If your little one suddenly finds sleep incredibly unfashionable, you may have a 3-month sleep regression on your hands.
Because it’s likely the first of these adventures, you may be having a particularly hard time.
If you need to hear this right now: you’ve got this, and it will pass.
At 3 months, your baby is likely still sleeping between 14 and 17 hours a day, and that usually includes two to three naps, with a longer stretch at night.
By the time they get to 4 or 5 months, they will start sleeping less frequently and for longer stretches.
They’ll also spend more time in deep sleep.
But as they move from the sleep of a newborn to the sleep of a slightly older baby, they might hit some bumps in the road.
We’ll take you through all you need to know about sleep at this time and what you can do to ensure that you get some zzz’s yourself.
In this article: 📝
- Can sleep regressions happen at 3 months?
- Why is my 3-month-old suddenly not sleeping?
- How can I help my 3-month-old with sleep regression?
- How long does the 3-month sleep regression last?
Can sleep regressions happen at 3 months?
While a 4-month-old sleep regression is more famous (or infamous), it’s possible to have a sleep regression as early as Month 3.
3 months old marks an interesting shift in the patterns of your baby’s sleep.
At about this time, babies begin the transition to a more adult sleep cycle.
Here’s how it works:
Newborns sleep in shorter bursts and spend more time than grown-ups in the REM phase of sleep (that’s the phase known for dreaming).
Also, their circadian rhythms (the sleep-wake cycle) are still kicking into gear, meaning that they haven’t quite associated day with “awake” and night with “asleep.”
Their bodies are still creating new chemical formulas to figure this out.
(That’s why many experts advise waiting until about four months to start sleep training when these grown-up patterns are better established.)
This transition can take a little getting used to.
And sometimes, it can feel like you’re driving in reverse.
At three months, some babies start sleeping through the night (which basically means 6 to 8 hours straight).
And then suddenly, they might decide this is not a good idea anymore.
But although it can feel like you’re going backward, this is not actually the case.
In fact, experts caution against the term “regression.”
It’s not like you’re losing the progress that’s been made.
Rather, your baby is figuring out things as their development continues — and this can make sleep more of a challenge.
Why is my 3-month-old suddenly not sleeping?
If your little one is refusing to drift off, it may simply be that they’re overstimulated.
The big, wide world out there takes a lot of getting used to, and sometimes it’s simply too much to take in.
They’re going through growth spurts, figuring out how to work their bodies, and learning all sorts of new skills like how to follow moving objects, smile, and babble.
And some babies are even known to start teething really early.
All of this excitement can get in the way of slumber time.
But at this point, the biggest reason for a sleep disruption is likely the change in your baby’s sleep patterns to something more adult (congrats, baby!).
And they are creating hormones and all sorts of other body tricks to make this happen.
So while it’s really difficult to go through when it happens, a sleep regression is generally a sign that your baby is developing exactly as they should.
3-month sleep regression symptoms include:
- Waking up multiple times in the night
- Not wanting to nap or go to bed at night
- Crying in their sleep and when they’re awake
- Changes in appetite
In some instances, trouble sleeping can be a sign of illness.
If they’re three months old or younger, it’s important to speak to your doctor right away if they’re running a fever.
Trouble breathing, a rash that doesn’t get better, and a bad cough are also signs that you might need to get medical help quickly.
And if you’re worried and unsure, check in with your pediatrician.
How can I help my 3-month-old with sleep regression?
First, learn their sleep cues.
Yawning, fussing, rubbing their eyes — these are all their ways of telling you it’s time to sleep, stat!
While it may be a bit early for full-on sleep training, you can start putting a bedtime routine in place.
This can involve comforting them with cuddles and rocking, and even a story and song.
Putting them to bed in a quiet room with a full tummy and a changed diaper can help avoid rude awakenings.
And it’s never too early to cultivate healthy sleep habits.
If their wake windows (how long they’ve been awake between snoozes) are too short, they may have trouble settling.
But the same can be true if their windows are too long.
An overtired baby likes to yell about it.
Wake windows at this age are usually somewhere between 75 minutes and two hours.
You might also want to try dream feeding, which is the practice of rousing your baby to feed before you go to sleep yourself.
To get them to stay asleep while they eat.
Keep the room dark and quiet, and your baby swaddled.
Then lift them very gently out of their crib or bassinet.
Interestingly enough, babies can actually feed in this half-sleep, half-wake state.
(Dream feeding is not mandatory — but if it works for you, it can be a useful strategy.)
And remember to follow the safe sleep guidelines.
The recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics include:
- Putting your baby to sleep on their back on a firm, flat surface.
- Not placing anything else in their crib or bassinet other than a snugly fitted sheet. (Toys, pillows, and blankets are all out.)
- Dressing them for the temperature of the room that they’re in and not bundling them up too much.This is to avoid overheating.
How long does the 3-month sleep regression last?
There’s good news here — sleep regressions tend not to last too long.
They’re usually gone in somewhere between two and four weeks, and sometimes sooner than that.
(OK, OK, we know that even a few weeks can sound like an eternity right now, but know that this too shall pass.)
You need sleep too.
You are still recovering from childbirth and adjusting to having a new person in your space.
Sleep is pretty essential to your health, well-being, and ability to function in the world.
Call on family, partners, and friends.
Nap when you can.
Be gentle with yourself.
And check in with your Peanut community when you need support.