Month 3: Sleep Coaching

> Month 3 Overview

We do not recommend sleep coaching if:

  • Your baby is under 18 weeks of age
  • Has not entered the 4 month developmental stage
  • Is experiencing challenges (not gaining weight, medical issues such as reflux, feeding difficulties, etc.)

baby feeding from a milk bottleWe do not recommend sleep coaching for 3 month old babies. Your baby is too young for any sleep training or overly structured sleep or feeding schedule at this age. Keep your expectations in check and don’t expect a full night of sleep or regular long naps at this age.

Night sleep begins to consolidate but day sleep will still be unpredictable and unorganized. Your baby will be sleeping on average anywhere from 9-20 hours in a 24 hour period. There is a wide range so please just pay attention to your own baby and do not compare your baby to others.

Your goal now is to establish one good night time stretch and have a regular bedtime and night routine and to keep baby rested and napping during the day when they are tired.

The following sleep strategies will help you manage your baby’s sleep during this time.

  • Begin to establish regular bedtime routine. If you have not already begun to do this – now is the perfect time to implement this sleep step. Start to establish a regular and consistent routine for your baby prior to going to bed. Click here for more information on creating routines.
  • Blue baby roomMake sure to have an optimal sleep environment that is consistent during your baby’s entire night stretch. Creating a sleep friendly environment can be very helpful in getting your baby to sleep better. In the early months – babies have the ability to shut out outside stimulation and will fall asleep easily in crowded areas & with loud noise around. As they get older, they lose this ability & many will sleep better in an area that is quiet & conducive to sleep. First and foremost – make sure you have a safe sleeping environment.

    Additional helpful ways to create a sleep friendly environment are:

    • ensure your baby’s room is dark
    • white noise is very effective at buffering outside noise.
    • pay attention to how stimulating your infant’s environment is.

Many new babies are rooming in with their parents so be sure to have lights off when they are sleeping and try not to have the tv on or running (laptops, ipads, radios, etc.). Some babies are very sensitive to noises and will wake up if parents are talking in the room or if the tv is on. Respect the fact that your baby is trying to sleep & keep the room relaxing & quiet and dark so they can have a peaceful slumber. 

  • During night wakings, keep lights, stimulation & interaction to a minimum.When they wake & need to be fed – do so quietly & in a dimly lit environment. It may not be necessary to change and burp at every waking at this stage. Most babies will be fine going most of the night without a diaper change so if not absolutely necessary, forgo the diaper change and set baby right back down to sleep after a feeding.
  • A Dream Feed may be helpful at this stage. Wake your baby between 10:00 pm – 12:00 am for a feed before you and your spouse go to bed. Pick them up & nurse or bottle feed – then put them right back down to sleep. This will help control a feeding time so that hopefully your baby will take their one long stretch after that time and allow both you and your baby to have a good stretch of sleep.

    Keep in mind that this only works for 50% of babies. The circadian rythmn typically drives for the deepest and longest stretch at the beginning of the night starting at bedtime. If you find that doing the dream feed adds another waking and feeding after 3 days then stop the feed and allow your baby to take their longest stretch at beginning of the night.

  • You can begin to “Practice” putting your baby down Drowsy and Awake at sleep times.When your baby is ready, this will be the cornerstone of helping her learn to independently fall asleep. But in the early months, she may need more help. Some babies may not fully develop the skill of self -soothing independently to sleep until they are at least 4-6 months of age. If you want, you can “practice” this step at this age. It may or may not work and that’s ok. Some babies need more soothing than others and it’s more important to respond to their needs than to expect them to learn a skill they may not be capable of doing.Baby Yawning On White Bed
    • When your baby is very sleepy, you can try putting her down once a day (at bedtime after a nice routine is a good time to try this). Your baby may fall asleep after a while or she may fuss.
    • If she begins to fuss or cry, you can try to soothe her next to the bassinet or crib for a few minutes.
    • If she begins to cry again, then pick her up & soothe her until she is calm and drowsy and try putting her back in her bassinet or crib again to see if she can do that last piece of falling asleep on her own.
    • If she begins to cry again and is unable to settle, pick her up and soothe her to sleep in whatever way works. You can try again at another time or wait a few days/weeks before trying again.
  • Make a plan to get the rest you need. Lay down when baby is sleeping. Nap during the day when your baby naps.  Share night time duties with your partner so that you each can get a block of uninterrupted sleep. Try to aim for at least 5-6 hours of sleep within a 24 hour period. Taking that block in one consolidated stretch is ideal but may not be possible due to your baby’s feeding patterns. Try to optimize feeding times so you are able to feed baby and get right back to sleep as quickly as possible at night.
  • Recreating the womb experience can be very helpful in keeping your baby settled and calm and may assist in extending short sleep episodes. Try swaddling to help your baby feel snug and secure. Add some white noise during sleep times and keep the room dark when sleeping at night. keep Stimulation to a minimum and make sure to only use dim lights when tending to baby
  • Lots of skin to skin and holding during the day will help your baby remain calmer and cry less in these early months. Studies show that the more holding you do in the early months – the calmer your baby will be and can result in less overall crying during the newborn months.
  • Try to start your day at the same time every morning. This will help kick start that circadian rhythm and aid in syncing up you & your baby’s sleep/wake cycles. Believe it or not – this will help set a nice rhythm to your day and help in regulating their night sleep.

Additional Help:

Remember, learning about what to expect from your baby in regards to sleep, feeding, and development will help to better meet her sleep needs:

Learn about your 3-Month-Old’s Sleep

Learn about your 3-Month-Old’s Development

Learn about your 3-Month-Old’s Feeding

Check out these Common Challenges and Solutions