3 Month Old Sleep Schedule: Nap & Bedtime

May 8, 2024

You are just coming out from the first 3 months with a newborn. The ice diapers have been tucked away in the closet, you are starting to see some longer stretches of baby sleeping through the night and everyone is started to get into a little more of a rhythm, finally. 

We know the first 3 months with a baby are the hardest for any family. Each little one is new and different in their own way and it takes time to learn about their unique needs. So, in today’s blog, I am sharing with you more about a 3 month old sleep schedule, balance of the naps in the day, and tricks for the smoothest and tear-free bedtime in your cul-de-sac. 

What are the Ideal Wake Windows for a 3 Month Old?

At 3 months of age, your baby is rapidly developing and their view of the world around them is expanding. I would suggest at this age that you have the baby awake for no more than 90 minutes between sleeping, to prevent overtired and overstimulation. 

Many parents look for ‘signs’ it’s time for a baby to nap, including yawning and rubbing of their eyes, but thats’ actually a sign you missed the “sweet” spot and baby will have trouble settling, which can lead to tears, fussiness on the boob or bottle and short naps. 

The Best Sleep Schedule for a 3 Month Old to Follow:

Schedules between 3 & 5 months old are going to be a touch different every day, because a baby doesn’t develop the ability to consolidate naps until 4-5 months, after they shift from stage to cycle sleep between 3 & 4 months old. This developmental leap happens and then, with the ability to settle themselves to sleep, naps naturally consolidate. 

However, that being said and as a fellow type-A mom who loves a good baby sleep schedule, this is how I advise our 3 month old private sleep consulting clients to manage the day. 

Sample 3-4 Month Old Sleep Schedule:

  • 7:00 am – Wake up, Feed
  • 8:30 am – Nap #1 in the crib – Unsupported
  • 9:15 am- Up from Nap #1
  • 10:00 am – Feed
  • 10:45 am -Nap #2 – Supported on walk, cuddles, etc.
  • 12:15 pm – Wake-up
  • 1:00 pm – Feed
  • 2:00 pm – Nap #3 in the crib – Unsupported
  • 2:45 pm – Up from Nap #3
  • 4:00 pm – Feed
  • 4:30 pm – Nap #4 – Supported
  • 5:15 pm – Wake up from Nap
  • 6:30 pm – Start a bedtime routine
  • 6:45 pm – Final Bedtime Feed
  • 7:00 pm – Bedtime, down in crib and awake

If you see what I am doing here, it’s 50% supported and 50% unsupported intentionally. This allows the first nap of the day to be independent, to practice sharpening the skill of sleep. The naps, while they learn and shorter, that’s normal, but nap #2 being supported will allow for the next nap to be longer, to balance the adenosine levels and restorative sleep occurs. Then, you repeat for nap #3 and nap #4. This helps get the 3 month old the total sleep they need in a day and balance the bedtime and overnight, so they better consolidate and start to sleep through the night as skill and intake grow. 

How Much Milk Should a 3 Month Old Have in a Day?

A 3 month old should be eating roughly 5 times in the daytime hours of 7:00am through bedtime at 7:00pm. Keeping them on the 12 hours of day, 12 hours of night schedule is helpful for them to maximize intake. 

A baby needs 24-32 oz of milk in a given 24 hour period for optimal growth. When they get it in the day and have the ability to settle to sleep independently, it’s at that point that a baby will sleep through the night. 

Some 3 month olds sleep through the night, others still wake. Both are normal based on what I explained about intake and skill. If your 3 month old is still eating overnight, it’s best to ensure it’s for nutrition vs. how they fall back to sleep, because that’s a sleep association you will need to break them from at some point with sleep training

Is there a 3 Month Old Sleep Regression?

The term sleep regression is tricky because it means the baby was sleeping well for a period of time, they stopped and now is waking frequently overnight. When parents schedule complimentary sleep assessments with us, the first questions we ask are how are they settling “to sleep” – and if the answer to that is “with help by doing X to sleep” then that is usually what triggers the sleep regression at any age. 

Babies become used to the support and it’s how they believe they fall asleep, so until they know otherwise, it’s what they expect, at any age. The 3 month sleep regression causes could be anything. Illness, developmental leaps, GI discomfort and excess gas, there are a whole heap of things with newborns at any point. The foundation for skipping the 3 month sleep regression though is the skill to settle independently, when you have that, in many cases, children sleep through the night, without interruption and in the future, when they do wake, you know something is wrong. 

What is the Best Bedtime for a 3 Month Old?

A 3 month old baby needs on average 15 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. Most families want that sleep overnight, so 11-12 hours is normal. Then, across the naps in the daytime, on average 4, they will need about 3-4 hours, as outlined above in the sample 3 month old sleep schedule. At this age, sleep is still sporadic and that’s totally normal. For bedtime, I believe that working on the 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night is best, and to balance that, and their natural body clock, I find a bedtime between 7:00-8:00 pm to be the most age appropriate for the next 8 years of life…yes. My kids are 8 & 10 years old now and still lights out at 8:00pm. 

Sleep is the foundation for which the house is built for them and for you. 

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