The 3 month sleep regression can be challenging. Get practical solutions to get your newborn baby back to sleeping well quickly.
I almost jinxed myself.
Just when my baby started sleeping longer stretches, his seemed to have gone downhill the same day he turned 3 months old. He went from being an awesome sleeper to waking up every two hours. I couldn’t believe that, just a few weeks prior, I was telling others how he was able to sleep five hours straight at night.
I’ve since learned that several factors can contribute to babies not falling into a deep sleep at this stage.
If you find yourself awake yet again at four in the morning, rest assured, you’re not alone. Below are the tips that helped me survive the 3 month regression. As one parent said:
“Wow, thank you for this. It’s 2 am and I’m rocking my 3-month-old back to sleep after only 2.5 hours of sleep for the second night in a row. I’m beyond exhausted because she also is only taking 40 minute naps and you pretty much described my life perfectly in this post. I finally don’t feel like I’m alone. This was so reassuring, thank you!” -Miranda
Table of Contents
1. Reduce the number of naps
One of the biggest reasons babies hit a sleep regression at the 3 month mark is that their sleep needs are simply changing. At birth, newborns need 14-17 of hours to sleep. But as they grow, they make way for fewer daytime naps and longer wake times.
At some point, your baby won’t always take three or four naps a day, and it’s often during these sleep regressions that these transitions happen.
So, what can you do? Adjust his schedule to accommodate these changes. Try stretching his wake times so that he takes fewer but longer naps. Keep in mind that two hours is typically the most a 3 month old should be awake.
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2. Feed more during the day
One way to get through this sleep regression is to feed your baby more during the day. As she grows, she can take in more of her calories during the day, like you and I do, and sleep more during the night.
Start with as little as breastfeeding her for two minutes longer or adding an extra half ounce to her bottle. Then, in the middle of the night, reduce her feeding by that amount. Continue to add more minutes or ounces during the day and decrease the same amount on the following nights.
Now, if your baby was nursing for an hour and still hungry after a nighttime feeding, then offer her the milk that she needs. Hold steady with whatever minutes or ounces you’re giving her for a few days before trying to decrease it once again.
Another easy trick is to dreamfeed right before you’re about to sleep yourself. Let’s say you fed and put her down at 7pm, and you typically fall asleep at 9pm. Give her an additional feeding (even if she’s still drowsy) at 9pm to “top her off.”
3. Put your baby down awake as a first resort
With your baby transitioning out of the newborn stage, now is the perfect time to help her get used to putting herself to sleep. One simple way is to put her down awake each time, giving her a chance to at least try to fall asleep on her own.
You see, we all wake up throughout the night—you and I included—but while we know how to fall back asleep, not all babies do. But after months of relying on us to put them to sleep, they understandably have no idea how to do this on their own.
Instead, try to put your baby down awake each time you set her down. If she cries, then go back to your go-to strategies, but at least you gave her the chance to sleep on her own.
4. Give your baby a moment to settle
If you’re like me, you wake up at the slightest whimper you hear from your baby and go to comfort him.
But if you do this too often, he has fewer chances to soothe himself back to sleep. At this stage, he may have learned to rely less on himself and more on you to fall back asleep, hence the multiple wake-ups.
Of course, he’s still in the newborn stage, so it’s unrealistic to expect him to sleep through the night just yet. But here’s the thing: not all cries are equal. Many of his cries might be because of minor discomforts—”complaining,” if you will. He can develop the skills to cope with and get through these slight wake ups.
The next time he cries, give him a moment to settle on his own or go back to sleep, especially if his cries are little whimpers.
No doubt, the 3 month sleep regression is exhausting, especially for this stage. You’ve been through months of caring for a newborn, and to think that sleep is going downhill from here feels discouraging.
Hopefully, you’ve come away with tips to try. Start by reducing the number of naps he takes. Gradually feed him more during the day and less at night. Give him a chance to fall asleep on his own by putting him down awake each time. And finally, should he cry, try to decipher the type of cry. If he’s simply whimpering or “complaining,” give him a few minutes to see if he can settle on his own.
By taking these steps, you’re giving him the best chances of sleeping well once more—no more jinxing yet another night of sleep.
Get more tips:
- Newborn Not Sleeping? 9 Tricks to Help Your Baby (Finally!) Sleep
- What to Do When Your 3 Month Old Won’t Nap
- 5 Reasons Your Newborn Wakes Up Screaming
- What to Do When Your Overtired Baby Keeps Waking Up
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