Have you ever wondered if your baby eats and sleeps the right amount? A baby’s needs change rapidly during the first year, and this can make it hard to predict how your child should be behaving as they grow.
Around the 3-month mark, you will probably need to pay particular attention to your child’s development and do what you can to ensure that they are eating and sleeping enough.
What is Happening With Your Baby at the 3-Month Mark?
When your baby reaches 3 months old, they will usually have reached some significant milestones, such as starting to babble and grasp at toys. Their eyes are starting to get stronger, so they will start watching faces intently.
They will also get significantly more voluntary control of their body and will start to push down with their legs and take swipes at objects within reach. They may become capable of supporting themselves on their arms if they are placed on their stomach, and they will start to increase their recognition of familiar objects.
All this requires them to eat more, and it’s also combined with a bigger stomach - meaning they can eat bigger meals at once.
How Much Should a 3-Month-Old Eat?
That may leave you wondering, “how much should a 3-month-old eat?” Are they capable of taking in more food at this point?
A 3-month-old baby is definitely going to be hungrier than a newborn, although it’s important to note that they should still be on a completely liquid diet, and they won’t be eating solid food until they are around 6 months old in most cases – some say 4 months.
So, how much should they be eating? Well, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that you should calculate the baby’s nutritional needs based on their weight, but for most 3-month-old babies, 4-6 ounces of food 6-8 times a day is about right.
Remember that this is only a guideline, rather than a hard rule. Your baby may eat a little more or a little less than this and may go for smaller feeds, or fewer large ones. That’s fine, as long as they are getting enough nutrition to support their development milestones.
As well as needing the right amount of food, babies need key nutrients if they are to develop properly and have everything they need for growth spurts. Some of the most important nutrients include iron, calcium, vitamin E, and DHA. Babies also need carbohydrates, lipids, and protein.
Let’s look at what levels of the above-mentioned nutrients they need! A 3-month-old baby should be getting:
- Iron: 0.27 mg per day
- Calcium: 200 mg per day
- Vitamin E: 4 mg per day
- DHA: 700-100 mg per day
- Carbohydrates: 60 grams per day (or more)
- Lipids: 40-50% of total energy intake
- Protein: 1.5 grams per day for every kilogram of body weight (often translating to about 1.5 grams per day)
The great news is that this should all be provided by a high-quality, age-appropriate formula, or by breast milk. Your infant shouldn’t need additional foods, whether you are breast or bottle feeding.
Your baby still needs to be fed regularly, even if they are eating more. Although the stomach does enlarge around this age, the baby should be eating between 6 and 8 meals per day in most cases.
You will notice that they are feeding more, although you might find that they feed more efficiently as they increase their control and motor skills. Breastfed babies may feed in about half the time they take as newborns.
Most babies will eat about 4 to 6 ounces of milk per feed, so in total, they’ll be consuming between 24 and 48 ounces per day. It doesn’t matter what time of day they feed; some babies like to space out their feeds, while others cluster them up. On the whole, breastfed babies feed more often, because breastmilk is easier for them to digest.
If you are formula-feeding your baby, they will probably eat less frequently, often around once every 4 hours. This gives their stomachs time to digest the food they have taken in. This allows for approximately 6 feeds in a 24-hour cycle.
Don’t try to feed them more often, as they are not likely to be hungry if they haven’t had sufficient digestion time. They will usually eat 6 to 7 ounces per feed.
Choosing the right formula can feel challenging, but there are three main areas you should look at when selecting a brand:
- Check the ingredients and the composition of the formula, and assess whether it meets the needs of a 3-month-old. Look particularly at the protein and carbohydrate content
- Fact-check any health claims and see whether they are in line with current research and recommendations
- Look at the brand’s reputation and determine whether you feel they are ethical and trustworthy
If your baby doesn’t take to one kind of formula, try another option, and talk to your pediatrician if you need help.
How to Make Sure Your Baby is Getting Enough Food
Of course, all babies are different and need different amounts of food. The guidelines above may help you, but it’s important to also be aware of other signs that tell you if your baby is getting enough food.
Learning your baby’s hunger cues is a crucial step. Babies will demonstrate when they feel hungry by doing things like smacking their lips, rooting around on your chest, sucking on their fists, or fussing loudly. 3-month-old babies can be quite vocal when they are hungry.
You can also tell if your baby is getting a good amount of food by checking their bowel movements. Most babies poop about once per day, although it can be less frequent than this.
You need to assess the consistency as well as the frequency. Breastfed babies tend to produce soft, slightly runny poops, while formula-fed babies should produce slightly firmer ones, but nothing hard.
In terms of wet diapers, you should be seeing about 4-6 per day.
What If the Baby Is Still Hungry After Food?
If your baby is still showing hunger signs after eating, it’s possible that they are going through a growth spurt. The best way to respond to this is usually to feed them! They know their bodies and will only ask when they need food.
Overfeeding a breastfed baby is rarely an issue. It is possible to overfeed a bottle-fed baby, but this usually only happens if they are also using the bottle as a comfort item. If you’re concerned about your baby overeating, talk to your pediatrician, but don’t withhold food unless advised to do so by an expert.
You should soon have a feeding schedule that works well for you and your little one.
Recognizing Hunger Cues
There are a lot of hunger cues you can use to better understand when your baby is saying that they want to eat. The cues include those mentioned above, and things like:
- Sticking out the tongue
- Puckering the lips
- Squirming around
- Clenching the hands
Pay attention to these cues and try to feed your child before they are crying, and you’ll find that you generally have more success with meals.
How Much Should a 3-Month-Old Sleep?
Sleep is also of critical importance for your little one. Your baby’s sleeping schedule will probably change a little around the 3-month mark. Most babies of this age need 4 to 6 hours of nap time per day, plus nighttime sleep, making a total of 14 to 17 hours.
Getting enough sleep is crucial for helping your child’s brain and body develop, so it’s important to let them nap and give them the quiet, comfortable space they need for this.
How Many Naps Should Be Included at This Age?
The 4 to 6 hours of sleep per day is usually spread over 3 to 4 naps, meaning that many infants will sleep for 1 to 2 hours per nap. Of course, this isn’t a fixed rule. Some parents and infants find that lots of short naps work better, while others prefer fewer but longer naps.
Find something that works for you, provided it allows your infant to get a good amount of rest. Be aware that very short naps may not prove restful, but very long ones can leave your child disorientated and reluctant to sleep later.
Possible Sleeping Issues
If your little one seems to be struggling to sleep or you’ve noticed sudden changes, it’s worth being aware that a lot of infants experience sleep regression around the 3-month mark. This can upset your existing routines and interrupt any sleep training you’re doing.
Your baby may wake up every few hours and refuse to sleep alone. At around 3 or 4 months, babies’ brains are becoming more alert and they want to use that brainpower. Growth spurts can last a few days but true sleep regression (which typically happens closer to 4 months) can last for 2 to 6 weeks.
Other Sleeping Tips
3 months is the point at which you’ll see several important baby milestones being hit, and this comes with some significant sleep changes.
3-month-old babies will tend to nap anywhere between 30 minutes and 3 hours at random times of the day, but you will hopefully see that they are starting to sleep for 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 3 months. Your baby might still be fussy in the evenings, but you will probably see that they soon settle down, and they are ready for an earlier bedtime.
- Night wake-ups: Some babies may sleep 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 5 or 6 hours. Night wake-ups still vary at 3 months. Anywhere between 2 and 6 times a night is normal.
- Differentiate day & night: If you are not yet seeing your baby differentiate between night and day, you can start keeping their sleep environment quiet and dark at night, and undertake night feedings in the dark with minimal stimulation. On the other hand, make it clear that daytime is for fun and games. Try to have daytime feedings in a well-lit room, and encourage playtime after a feed.
- Sleep habit checkup: At 3 months old, it suddenly becomes obvious whether or not your baby has developed bad or good sleeping 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 conducive to sleep. Keep toys and distractions out of sight and out of the crib. Your baby is now more alert and easily distracted, so you want to make sure their room does not stimulate their curiosity when it is time for bed. The 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.
- What is my baby wearing: What babies wear to bed can affect their sleep tremendously. Because they have a hard time regulating their own body temperature, they need 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. Make sure your baby’s room is at a good temperature.
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- Who is doing the work: Are you doing all the hard work? Now is a good time to shift some of that responsibility. At 3 months, a nap time routine could consist of a diaper change, sitting in a chair, humming/singing, and then placing the baby in their crib while they are still awake. Offer a pacifier and let them go to sleep on their own. No bouncing or rocking is required!
- Aim for longer naps: At 3 months of age, your baby’s naps can start to lengthen, and you can eliminate short naps. A short nap is typically anything less than 30 minutes, and there are two main causes. The first is that the baby’s wake time is either too long or too short. The second is a lack of self-soothing skills - but both of these problems can be solved with a plan and a little work!
- Wake time: For your 3-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, changing their diaper, and putting on some white noise. Next, sit in a chair near the bed. Hum and pat your baby on the back for no more than 2 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 they start crying, set a timer for 5 minutes, and if they’re still crying when it goes off, go in and soothe them. Try to do the least intrusive thing first, initially using just your voice, then a pat on the bottom, then put their pacifier back in. This encourages them to take responsibility for self-soothing. Each time you check in, try to start with the least intrusive step. Pretty soon, you’ll notice that your baby needs less help with self-soothing.
- When should bedtime be: The ideal bedtime for a 3-month-old depends on your family’s schedule, but many experts believe around 7 to 9 p.m. is ideal at this age. As your baby begins to sleep for longer stretches at night, you’ll want to gradually make bedtime earlier, which surprisingly, encourages your baby to sleep even longer.
- Transition from swaddling: At 2 to 3 months, your baby may startle more, roll more, and wake more at night. Swaddling can become dangerous because it carries the risk of suffocation if your baby rolls over. The next step for a baby who loves feeling covered or swaddled is a wearable blanket. Wearable blankets allow your baby to stay covered throughout the night, eliminating the risk of loose blankets being pulled over their head. Their arms are free, and there is plenty of room to kick and squirm, allowing for healthy hip development.
How to Develop a Feeding and Sleeping Schedule for a 3-Month-Old
You should now have a good idea of what your 3-month-old baby needs in terms of feeding and sleeping. It may help to create a sleep routine and a feeding chart, allowing your baby to sleep every few hours, and feed at least 6 times per day.
Remember, it needs to suit you and your little one, but it may look something like this:
- 7:00 - Wake up & feed
- 8:30 - Feed & nap
- 11:30 - Feed & nap
- 14:30 - Feed & nap
- 17:30 - Feed & short nap
- 18:30 - Feed if wanted
- 19:30 - Begin the bedtime routine
- 20:00 - Feed & bedtime
- 23:00 - Feed (or at your own normal bedtime)
Ensure a Good Night’s Sleep With Woolino
As you can see, both food and sleep are critical to a 3-month-old baby, but it’s not just about times - quality is a huge factor. If your baby isn’t sleeping comfortably, they aren’t going to wake up rested, playful, and happy, and they may struggle to develop normally.
A Woolino baby sleeping bag is one of the best ways to guarantee good infant rest, and there are lots of great options for you to purchase, depending on your child’s needs. These can even make nighttime feeds easier because you can keep your little one comfortably wrapped up and minimize how much you disturb them. They are also super breathable and will keep the child’s body at the right temperature.
"I purchased Woolino because our 2-month-old sleeps in our bedroom, which happens to be the coldest room in the house. He was always kicking his blanket off in the night and would wake up cold. After using this sleep sack for a week, not only is he the perfect temperature every time he wakes up, he has been sleeping so much better! He went from waking every 2 hours to only waking twice in the night. I love love love this sleep sack and would highly recommend it!" - Kalie B.
How many ounces should a 3-month-old eat?
A 3-month-old baby should have between 24 and 48 ounces of food per day. This can be split into several feeds. They won’t generally eat more than 7 ounces per feed.
How often should a 3-month-old feed?
Your baby will usually be eating between 6 and 8 meals in a day. Don’t worry if it’s a little more or less, especially occasionally, but this is the average.
Should my 3-month-old eat 3 oz?
Your 3-month-old should be eating more than 3 ounces in most feeds. Generally, 4 ounces is the minimum per feed.
And if you’re wondering, “how much should a newborn eat?”, the answer is that a newborn feeding schedule might involve just an ounce or two per feed, but by the time your baby is 2 weeks old, they should be eating around 3 ounces minimum per meal.