BONUS MATERIAL: Download my FREE sleep chart HERE that has ALL my suggested wake windows, sleep totals, and nap totals for babies ages 0 until age 5! This way, you’ll know what wake windows to use for your 3 month old today, as well as what they will need next month and next year!
By 3 months of age, your baby is growing and developing at a rapid pace. And their sleep needs are changing as well! Your 3 month old is no longer a newborn baby and has officially graduated from those exhausting newborn sleep stages.
That being said, you might be wondering what type of sleep schedule your 12 week old baby needs and what normal sleep patterns look like at this stage. And more importantly, you might be wondering if your baby can sleep 12 hours by 12 weeks, just like the famous book claims.
If you need guidance on your 3 month-old’s sleep, I’ve got you covered. In this blog post, I’ll address the most common sleep questions I get about 3 month-olds. And I’ll address why I don’t like the advice provided in the book “12 Hours by 12 Weeks”, as well as what I recommend instead.
How much sleep does a 3 month old need?
While every baby is different, there is a range in terms of how much sleep an average 3 month-old needs. Most 3 month olds need approximately 10-12 hours of nighttime sleep and 5 hours worth of naps in a 24-hour period.
That being said, we don’t want any of your baby’s daytime naps to be longer than 2 hours. If your baby naps for too long at a time, he can easily skip a daytime feed. And this can lead to more nighttime feedings- something we DON’T want!
Can my 12 week old sleep through the night, like “the book” says?
My mother always says that when something seems too good to be true, it usually is. And unfortunately, the book “12 Hours By 12 Weeks” is not the exception. Let me dive in and explain why I’m not a fan of this book and why your 3 month-old likely can’t sleep 12 hours straight just yet.
What the heck IS this book, anyways?
The book “12 Hours by 12 Weeks” provides a general guide for parents to help their babies develop longer and more predictable sleep patterns. The author claims that if you follow her feeding and sleep schedules, your healthy 12 week old baby can learn to sleep 12 hours straight.
Now, I really dislike being the bearer of bad news. But I’d also hate to mislead anyone and get their hopes up about something that might not be possible. Because the reality is that I don’t agree with most of the advice and insights in this book
Why I’m not a fan of this book
Let me preface this by saying that I’m a HUGE proponent of teaching babies to sleep longer stretches at night.
And hey- if there’s something out there that can teach a 12 week-old to sleep 12 hours straight that’s effective, safe, and developmentally appropriate, I’m ALL for it!
And sometimes, with some babies, it IS possible to get them sleeping 12 hours by 12 weeks.
That being said, I want to address two very big concerns I have with this book’s recommendations.
1) The book advises you to only feed your baby every 4 hours throughout the day. While you don’t want to feed your baby too frequently as this can encourage snacking, most babies in this age range need to breastfeed or bottle feed more than four times everyday. Otherwise, they won’t consume enough calories during the day and will need to compensate with more night feeds. This is especially true with breastfed babies who don’t typically consume as much breast milk per feed as bottlefed babies. As a result, this suggestion can backfire MAJORLY and lead to MORE night wakings.
This suggestion will only work for SOME bottle fed babies. These babies need to be drinking big 6-8 ounce bottles every 4 hours anyways.
2) The author advises you to put your 12 week old baby on a very strict sleep schedule. And let me tell you something- this schedule REALLY isn’t age appropriate or realistic. More specifically, the book recommends implementing huge wake windows that are almost always too big for a 3 month-old baby, all with the assumption that this baby is going to nap for 1.5-2 hours at a time, multiple times a day.
**Side note- have you downloaded my free sleep chart yet? This PDF will show you what I DO recommend in terms of wake windows and sleep totals for babies ages 0-5!**
In reality, most 3 month-olds are not ready for a consistent 3 nap schedule just yet. This is because a) their wake windows aren’t big enough; and b) many of their naps are usually short catnaps. As a result, most 12 week-old’s are actually napping 4-5 times a day to avoid overtiredness.
For most 3 month-olds, these scheduling recommendations causes these babies to become so overtired that it actually worsens their sleep.
So then what ARE average wake windows for a 3 month old?
Most 3 month old babies have awake times in the 75 minute to 90 minute range. This means your 12 week old likely can’t be up for longer than that before she begins to get tired and needs to go back to sleep. Most babies need a shorter wake window before their first nap of the day but can stay up for slight longer periods before their subsequent naps.
Feel free to use your baby’s body language and sleep cues to help you figure out your little one’s wake windows.
What time should my 12 week old baby go to bed for the night?
While there’s no one correct answer to this question, many babies in this age range are usually ready for bed in the 7:30pm-8:30pm time frame. At the same time, some 3 month-olds continue to be on later sleep schedules and aren’t ready for bed until the 9pm-10pm time frame.
It’s also important to look at your baby’s internal clock and when he’s starting their day to help you determine an appropriate bedtime. For example, if your baby wakes for the day at 8:30am, he won’t be ready for bed by 7pm. And conversely, if your baby starts their day at 6:30am, I guarantee they’ll be insanely overtired with a 9:30pm bedtime.
Can you show me a sample schedule for a 3 month old?
Absolutely! Here is an example of what a daytime schedule for your 3 month old might look like for a breastfed baby.
7:00am- wakeup and feeding #1
8:15am-9:30am- nap #1
9:30am- feeding #2
11:00am-12:30am- nap #2
12:30pm- feeding #3
2:00pm-2:45pm- nap #3
3:00pm- feeding #4
4:15pm-4:45pm- nap #4
5:30pm- feeding #5
6:15pm-6:45pm- nap 5
8:00pm- bedtime (should include feed #6)
Please remember that this is JUST an example of how a daytime schedule can play out for a 3 month-old. At this age, there are SO many variables that can influence your baby’s schedule. This means your baby’s schedule might not look anything like this. And that’s okay!
For example, formula-fed babies don’t typically need to eat as frequently during the day. They are usually drinking 4-5 bottles a day instead.
This example is not meant to be a rigid, cookie-cutter schedule to be followed to the T. Rather, always make sure you’re adhering to your baby’s unique sleep and feeding needs.
**If naps are constantly a struggle for your little one, download my free nap guide HERE that has my top 5 tips to help you settle your little one more easily for naptime, as well as to lengthen their naps!**
Should I implement a bedtime routine for my 3 month old?
100% yes! If you haven’t implemented a bedtime routine for your baby, there is no better time like the present to begin. A consistent bedtime routine can help wind your baby down and cue them that sleep time is coming.
This routine doesn’t need to be long, drawn out, or complicated. For example, it could include a bath, lotion, pajamas, a feed, books, sleep sack, bedtime song, and then bedtime!
When can most babies actually sleep through the night without a wakeup?
Just like most things in life- it depends 🙂 Different babies have different sleep needs.
At this age, you can let your baby sleep as long as he wants at night time as long as you are responding to his hunger cues during the day.
While some 3 month-olds can sleep straight through the night, the vast majority of 12 week-olds still need night feeds.
And if your healthcare provider is recommending to keep in night feedings to help with weight gain, always follow their guidance.
Could my baby be going through a 3 month sleep regression?
It’s very possible that your baby might be experiencing the famous 4 month regression a tad bit early. At this stage, your baby’s sleep patterns are undergoing permanent changes and becoming more adult-like. Your baby is beginning to cycle in and out of deep and light sleep. This can cause huge sleep disturbances to your little one’s sleep patterns because, suddenly, your little one might need help falling back asleep at the end of a sleep cycle.
A quick word about my free Facebook community group
Come join my FREE Facebook community group where you can get your sleep questions answered by experts, get access to free sleep tips and regular Q&As, and where you can connect with other sleep-loving parents of little ones! Can’t wait to personally connect with you there 🙂