In the three months since you brought your little bundle of joy home, a lot has changed. You’ve spent this time relaxing and getting to know each other, and you might be thinking about a 3 month old feeding schedule and how that might look.
By this stage most babies are ready to settle in to some kind of routine- but don’t worry, we aren’t talking about strict schedule here! You might also want to check out our breastfeeding tips blog post to help you get the most out of breastfeeding your baby.
Why its a Good Idea to Look at Your Baby’s Routine at Three Months Old
For the first few weeks, you probably found that feeding was pretty much constant- many parents find those newborn days to be a haze of cluster feeding. Breastfed babies in particular can constantly look for more breast milk, leaving mom worrying about her milk supply and if she has enough breast milk to meet baby’s needs.
By now, you’ve probably gotten to know your three month old to recognise baby’s hunger cues and found a slightly less constant baby feeding schedule. As a result, your 3 month old baby will be more able to sleep longer stretches and hopefully find a good nap schedule too.
We’ve included some sample schedules to give you an idea what an average baby schedule might look like.
How does Feeding Schedule Affect Your Baby’s Sleep Habits?
Those early newborn days seem to be a back and forth between sleep and feeding, whether your baby has breast milk or formula. In that newborn stage, your baby has a tiny tummy, so the advice is to let baby eat on demand, little and often.
Between night feedings and waking to change wet and dirty diapers, this can really leave mom and dad with little nighttime sleep- all perfectly normal, but also very difficult! As your baby grows, it’s wise to try to encourage good sleep habits.
If your baby’s gaining weight healthily, having plenty of wet diapers and meeting their milestones. now is a good time to look at your baby’s feeding and sleeping schedule- this can help with your whole family’s schedule.
How Much Sleep Does Your 3 Month Old Need?
In a 24 hour period, you would expect a total sleep time of around 15 hours- with perhaps a good morning nap and late afternoon nap, a quick cat nap or two in between plus around 12 hours of bedtime sleep.
Keep in mind, this is only a rough guideline! Your 3 month old is too young for sleep training, but establishing some kind of routine encourages baby to fall asleep more soundly.
Most babies will still wake for night feedings at this stage, whether you are bottle feeding or have a breastfed baby- though it does seem that bottle fed babies tend to sleep longer stretches than breastfed babies.
However, beware- the four month old sleep regression or a rogue growth spurt can really toss even a well established baby sleep routine out the window. If you’re going through this right now, check out our guide on what to do if your baby is waking every hour.
How Many Daytime Naps does a 3 Month Old Need?
3 Month Old sleep habits can really vary. Some babies will have several short naps a day, so you might find that your baby wakes for more milk, sleeps, then wakes again on repeat.
This can be particularly true for breastfed infants who like to take small but regular doses of breast milk. After the first two to six weeks, your milk supply should be well established and your baby should be a more efficient feeder who can go slightly longer stretches.
Alternatively, your baby may prefer to have two or three longer naps in the day. Bottle fed babies tend to need fewer feeds during the day so might be more likely to follow this schedule.
If you’d like to encourage longer stretches of sleep, try to encourage baby to take a little more milk that will keep them going a little longer between feeds. It’s impossible to see how much milk your breastfed baby has taken, but you can try offering them the other breast before they fall asleep, along with using breast compressions to increase milk flow.
Remember that babies brains need stimulated, so between these day time naps, cram in some tummy time and lots of chat and cuddles.
A Realistic 3 Month Old Feeding Schedule
We cannot stress enough that this is just one example of how a 3 month old baby schedule might look.
7AM- Wake Up and Feed
9.30AM-Noon- Feed and Nap
Noon-Baby Wakes to Feed
2pm-4pm – Feed and Nap
5.30pm- 7pm Feed and Nap
8.30pm- Bedtime Feed and Sleep
11pm- wakes to feed
3AM-wakes to feed
6AM-wakes to feed
Keep in mind that formula fed babies might need fewer feeds and might sleep for longer stretches. Alternatively, your formula fed baby may also enjoy small top ups of about an ounce of milk here and there, meaning more feeds.
Your breast fed baby meanwhile may look for breast milk a lot more than this, and have lots of little feeds.
Sleep routines really do vary a lot but there is plenty you can do to encourage your 3 month old baby in to a feeding and sleep routine that makes your life a little easier.
This time can feel very overwhelming for parents, with many feeling pressure to introduce solid food. Doctors recommend parents wait until their baby is at least six months old before introducing solid foods.
Baby Sleep FAQS
If your 3 month old baby sleep routine is still very patchy, it’s understandable that you are stressing- perhaps you are worried that baby isn’t getting enough milk, that you are doing something wrong or that your baby has other issues such as food allergies.
Always speak to your baby’s doctor if you have any concerns- they will know all the signs to look out for and can advise.
In the mean time however, you can rest assured that frequent waking in the night is still very normal for a 3 month old baby.
As your baby grows, you’ll find that your baby begins to establish their own pattern and learns to differentiate between night and day. Breastfed babies also become more efficient at feeding, often taking about half the time to nurse as a 3 month old baby compared to those early weeks. Furthermore, introducing solid foods when your baby is ready can help with baby sleep routines.
So hang in there mama!
How Long Should a 3 month Old Nap?
Some baby’s like to have a few long stretches of around 1.5hours of sleep in the day, while others cycle in and and out of brief naps, waking to feed, have a change and a quick play before drifting off again.
How do I Manage Bedtime Routine During a Sleep Regression?
We are firm believers in sleeping when baby sleeps, taking an earlier bedtime for both of you and doing what you need to do to get by!
Sleep regressions can affect your baby sleep routine, but rest assured that they tend to be relatively brief and you’ll find that you can get back in to routine within a few weeks.
Keep your bedtime routine in place through the sleep regression- eg bedtime milk, bath, and bed. Keep lights off and a quiet environment through the night. Change any wet or dirty diapers wordlessly so as to avoid your little one looking for a midnight play time!
Do Baby Growth Spurts Affect Bedtime Routine?
Baby feeding more can certainly impact on sleep routine. We would recommend trying to get those much needed extra feeds in during the day, to minimise the need for extra night time feedings.
Is it Normal for a Three Month Old to Still Wake in the Night?
You might feel that you are all alone if your baby continues to wake in the night, however a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that 57% of 6-12 month olds do not sleep through the night.
How Can I Encourage My Baby to Sleep Longer at Night?
If you’d like to encourage your baby to sleep a little more during the night, you could try gradually pushing your bedtime routine forward- we can help you out with tips as to how to shift baby bedtime earlier.
Ensure that breast feeds are efficient- ensure that your baby is fully emptying one breast before offering the other, and use breast compressions to ensure that your baby is getting lots of that good fatty, satisfying hind milk.
Ensure that babies are well winded and changed before being put down, to keep them comfortable.
Can Three Month Old Babies Sleep Through the Night?
It’s absolutely possible!
If your baby is gaining weight and meeting their milestones appropriately, it’s okay to let them sleep through the night- unless they have a bowel movement, in which case you will need to intervene to change their diaper.
Do Formula Fed Babies Have Better Sleep Patterns Compared to Breastfed Babies?
Some people believe that bottle fed infants are more likely to sleep through the night, but the jury is out on that one.
There are, after all, plenty of breastfed 3 month olds who do sleep through the night, and also many formula fed infants who don’t. It’s very hard to establish causality.
How Long Should a Baby Be Awake During the Day?
At three months old, most babies will be awake from 60-120 minutes before they need another sleep. This is precious time to spend with your baby cuddling, reading books and encouraging their core strength through tummy time.
Keep a close eye on your little one- if they become overtired or overstimulated, you will notice them becoming cranky.
Breast Milk Or Formula- How many Oz should my 3 Month Old Eat?
As your baby grows, you’ll find that they need more milk, likely preferring larger feeds with slightly longer gaps in between.
You can expect your three month old to consume between 24-36 oz of formula milk in a 24 hour period.
Of course, it’s harder to gauge with a breast fed baby, but the amount seems to be similar at 20-30 ozs. Every baby gets different milk from their mom after all!
Feeding Schedule For Breastfed Babies
You can expect a breastfed baby to nurse, on average, 7-9 times per 24 hour period.
However, keep in mind that breastfeeding is about a lot more than just milk- your baby will look for the breast for comfort, warmth, to soothe aches and pains and simply just to feel close to mom! Therefore you might find that your baby nurses more frequently than the on average every 2.5-3 hours that they need.
Please remember that your 3 month old is still so little- these feeding sample schedules are for demonstration purposes only. You can’t set your clock by any baby, especially not a breastfed one!
7.00 AM- Waking feed, awake time, nap
9.30 AM- feed, awake time, nap
11.30 AM feed, awake time, nap
2.00 PM Feed, awake time, brief nap
4.o0 PM feed, awake time, nap
7.PM feed, awake time, nap
8pm- cluster feeding
9.PM- Final feed and bed
It’s likely that you will be dreamfeeding- up for feeds through the night too.
Feeding Schedule for Formula Fed Babies
You can expect a formula fed baby to food, on average, 5-7 times per 24 hour period.
Planning your baby’s milk intake is a lot easier because you can measure what your baby is eating. Plan for around 5 feeds per day (every 4 hours) with each feed at around 4-6 ounces. Again though, follow your baby’s cues and build a schedule around their unique needs.
7.00 AM- Waking feed, awake time, nap
9.30 AM- feed, awake time, nap
12.30 AM feed, awake time, nap
3.30 PM Feed, awake time, brief nap
5.30 PM feed, awake time, nap
9.PM- Final feed and bed
As we’ve mentioned before, formula feeding does not guarantee a baby sleeping through the night- so you may still have a night feed or two during the night.
What can I do to Improve my Baby’s Sleep and Feeding Patterns?
First of all, it’s well worth while to keep a diary for a few days to see if there is any kind of pattern in place already- you may just be surprised!
After that, you can look at perhaps spacing out feeds a little more, encouraging your baby to nurse more efficiently or perhaps making changes to the amount of formula you offer your baby per feed.
Ensure that your baby is well stimulated during their awake time so that they have other things to keep their developing minds busy.
Also, don’t be afraid to let someone else hold the baby sometimes while you have a well deserved break. If you are breastfeeding, your baby will find your smell very tempting so its unsurprising they will want to nurse a lot when they are with you.
At this age, naps are still very important, so if sleep is an issue, you might want to look at improving your baby’s sleep habits. Breastfeeding moms in particular can be overwhelmed by babies who nurse constantly and dream feed rather than take solid naps- perhaps a routine of walks in the sling or pram might help? We do have some tips on how to get baby to nap longer.
3 Month Old Feeding Schedule FAQS
How do I know that my Baby is Getting Enough Milk?
If your baby is gaining weight appropriately and meeting their milestones, as well as having plenty of wet and dirty diapers, all signs point towards them having adequate milk intake. If you’re worries though, don’t be afraid to ask your family doctor for advice. You could also check out our blog post: How do I know if my baby is getting enough breast milk?
My Baby Breastfeeds Constantly in the Evening, Does This Mean She Isn’t Getting Enough?
This is known as cluster feeding and is very common. It does not mean that baby is not getting enough! This is your baby’s way of comforting themselves and can be a part of their bed time routine.
Is it Only Breastfed Babies That Go Through Growth Spurts?
Absolutely not! Growth spurts are often characterised by fussiness and increased feeding and sleeping- regardless of whether you breast feed or bottle feed.
The reason that Breastfeeding Moms likely talk about growth spurts a bit more is that they can take a toll on mom physically- after all, mom is having to make a lot more milk to cover those extra feeds!
Is it Impossible To Establish a Feeding Routine With a Breast Fed Baby?
You can definitely establish solid routines with breastfed babies.
The reality is that all babies need a level of flexibility- their milk serves as comfort, food and drink. Think about how often you need to take a drink or a snack throughout the day?
Focus on a solid daily play, feed and sleep routine overall, with a bed time bath so that they come to learn that the evening brings a longer sleep period.
When Does the Feeding Schedule Become More Manageable?
Without a doubt, constant napping and feeding can be quite restrictive, especially if you have other kids.
By around 6 weeks, many moms notice a good deal of improvement. The next major milestone is at around 6 months old, when baby begins solids. This can make on the go feeding much easier, and also is lots of fun and entertaining for baby. So hang in there!
Can I introduce Solid Foods Earlier than 6 months?
The guidance is that you should wait until your baby is 6 months old before introducing solid foods.
In some cases, a doctor may advise earlier weaning. If you have concerns, you should always discuss these with a professional first.
Introducing solid foods does not necessarily make your baby sleep better– some actually do worse!
Establishing a 3 Month Old Feeding Schedule: The Bottom Line
For many parents, establishing a good feeding schedule goes hand in hand with improving baby sleep routines, so it’s no wonder that it’s considered a priority!
It’s important that you remember that a strict regime or sleep training at this stage is still unrealistic- the best thing you can do is to start keeping a diary over a few days to check out your current pattern- many parents don’t realise that they actually do already have a routine of sorts in place with their baby.
Just remember: This time is short and will indeed pass.