The sleep regression at three months is one of the first sleep regressions your baby will have. There is a sleep regression around six and eight weeks, however, the 3 month sleep regression is a little more impactful.
Like all sleep regressions, you will know it has hit as sleep will suddenly change (and not in a good way). It can be really helpful to be prepared, know what to expect, and how to continue to optimize your baby’s sleep, while also working towards getting it back on track.
In this blog post, I’m going to talk about:
Signs and symptoms of the three month sleep regression
What to do when the sleep regression at three months hits
What to expect after the sleep regression at three months
Here we go!
What is a sleep regression?
A sleep regression is when sleep suddenly and completely falls apart. (Yes, this is the “official” definition.)
This can look like suddenly having more night wakings, suddenly protesting sleep, early morning wakings, hard to get to sleep/stay asleep…. and of course, the dreaded short naps.
Sleep regressions often happen because of travel, teething/illness, or a developmental milestone/leap. You will also hear of sleep regressions being referred to as “progressions” for this reason. When our little ones are learning a new skill or their brains are going through a big development, sleep is often disrupted. Totally normal, (and super cool) but it still totally sucks from a sleep perspective.
Usually the best thing you can do is stay the course and power through. That being said, there are circumstances where there is more you can do (spoiler alert, the sleep regression at three months is one of them). Sometimes a sleep regression means it’s time to drop a nap, or it can mean it’s time to teach independent sleep skills.
To find out what to do when the sleep regression at three months hits, keep reading! 👇
3 month sleep regression signs & symptoms
Up until three months, newborns are usually taking pretty decent naps. Especially once you get through the six-eight week sleep regression. However, the three month sleep regression is usually a “nap regression”.
This usually means your newborn suddenly starts taking 30ish minute naps. I’ve been through this 4 times with my own little ones, (plus all the babies I’ve worked with) so I feel fairly qualified to be able to coin this sleep regression as the “crap nap” regression.
I know it’s super rough, but please know this stage of baby sleep is totally normal! Month three is a bit of a marathon, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and everything changes at four months.
Hang in there, and keep reading on to find out what you can do to get through the regression.
What to do when the sleep regression at 3 months hits
When any sleep regression hits, our goal is always to continue to optimize sleep as best we can (which usually means preventing overtiredness) and have a plan for getting sleep back on track.
With the 3 month sleep regression, the goal is to try and “save” the naps. Ideally, all naps are longer than 1 hour, so when your baby wakes up after a 30ish minute crap nap, try your best to rock or soothe them back to sleep.
As this is a sleep regression, getting them back to sleep may be tricky. Remember, you can’t spoil a newborn, so pull out all the stops! Try using all my soothing tricks to get them back to sleep. You can transfer them back to their own sleep space or just do a contact nap. They may pop awake again 10-20 minutes later, in which case my advice is to try getting them back to sleep again.
Tips for transferring your newborn to their own sleep space:
I know, that sounds wildly disenchanting, but if you have the bandwidth, helping your baby extend these naps is the very best thing you can do during this regression. Not only does it help prevent overtiredness but it sets the stage for solid naps in the future. It’s truly an investment!
Now, of course, I do not want you to sacrifice your mental health over it. I know how mentally and physically exhausting it can be to try and save the crap naps. So just do what you can. That may mean you are only able to save one or two naps that day, the rest are cat naps, so you shorten wake windows and maybe have an extra nap that day. That’s totally ok. Do what you can and roll with the rest.
What to expect after the 3 month sleep regression
As I mentioned above, month three is a bit of a marathon. The best thing you can do is try your best to extend those naps. The light at the end of the tunnel is month four.
This is when your little one will move out of the newborn sleep stage. Their brain is changing and they are ready for deeper and more restorative sleep. It is at this point that you can teach them independent sleep skills. This means helping your little one learn to put themselves to sleep independently, connect sleep cycles and drop unnecessary night wakings.
And trust me, this is a lot easier to do if you are able to lay the foundation for solid sleep skills during the newborn stage. (AKA- optimize their sleep and prevent overtiredness by helping them extend naps).
Wondering how you know if it’s time to start teaching independent sleep skills? Check out this post:
Recap on the 3 month old sleep regression
The sleep regression at three months is not fun for anyone. It marks the start of sudden “crap naps” and usually means it’s tricky for your little one to go back to sleep and stay asleep.
The best thing you can do is try your best to help them extend their naps so they are at least an hour long. If it’s not going to happen, move on with your day, shorten the next wake window and try again either at the next nap or the next day.
It won’t last forever, and all this work will totally pay off later when you are ready to work on independent sleep skills.
Most of all, remember that we are here to help! We have an awesome “build your own custom package” which is fantastic for the newborn stage. We can do an initial consult, and then hop on the phone with you once or twice a week for just 10-15 minutes to give you strategies to optimize sleep and answer your questions that pop up along the way.
We’ve got you, even during the 3 month sleep regression!