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3-Month Sleep Regression: Signs, Causes, and Soothing Strategies

Updated: Apr 10

If your once reliable sleeper has, out of the blue, become a fussy night owl, you might ask, ‘Is there a 3-month sleep regression’? Because it feels like my baby’s right in the thick of it.

First, can I give you the assurance: yes- the 3 month sleep regression is a ‘thing’. Many families experience a sudden disruption in their baby’s  sleeping patterns at the 3 month mark . This period can be confusing as it's brand new. More importantly, the old ways you adopted for sleep may not work anymore. 

But the comfort is that you’re not alone! This is a path others have walked that you can learn from. So continue reading and I’ll provide you with some need-to-know facts on what the 3 month sleep regression symptoms are, plus the causes underlying the 3 month sleep regression. I’ll also give you some easily executable 3 month sleep regression tips to ride out this temporary phase.

What Are Some 3 Month Sleep Regression Symptoms?

1. More Frequent Night Wakings

Your baby might have been sleeping in the night for nice, long stretches. During the 3 month sleep regression, this peaceful pattern is disrupted. Your baby might wake up every couple of hours, crying or fussing. And it might seem like it's much harder to settle your baby than before. 

2. Resistance to Naps

During the 3 month sleep regression, those lovely long naps you used to enjoy might be a thing of the past. Your baby might also resist going down for naps, when previously the initiation of sleep just took a couple of minutes.

3. Early Morning Wakings

The 3 month sleep regression can bring on frustratingly early wake-up calls. By this I mean before 6am. (Little note fact: Many babies are early risers, so 6am is pretty acceptable if your baby’s bedtime is between 7-8pm). The point being your baby  wakes up before the sun rises, and when he does, he can bewide-eyed and ready to play or conversely sulky and frustrated because he can’t go back to sleep. 

4. Increased Fussiness

A normally content baby might be more  cranky and difficult to soothe during the 3 month sleep regression. This fussiness can be due to several factors - hunger, discomfort, or simply the lack of sleep..

5. Changes in Appetite

During the 3 month sleep regression, you might notice changes in your baby’s feeding habits. He might want to nurse or eat more frequently. Conversely, hemight be too tired or fussy to eat well during the regression and so reject the bottle, despite better judgment. 

Baby sleep troubles got you down?

Lullabub Sleepers can help! Book a free consultation now.

What Are Some Of The Causes Of The 3 Month Sleep Regression?

1. Developmental Leap: Increased Cognition

Around 3 months, your baby's brain is on fire! This rapid development is a fantastic thing, but as his brain is doing important work, your baby’s sleep tends to take a hit. Connecting sleep cycles in the middle of the night or at naps can be more challenging, so your baby’s sleep will turn up as more fragmented during the 3 month sleep regression. 

The other thing we can often forget is that the world is a fascinating place for a 3-month-old! Your baby’s awareness of his surroundings has grown exponentially since he was a newborn. But this is a double edged sword: he is, at the same time, more easily overstimulated by his surroundings. And an overwhelmed baby is a fussy crankpot.

2. Growth

Growing is hard work! During a growth spurt, your baby's body is demanding more fuel. This increased hunger can contribute to the 3 month sleep regression as your baby wakes up more frequently to to nurse or bottle-feed. That fragments up his sleep, which, if not managed properly could lead to a sleep debt and a sullen, cranky baby.

3. Teething

While teething might not officially begin exactly at 3 months, it can certainly coincide with the 3 month sleep regression. The discomfort of developing teeth can cause pain and fussiness, making it harder for your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep.

4. Rolling

Again, rolling might not begin exactly at 3 months, but when it happens your baby will probably only be familiar with rolling from back to tummy and not the other way around. Being stuck in a ‘tummy-time’ position for too long can make him frustrated and call out to you, middle of the night or mid-nap so that you can help him back onto his back. 

How long does the 3 month sleep regression last?

A question that is probably top-of-mind ‘how long does the 3 month sleep regression last?’. We feel you, friend! Sleep deprivation sucks.

The good news is that every regression is temporary. Most don’t last beyond a week or two, but the tricky thing is that parents often introduce unsustainable strategies when in the thick of the 3 month sleep regression, just to survive. 

If left unattended to, these unsustainable parent initiated strategies then become the new norm and your baby’s habit. And the 3 month sleep regression sticks around longer than it needs to.

If you’re feeling like this is your situation, don’t buy into the misconception that this is your family’s lot! So much can be done to shape your baby’s habits, and Lullabub Sleepers by Debra Lam is here to help parents get off the struggle bus. Just book a free consultation call with me today. 

Tips for the 3-Month Sleep Regression

Here are some 3 month sleep regression tips to help your survive this perilous stage of growth:

1. Stick to wake windows

Going back to the point that your baby’s cognition levels have increased, you might feel like your baby’s not ready to go to bed when 90mins arrives. However, what you might not realize is that your baby’s ability to fight sleep because he finds what’s around him so interesting is much greater than when he was a newborn. 

To mitigate overtiredness, stick to an age-appropriate wake window. If your baby’s feeling the ‘fear of missing out’ then help him to wind down better with lots of transition time and a nice pre-sleep routine.

2. Double down on Nap/ Bedtime Routines

A consistent pre-sleep routine is your best friend during the 3 month sleep regression. This routine signals to your baby’s subconscious that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep. The routine itself can be simple- figure out what slows your baby down: it might be a warm wipe-down or a gentle massage. Then stick with the time-tested protocol day in and day out.

3. Create A Sleep-Friendly Environment

During the 3 month sleep regression, your baby will struggle to connect sleep cycles. Help smoothen out the kinks in his sleep by making sure the room is dark - consider blackout curtains to block out any light. Keep the temperature cool and comfortable, and use white noise to block out any sudden noise in the environment that may cause a wake-up.

4. Respond but don’t do the work for him

It's natural to want to comfort your baby when he cries during the 3 month sleep regression. The issue becomes when you start regularly assisting him to fall asleep or back to sleep after a wake-up. 

When your baby cries, take a deep breath and just listen for a bit. The point is to avoid picking your baby up immediately, to give him a chance to make the transition to sleep himself. If he’s terribly upset, then do go comfort him, but try avoiding picking him up from the start. You can try patting him gently, or singing a soothing lullaby, whatever works to calm him down. Most importantly you should be the calm you want to see in him, since you’re his only point of reference. 

Once the sleep regression subsides, you can then work on gradually reducing his reliance on you for sleep by extending the duration of the ‘pause’.

5. Be Patient

The most important 3 month sleep regression tip is to be patient! This developmental phase is temporary, your baby will eventually return to a more predictable sleep pattern. Don't get discouraged and try to get into the mindset that you’re going through a little bit of turbulence but maintenance of your baby’s sleep skills is still possible. Then focus on the progress you're making and celebrate each win.

Baby sleep troubles got you down?

Lullabub Sleepers can help! Book a free consultation now.

Final Thoughts

While the frequent night wakings, early mornings, and resistance to naps during the 3 month sleep regression can be frustrating, this temporary developmental hurdle is a normal part of your baby's growth. By understanding the 3 month sleep regression symptoms like increased fussiness, changes in appetite, and early morning wakings, you can identify what your baby is experiencing.

This blog talked about the common causes behind the 3 month sleep regression, including developmental leaps, growth, teething, and increased awareness. We also offered various 3 month sleep regression tips to help you figure out this phase. From creating a consistent bedtime routine and sleep-friendly environment to responding promptly but calmly and offering soothing comfort, these strategies can help your little one learn to self-soothe and get back to a more predictable sleep pattern.

Always remember parents, be patient! With consistent sleep routines and gentle strategies, you'll get through the 3 month sleep regression together. In no time, your once-fussy night owl will be back to sleeping peacefully, and everyone can enjoy a good night's rest.

Still feeling overwhelmed? Our certified sleep consultant at Lullabub Sleepers is here to help! Book a free consultation today to create a personalized sleep plan for your baby and get everyone back on track to a good night's sleep.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.Is it OK for a 3 month old to sleep 10 hours?

Maybe! Some babies sleep longer stretches at 3 months, while others wake more frequently. As long as your baby is gaining weight well and seems happy and healthy, 10 hours of sleep at night can be okay.

2. How long can 3 month old go between feedings at night?

It depends on your baby's feeding habits and growth. Generally, babies can go 5-6 hours between feedings at night by 3 months. If your baby seems hungry before that, feed them!

3. What are the stages of sleep regression?

Sleep regressions are not staged, but there can be multiple periods of disrupted sleep throughout a baby's first year. The 3-month regression is common, but others might occur around 4-6 months, 8-10 months, and even around 1 year.

4. Should I wake 3 month old to feed?

No, typically not. By 3 months, most babies don't need night feedings to maintain weight gain. Let your baby sleep and feed on demand when they wake.

5. How do I get my overtired baby to sleep?

Calming routines and a sleep-friendly environment can help. Try dimming lights, offering soothing comfort, and sticking to a bedtime routine. Avoid overstimulation and rocking them to sleep every time, as this can create sleep associations.

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