For many moms, 3 months is finally the time they feel like they’re able to settle into some sort of routine with their baby.
I know for me, once my baby was out of the sleep-all-day newborn phase, I was ready for a schedule that would give us some sort of daily routine I could count on.
Below I’ll share my tips on how to achieve a manageable 3 month old schedule that benefits you and your baby.
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Should my 3 month old be on a schedule?
While it’s much harder to put newborns on a schedule, by the time your baby reaches 3 months old, they should be on a predictable schedule or routine each day.
A strict or rigid routine that doesn’t allow for daily variances isn’t advised, but it’s wise to follow a loose schedule each day. The reason for this is largely stemming from the fact that once babies are over-tired or very hungry you can bet the rest of the day isn’t going to be too pleasant.
Simply not allowing baby to get over-tired or too hungry is the basis for a manageable 3 month old schedule.
How long should my 3 month old be awake?
At 3 months, the longest your child should go in between naps is 2 hours. Some babies will want to nap more frequently, and that’s completely fine, just focus on picking up on your baby’s sleepy cues.
3 month old schedule
Here’s the 3 month old schedule that worked like a charm for my baby:
6:00 am: wake up, feed
8:00 am: down for first nap, mom takes a shower!
9:30 am: up from the nap, feed
10-11:30 am: play on floor with mom, tummy time, go for a walk, etc.
11:30 am: down for second nap of the day
1:00 pm: up from second nap, feed
1:30-3:00 pm: play with toys, tummy time, etc.
3:00 pm: down for 3rd and final nap of the day
5:00 pm: up from 3rd nap, feed
5:30-6:30 pm: play, music time, tummy time
6:30 pm: start bedtime routine– bath, songs, books, baby massage (works wonders to help with baby gas!)
7:00 pm: feed, rock until drowsy
7:30 pm: put down in bassinet
3 month old nap schedule
Naps are more consolidated now, but still somewhat erratic. After a lot of research and my own personal experience, I’m a firm believer that picking up on babies cues as to when they’re tired during the day works well to prevent them from getting over tired.
A 3 month old typically takes around 3-4 naps during the day, which means your little one will likely be snoozing between 4-7 hours each day.
One of my favorite baby sleep books, Precious Little Sleep, talks about the importance of making sure your baby isn’t up too long in between naps. According to Precious Little Sleep, babies aged 3 months should be up no more than 2 hours between daytime naps.
Additionally, you should watch for cues like pulling at their ears, zoning out and not really paying attention, making their hands into a fist, or flailing their arms or legs. When you notice baby rubbing their eyes, they are overtired– make sure to be quick to put an overtired baby to sleep asap!
Some babies are super sly and won’t let on that they’re tired. My baby was this way, and I made the mistake of not putting her to sleep soon enough during the day, which was causing her to be cranky in the evening and overtired by the time bedtime rolled around.
Realizing that my baby wasn’t going to show textbook “I’m sleepy” signs, and following a routine of putting her down after she’d been up for about 2 hours was the solution for ending her fussiness and helping her sleep better at night.
On a side note, if you’re struggling with the newborn witching hour, understand that a big piece of moving past your baby’s fussy period every night is figuring out how to time naps just right so that your baby isn’t overtired.
Related: How to dream feed your baby so they sleep longer at night
What’s a good bedtime for a 3 month old?
If you’re ready to set a bedtime for your little one, anywhere in the 7-8’o clock hour is a good bedtime for a 3 month old. If you’d like to put your little one down by 7:30 or so, make sure they’re up from their last nap of the day no later than 4:30-5:00 pm.
Around 3 months, many moms feel confident about setting a consistent bedtime and carrying out a night time routine each evening. I know for us, after 3 months of erratic bedtimes, we were ready for a routine and some time to ourselves in the evening.
3 month old sleep schedule
By 3 months your baby is likely sleeping a little longer at night now. Between day naps and night time sleeping, babies this age should be getting between 14-16 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.
Establishing a nighttime routine before bed works wonders at cuing your baby that it’s time to sleep. Here’s a routine we followed each night:
6:45 books, songs, baby massage
7:00 quick feed
7:15 more songs, books
7:30 lights out
Related reading: Newborn sleep tips
It’s important to work towards putting baby to sleep drowsy, but not asleep. Around 3-4 months, you want baby to start to understand the concept of self-soothing so when they inevitably wake in the middle of the night (other than when it’s time to feed) they’re capable of putting themselves back to sleep.
Here’s more info on the basics of gentle sleep training, which I recommend starting between 4-6 months of age.
Can a sleep regression start at 3 months?
Yes, a sleep regression can absolutely start at 3 months of age. You’ve most likely heard of the 4 month sleep regression, but contrary to popular belief, this sleep regression can strike anywhere from 3-4 months of age.
You’ll know your baby is going through the 3 month sleep regression if they suddenly start waking erratically through the night, refusing naps, or even napping longer than usual.
Typically these sleep regressions are short lived and pass in a few weeks. The best thing you can do is to keep trying to encourage naps and sleep at night. Just because your three month old is refusing naps doesn’t mean you should give up on napping. Follow through with your nap and bedtime routine each day, and you’ll quickly see the sleep regression come to an end.
3 month old feeding schedule
Your little 3 month old is eating a lot these days. Keep feeding baby on demand at this stage and remember to look for common hunger signs: rooting, licking lips, hand to mouth, etc.
On average, most babies will eat around 4-6 ounces, 6-8 times per day (including night feedings). If you’re worried about baby getting enough milk, talk with your doctor and make sure you’re keeping track of how many wet diapers baby has. Your baby should have 4-5 wet diapers per day.
Other questions you may have about your 3 month old’s routine
How does my baby’s development at 3 months affect their routine?
If you’ve been following along, you know I really like the Wonder Weeks book and felt like it was very accurate at predicting the growth and development spurts my little one experienced.
Around 12 weeks or 3 months, there’s another significant growth spurt, which will likely cause your baby to be fussy for a few days or so. During development and growth phases most babies will be more tired and might sleep poorly at night.
Whenever my baby was going through something developmentally I would pay attention to her cues and typically put her down more frequently for naps. She tended to nap longer on days where she was going through a developmental leap, too.
My baby doesn’t seem to follow any predictable pattern, how do I get her to start a routine?
No two babies are alike, so no two routines will be alike. Some babies are born to follow a schedule, and others, well, let’s just say they’re not fans of clocks, calendars or routines.
Still, even the most laid-back baby can benefit from some sort of predictable routine.
If you’re not sure where to start, I’d recommend getting daytime naps set first. Not that you have to have your baby nap every two hours on the dot, but just pay attention to baby’s cues, and set the stage so that they can get the necessary daytime rest they so desperately need at 3 months.
Getting enough daytime rest is the key to an easier process when it comes time to put them down for the night.