Sleep and Feeding Schedule For Your Three Month Old Baby
Remember your newborn night feeding schedule? Those days when your baby would almost instantly fall asleep in your arms, in the car seat, in the grocery store… pretty much anywhere? Well, those days are over, mama. The good news is that your baby is developing new skills and soaking in knowledge at an amazing rate. By 3 months, your baby is probably smiling plenty, and she's likely started to imitate what she hears and sees (so watch what you do!). She is becoming even more active and social at three months. She’s more in control of her body and more aware of people and interacting with them, which makes for lots of fun at playtime. Your child needs a good 3 month old sleep schedule to be alert and confident during those awake times. She’s learning so much at this stage! Things can get a bit bumpy when it comes to your 3 month old baby’s routine, so we’re solving your biggest problems when it comes to your 3 month old baby schedule: feeding & sleeping.
Feeding. . .
Three-month-old baby feedings may become less frequent than they were in the early newborn days. Whether their nourishment comes from breast milk alone, or from formula, or from some combination of the two, most babies this age are able to consume more milk at each feeding than they were able to in the previous two months (now 5 to 6 ounces on average), so their feedings are less frequent (perhaps six to eight feedings in a 24-hour period).
More distracted: At three months old, your baby has also started to wake up! She grew out of that sleepy newborn stage, and is suddenly interested in everything! Every little sight and sound will keep her head spinning with curiosity. These distractions can affect feeding time, and while she may be hungry, she may also be too distracted to get a full feeding.
Feed sleepy, secluded, and often: The key is to feed her when she is sleepy, feed her when she is secluded, and feed her often. Make sure to catch her as she wakes up from a nap. The sooner you can get in there and feed her, the better she will nurse. Make her nursery into a nursing cave. White noise, and lights off. Try to limit or block out any noises or lights that would distract. Sometimes you can provide all the right conditions for your baby to feed well, and she just wants to look up at you and smile instead! When that happens, just wait 30-45 minutes and try again. If you need to feed her when she’s sleepy before a nap, just be sure you still try to lay her down drowsy but not yet asleep. Though falling asleep while breastfeeding happens easily, you want to train her to fall asleep on her own and not depend on the breast or bottle.
How much or how often: For bottle feeding with formula, a 3-month-old baby typically consumes five ounces about six to eight times a day. For nursing, feedings are typically about every three or four hours at this age but each breastfed baby may be slightly different. What’s important is that baby seems content, your breasts seem to have been emptied (they’re soft) and baby’s gaining weight healthily.
Diaper check: To double-check that baby’s getting enough breast milk, you can check her diapers. A 3 month old baby will produce about four to six wet diapers per day. As a newborn, your baby may have passed a bowel movement after every feeding, but your 3 month old baby may only pass one once per day, or even once every two or three days.
More efficient: You may notice your 3 month old baby sleeping more and eating less. Breastfed babies do get more efficient, so it’s normal for your baby to feed in about half the time it took her to feed as a newborn. If you see all the signs that baby is getting enough to eat, it’s perfectly normal. If not, it could be a sign of a problem, so talk to your pediatrician.
What can baby eat this month: Baby is still only able to eat breast milk and/or formula. Many parents ask "Can I give my 3-month-old water?". Most doctors recommend parents wait until baby’s ready for solid foods—around 4 to 6 months of age—before they get water. Your baby is getting plenty of hydration from breast milk or formula and needs the nourishment it provides.
Sleep. . .
Three month old babies will tend to nap anywhere between 30 minutes and 3 hours at random times of day, but you will hopefully see that they are starting to sleep longer stretches at night. This tends to be an age where you start to see a little more predictability to your days and nights. 14-17 hours of total sleep is common and considered healthy at three months. Your baby might still be fussy in the evenings, but more than likely you will soon see that settles down and they are ready for an earlier bedtime.
Night wake-ups: Some babies may be sleeping through the night, but it's important to remember that this doesn't apply to all babies and that “through the night” often means a stretch of about five or six hours. Night wake-ups still vary at 3 months. Anywhere between 2 and 6 times a night is normal. If you’ve got a baby who’s been waking up 6 times a night for 2 months straight, you might feel at your wit’s end, but you should know that this is not something to be alarmed about. If your baby is more on the 2 times a night end of the spectrum, you could consider yourself lucky, though you might not feel it.
Differentiate day & night: If you are not yet seeing a differentiation between night and day, you can help them along by keeping their sleep environment quiet and dark at night and keeping night feedings in the dark with minimal stimulation. On the flipside, make it clear that daytime is for fun and games. Try and have those daytime feedings in a well-lit room and you can start to encourage some playtime after a feed. Plus, be sure they’re getting exposed to some sunlight.
Sleep habit checkup: At three months old, it suddenly becomes obvious whether or not your baby has developed bad or good sleep habits. Some babies need to be rocked or nursed to sleep, and resist the crib! You need a solid foundation of good sleep habits for your baby. Try to do a sleep habit checkup and ask yourself these three questions: What do the surroundings look like? What is my baby wearing? Who is doing the work?
What do the surroundings look like: Make sure your baby’s room is made for sleep and not play. Keep entertaining toys and distractions out of sight and out of the crib, and in a box or playroom instead. At three months, your baby has become more alert and distracted, so you want to make sure their room does not stimulate their curiosity when it is time for bed. Your baby’s room should also be cool and dark, with white noise. If you haven’t put blackout curtains in your child’s nursery, you should consider doing so now. Trash bags work as a great alternative.
What is my baby wearing: What babies wear to bed can affect their sleep tremendously. Not only should they feel comfortable, but because they have a hard time regulating their own body temperature, they need to be wearing sleepwear that will keep them just the right temperature through the night. Babies will often wake up because they are too hot or too cold, and then cannot self soothe back to sleep. So what’s the solution?!—A Woolino wearable blanket, or sleep bag. Woolino 4 season sleep bags are made with the finest and softest merino wool that naturally helps regulate body temperature, so you never have to worry if your baby is too hot or too cold. It is also the perfect transition from the swaddle, giving them just enough weight for security, and a plenty of room to kick and squirm for healthy hip development.
Who is doing the work: Are you doing all the hard work for your baby? Rocking her completely to sleep? Now is a good time to shift some of that responsibility to your baby. At three months, a nap time routine could consist of diaper change, sit in chair, hum and sing for a minute or two, then place baby in her crib while she’s still awake. Offer a pacifier and let her go to sleep on her own. No bouncing or rocking required!
Aim for longer naps: Newborns sometimes nap in short spurts, or only 30-45 minutes at a time. For a 3 month old sleep schedule, naps can start to lengthen a bit more if you’ve got a good sleep foundation in place. A short nap is typically less than 30 minutes long. There are two main causes of short naps. The first cause is baby’s wake time is either too long or too short. The second is a lack of self-soothing skills. Don’t worry! Both of these problems can be solved with a plan and a little work!
Wake time: For your three-month old, the perfect wake time is around 1.5 hours. If your baby is struggling with short naps, don’t stress! Just put your baby down 1.5 hours after she wakes up regardless of how long the last nap was.
Self-soothing: A baby’s lack of self-soothing skills can cause short naps. Try dimming the lights or just put on a hallway light in your baby’s room. Change her diaper and put on some white noise. Then sit in a chair with the lights out. Hum and pat your baby on the back for no more than two minutes. Remember, you’re not rocking to sleep, you’re just setting the stage for sleep! Put your baby down sleepy, but not sleeping. Say goodnight and leave the room! If she starts crying, set a timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, go in and soothe your baby. Try to do the least intrusive thing first. So instead of jumping right to rocking or nursing, try just your voice, then a pat on the bottom, then put her pacifier back in. See how each step takes a little more of the responsibility of self-soothing from your baby? Each time you have to go check, try to start with the least intrusive step again. Pretty soon, you’ll notice that your baby needs less and less help with self-soothing.
When should bedtime be: The ideal bedtime for a 3-month-old sleep schedule depends on your family’s schedule, but many experts believe around 7 to 9 p.m. is ideal at this age. As baby begins to sleep for longer stretches at night, you’ll want to gradually make bedtime earlier, which (surprisingly!) encourages baby to sleep even longer.
Sleep regression: Look out for the 3-month sleep regression! It can suddenly appear, with your baby starting to wake up like a newborn—every few hours—and want to play or cuddle, but refusing to sleep alone. Baby might be waking more often at night because of a growth spurt, or it might be a developmental thing. Around 3 or 4 months, babies’ brains are becoming more alert and because of that, they want to be using that brainpower more often. Growth spurts can last a few days but true sleep regression (which typically happens closer to 4 months) can last two to six weeks.
Transition from swaddling: At 2-3 months of age, your baby may start to startle more, roll more, and wake many times a night. Swaddling can become dangerous with the risk of suffocation if baby rolls over. The next step in transition for a baby who loves feeling covered or swaddled is a wearable blanket. Wearable blankets allow baby to stay covered throughout the night without the risk of loose blankets being pulled over their head. Their arms are free, and there is plenty of room to kick and squirm for healthy hip development.
The 3 Month Schedule. . .
Note: Not all babies are able to follow a schedule at this age, but for some it can be worth trying to get them started on a schedule, especially as they get closer to 4 months. These are general guidelines and all babies are different, so your child may not be able to strictly adhere to this schedule. Always use your best judgment as a parent when setting your child's schedule.
Creating baby feeding and sleeping schedule for your three month old is no easy task, but you can do it! You can be rocking a routine in no time. If you put in the hard work in these early months, it will get so much easier as your baby grows older.