Establishing good sleep habits: three to six months
What will my baby’s sleep pattern be at three months?
By about three months, your baby may sleep for 14 hours to 16 hours out of every 24, with 10 hours to 11 hours of that sleep being at night. The rest of her sleep time will probably be divided between around three daytime naps, which may gradually drop to two when your baby is about six months old.
You may still be getting up once or twice a night for feeds at three months but by the time your baby is six months old she may be capable of sleeping through the night. Studies show that babies can settle themselves back to sleep from as early as three months, so if your baby does wake up, she may well be able to get back to sleep on her own. Whether she actually does depends on her having good sleep habits and a consistent bedtime routine.
How can I establish good sleep habits?
Here are some suggestions to get your baby into the right sleep habits.
Establish set bedtimes and naptimes
When your baby was a newborn, deciding when to put her down for the night was simply a case of watching for her signs of sleepiness.
Now that she’s a little older, it’s a good idea to establish a specific bedtime, as well as consistent naptimes, to regulate her sleep patterns.
A good bedtime is usually between 7pm and 8.30pm. Any later and your baby will probably get overtired and find falling asleep difficult. Your baby may not actually appear tired late at night, and may seem energetic and lively. But that’s often a sign that it’s past her bedtime.
Begin to develop a bedtime routine
If you haven’t already done so, start a bedtime routine. It could include any or all of the following:
- playing a quiet game
- giving her a bath
- changing her into her pyjamas
- reading a bedtime story
- singing a lullaby
- giving her a calming massage
- kissing her goodnight
Before you start your bedtime routine, try to encourage some quiet time by turning off the television and winding down activities. This helps to set the scene and relax your baby.
Whatever routine works for your family is fine, as long as you do it in the same order and at the same time every night, including at weekends. Try to keep your bedtime routine to around half an hour long. Even when your baby is unwell, it’s a good idea to keep her bedtime routine as consistent as you can.
Wake your baby in the morning to reset her daily clock
If your baby tends to sleep for more than 10 hours at night, it’s fine to wake her up in the morning to help her reset her daily clock. Your baby needs to follow a regular pattern of sleeping and waking, and she will recharge with naps during the day. Waking her at the same time every morning helps to keep her routine predictable.
What sleep problems happen at this age?
Making the transition to a cot from a Moses basket may sometimes cause your baby to wake up more or have difficulty settling to sleep. If your baby won’t drop off when it’s bedtime, or if she’s crying at night, don’t despair. There are strategies you can try to help her sleep.
When your baby is unwell it’s quite common for her sleep patterns to be disrupted. She may want to nap at different times during the day, which could make her bedtime later. She may even be reluctant to go to bed at night or start waking up during the night when she usually sleeps through.
If this is the case, don’t worry too much about the timings of her sleep. But do try to keep to the same bedtime routine. Once she’s feeling better, you can then gradually shift her daytime naps and her bedtime back to normal again.