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Sleep and Your 1- to 3-Month-Old
Just when you think that getting more shut-eye is a far-off dream, your baby will begin to sleep longer stretches at night. Baby's sleep cycle is getting closer to yours, and your little one may be feeding less often at night.
But don't assume you'll be hitting the snooze button just yet. At this stage, "sleeping through the night" is considered to be a stretch of only 5 or 6 hours.
Safe Sleep for Babies
Keeping your baby safe is your first priority. Learn how to safely put your baby down for a nap, or at bedtime, to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Helping Your Baby Sleep
Many sleep-deprived parents ask how to get their babies to be better sleepers. Learn what you can do to encourage sleep, what's normal in the first year, and when your little one might sleep through the night.
How Long Will My Baby Sleep?
Because babies this age are more awake, alert, and aware of their surroundings during daylight hours, they're more likely to be tired at night and sleep. But the range of normal is still very wide.
Infants up to 3 months old should get 14–17 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, says the National Sleep Foundation. Many will have settled into a daily sleep routine of 2-3 naps during the day, followed by a longer "sleeping through the night" stretch after a late-night feeding.
How Should Babies Sleep?
The American of Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends room-sharing without bed-sharing for at least the first 6 months or, ideally, until a baby's first birthday. This is when the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is highest.
Room-sharing is when you place your baby's crib, portable crib, play yard, or bassinet in your own bedroom instead of in a separate room. This keeps baby nearby and helps with feeding, comforting, and monitoring baby at night.
While room-sharing is safe, putting your baby to sleep in bed with you is not.Bed-sharing increases the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related deaths.
Follow these recommendations for a safe sleep environment for your little one:
- Always place your baby on their back to sleep, not on the stomach or side. The rate of SIDS has gone way down since the AAP began recommending this in 1992.
- Use a firm, flat sleep surface. Cover the mattress with a sheet that fits snugly.
- Do not put anything else in the crib or bassinet. Keep plush toys, pillows, blankets, unfitted sheets, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, and bumper pads out of your baby's sleep area.
- To avoid overheating, dress your baby for the room temperature and don't overbundle. Don't cover your baby's head while they're sleeping. Watch for signs of overheating, such as sweating or feeling hot to the touch.
- Keep your baby away from smokers. Secondhand smoke increases the risk of SIDS.
- Offer a pacifier to your baby at sleep time, but don’t force it. If the pacifier falls out during sleep, you don’t have to replace it. If you're breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is firmly established.
- Watch out for other hazards, such as items with cords, ties, or ribbons that can wrap around a baby's neck, and objects with any kind of sharp edge or corner. Look around for things that your baby can touch from a seated or standing position in the crib. Hanging mobiles, wall hangings, pictures, draperies, and window blind cords could be harmful if they are within a baby's reach.
- Don’t let your baby fall asleep on a product that isn’t specifically designed for sleeping babies, such as a sitting device (like a car seat), a feeding pillow (like the Boppy pillow), or an infant lounger (like the Dock-a-Tot, Podster, and Bummzie).
- Don’t use products or devices that claim to lower the risk of SIDS, such as sleep positioners (like wedges or incliners) or monitors that can detect a baby’s heart rate and breathing pattern. No known products can actually do this.
- Don’t use weighted blankets, sleepers, or swaddles on or around your baby.
- Make sure that all sleep surfaces and products you use to help your baby sleep have been approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and meet federal safety standards.
Helping Your Baby Sleep
If you haven't already, start a bedtime routine that will be familiar and relaxing for your baby. Bathing, reading, and singing can soothe babies and signal an end to the day. Some babies like to be swaddled (wrapped in a light blanket). This is OK until they start to roll (typically, when they're 3 to 4 months old). Be consistent and your baby will soon associate these steps with sleeping.
If you rock your baby to sleep before bedtime, your little one may expect to be rocked to sleep after nighttime awakenings. Instead, try putting your baby into a crib or bassinet while drowsy but still awake. This way your baby will learn to fall asleep on their own.
Some babies squirm, whine, and even cry a little before falling back to sleep on their own. Unless you think that your baby is hungry or ill, see what happens if you leave your baby alone for a few minutes — they might settle down.
If your baby wakes during the period that you want them to sleep, keep activity to a minimum. Try to keep the lights low and resist the urge to play with or talk to your baby. Change or feed your baby and then return your little one to the crib or bassinet.
If your baby is waking early for a morning feeding, some small changes may allow a slight shift in schedule. You might try waking your baby for the late-night feeding at a time that suits your sleep schedule:
- For instance, if your baby sleeps after a 7 p.m. feeding and wakes up at 2 a.m. to eat, try waking the baby to feed at 11 p.m. Then, put your little one down to sleep until an early-morning feeding at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m.
It may take a few nights to establish this routine, but being consistent will improve your chances of success.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Some infants at this age will start sleeping through the night, but there is a wide range of normal. If you have questions about your baby's sleep, talk with your doctor.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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Images sourced by The Nemours Foundation and Getty Images.