The 3-Month Sleep Regression: What It Is & How to Handle It

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Did your baby’s sleep pattern change around 3 months and now you’re wondering what to do? You may be one of many. 

Many parents find themselves confused and worn out when a baby who used to sleep soundly at Night or take long naps frequently begins waking up all the time or sleeping for shorter periods. This situation is called the 3-month sleep regression, which can be very hard to deal with. 

It is a stage where infants who previously took good naps have them shortened and sometimes just 30 minutes long. But why do babies go through this phase? More importantly, what can you do about it?

Keep reading for some practical tips on how to cope with 3-month sleep regression so that both of you can get a good night’s sleep.

Also Read: Wake Windows for 3-Month-Old: Tips for Healthy Sleep Habits

What is 3 Month Sleep Regression?

There are changes in a baby’s sleep by 3 months due to development. Babies become more aware of their movements, their visual and auditory abilities are refined, they can sense emotions, and the desire to communicate rises. Nevertheless, these developments bring challenges in sleeping.

Besides, other physical transformations such as bone strengthening, stomach enlargement, and subcutaneous fat layer increase also cause this regression.

The key here is understanding that three-month sleep regression is a normal part of your baby’s growth process which will pass away with time. Therefore, it does not negatively affect their health but only indicates that your child is growing up well and reaching major milestones in life.

The structure of sleep at three months changes so that both superficial and profound phases last for much longer, increasing the chances of waking up from slumber each time the infant fails to move seamlessly from one stage into another.

Also Read: The Science Behind Healthy Baby Sleep: Understanding Sleep Cycles and Patterns

What is a 3-month-old sleep schedule?

As per research, typically, 3-month-old babies need around 14-17 hours of sleep per day, split between nighttime and naps during the daytime. This means, your infants should be awake for 7-10 hours daily. Doctors recommend not forcing the little ones to sleep. Instead, parents can frame a sleep schedule. They can create a consistent routine where parents should wake and make the babies sleep simultaneously each day. By maintaining the standard time, the internal clock of the growing babies gets adjusted to that particular schedule. This helps the infants wake and sleep at a fixed time. Put the babies on the bed while they are tired instead of waiting until they fall asleep completely. Moreover, make sure the sleeping environment of the babies is peaceful, cool, and dark.

What Are The Signs of 3-Month Sleep Regression?

Understanding 3-month sleep regression signs, and differentiating sleep regression from other sleep disturbances can be incredibly helpful.

At around 3 months, babies undergo significant development, which can affect their sleep. Some common signs that indicate your baby might be experiencing sleep regression include:

  • Increased Night Waking: Your baby, who might have started to develop a sleeping pattern, suddenly wakes up more frequently at Night.

  • The difficulty in falling asleep: Despite appearing tired, they might have trouble settling down for slumber.

  • More fussy than usual: During the day, your baby could become grumpier as this interrupted sleep causes irritability.

  • Not wanting to nap anymore: Suddenly, your baby may refuse to sleep or develop an aversion to what was once a peaceful slumber period.

Typically, these changes are attributed to growth spurts, teething pain, new developmental milestones being reached, routine interruptions, illness, or even environmental adjustments.

Sleep Regression Vs. Other Sleep Disturbances

When there is any alteration in your infant’s sleeping patterns; it is necessary to establish if it is sleep regression or other disruptions in rest periods. 

Here are some key differences:

Sleep Regression Signs

Other Sleep Disturbances

Occurs around specific ages (3-4 months, 6 months, etc.)

It can happen at any time without a clear pattern

Linked to developmental milestones and growth spurts

Often related to external factors like illness or the environment

Temporary, usually lasting 2-4 weeks

The duration may vary and could be longer without intervention

Results in increased night waking and fussiness

Symptoms might include specific discomforts like ear pulling in case of an ear infection

Managed by maintaining routines and sleep training methods

May require medical intervention or changes in the environment

Doesn’t usually worsen the baby’s health, a natural part of growth

This could be indicative of health issues or discomfort

Understanding these differences can help you take appropriate actions, such as sticking to a bedtime routine for sleep regression or consulting a doctor if you suspect an illness.

How long does a 3-month sleep regression last?

The third month’s crib can be harsh on children and their parents alike, but it only lasts three weeks usually, although its duration varies among individuals. 

The timing and length of sleep regression differ amongst different babies. Factors affecting this variation include:

  • Developmental phases reached by the infant.

  • Changes in sleeping patterns.

  • Growth spurts occur at this stage.

  • Increased perception of the world surrounding them. 

This may occur in some babies before others; hence, the length and sleep interference intensity that comes with it will be different.

When to Look for Improvement in Sleep Patterns? 

Most parents and experts agree that things start improving around the fourth month. At this time, babies begin transitioning out of the newborn sleep stage, and their sleep becomes more profound and vital. 

This shift marks an ideal time to start teaching babies independent sleep skills, such as falling asleep independently and connecting sleep cycles without unnecessary night wakings.

These are some things you should try to do when dealing with this particular issue:

  • Knowing the Sleep Needs of Your Baby: At this age, babies still need a lot of sleep, including 3-5 naps a day and not more than two and a half hours awake at once.

  • Observing Cues for Tiredness: This can allow you to put him down gently without waiting for him to become overtired by identifying his signs of tiredness, like grizzling, yawning, or eye rubbing.

  • Creating a Sleep-Conducive Environment: By doing so, your baby’s sleeping area would be less likely to be disturbed, facilitating peaceful rest.

No babies are the same; what worked miracles for one may fail another. Therefore, being open-minded and patient while you explore what suits your infant best is advisable.

Strategies for Parents and Baby to Relieve infant sleep regression

Patience and strategy are required when dealing with a 3-month sleep regression. Here is what parents can do.

  • Environmental Adjustments: A quiet sleeping environment that can be predicted is very important. Blackout curtains and white noise machines help in creating a good sleep atmosphere. 

  • Consistency of bedtime routine tells your baby that it’s time for sleep and, thus, reinforces his natural sleeping patterns.

  • Behavioral Strategies: Soothing techniques like swaddling and white noise can be incredibly effective. They imitate the security of the womb and also block out startling sounds. 

  • Changing your child’s feeding schedule will ensure they eat enough during the day, possibly reducing the need for night feeding.

Also Read: Cluster Feeding in Infants: What You Need to Know

3-Month Sleep Regression: What to Do for Parental Support?

Parents must find ways to manage stress and seek support from partners or family members. Be a member of supporting groups where you share experiences and strategies with other parents facing the same issues.

By implementing these targeted strategies in your daily routine, you can manage and alleviate the effects of 3-month sleep regression. 

Final Thoughts

There is always a silver lining behind every cloud. This quotation truly depicts what happens during the three-month sleep regression period. It’s hard but it implies growth and development in your kid. 

During this time, their little one acquires new skills while the brain develops significantly. Although their sleep may be disrupted during this phase, it is all normal and an exciting part of their growing up.

Keep in mind that this shall, too, come to pass. Be patient, keep a firm hand, and apply the right strategy; everything will be okay. If you are unsatisfied with your baby’s sleep or overwhelmed, get assistance from a pediatrician or a sleep expert.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my three-month-old suddenly stop sleeping?

Your baby’s change of sleeping patterns suddenly may mean they are experiencing a 3-month-old sleep regression. This happens when your little one has shorter naps and wakes up several times at Night as they go through significant brain development, followed by switching their sleeping cycles.

Why does my 3-month-old wake up again for night feeding?

Babies undergoing these regressions tend to awaken more often during the Night. It could arise from increased hunger resulting from growth spurts or the need for comfort during this development period.

Is it safe for babies aged three months to sleep for ten hours?

It is acceptable for a three-month-old baby to sleep ten hours at Night, mainly if they eat enough during the day and grow well. Nonetheless, each baby is unique; therefore, they must be guided by them and talk to a pediatrician if you are worried about their sleep or general health.

What not to do during sleep regression?

Do not change your infant’s sleep environment. Continue to keep it same as it were before the regression.

How long does a 3 month sleep regression last?

Minimum-2 weeks and maximum-4 weeks.

Should I feed baby during sleep regression?

No. Try to feed your baby fully during the day.

How do I know if my baby is having a sleep regression?

The most common sign of sleep regression is waking suddenly often at night. If you are noticing happening this in your baby, then its a sleep regression.

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