Lots of great things start to happen around 3 months of age! They are coming out of the “newborn” stage, becoming less colicky, the witching hour is ending, and they are beginning to interact more with their environment. You may even see a 3 month old sleep schedule emerging!
This is because their circadian rhythm is finally developed. But what does that mean? “The infant is born with a weak sleep-wake rhythm connected to the mother. Circadian rhythm has to develop in the newborn.
Melatonin, cortisol, body temperature, movement, blood pressure, digestion, and consolidated sleep are all part of the circadian rhythm. The newborn infant develops the components of circadian rhythm postnatally. A rhythm of cortisol develops at 8 weeks of age, melatonin and sleep efficiency develop at approximately 9 weeks, and body temperature rhythm and that of circadian genes develop at 11 weeks.”
Once they’re producing sleep hormones, you start to see more predictable sleep patterns and a 3 month old sleep schedule isn’t as hard to achieve as it might’ve been when your little one was younger.
In this blog, we will go over:
- What nights look like
- 3 month old sleep schedule
- 3 month old feeding schedule
- 3 month old nap schedule
- Sample schedule for 3 month old
- Activities you can do during awake time
What nights look like for a 3 month old sleep schedule
Did you know the “4 month sleep regression” can actually affect your baby as early as 3 months or as late as 6 months? This regression is where their sleep patterns have permanently changed and matured from newborn sleep cycles to adult sleep cycles.
This means they have the opportunity to wake more frequently in the night. So just when night time sleep starts to come together (typically around 8-12 weeks), your solid night of sleep is gone just as quickly as it started!
If you’re lucky, your little one could be capable of sleeping 5-8 hours straight at night, maybe even more at 3 months/12 weeks old. An average 3 month old baby would need 1-3 feedings in the middle of the night (in a 12 hour period).
The long stretch of sleep develops from bedtime to their first night time feeding. This happens as bedtime naturally becomes earlier as their circadian rhythm develops. You can consider dreamfeeding at this age if you would like to give it a try!
Most physicians will allow you to let your baby sleep at night and not wake for feedings once your child has established a growth curve and maintains that so make sure to check in with them!
3 month old sleep schedule
A sleep schedule for 3 months old is still going to vary a little bit. However, since their circadian rhythm has developed at this point, you may find that they are waking up around the same time each morning and potentially going to bed around the same time in the evening.
I would expect morning wake up time to be between 6-8am and bedtime to fall between 6-8pm. This is what is considered normal for their circadian rhythm. I would also expect 10-12 hours of nighttime sleep (in their bed, not a continuous stretch).
If you find that their day to day sleep schedule is really erratic, don’t be afraid to wake them up in the morning around the same time (consider a 30 minute window, like 7-7:30am). This will help to stabilize their day, their naps, and their bedtime!
Pretty soon, they will wake themselves up during that time in the morning and you won’t have to.
A gentle way to wake your little one up would be to open their door, wait a minute or two then turn off their sound, wait again, then open up the blinds before gently rubbing their back and speaking softly to wake them up.
3 month old nap schedule
A typical 3 month old nap schedule will include 4 naps and about 4-5 hours of day sleep. An average awake period for a 3 month old is 90 minutes, maybe a little bit more if you’ve got a fantastic sleeper on your hands!
It is still normal to have cat naps throughout the day so don’t be afraid to hold and snuggle for a longer nap sometime throughout the day in order to keep your baby well rested for good night time sleep.
You may already know, but overtiredness from too much awake time or too little day time sleep can negatively impact your nighttime sleep!
3 month old feeding schedule
Regarding feeding schedules for 3 month olds, most babies are feeding every 2-4 hours during the day with a longer stretch at the beginning of the night.
Some babies will fall into a very predictable/textbook “3 hour schedule” around this age where they sleep for 90 minutes, are awake for 90 minutes and eat every 3 hours during the day with a longer stretch at night.
It’s also normal for them to take longer naps, shorter naps, and eat at varied times during the day. There is a lot that we can consider “normal” for young babies so try to not compare!
Sample schedule for 3 month old
A sample schedule for 3 month olds may look something like:
7:00am wake up, eat, play
8:15-10:00am nap, eat, play
11:30-12:45pm nap, eat, play
2:15-3:45pm nap, eat, play
5:15-5:45pm nap, eat, play
If naps are short, then you could add in another nap or help to extend a nap so that they get a little more day sleep in.
You can also move their bedtime up to 6pm in order for them to make up sleep from their short naps during the day! If you have a chronic catnapper, check out this blog to see how to improve naps.
Don’t let the 3 month old sleep schedule stress you out if your baby didn’t read the book and doesn’t follow the perfect day. Remember to try to start your morning around the same time each day and that will help everything else stabilize!
Important note: you do want to limit any single nap to 2 hours maximum and again no more than 5 hours of daytime sleep.
It is a great time to incorporate a bedtime routine for your baby if you have not!
And parents, infant sleep is a predictor in maternal mental health disorders postpartum so do not feel guilty for wanting to improve sleep for your little one since it affects you too!
Activities you can do during awake time at 3 months old
Now that your baby is staying awake for longer periods of time, you may be thinking, “what do we do for an entire hour?!”
According to How Wee Learn, babies at 3 months old are starting to work on fine motor skills like bringing their hands to their mouth. They are working on gross motor skills like lifting their head up, getting onto their side and maybe even rolling.
They are beginning to communicate with vocalizations and laughter. Some fun activities you can do with your little one at this age includes:
- Singing songs with hand motions
- Providing toys for them to manipulate that have different textures
- Tummy time with a mirror
- Imitate their facial expressions
- Practice tracking toys
Takeaways about sample schedule for 3 month old:
Remember to focus on responsive feeding, learning their cues (how they communicate is through behavior), changing up the activities during their awake time, and try not to stress if your child doesn’t fit the textbook version of sample schedules!
It is definitely okay to want to improve sleep, especially during the night when it is affecting you as well, but also tune into your child and as long as they’re happy, eating well, gaining weight well, and you’re getting in some great bonding times, then you’re raising a happy, healthy kid.
Ashley Olson is a certified pediatric sleep consultant, owner of Heaven Sent Sleep, and passionate about helping new parents, experienced parents, desperate and sleep deprived parents form healthy sleep habits for their children.
She has over 3 years of experience in working with families and has completed over 150 hours of coursework plus continuing education related to infant and toddler sleep. The focus of her work is on fostering a routine that grows your bond with your child while improving their sleep habits. She specializes in custom sleep plans and one on one support in changing sleep practices!