Remember those newborn days, when your baby would almost instantly fall asleep in your arms, in the car seat, in church, in WalMart… pretty much anywhere?
Well, those days are over, mama.
The good news is that your baby is developing new skills and soaking in knowledge at a ridiculously amazing rate. The bad news? Your three-month old baby’s schedule needs work!
Around three months the shoe drops. This is the time when you can tell if you’ve given your baby a foundation of good habits or not. Of course, even if you’ve managed to do the whole newborn stage perfectly, (ahem. yeah, right?!) your baby is going under monumental developmental changes around three to four months. Things can get a bit bumpy when it comes to your three-month old baby’s routine.
So, let’s do what mamas do best. Let’s troubleshoot. It’s time to solve your biggest problems when it comes to your three-month baby schedule!
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Looking for a different age? Try these posts to find the perfect routine for your child:
- Want to start at the beginning? Read how I scheduled my day with a newborn and a preschooler. Whew! Was that ever fun 😉
- Take a look at how to rock a six month baby schedule.
- Read all about conquering the crazy with a daily toddler schedule.
Problem #1: Baby is too distracted to eat.
Around three months old, my baby started to wake up! She grew out of that sleepy newborn stage, and was suddenly interested in everything! The swish of the cat’s tail, that pretty shadow on the curtain, every little thing would put her head on swivel.
As exciting as this newfound social interaction is, it can be so frustrating trying to get that belly full! If she doesn’t eat well, she won’t nap well, then she won’t eat well the next cycle, and so on and so on until she crashes at bedtime.
For breastfeeding moms, it is more than a little nerve-wracking wondering if your baby is getting enough calories. And the cycle continues… Sound familiar?
Solution: Feed sleepy, feed secluded, feed often!
When my baby girl entered this distracted stage, I also had to manage having two three-year-old boys playing in the house as well. I watch my nephew a few days a week along with my own kids. Noisy boys + hungry baby = no fun for mama! It suddenly became absolutely necessary for me to have a plan for getting full feeds for my three-month old baby.
- First, I made sure to catch my baby as she woke up from a nap. The sooner I could get in there and feed her, the better she nursed. If I let her roll around in her crib for a few minutes, she would inevitably be in “play mode” when I picked her up.
- Next, I made her nursery into our nursing cave. White noise, lights off. The whole shebang. When it was time to feed my baby, I put the boys on the couch with books, or set them up in my son’s room with a quiet toy like these magnet blocks. I tried to limit or block out any noises or lights that would distract. Of course, this doesn’t always work!
- Sometimes you can provide all the right conditions for your baby to feed well, and she just wants to look up at you and smile instead! When that happened, I would just wait 30-45 minutes and try again. At a last resort, I would feed my baby just before a nap. She usually eats better when she’s sleepy, so we kind of combined nursing for calories and nursing for comfort as well. But I tried to make sure I didn’t feed her all the way to sleep. I didn’t want to introduce any new bad habits that would hurt her sleeping skills.
Which leads us to… three month baby schedule problem number two!
Problem #2: Baby can’t fall asleep independently.
Have you read my post about sleep mistakes I won’t be making with my second baby? Go read that post if you haven’t already! You need a solid foundation of good sleep habits for your baby.
With my firstborn, we gave him a few bad habits when it came to sleeping. He needed to be rocked or nursed to sleep, and resisted his crib with a vengeance!
For my baby girl, I was determined to work smarter, not harder when it came to teaching my baby to fall asleep. At three months old, it suddenly becomes obvious whether or not your baby has developed bad or good sleep habits.
Solution: Do a sleep habit checkup.
If your three-month old baby is having problems falling asleep for naps or at bedtime, it’s a good idea to do a sleep habit checkup. Ask yourself these questions:
- What do the surroundings look like when I put my baby to sleep? Your baby’s room should be cool and dark, with white noise.
- What is my baby wearing when she goes to sleep? If you’re still swaddling, I absolutely love our Woombie Convertible Swaddle. (Read how I found the best swaddle in this swaddle showdown post!) At three months, most babies aren’t really rolling yet. But if your baby is rolling you’ll want to stop using a swaddle. Make sure your baby isn’t overdressed and opt for comfy onesies for naps.
- Who is doing the work when my baby goes to sleep? Are you doing all the hard work for your baby? Rocking her completely to sleep? Now is a good time to shift some of that responsibility to your baby. At three months, our nap time routine was diaper change, sit in the chair, hum and sing for a minute or two, then place my baby in her crib while she was still awake. She still likes her pacifier, so usually I just stuck that in and she would lay her head down and go to sleep on her own. No rocking or bouncing required!
Problem #3: Baby only takes short naps.
Argh! Short naps are the bane of any mama’s existence! When your baby turns three months old, it’s time to aim for longer naps. Newborns sometimes nap in short spurts, or only 45 minutes at a time. For a three-month old, naps can start to lengthen a bit more if you’ve got a good sleep foundation in place. I consider a short nap anything less than 30 minutes long.
Solution: Focus on wake time and self-soothing.
From my experience, there are two main causes of short naps. The first cause is baby’s wake time is either too long or too short. The second trigger for short naps is a lack of self-soothing skills. Don’t worry! Both of these problems can be solved with a plan and a little work!
- For your three-month old, the perfect wake time is around 1.5 hours. In the morning, I like to stick to about one hour max before that first nap. If your baby is struggling with short naps, don’t stress! Just put your baby down 1.5 hours after she wakes up regardless of how long the last nap was.
- A lack of self-soothing skills is the second cause of short naps. Try this for a nap time routine: Dim the lights or just put on a hallway light in your baby’s room. Change her diaper, and put on some white noise. Then sit in a chair with the lights out. Hum and pat your baby on the back for no more than two minutes. Remember, you’re not rocking to sleep, you’re just setting the stage for sleep!
- Put your baby down sleepy, but not sleeping. Say goodnight and leave the room! If she starts crying, set a timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, go in and soothe your baby. Try to do the least intrusive thing first. So instead of jumping right to rocking or nursing, try just your voice, then a pat on the bottom, then put her pacifier back in. See how each step takes a little more of the responsibility of self-soothing from your baby? Each time you have to go check, try to start with the least intrusive step again. Pretty soon, you’ll notice that your baby needs less and less help with self-soothing.
My favorite book about baby sleep is The Happy Sleeper. This book has a really helpful and balanced way of looking at sleep training. One of the strategies in this book is called the Sleep Ladder. It starts with this idea of doing the least intrusive thing to help your baby sleep. If you want more details about these baby sleep strategies, be sure to check out the book The Happy Sleeper!
Below, I’ll give you a sample of what our three-month baby schedule looked like. Of course every day isn’t exactly the same, but this is what my goal was for my baby around three months old. Some days are just off, and that’s ok!
- 7:30 AM Wake up for the day and nurse. Change diaper and clothes for the day.
- 7:30- 8:30 AM Tummy time and inside play! I used this time to do breakfast and morning time learning activities with my preschool aged boys. Baby girl also loved to sit on my lap and watch them learn!
- 8:30 AM Nap #1 (Aim for 1.5-2 hour nap)
- 10:30 AM Wake and nurse.
- 10:30- 12:00 Outside time! Get your baby some fresh air, mama. It will work wonders!
- 12:00 PM Nap #2 (Aim for 1.5 hour nap)
- 12:00- 1:30 PM I got lunch together for the big boys and then put them down for naps/quiet time at 1:00. If I got lucky, the baby would sleep an extra 30 minutes, which would mean a whole hour all to myself 🙂
- 1:30 PM Wake and nurse.
- 3:00 PM Nap #3 (Aim for 1.5 hour nap)
- 3:00- 4:30 PM If you have older children, this is a good time to spend extra quality time with them. They can help you get a few chores done quickly, then sit down for a good afternoon snuggle with a book!
- 4:30 PM Wake and nurse.
- 5:30 PM Catnap #4 (Catnap of 30-45 minutes.) Mama gets dinner prepped!
- 6:30 PM Wake and nurse. You can fit in an extra nursing session here if you like, or you can hold off until bedtime.
- 7:30 PM Bedtime and nurse.
Alright, mama. You’ve got this! Creating a three-month old baby schedule is no easy feat. But you can do it! It won’t get better overnight, but you can tackle these problems one by one. You’ll be rocking a routine in no time.
Trust me, if you put in the hard work in these early months, it will get so much easier as your baby grows older.
Do you have any three-month old tips? Any questions about this super fun and cuddly month of your baby’s first year? Share in the comments!