want to remember:
We aren’t going to let any one nap go longer than 2 hours.
You’ll want to aim for wake windows around 75-110 minutes.
I don’t recommend letting your baby’s night last any longer than 12-12.5 hours.
There’s no universal answer to this question. However, most babies do best with a bedtime between 7:00-8:00 pm starting sometime around three months old. Others do best with an 8:00- 10:00 pm bedtime until closer to five months. Some signs that your baby needs that 7-8pm bedtime include fighting sleep, fussy evenings, more night wakings, or early morning wakings. If you’re experiencing any of these problems, aim for bedtime prior to 8:00 pm. However, if a later bedtime is working for you or you find that moving bedtime earlier results in false start bedtimes, feel free to keep that later bedtime a bit longer.
If we’re aiming for a bedtime no later than 8:00 pm, we want the last nap to end by 6:10 pm. That would give a 110-minute wake window before bed.
Remember that each baby is unique. For some babies, 110 minutes before bedtime is going to be perfect. Other three month olds may need a wake window that’s a bit shorter, so watch those sleepy cues!
When babies experience a progression in development, we do sometimes see a brief regression in other areas, such as sleep. You’ve probably heard of the four month sleep regression, and this can sometimes start as early as three months.
In the case of the four month sleep regression, babies are experiencing a big change in their sleep patterns. These big changes can sometimes make sleep tricky. What worked before may be different now, but Navigating Months 3 & 4 can help.
Pacifiers can be a great tool to help babies sleep, but they can become tricky as babies get older. If you find yourself replacing the pacifier all night long, I know it's exhausting. Check out my blog all about pacifiers which will show you one way to gently help your baby become less dependent on the pacifier for falling asleep. Want more? Navigating Months 3 & 4 will teach you additional strategies for helping your baby to fall back to sleep without the pacifier.
If your baby is showing signs they’re ready to roll, it is time to transition out of the swaddle.
For the first 12 months, we’re always going to lay a baby on their back to go to sleep. If your baby can roll independently from their back to their belly, most pediatricians say that tummy sleep is considered safe. Speak with your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns. Please keep in mind that swaddling is never safe for tummy sleep.
If you haven’t started a bedtime routine yet, now is a great time to begin! In my experience, babies at three months can often recognize the steps leading to bedtime, which can make a big difference in preparing their little bodies for sleep.
Bedtime routines don’t need to be complicated. A bedtime routine for a three month old might look like lotion, pajamas, feeding, books, swaddle or sleep sack, and then bed. As always when it comes to routines, use what works best for you and your family.
Let’s talk about sleep training at three months old. At this age, formal sleep training isn’t developmentally appropriate. Three month olds are still going through big developmental brain changes and moving from newborn sleep cycles to more adult-like sleep cycles. I find that when families try to sleep train before 5 months, they often see more tears and far less long-term success.
Instead, we want to continue to lay a healthy sleep foundation for your baby and work towards helping her fall asleep independently. We know that babies who can fall asleep independently are more likely to be able to put themselves back to sleep, which leads to longer stretches at night. In Navigating Months 3 & 4, I will walk you through all the steps to gently help your baby fall asleep more independently.
Every baby is different, and there’s no magical age for this. For most babies at three months, it’s okay to let them sleep as long as they want without a feeding as long as you are responsive to hunger cues during the day. However, some babies will still wake for feedings during the night, and that’s perfectly normal. If your pediatrician wants you to offer a night feeding for weight gain or any other concern, please follow their instructions.
Please know that Navigating Months 3 & 4 will teach you how to reduce those night feedings and work slowly and gently towards longer stretches of sleep.
Still have a two month old? Read my two month old sleep and feeding schedule.