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3-Month-Old Sleep Schedule

This article will help you establish a flexible sleep routine for your 3-month-old, for both bedtime and naps.


header image titled nap schedule with baby sleeping

As your baby grows, their sleep patterns also change. Between 3 and 4 months of age, you may notice your baby starts waking up more at night and taking shorter naps. This is because their internal body clock, known as the circadian rhythm, is developing, which can lead to disrupted sleep. Establishing a consistent sleep schedule can help improve their sleep in the long-term.


At three months old, babies become much more active during the day, which makes it a fun age as they start to give back more. Here are some common questions I get about three-month-olds and a sample three-month-old sleep and nap schedule.


In this article:


3 Month Old Sleep Schedule


How many naps should a baby have at 3 months old?

At 3 months old, most babies will take between 4 and 5 naps a day. However, some babies may take more than 5 naps if they have very short naps. This is common and nothing to be alarmed about.


How long should a baby nap at 3 months old?

At 3 months of age, your baby will nap anywhere between 20 minutes to 2 hours. Most babies at this age will sleep for longer than 2 hours during the day. As a general rule, I suggest capping your baby's naps to a maximum of two hours in length. There are a couple of reasons for this. At this age, feeding and sleep are closely linked, so it's helpful to wake your baby up during the day to ensure they are getting enough calories in the daytime. This can prevent a situation where they start waking in the night to feed more than they do in the day. Additionally, a baby can usually only manage one long consolidated stretch of sleep in a 24-hour period, and we want to make sure that stretch is more likely to happen at the start of the night rather than during the day.

How often should a baby nap at 3 months old?

Wake windows refer to the length of time a baby can stay awake between periods of sleep, whether they are naps or overnight sleep. It's important to note that wake windows are a modern concept and not entirely supported by scientific evidence, as there are no comprehensive studies proving that babies have specific wake windows at particular ages. Because of this, wake windows may vary depending on the source. For babies around 3 months old, I typically recommend wake windows of 75 minutes to 2 hours.


As the day goes on, wake windows can become longer, with the shortest one typically in the morning. However, if your baby has a short nap, especially less than a full sleep cycle (usually 30-45 minutes), they may get tired much sooner and be unable to last for a full wake window.


How long are 3-month-old sleep cycles?

This age is a transitional age, your baby may still have sleep cycles like that of a newborn and those cycles last for around 50-60 minutes in length and they will spend 50% of that time in active sleep, and 50% of the time in a deep sleep. However, around 4 months of age these sleep cycles mature, and you may then find the sleep cycle can be anywhere between 30-45 minutes.


Do I need to put my 3-month-old on a sleep schedule?

You don't have to, but this is a good age to start introducing one. Your baby may still have a very late bedtime - anywhere between 7pm-10pm is fair game. Bedtime often fluctuates at this age depending on the number and length of naps they have had during the day.


To start forming a routine you can start by setting a very consistent wake up time (give or take 15 minutes) and try to get your baby up and outdoors as soon as possible. Base your naps around this consistent wake up time, and over time you will start to see the day become more predictable.


When should the last nap be for a 3 month old?

There is no ideal time for the last nap at this age, it's all about what works for you. Try to schedule naps at regular intervals with age appropriate wake windows. Bedtime can be anytime between 7pm-10pm at this age.


How long are the wake windows at 3 months of age?

As I mentioned above, wake windows at this age are between 75 minutes to 2 hours. However, if your baby has a very short nap (less than 45 minutes), they may not manage a full wake window, and you may find they can't even manage to stay awake for longer than hour.


How much should a 3 month old sleep?

At 3 months of age your baby may be getting around 10-12 hours of sleep overnight and up to 5 hours of sleep during the day. But you'll see on the chart below, the range of recommended sleep over 24 hours for an infant aged 4-11 months of age is vast. So please don't fixate on these numbers. Focus on your child - if your child is happy and they are meeting their weight and developmental milestones you will not need to worry. The amount of sleep a baby needs is impacted day-to-day by many factors.

Sleep needs at 4 months of age

Where should a 3-month-old sleep in the day for naps?

In the UK, safe sleep guidance says that for the first 6 months of life, a baby should be in the same room as you for all periods of sleep, be it for naps or overnight sleep. During the day it is fine to allow them to nap in a pram, sling or Moses basket. If your child falls asleep in a car seat they must not be in the car seat for longer than 2 hours at a time while you are driving in a car. If they are still in a car seat when removed from the car, they should not be left in the car seat to sleep.


You do not need to place your baby in a dark room for naps in a cot, but you may find at this age your baby sleeps better in a cot if the room is pitch black - it's not a requirement, however.


Sample 4-Nap Routine for a 3-month-old baby

Remember, this is just a sample routine, and your baby's naps might never look like this. This is just a guide to how you might structure your day.

3-Month-Old Sleep Schedule - 4 Nap Routine

Sample 5-Nap Routine for a 3-month-old baby

Remember, this is just a sample routine, and your baby's naps might never look like this. This is just a guide to how you might structure your day.


3-Month-Old Sleep Schedule - 5 Nap Routine

Sleep Safety


Is it safe for a 3-month-old to sleep on their side?

You should always place your baby into their cot on their back to sleep. Many babies do prefer to sleep on their front or side, but until they can roll from front to back, and back to front independently and they are able to get into that position independently, you should always place them back onto their back if you see them roll onto their front or side.


As some babies do settle easier on their side, you can settle your baby to sleep on their side while you support them, and then roll them slowly onto their back once they are asleep.


Is it safe for a baby to sleep on their front when they are 3 months old?

No. At 3 months of age most babies cannot roll independently from front to back and back to front. Until your child can roll both ways independently, you should always place them back onto their back if you ever see they roll onto their front. You should always make sure you place your baby into their cot on their back.


Can a 3-month-old sleep in a bouncer?

Bouncers are not designed for sleep and should never be used for unsupervised sleep overnight.


Can a 3-month-old sleep with a pillow?

No. The guidance from The Lullaby Trust and the NHS is clear, you should have a clear cot until your child is at least 1 year old.


Can a 3-month-old sleep alone in their own room?

No, safe sleep guidance states that under 6 months of age a baby is safest in the same room as a parent or caregiver for all periods of sleep.


Can you swaddle a 3-month-old?

You should stop swaddling immediately if your baby begins to show signs of rolling over. For the avoidance of doubt, I typically suggest parents stop swaddling at around 10 weeks of age.


Overnight Sleep


Can a 3-month-old sleep through the night?

Some miracle babies may sleep through the night, but the majority of babies at this age will not sleep through the night and will still require multiple milk feeds.


How long can a 3-month-old sleep without feeding?

As long as your baby has no issues with feeding and they are gaining weight well (they have regained their birth weight) and there are no other health issues, you can allow you child to sleep as long as they like overnight until they wake naturally or a feed.


What's a good bedtime for a 3-month-old?

At this age, it matters most about it being a time that works for you so that you can maximise the amount of sleep you get, as your baby will still be waking in the night to feed and they may still wake multiple times. Many 3-month-old babies still have very late bedtimes - anywhere between 7pm-10pm is fair game. There will be flex in when bedtime is to account for the varying length and number of naps, but it can help to be consistent with the time you wake your baby up.


Bedtime Routine


What is a good bedtime routine for a 3-month-old?

If your 3-month-old still doesn't have a set bedtime routine, now is a good time to establish one. Your routine should consist of three parts:


  1. A calm and engaged parent(s)

  2. 3-5 consistent and calming steps

  3. It should take 10-30 minutes to do


Some suggestions of things you can include as part of your bedtime routine:

  • A bath

  • A baby massage

  • Stories

  • Sing songs

  • Listen to lullabies

  • Dim the lights

  • Turn on white noise


Not everyone chooses to bathe their baby every night for various reasons, such as eczema. If you only bathe your child occasionally and not every night, I suggest you make it a part of your bedtime routine so that all the following steps act as a cue for sleep.


Does a bath need to be part of a bedtime routine?

No. Some babies have eczema or skin issues and bathing every night can serve to irritate skin which can in turn have an impact on your child being able to sleep soundly. It also sometimes gets some babies excited too, and they struggle to wind down after a bath as they find baths too exciting.


There is some research to suggest baths are beneficial for sleep 1 to 2 hours before bedtime - but if that doesn't work for you, feel free to exclude it.


What is an ideal bedtime for a 3-month-old?

At this age, it matters most about it being a time that works for you so that you can maximise the amount of sleep you get, as your baby will still be waking in the night to feed and they may still wake multiple times. Many 3-month-old babies still have very late bedtimes - anywhere between 7pm-10pm is fair game. There will be flex in when bedtime is to account for the varying length and number of naps, but it can help to be consistent with the time you wake your baby up.


Can a 3-month-old sleep through the night?

For most babies, the answer is a firm no. Studies show that 70% of 6-month-old babies will still need one or more middle-of-the-night feedings.


Common sleep issues at 3 months


Why is my 3-month-old fighting naps?

Your baby could either be overtired or undertired and they are fighting sleep because they have had too little or too much sleep.


Why is my 3-month-old only napping for 30 minutes?

It's common for babies to experience "regression" and wake between sleep cycles. At this age, it's helpful to start teaching them to settle independently in their cot for sleep rather than rocking or feeding them to sleep and then transferring them. When they wake between sleep cycles, they often need help to get back to sleep, which may be because they are overtired or undertired.


As a general guide, if your baby wakes from a very short nap and cries, you may have waited too long to settle them for their nap. If their nap is short and they wake up happy, they may need a bit more awake time.


Remember, a nap is a nap, so if it's short, try to resettle if you can, but don't stress too much about it.


Is there a 3-month-old sleep regression?

There is no specific sleep regression at 3 months of age, but


What are the developmental milestones for a 3 month old?

At 3 months of age your baby will have much more head control at this point. They will also begin an obsession with their hands. You might notice them gazing in awe at their hands. They may also hold objects and bring them to their mouths. 


At 3 months your baby should be making lots of eye contact, hand gestures and smiles. They way even begin to babble and have fake ‘conversations’ as they mimic communication. They may also be laughing.


Do I need to sleep train a 3 month old?

No. At this age your baby will probably still be fed or rocked to sleep, and this is very normal. It can sometimes help to practice placing your baby in their cot awake to see if you settle them to sleep in theor own sleep space. But don't put too much pressure on this.


Hello!


Headshot of Janine Orford Baby Sleep Consultatn based in London

I'm Janine and I'm a certified Sleep Practitioner, Mum of two and the founder of The Bedtime Champ. The Bedtime Champ is a sleep consultancy service offering in-home consultations in London (England) and remote consultations worldwide. One-to-one consultation packages start at £89, and I also have an online course and community which is a comprehensive sleep resource for parents of babies aged 4-18 months of oge. To find out more about The Essential Gentle Baby Sleep Course for babies aged 4-18 months of age, click here.

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