Day time sleep (3.5 months old)

by Lindee - Answer by Heidi Holvoet, PhD

Question: Hello my baby is 3&1/2 months old and generally a good , happy baby who feeds well and sleeps well though the night - only waking once or twice with a dirty nappy or habit of waking. I have stopped the night feeds and teaching him night time is for sleeping.

How-ever since Hamish was born his day time sleep has been terrible! I know that sleep promotes sleep and I have tried extending his 45 min naps by patting, rocking and letting him cry it out to no avail.

He is so over tired at the end of the day he basically has a feed at 5 - 5.30 and crashes till 10 pm then he feeds and basically goes back to sleep till say 3.30 ish ( habit ) or he is cold so I rewrap and let him cry this only lasts up to 5 mins then sometimes he wakes 4.30-5am with a dirty nappy and then he is rewrapped and put to bed again 3-5 mins crying then he wakes again at 6.40am and we start our day.

I do feed play sleep so he is up for an hour to maybe 1.15mins then off to bed without any drama then he will wake 45mins-1hr later and not resettle to sleep till after his feed and then an hour after feeding so this usually means he is awake for 2.5-3hrs and then down for 1. This frustrates me as I know he needs more.

If he is happy I keep him up if he isn't happy I will put him back down in protest and usually get him back up as I won't let him cry for longer than 20 mins!

Does a baby eventually work out his routine ?

Heidi's Answer:

Hello Lindee,

To be honest, yes he will probably work it out eventually. His sleep is still developing constantly and quite drastically right now, so it is not too surprising it hasn’t settled down yet. Luckily there’s a number of things you can do to guide him optimally in the right direction.

While reading your message, I summed up the number of hours sleep he gets. That gives 12-13 hours sleep during the night, and about 2-3 hours during the day if I’m correct? In total he is spot-on the average of how much sleep is enough. So you may rest assured, he gets the sleep he needs.

But it is just distributed unevenly as he takes most of it during his long night (5pm-6.30am). His relatively short daytime naps leave you with the understandable frustration of having him overtired by the end of his day. And with little time for yourself during the day!

You have tried rocking and patting to help extend his naps, which was definitely a good idea but since it doesn’t work, here’s a different idea. At his usual nap times, put him in a stroller and go for a long (…) walk. Or, put him in a well-suited baby sling during the nap.

The movement of the stroller or the moving and comfort of the sling, are very effective to get him to the next sleep cycle without waking. You will not have to do this forever. If you manage to do it for his one or two main naps, for a week or so, that may be all you need.

Once his naps get a bit longer, his night bedtime will become a bit later too and you will find a more even distribution of his sleep.

This is definitely worth the try. Keep in mind though, that 3.5 months is still very young. His routine and sleep schedule will still go through quite a few changes in the next weeks, simply because of his developing sleep patterns, but also motor and emotional development. Six months is when it settles down for many babies, when they really find 'their' routine. So you’re still on track ... ;)

Good luck!

Comments for Day time sleep (3.5 months old)

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sleep schedule changing
by: Sharon

Hi Heidi,
Your website is fabulous and So helpful! I want to say I experience similar thing as well. At around 3mo, I introduce sleep routine (story, lullaby for naps with addition of bath and bottle at bedtime).
Her naps used to be very short and sporadic but since I did the routine she was able to sleep 45min x4naps, then eventually 1.5hr for first two naps and 30-45 for last two naps. Nights were so so, she would go to bed around 9-10 and wake around 6-7, with 2 feeds during the night.

But recently, (she just turned 4mo) the past 2 weeks or so has been terrible. She naps 4-5naps a day and they have all become very short! 30min only! I have tried extending by going in 5min before she usually wakes to pat/shush just so she can make it to 45min but it's not always successful.

We have moved bedtime up to 630-730 depending on when the last nap of the day is. She only lasts about 1.5hr between naps and when she wakes she is often cranky and tired still, yawning already. It used to be easy to catch her "sleepy window" and I'd start the routine, she would get drowsy and I could put her down with pacifier and she nod off easily. But now, I keep missing it and she gets fussy mid routine and won't fall asleep unless I run the water tap to calm her.

More often than not, this is what happens at night: Bedtime at 7, wake at 730. Then back to bed at 8-12 wake for a feed, then awake for an hr or two, then sleep till 5 wake for a feed, then sleep till 730. When it gets bad, she wakes every 45min-1hr after the midnight feed, I'm also replacing pacifier. Some nights she would sleep in large chunks and wake for 2 feeds and go back to sleep with no fuss.

What can I do to make it less fussy for her to be settled down for bed? Has my routines somehow become more annoying than soothing for her?

I have tried to keep track on an app and count her hours of sleep. On average it is about 11-13 hours with night sleep only being about 8-9 depending on how many times she wakes at night. Naps are about 2-3hrs depending how many times she naps as well.


4 months
by: Heidi-BabySleepAdvice

Hi Sharon,

Thank you for your kind words. Have you looked at the 4-month dip article?

Also, indeed making the full hour before bed time a true wind-down hour (truly tempered sounds, lights and activities) and keeping the routine simple and short, can definitely help as well.

You may also find help in the hourly waking section:

For personalized guidance with me don't hesitate to contact me through the counseling page:

Hope that all helps as a start.
All the best!

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