You gave birth, and then one month went by, then two, and suddenly you have a 12-week old baby and a three-month-old child. Your baby’s newborn stage is over, and you’re wondering if the sleep needs of your baby have changed.
Maybe your normally beautifully sleeping angel has begun to resist bed or nap times or is waking up quicker, and not sleeping as well. So you’re naturally wondering if you need to adjust your 2 month old sleep schedule. Can that much change in 4 weeks? Your whole world changed the day you gave birth, and a lot can happen in 4 weeks with a newborn. There is a bunch of development going on for your baby between 8-12 weeks.
About the 2 and 3 Month Old Baby
Your eight week old is a newborn baby in their 4th trimester, and your 12-week old is at the end of that phase. Although your 12-week old is ending their time in the 4th trimester they still enjoy many of the comforts that your newborn did; 12-16 weeks is a time of, growth and maturation for you baby.
The 4th trimester covers the first three months of your babies life and is a period of significant development for your baby. It is a time of enormous transition, moving from the snug confines of your womb to the big world.
Babies in the 4th trimester need lots of cuddles, love, and attention. They still enjoy many of sensations that they experienced in the womb. While inside your womb, your baby was used to a cozy environment, where they didn’t have a lot of space to move around.
By around 20 weeks gestation your baby can hear your voice, hears a loud whooshing sounds 24 hours a day (as loud as a vacuum cleaner) as blood flows through the placenta, and your baby can listen to your heartbeat.
Your baby enjoys a lot of movement too when you walked or waddled and moved around, your baby was jiggled and jostled gently. All these motions and sensations are still very enjoyable and soothing for your baby after they are born during the 4th trimester.
The 5 S’s
Before schedules and routines, your best bet for sleep is knowing how to best soothe your baby. Dr Harvey Karp is an American paediatrician well known for his book ‘The Happiest Baby on the Block’ and his techniques for calming and soothing newborn babies. Karp’s 5 S’s are 5 ways to trigger your baby’s calming reflex and ultimately help them settle into sleep.
Swaddling calms your baby for a number of reasons:
- They feel snug, safe and secure like when they were in your womb.
- It inhibits your babies startle reflex (Moro Reflex). This reflex is a safety mechanism to help your baby from accidentally falling away from you.
Something unexpected in your baby’s environment triggers the startle. It could be anything and nothing at all. When your baby is startled their arms fly out, and they jolt or make a start.
Although this is entirely normal, it can be incredibly frustrating to you mama when you’re trying to soothe your baby to sleep. The swaddle inhibits your baby from feeling the Moro Reflex too intensely and waking up.
- Mimics touch and allows your baby tactile development while you get a rest too
Your newborn baby loves to be cuddled, rocked and gently swung around. It is very calming and soothing for your newborn and a great way to help them get to sleep.
3. Side/Tummy Settling
When sleeping, the safest position for your baby is on their back. However, this is a difficult position for your baby to fall asleep. You must always place your baby to sleep on their back, but you may find it easier to settle your baby into sleep on their side or tummy.
Shush-Pat is a wonderful way to help soothe your newborn to sleep. Lay your swaddled baby (arms down works best) on their side in their bassinet and pat their back or bottom in a steady tick-tock motion while making a ‘ssshhhh’ noise (or using a white noise machine).
If your baby is crying and fussing you may need to pat a little quicker. Once asleep (you can feel your baby’s body relax into their bassinet) you can roll your baby onto their back. Your baby may also like to be propped up on your shoulder, this way they will have nice pressure on their tummy, and once they are asleep, you can lay them on their back in their bassinet.
Your baby is naturally born with a sucking reflex. This reflex helps your baby to feed on the breast or bottle. This reflex is also an incredibility calming action for your baby when they need to sleep. It is one reason many babies like to feed to sleep.
The sucking reflex is so calming and soothing. It is also why dummies/pacifiers are a great sleep tool to help your newborn baby fall asleep. After four months of age sucking no longer triggers the calming reflex, but the dummy itself becomes a sleep association or comfort to the baby.
Babies do not like a quiet environment. While they were in your womb, they could hear a loud whooshing 24 hours a day. They are used to constant loud noise. It is why white noise is so calming for babies and can be used right up to toddlers years. Introducing it is best when your baby is a newborn
Your 2-Month-Old – 8 Weeks Old
Things might just be starting to chill out for you a little bit. When your baby was first born, maternal melatonin is covering them (a sleep hormone), which makes them very sleepy for the first few weeks of life.
By 3 to 4 weeks of age the maternal melatonin is wearing off, and your sleepy baby begins to wake up. To make life interesting your baby does not start to produce their melatonin until they are eight weeks old.
Interestingly, you may also notice that your baby starts to cry more from 4 weeks of age. This crying intensifies by six weeks of age and then begins to lessen off. So, if you’ve had a rough trot with a crying babe the last few weeks, by two months life might be starting to settle down a little. You might feel as if you finally getting the hang of this parenting thing.
By eight week of age, your baby is starting to get ready for an earlier bedtime, beginning to learn to consolidate blocks of sleep at night, generally in the early evening. If you’ve been cluster feeding for a few weeks and baby has been heading to bed by 9-10 pm you can feel relieved that your evenings will start to be yours again.
Moving your baby’s bedtime closer to 6/7 pm is becoming an appropriate time for them. It is because their circadian rhythms are starting to develop. Your baby’s biological rhythms and clocks are beginning to be in place. If you work with original external beats as well as your infant’s internal rhythms, then your baby’s sleep should start to consolidate much more quickly.
What are Circadian Rhythms
Circadian Rhythms are your baby’s sleep and wake cycles. The hormones cortisol and melatonin controlled them. By 6/7 am in the morning, your babies melatonin levels have been decreasing significantly, and their cortisol levels are rising to get them ready to wake up. During the day these two hormones rise and fall in opposition to one another. By 6/7 pm melatonin levels are, and cortisol levels are dropping, readying your baby for sleep.
Circadian Light, food, sleep and social interaction can also affect rhythm.
Your baby’s body is becoming aware of outside factors such as the sun rising, you opening the curtains, letting light in, being fed and getting attention.
Your baby is learning when it’s time to be awake, and when it’s time to sleep. When it’s time to rest we want a dark room, no feeding (feeding can be before sleep times and can be part of your bedtime routine) limited social interaction, it’s not playing time it’s sleep time. This way your baby and their bodies learn it’s time to sleep. We want to work with external factors such as the sun as well as your baby’s body and natural rhythms.
By eight weeks of age, you and your baby may be ready to start working on a routine. As your baby is naturally beginning to sleep more extended periods at night consolidating evening hours, and their biological rhythms are starting to develop, it’s a great time to start thinking about a flexible routine if you are ready.
If you are not prepared for a routine yet, don’t worry. Your baby is still young, and you have plenty of time. There is no need to put on extra pressure or stress to your life. I stress the word FLEXIBLE, your baby and not the clock should heavily guide a routine at this age. If you’re ready to start having a habit, the following guide can help you.
Routine for 2-month-old Baby
|7 am – Awake and Feed (This wake-up time works perfectly with your babies emerging circadian rhythms and helps cement a good wake up time.|
|8:30 am – Nap time (babies at this age can generally only handle 90mins of awake time. It means that your baby should be asleep at the end of those 90 mins. You’ll need to start your wind-down routine (use those 5 S’s) 20mins earlier. This way you don’t end up with an overtired grumpy baby.|
|10 am – Awake and Feed (Remember these times are not set; they are just guidelines. If your baby wakes hungry at 9:30 am that’s ok, get them up to feed and adjust the schedule for the rest of the day. We are just working on guidelines and some continuity at this state.|
|11:30 am – Nap This afternoon period is where your day may get what feels messy and may not be consistent every day. I’m going to give you a few different scenarios that may occur. Your baby may also like a short feed before this nap, to encourage a longer sleep.|
|2 pm – Awake and feed time||12:30/1 pm – Awake and feed time|
|3:30 – Nap||2 pm – Nap|
|4:30/5 pm – Awake||3 pm – Awake and Feed|
|5:30 pm – Bath||4:30 pm – Nap|
|6 pm – Feed and bed||5 pm Awake|
|10/10:30 pm – Possible Awake Feed||5:30 pm – Bath|
|6 pm – Feed and bed|
|10/10:30 pm – Possible Awake Feed|
If you prefer not to have a routine at this stage, that is okay.
Just work on awake times.
Babies at this age can handle about 90 mins of awake time. So if your baby wakes from a nap at 11 am aim to have them back asleep by 12:30 pm.
Also, try not to let your baby sleep longer than 4 hours total during the day; this can disrupt their nighttime sleep. You should have a total goal of 4 hours a day sleep at this age and about 11-12 hours at night. Also working on a 7 am wake up time can help the rest of the day falls into place naturally.
Even if you are loosely following a routine, always make sure bedtime is flexible depending on how the afternoon naps went. You might need to move bedtime by 30-60 minutes in either direction to avoid an overtired baby or trying to put your baby to sleep before they are ready.
Your 3-Month-Old – 12 Weeks Old
Your baby has been changing and developing rapidly in the last four weeks of life. These next four weeks are no different. You baby is longer a newborn and is transitioning out of the 4th trimester. You’ll notice they are smiling at you all the time, having had six weeks of practice, cooing and loving being with mum and dad.
Their biological and Circadian Rhythms are becoming even more consistent, and your baby may have fallen into some natural sleep and awake patterns by themselves. If they haven’t don’t worry this is a great time to help them to start.
Your three-month-old is beginning to transition away from their infant needs.
They will need longer awake times, slightly less sleep, and be much more alert. The will still enjoy the 5 S’s but will be getting ready to transition away from them. The swaddle, dummy, rocking and swinging will all start to fade away in the next few months as your baby begins to roll, no longer needs sucking and rocking for comfort.
It is easier to get rid of the dummy at 4/5 months; otherwise, it becomes such a strong sleep association that it is best to keep until the toddler years. Rocking and swinging and too much movement can start to become too stimulating for your baby.
Your three month old may not respond as well to the sleep routine and soothing techniques they loved as a newborn. Some fantastic news for the mama’s with a colicky baby; If your baby suffered from right colic (unexplained crying), you’d find by 12 weeks that it has magically disappeared.
By this age, it is an excellent idea to have an established and consistent bedtime routine that you follow every night. Your bedtime routine will change slightly over the years, but you can get a good one going now. Get your baby used to healthy sleep associations now.
A great way to start your bedtime routine is a bath and baby massage.
It is relaxing, calming and a lovely way to bond. Get your baby into their pyjamas, go to their room, read a book or sing them a song, give your baby a feed, then clothe them ready for sleep. Make sure the light is turned down, your white noise is on, have one last cuddle then shush and pat your baby to blissful slumber.
At 12 weeks of age, you may notice the morning nap starting to fall around 9 am. 9-10am and 12-2pm are biological nap windows for babies. It is when your baby experiences a natural dip in their energy, and they are more susceptible to sleep. By 12 weeks of age, many parents are looking for a routine or some consistency for their day. It is a great time to start on again a FLEXIBLE practice.
Routine for 3-month-old Baby
|7 am – Awake and Feed|
|8:30/9 am – Nap|
|10 am – Awake|
|10:30 – Feed|
|11:30 – Nap|
Again a few options. This lunchtime nap can be difficult to consolidate. It’s essential to make sure your baby has a perfect rest here or 2 naps during the times for a few reasons. Firstly they will have this lunchtime nap until they are three years old, this nap is staying for a while. Secondly, really good sleep at lunchtimes makes bedtime usually goes a lot smoother. Having a good rest during the day means that your baby will not be overtired.Your baby may also like a short feed before this nap to make sure he/she is full and encourage a longer sleep.
|2 pm – Awake||12:30/1 pm – Awake and Feed|
|2:30 pm – Feed||2 pm – Nap|
|3:30 – Nap||3 pm – Feed|
|4:30/5 pm – Awake and Feed||4 pm – Nap – This nap might start becoming shorter|
|5:30 pm – Bath||5 pm – Feed|
|6 pm – Feed and Bed||5:30 pm – Bath|
|10/10:30 pm – Optional Awake Feed||6 pm – Feed and into bed|
Even though many changes have been occurring in your baby from 2-3 months old their schedules are still very similar, almost identical. The will just be moving their awake time from 90 mins to 120 mins.
It may happen slowly over a few weeks.
That’s why it’s good to know your baby’s tired signs and even to preempt them. You need to catch that wave of tiredness before it crashes. The better you get at reading your baby, the more comfortable sleep will be. It’s all about the timing.
The 10/10:30 pm Awake Feed
If you prefer you don’t have to wake your baby to feed them at this time. It is optional. This awake feed can be useful for a few reasons. This awake feed will also become a dream feed by the time your baby is four months old.
By 6-8 weeks of age, your baby will begin to consolidate night sleep, and this usually happens in the evening hours first. When we wake your baby at 10 pm, we are disrupting their sleep cycles and helping them to sleep a little longer later in the night.
For example, you put your baby to bed at 6 pm and wake them at 10 pm for a feed. Unswaddle your baby, change them and give them a feed. Keep the lights low and don’t engage too socially with your baby.
It isn’t play time, but it’s a beautiful time for a cuddle and snuggle and a feed. This feed will help your baby get through to 3/3: 30 am before needing another feed. The next feed would be 7 am. This way you have only one middle of the night feed. It is an appropriate night feeding schedule for a baby who weighs at least 4 kgs. A 4kg baby will need 2-3 feed between 7 pm and 7 am.
If you decided that you want to go to bed early and don’t like the idea of the awake feed that is fine, your night for a 4kg baby may look like 6 pm – feed and bed, 1 am is feed, 4 am feed, and 7 am feed. Your baby is still having 2-3 feeds overnight and getting the calories they need.
These nighttime feeding schedules depend on you as the parent and what will help you most. Your baby is an expert at getting the calories they need. If they don’t get them during the day, they will wake to get them at night.
Night-Time Feeding Schedules
If your baby is feeding well and efficiently during the day and growing and gaining a healthy amount of weight, healthy weight gain for newborns in 150-200gms (5-7 ounces) a week then the following guidelines can help you with what is a realistic expectation for night sleep for 2 and 3 months old depending on your baby’s weight.
- From 4kgs – 2-3 feeds overnight from bedtime to breakfast (usually 12 hours). If you prefer to feed your baby more, that is ok. The expectation is that at this weight a healthy amount will be 2-3 feeds.
- From 6kgs – 2 Feeds a night
- From 7kgs – Your baby can manage to go from the 10 pm feed until 7 am or 1 feed somewhere through the night.
These are proper night sleep and feeding schedules if your baby is feeding well and efficiently during the day and growing at a healthy rate.
Although there does not immediately appear to be much difference between the schedules of a two-month-old and a three-month-old, big significant changes, developments and maturations afoot during these two months, by three months, your tiny newborn has grown into a bouncing baby.