How long should a 3-month-old sleep at night without eating?

Quick Answer

Most 3-month-old babies need between 14-17 hours of total sleep in a 24 hour period, with 10-12 of those hours happening at night. At 3 months, babies typically take 3-4 naps per day ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours each. At night, 3-month-olds may sleep for stretches of 4-7 hours without waking to eat. However, every baby is different and some may still need 1-2 night feedings.

How Much Total Sleep Does a 3-Month-Old Need?

The recommended total sleep time for a 3-month-old baby is 14-17 hours per 24 hours. However, this can vary quite a bit from baby to baby. Some 3-month-olds may only sleep 12-15 hours, while others may need as much as 18 hours of sleep in a day.

Here is a breakdown of the typical sleep requirements for a 3-month-old:

Age Total Sleep in 24 Hours
3 months 14-17 hours

As you can see, the sleep needs of a 3-month-old are quite high. At this age, babies spend more than half of their time asleep!

Sleep requirements start decreasing after 4 months of age. By 6 months, total sleep time reduces to 13-16 hours.

How Is Total Sleep Divided Between Nighttime and Naps?

Out of the total 14-17 hours of sleep needed, around 10-12 hours happens at night. The remaining sleep hours are divided between 3-4 naps during the daytime.

Here is a typical 24-hour sleep schedule for a 3-month-old:

Time of Day Sleep Hours
Nighttime sleep 10-12 hours
Daytime naps 3-4 naps, 30 mins – 2 hrs each
Total in 24 hours 14-17 hours

As you can see, the bulk of sleep for a 3-month-old happens overnight. Daytime naps serve the purpose of supplementing nighttime sleep.

Without adequate daytime naps, a 3-month-old would be overtired and unable to sleep well at night. That’s why naps are so important at this age.

How Long Can a 3-Month-Old Sleep at Night Without Eating?

At 3 months of age, most babies are capable of sleeping longer stretches without needing to wake up to eat. Many babies will sleep for 4-7 hour stretches at night by 3 months. However, some babies may still need 1-2 feedings overnight.

Here are some guidelines on how long a 3-month-old can go at night without eating:

– 4-5 hours: It’s common for a 3-month-old to sleep 4-5 hours straight from their bedtime until their first night feeding.

– 6-7 hours: Some 3-month-olds can go 6-7 hours at night without eating, especially if they take in more calories during the day.

– 8-9 hours: It’s possible but less common for a 3-month-old to sleep through the entire night without eating. Most babies will still need at least one night feeding session.

– 10-12 hours: Expecting a 3-month-old to go 10-12 hours without eating overnight is generally not recommended, as they have small tummies and need the nutrition.

As you can see, most 3-month-old babies will need to eat at least once overnight. However, some may be able to sleep longer stretches of 6-7 hours.

Every baby is different, so it’s important to follow your pediatrician’s guidance on night feeding based on your baby’s unique needs.

What Affects How Long a 3-Month-Old Can Sleep at Night?

There are several factors that impact how long a 3-month-old can go at night without needing to eat. These include:

Feeding frequency during the day

Babies who eat more frequently and consume enough calories during daylight hours are able to go longer stretches at night without eating. Ensuring your baby eats at least 8-12 times in 24 hours helps stretch out night sleep.

Bedtime routine

Having a calming and consistent bedtime routine signals to your baby that it’s time to sleep. This can help them settle into longer periods of nighttime sleep.

Sleep associations

If your baby relies on nursing, rocking or other sleep associations to fall asleep, they are more likely to wake when they cycle out of sleep and look for those associations again. Breaking negative sleep associations can lead to longer sleep.

Developmental stage

As babies grow older and bigger, they are able to sleep for longer intervals without eating. By 3-4 months, their sleep starts consolidating thanks to developmental changes.

Individual needs

Every baby is unique. While some 3-month-olds may sleep 8-9 hours straight, others may still require night feedings based on their metabolism and hunger cues. Respect your baby’s needs.

Tips to Lengthen Night Sleep for a 3-Month-Old

If your 3-month-old is waking frequently overnight, here are some tips to help lengthen their sleep:

– Offer more frequent feedings during daylight hours to reduce night hunger.

– Make sure baby is fed right before bedtime and not put to bed hungry.

– Establish a relaxing bedtime routine to cue your baby it’s time to sleep.

– Put baby down drowsy but awake so they learn to self-soothe to sleep.

– Break any sleep associations so baby doesn’t need them to fall back asleep.

– Consider moving bedtime earlier if baby seems overtired.

– Address any reflux issues that could be disrupting sleep.

– Make sure the bedroom is cool, dark and quiet for better sleep.

– Be consistent with nap and night sleep schedules.

– Have patience, as it takes time for babies to develop healthy sleep habits.

– Consult your pediatrician if you have serious concerns about your baby’s sleep.

Making a few tweaks to your baby’s daily schedule and bedtime routine can help encourage longer stretches of nighttime sleep. But always respect your baby’s needs above recommended timelines.

Growth Spurts Can Disrupt Sleep

It’s common for a 3-month-old to suddenly start waking up more frequently at night, even if they were previously sleeping well. This can coincide with growth spurts, which occur around 3 months.

During growth spurts, babies need to eat more frequently, including overnight. Their sleep cycle gets disrupted as their body prioritizes growth. Feed on demand whenever your baby seems hungrier to fuel their development. The frequent wakings should pass within several days to a week once the growth spurt phase ends.

Some other signs of a growth spurt besides disrupted sleep include:

– Increased hunger and feeding sizes

– Being fussier than usual

– Wanting to nurse more frequently

– Having trouble settling between feeds

– More alertness or distraction during feeds

– Less frequent dirty diapers

Don’t try to force a schedule during growth spurts. Let your baby eat and sleep on demand. Meet their needs, and the frequent wakings should resolve on their own as their growth rate evens out.

How to Handle Night Wakings

It’s inevitable that even after a 3-month-old starts sleeping longer at night, there will still be occasional wakings. Here’s how to handle night wakings:

– Try comforting methods like providing a pacifier, patting their back or shushing before immediately feeding. Your baby may settle back to sleep without eating.

– Keep lights low and avoid excessive stimulation if you do need to feed baby. Make the experience boring to dissuade snacking.

– Stick to a consistent soothing routine each time baby wakes so they eventually learn to self-settle.

– Be mindful of your baby’s needs. Growth spurts or disrupted naps can cause wakings, signaling an actual hunger need.

– Consult your pediatrician if you feel your baby is waking too frequently and not settling well. There may be an underlying issue disrupting their sleep.

With time, consistency and developmental maturation, your 3-month-old should sleep through more of the night. But expect that night wakings will continue occasionally. Stay patient and responsive.

Options If Baby Is Still Waking Frequently at Night

While it’s normal for a 3-month-old to wake 1-2 times per night on average, some babies continue waking more frequently past this age. Here are some options if your baby is still waking excessively at 3 months old:

– Extend bedtime earlier if baby seems overtired. An over-tired baby has more trouble sleeping.

– Lengthen daytime feeds to reduce nighttime hunger.

– Address any reflux issues that could be disrupting sleep.

– Try a dream feed shortly before you go to bed to prevent early morning wakings.

– Make sure the bedroom environment is optimal for sleep.

– Evaluate your bedtime routine and look for ways to improve it.

– Work on breaking any sleep associations.

– Consider sleep training methods if developmentally appropriate. Consult your pediatrician first.

– See your pediatrician to rule out any medical issues interfering with sleep.

– Accept that some babies are just frequent wakers based on temperament. Meet their needs while encouraging self-soothing skills.

While more challenging, you can continue to improve your 3-month-old’s sleep with consistency and by troubleshooting issues. But don’t attempt to force a sleep schedule that doesn’t match their biological needs.

The 4-Month Sleep Regression

Right around 4 months of age, many babies go through what’s called the “4-month sleep regression.” Their sleep suddenly seems to get worse, with more frequent night wakings.

This coincides with major developmental changes. Around 4 months, babies become more aware of their surroundings and internal sleep cycles change. They have more adult-like REM cycles, which disrupts their sleep patterns.

During the 4-month regression, your baby may start waking every 2-3 hours again at night needing your help to get back to sleep. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. The key is continuing good sleep habits and being patient. The regression typically improves on its own within 1-2 months.

Ways to handle the 4-month sleep regression include:

– Continuing consistent bedtime and nap routines

– Managing daytime sleep to prevent overtiredness

– Allowing a little extra time for self-soothing when they wake

– Providing frequent dream feeds as needed

– Ruling out hunger, pain or any medical issues

– Accepting frequent wakings as temporary until the regression passes

The 4-month sleep regression can be exhausting. But stay the course, meet your baby’s needs, and their sleep should consolidate again over time. Consult your pediatrician if you have any concerns.

When to Call Your Pediatrician

While some waking at night is normal for 3-month-olds, call your pediatrician if:

– Your baby is waking hourly at night past 6 weeks old

– Night wakings don’t decrease after trying solutions for 2-4 weeks

– Your baby has difficulty falling back asleep without extensive help

– Excessive night wakings do not have an identifiable cause like hunger, pain, or illness

– Your baby has other concerning symptoms along with night wakings

Frequent night wakings, especially with other issues, could potentially indicate an underlying medical condition that needs evaluation. Trust your instincts as a parent. Always reach out to your pediatrician if your baby’s sleep is causing you excessive concern.


While all babies have individual sleep needs, most 3-month-olds need around 14-17 hours of total sleep in a 24 hour period. At this age, they typically sleep 10-12 hours at night and take 3-4 naps per day. Many babies will sleep 4-7 hour stretches overnight, but some may still need 1-2 night feedings.

Allow your 3-month-old to eat when showing hunger cues overnight. But also use strategies to encourage longer night sleep, like having a consistent bedtime routine. Expect sleep disruptions during growth spurts or the 4-month regression. Reach out to your pediatrician if excessive night wakings continue. Stay patient and responsive, and your baby’s sleep should consolidate over time.

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