3-Month Sleep Regression: What It Is And How To Deal With It
If your baby resists falling asleep at night, wakes up more than usual once they do, and has a hard time napping during the day, they may be in the midst of the 3-month sleep regression.
This can be a difficult time for you and your little one, but we’re here to help.
In this article, we’ll explain what’s going on, what may be causing the sleepless nights, what signs to look out for, and how to deal with the 3-month sleep regression when it arrives.
Table Of Contents
- What Is A Sleep Regression?
- Causes Of The 3-Month Sleep Regression
- Signs Your Baby May Be In A Sleep Regression
- How To Deal With The 3-Month Sleep Regression
What Is A Sleep Regression?
A sleep regression is a sudden and prolonged change in your baby’s sleep habits.
During a sleep regression, your little one may switch from their normal pattern of sleeping well to consistently having trouble falling asleep or staying that way.
This switch typically occurs around developmental milestones — three months, six months, eight months, 12 months, 18 months, and 24 months — when their body and mind are growing by leaps and bounds.
That said, if the poor sleep continues and your baby doesn’t fall back into their regular schedule, those first one or two nights may have been the beginning of the 3-month sleep regression.
Causes Of The 3-Month Sleep Regression
1) Rolling Over At Night
As your little one gains strength and motor control, they’ll eventually be able to roll from their back to their tummy and vice versa. This usually happens around the three- or four-month mark.
When that milestone finally arrives, your baby may roll during their sleep and suddenly find themselves in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable position that they can’t get out of.
Such unconscious movements can cause them to wake up and fuss more often in an attempt to get back to a comfortable position.
2) Growth Spurt
A growth spurt is a short period of time when your baby experiences rapid physical changes (such as increases in height and weight). Growth spurts often come with discomfort that your little one likely won’t know how to handle.
As a result, your 3-month-old might be fussier than normal, take shorter naps, and wake up more often during the night — or even refuse to go down at all.
3) Teething Pain
Along with rolling over in their sleep and the discomfort caused by a growth spurt, teething can be another major cause of the 3-month sleep regression.
Though your little one may not get their first tooth until their six-month birthday, their body starts developing those teeth around the three-month mark.
That physical change can cause your baby to wake up more often, sleep less, and be fussier than usual.
4) New Awareness Of Temperature And Light
As your little one grows, they become more aware of temperature and light. This newfound awareness can cause your baby to wake up more often — because they get too warm or too cold or there’s too much light in their room.
It can also cause them to be more sensitive to their environment, leaving them unable to go to sleep in the first place.
Signs Your Baby May Be In A Sleep Regression
1) Resistance To Naps
As we touched on in the previous section, one of the major signs of the 3-month sleep regression — or any sleep regression, for that matter — is a sudden resistance to naps.
One day your little one may nap for a few hours mid-morning and mid-afternoon, and the next day they may only nap for 20 minutes before being fully awake again — if they’re able to go to sleep at all.
This dramatic switch may mean they’ve entered into a sleep regression.
2) Increased Fussiness
The physical and mental milestones your baby goes through at three or four months of age means they may be fussier than normal.
All of these developmental milestones we mentioned earlier often lead to discomfort that your baby doesn’t know how to handle other than through a good cry.
If your little one seems fussier than usual, it may be a sign that a sleep regression is imminent.
3) Trouble Falling Asleep At Night
One of the first changes in behavior you may notice is that your little one suddenly has trouble falling asleep at night.
Come their normal bedtime, they may exhibit all the classic traits of being tired but fight falling asleep with all their might.
If your baby’s schedule has been pretty consistent — go down around 8 p.m., wake at 11 p.m., and then sleep for the rest of the night, for example — and then, suddenly, they’re up well past 9 p.m., that could indicate they’re on the verge of the 3-month sleep regression.
4) More Frequent Night Waking
Your baby’s going to wake up at night. That’s just a fact of life. But, when they do so every hour or two, there may be something going on — like a sleep regression.
Like the other signs on this list, if there’s a sudden, marked change from your little one’s normal sleep schedule, it could be an indication that they’re starting, or already in, a sleep regression.
How To Deal With The 3-Month Sleep Regression
1) Stick To Your Routine
Though it may seem futile at first, one of the best things you can do to deal with a change in your baby’s sleep schedule is stick to your regular routine for naptime and bedtime.
So, for example, if you always give your little one a bath before bed, continue to do so during the sleep regression. Just be sure to use products that are gentle and won’t irritate your baby’s delicate skin, like Mustela Foam Shampoo for Newborns and Bath Oil.
Or, if you always put your baby down for the night at 8 p.m., continue that routine even if they try to stay awake well after.
2) Practice Good Sleep Habits
Good sleep habits aren’t just for adults. Children of any age can benefit from creating an atmosphere that promotes sleep.
Examine everything you and your little one do in the time leading up to naptime and bedtime, and make changes that will improve sleep, including:
- Dressing your baby in pajamas that are appropriate for the temperature (If your little one deals with itchy eczema, help them rest easy with Stelatopia Skin Soothing Pajamas, designed especially for eczema-prone skin.)
- Keeping their sleep space cool
- Making their nursery as dark as possible
- Keeping the house quiet
- Putting them to bed with a pacifier to help them self-soothe
3) Remove Distractions
If your little one is suffering from a sleep regression, do your best to remove any distractions from their immediate environment.
This includes things like mobiles, wall hangings, stuffed animals, toys, pillows, and anything else that might stimulate their curiosity.
Keeping the environment free from distractions may help your baby fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer whether they’re in the midst of the 3-month sleep regression or back on their regular schedule.
4) Keep Your Baby From Becoming Overtired
When your baby suddenly moves from two naps to one, chances are they’re going to be overtired because they’re not getting the sleep they need during the day. As a result, they may have even more difficulty falling asleep when bedtime rolls around.
If they resist napping during the day, try to at least maintain rest periods during their regular nap times when you try to limit the stimulation they receive. This can help your little one relax and wind down.
Even if they don’t sleep, rest periods throughout the day may prevent your baby from being overtired at night when it really matters.
Comforting Your Baby Through The 3-Month Sleep Regression
One of the best things you can do during the 3-month sleep regression is to comfort your baby as much as possible.
Try the tips mentioned in this article, arrange their nursery for best sleep, try a calming massage with Mustela Baby Oil when they wake up, and do your best to help them learn how to fall back asleep on their own.
With a bit of patience — and lots of love and comfort — you and your little one can push through the 3-month sleep regression to find that sound sleep you’ve both been missing.