What's normal for putting a 3 month old to sleep? — The Bump
Babies: 3 - 6 Months

What's normal for putting a 3 month old to sleep?

Our baby is 3 months old and has a very tough time falling asleep at night. Earlier on it was easier, he often nursed to sleep, went into his swaddle, and slept great in his bassinet. Later he needed more help with falling asleep so my husband would sit on the yoga ball and bounce him to sleep (usually took ~20 min). For several weeks he was sleeping great -- 6 to 7 hours in the first stretch, then feeding once or twice in the early morning hours. A couple weeks ago he started hating the swaddle -- it was clear he felt confined rather than comforted -- so we stopped using that. We've been using a Merlin's magic sleep suit, and also tried a Love to Dream swaddle as "transitional" sleep suits that restrict the arms slightly to reduce his startle reflex waking him. For several nights we were spending 2+ hours upstairs with him getting him to sleep, nursing, holding, bouncing on ball, nursing, diaper change, etc. etc. until finally he fell asleep. It had become a battle and a negative experience for all of us. So then we decided to not fight the battle and just put him in his swing until he falls asleep -- still it can take several attempts of putting him in, taking him out, walking around with him, nursing, diaper change, back into the swing, etc. After he sleeps for about an hour in the swing we transfer him to his bassinet.

Anyway, I'm wondering if all of this is normal for a 3 month old? I know any sleep book/blog/etc. says to put baby to sleep "drowsy but awake", but in general we've had to put baby to bed completely asleep or else he starts crying within moments of being set down in his bassinet. We've probably established some bad habits along the way, but we've just done whatever works.

I'll add that when he wakes up for nighttime feedings he always falls back asleep within 5 to 10 minutes of being put back in his bassinet. So once he's in a deep sleep cycle he seems to have no problem falling back asleep.

Is bedtime just very challenging and lengthy with a 3 month old, or are we doing something wrong? 

Re: What's normal for putting a 3 month old to sleep?

  • I don’t have any advice for you, but I am in the same boat with my 3 month old. After finally getting her to sleep in her bassinet and getting some 4/5 hour stretches, she has become increasingly harder to settle at night and often will wake up as soon as she hits the bassinet. Unfortunately, she has also started doing this after each wake in the night as well, were previously like your lo she would settle easily back in the night. I’ve tried the drowsy but awake as well, and like you it does not work for us. I wish I had advice for you. I just wanted to let you know that you aren’t alone! 
  • I think it sounds like you’re doing exactly what your baby needs. I’ve found that all you can really offer is routine and consistency. A bedtime and nap routine helped us immensely but there will always be challenges. Your baby is going through so much. Do you have the Wonder Weeks app? It helped me empathize with what baby was going through and was surprisingly accurate! Sleep is tough. We had similar issues around 3 months, then it got better around 4 months, then worse again at 5-6 months. It’s normal.
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