3 Month Old Milestones to Watch For

Updated Nov 24th 2022 | timer 8  min read

3-Month Milestones
Mandy Treeby

Written By Mandy Treeby Chief Baby Sleep Consultant

Babies grow and change so fast, it can be hard to keep up. To help you track your 3-month-old’s milestones, we’ve assembled all the 3-month-old baby milestones to watch for as your baby grows.

In this article, we’ll answer about 3-month-old motor skills, 3-month-old communication skills, and about 3-month-old sleep, such as “How many hours should a 3-month-old sleep?” and “Should my 3-month-old do the 5 to 4 nap transition?” It’s all here – and all to make your life easier!


IN THIS ARTICLE:


As your baby approaches 3 months, it’s a good time to consider sleep coaching, also called sleep training. This is the perfect time to start preparing because your baby’s circadian rhythms are starting to mature, providing a great opportunity to start getting sleep on track. While it may be daunting to think about, trust us: sleep coaching is super easy, especially with an app like the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™.

3-Month-Old Developmental Milestones

We’ll discuss the 3-month-old developments in categories but note that a common thread here is your baby is gaining more control over their body and senses. They’re no longer the reflex-driven newborn they were just last month; they’re becoming even more individual now!

Note: As you read over these milestones, please keep in mind this is not a “3-month development checklist.” Babies all develop at their own rate and their own speed, so rest assured it’s alright if your baby is “behind” on any of these 3-month milestones.

3-Month-Old Physical Milestones:

Controlled Movements: Your baby’s movements are becoming more controlled now. While they are still largely reflexive, you’ll notice around now your baby moves their arms, legs, and head in a more intentional manner. Thanks to tummy time, they may be lifting their head on their own, too.

urposeful Reaching:P As your baby’s motor skills improve, they may start reaching for objects around 3-months, too.

Muscle Stretching: In addition to purposefully reaching for an object, your baby will likely stretch their arms, legs, and adorable little hands during their third month – a little exercise that helps them gain even more control over their new and exciting limbs!

3-Month-Old Sensorial and Communication Milestones:

Improved Vision: Your 3-month-old’s eyes are focusing more now, too. Their vision is improving and they’re more cognizant and aware of shapes and patterns, like circles and spirals. [Tip: A colorful, multi-patterned mobile or poster is a great addition to your 3-month-old’s room.]

Mimicking: With all the reading and talking you do, your baby is understanding the principles of conversation – the back-and-forth of it all - and they’ll start practicing by babbling in reply to your prompts. These little “conversations” will help them develop their language skills as they mimic and imitate your words.

Purposeful Smile: Your baby may soon be smiling at you or others – their first social smiles. (Smiles before 3 months are probably just gas – sorry to burst your bubble, no pun intended!)

These social smiles are excellent for two reasons:

  1. They’re adorable
  2. They demonstrate your baby can recognize patterns: they see you, remember you bring love and cuddles, and it makes them smile. This pattern recognition skill is a huge sleep milestone, now when you establish and deliver consistent bedtime routines, your baby will know to expect that sleep is coming next!

How to Support Your 3-Month-Old’s Development:

Encourage Hand-Eye Coordination: Build your baby’s hand-eye coordination and motor skills by offering them small, baby-safe objects. Most babies will begin to reach for and even grab those objects.

Provide More Visual Stimulation: Now that your little one’s vision is improving, you can strengthen it by offering them baby-safe books or objects with complex patterns, colors, and textures.

Tummy Time: Tummy time is more important than ever now. By gently placing your baby on their belly for 10-15 minutes (or more) a day, you help them strengthen their back and neck muscles to support their head, sit up, and, soon enough, roll over.

When Do Babies Roll Over?

Most babies begin rolling over one way, either front-to-back or back-to-front, around 4 months.

Support Your 3-Month-Old’s Sleep: Sleep is the foundation for your baby’s mental and physical health. Sleep helps them reach all of their developmental milestones now and sets babies up for healthier futures, too.

One of the best ways to ensure your baby is getting the rest they need is by sleep coaching: a simple, scientifically proven process in which you work with your baby’s circadian rhythm to teach them how to independently fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

3-Month-Old Sleep Milestones:

In addition to all their physical and mental developments, 3-month-olds are also on the cusp of a big milestone in terms of sleep, too: their circadian rhythms are forming.

The circadian rhythm is the biological mechanism that regulates humans’ sleep –  and it starts to really take shape during your baby’s 4th month.

As your baby’s circadian rhythm takes shape, you’ll likely notice they sleep longer at night, and they may be taking shorter naps. If you see this happen, it may be time for the 5 to 4 nap transition – one of a few nap transitions that happen between birth and two years.

To help you stay on top of your 3-month-old’s sleep, here is a rundown of a typical 3-month-old’s sleep schedule. Here we answer questions like “How much should my 3-month-old sleep?” and “How long do 3-month-olds sleep during naps?”

How to Put Your Baby Down to Sleep:

Before proceeding, it’s always worth remembering the best way to put your baby down for a nap or night sleep, and an easy way to remember is with your ABCs.

A – Alone: Your baby should sleep alone in their crib, rather than bed-sharing with you, which is very dangerous.

B – Back to Sleep: Always place your baby on their back for sleep to prevent SIDS or other injuries.

C – Clear Crib: Your baby’s crib only needs a fitted bottom sheet. Pillows, toys, and blankets cannot be added until 12-months to prevent suffocation.

Note: Also be sure to dress your baby warm enough for sleep – a good rule of thumb is to dress your baby in one more layer than you’re wearing – and to use blackout curtains to prevent any light from disturbing their sleep.

A Sample Sleep Schedule for a 3-Month-Old:

Here are two samples of a 3-month-old’s sleep schedule, one with 5 naps, another with 4 naps, for if your baby has done the 5 to 4 nap transition yet.

When reading these schedules, keep in mind that this is just a sample. Your baby has their own individual sleep patterns, so when creating your baby’s schedule, focus more on their wake windows and sleepy cues than the actual clock.

Sample Sleep Schedule for 3-Month Old’s With 5 Naps

“Good morning!”

7:00 AM

Nap 1

8:15-9:15AM

Awake 1 hr 15 mins

Nap: 1 hr

Nap 2

10:30-11:30 AM

Awake: 1 hr 15 mins

Nap: 1 hr  

Nap 3

12:45-1:45 PM

Awake: 1 hr 15 mins

Nap: 1 hr

Nap 4

3:00-4:00 PM

Awake: 1 hr 15 mins

Nap: 1 hr

Nap 5

5:15-5:45 PM

Awake: 1 hr 15 mins

Nap: 30 Mins

Bedtime Routine

7:00 PM

“Good night!”

7:30 PM

Awake: 1 hr 45 mins

Sample Sleep Schedule for 3-Month Old’s With 4 Naps:

“Good morning!”

6:45 AM

Nap 1

8:15-9:15 AM

Awake: 1 hr 30min

Nap: 1 hr

Nap 2

10:45 AM-11:45 AM

Awake: 1 hr 30 mins

Nap: 1 hr

Nap 3

1:15-2:15PM

Awake: 1 hr 30 mins

Nap: 1 hr

Nap 4

3:45-4:30 PM

Awake: 1 hr 30 mins

Nap: 45 mins.

Bedtime Routine

6:00 PM

“Good night!”

6:30 PM

Awake: 2 hrs.

How Many Hours Should My 3-Month-Old Sleep?

A 3-month-old typically needs about 15 hours over a 24-hour period.

Can a 3-Month-Old Baby Sleep Through the Night?

No. Your 3-month-old should not be able to sleep through the night yet. This is for two main reasons:

  1. Their circadian rhythm hasn’t developed yet, meaning their sleep is still a bit disorganized.
  2. Your 3-month-old is still growing very fast and needs periodic night feedings to keep developing and meeting their milestones.

How Many Hours Will a 3-Month-Old Sleep at Night?

While your 3-month-old will wake up in the night, particularly to eat, they will still sleep about 10-12 hours overnight.

How Much Should My 3-Month-Old Sleep During the Day?

A 3-month-old needs about 4-5 hours of nap time each day, divided between either 4 or 5 naps.

How Do I Know When It’s Time to Nap Transition?

There are a few signs it’s time to nap transition, but the most common – and evident – are that your resists their usual bedtime, resists their final nap of the day, or wakes up earlier from their last nap. If you see these signs of a nap transition, you may want to transition your 3-month-old from 5 to 4 naps.

What is the wake window for a 3-month-old?

The wake window for a 3-month-old is about 1-2 hours between sleeps. Their wake window will get longer as they grow, especially with sleep training, which teaches your baby to fall asleep independently and helps them self-soothe if they wake at night.

What are Wake Windows and Sleepy Cues?

Wake windows are the period your baby is awake between sleep.

Sleepy cues are the things your baby does when they’re tired, such as yawning, rubbing their eyes, or pulling their ears. When you see sleepy cues, it’s time to start getting your baby ready for their nap or bedtime – and if you use the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™, it will alert you when it’s time for your baby’s next rest.

Is there a 3-month-old sleep regression?

As your baby grows, their milestones can temporarily disrupt their sleep patterns. That is called a sleep regression. Rest assured, there is not a 3-month sleep regression, but there may be a sleep regression next month, the 4-month sleep regression.

FAQs:

What milestones should a 3-month-old be doing?

Major 3-month-old baby milestones include smiling (especially at you and the sound of your voice), following objects with their eyes, and may soon start rolling over?

Can I give my baby food at 3 months?

No. 3-months is still too young for “big kid” food. For now, stick to breastmilk or formula. New foods may be gradually introduced next month, follow your pediatrician’s guidance here.

Can baby start teething at 3 months?

Yes, they can, though most don’t start teething until between 4-7 months old.

Can 3-month-olds watch TV?

No – screen time is not recommended for babies less than 18-months, except for the occassional video chat (and even that should be minimised – particularly in the hours leading up to bedtime). Reading is far better for babies, both because it helps teach them language and because screens can stimulate your baby and make it harder for them to sleep.

Sources:

“Speech and Language Developmental Milestones,” National Institutes of Health.
“Structural growth trajectories and rates of change in the first 3 months of infant brain development,” JAMA: Neurology.
“Understanding language development milestones,” Yale School of Medicine.
“Infant Sleep and Its Relation with Cognition and Growth: A Narrative Review,” Nature and Science of Sleep.

Disclaimer:

How We Wrote This Article

The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

Back to Top