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Welcome To The Members Area! Forums Baby Sleep Help 3-month old – struggling to fall asleep Reply To: 3-month old – struggling to fall asleep

  • Emma H

    June 11, 2024 at 11:19 am

    Hi Simona,

    Thanks so much for the detailed reply.

    It sounds like you’ve already started to make some positive changes to your little one’s naps, which is great. Based on your observations, I have a few suggestions that might help further:

    Daytime Nap Suggestions:

    1. Continue to get him comfortable with the crib: It’s wonderful that you’re increasing the amount of time he naps in the crib. Whenever you’re home and it is possible, continue to give him this opportunity to nap in the crib. This consistency will help him get used to the crib environment.

    2. Consider using the settling pyramid to help him fall asleep: He seems to be getting more comfortable with the pre-sleep routine and falling asleep in your arms without much protest. How would you feel about trying to place him in the crib when he is calm after the pre-sleep routine, and then using the settling pyramid technique to help him drift off to sleep?

    3. Consider fading out the pacifier: From what you’ve said, it sounds like the pacifier falling out might be causing him to wake up, and you have to keep putting it back in until he falls into a deep sleep. To help him fall asleep more easily for naps and overnight, how would you feel about removing the pacifier just before he falls asleep? If this is something you are happy to try, this is how you can do it:

      1. When he is tired, let him suck on the pacifier while you complete the pre-sleep routine.
      2. At the end of the routine, lay him in his crib with the pacifier still in his mouth.
      3. Use the settling pyramid to help him fall asleep.
      4. Just before he drifts off, gently remove the pacifier by placing your little finger between the pacifier and the corner of his mouth. This breaks the seal and allows you to take the pacifier out.

      For some babies, this works, and they fall asleep without the pacifier. For others, it might cause them to stir more, in which case you can use the settling pyramid to help him fall asleep. If he wakes up fully, you can try the following options:

      Option 1: Continue using the pacifier and put it back in his mouth when needed. However, if this becomes too frequent and exhausting, you might decide to remove the pacifier completely or only use it at the start of the pre-sleep routine.

      Option 2: Use the pacifier for fussy times during the day and at the start of the pre-sleep routine, but not for sleep. In this case, give him the pacifier at the start of the routine, but remove it before laying him in the crib. Then, use the settling pyramid to help him learn to fall asleep without the pacifier.

    4. Wake him up by 7:30 am at the latest: Even though it’s tough, setting a wake-up time can help regulate his sleep pattern and assist in establishing a nap schedule.

    5. Remember that catnaps are normal at this age: Unfortunately, catnaps (naps lasting 30-45 minutes) are normal at this age. It sounds like his first and second naps of the day are going well, which is great! Right now, focus on helping him learn to self-settle and providing an optimal sleep environment. This way, when he is developmentally ready to extend his naps, he will have the skills and environment to do so.

    6. As much as possible adopt the Wake, Feed, Play, Sleep routine: When he takes catnaps, he may need to feed more frequently throughout the day. As his naps start to extend, the time between feeds will naturally lengthen. It’s okay to feed him before his nap, but make sure he doesn’t fall asleep while feeding. Even a brief nap can reduce his sleep pressure and make it harder for him to settle at nap time.

      Also, at this age, he might get distracted during feeding and not have a full feed. If this happens, try feeding him in a bright room with minimal distractions to help him focus and complete his feed.

    Overnight Suggestions:

    It’s great that bedtime has become consistent, and it sounds like you have a solid bedtime routine. Here are a few more tips to consider:

    1. Feeding Closer to Bedtime: It’s fine to feed him closer to bedtime if needed, but make sure he doesn’t fall asleep while feeding. Even a brief nap can reduce his sleep pressure, making it harder for him to settle. However, at bedtime, his circadian rhythm and sleep pressure work together to help him fall asleep, so it shouldn’t be as disruptive as during daytime naps.

    2. Using a White Noise Machine: If you or your husband snore or move around a lot in bed, consider using a white noise machine overnight. White noise can mask these sounds and may prevent your little one from waking up fully. If the white noise doesn’t make a difference, it’s fine to turn it off if you prefer.

    3. Consider trying the settling pyramid overnight and fading the pacifier: As I mentioned earlier, I think the pacifier falling out is causing him to wake up fully between sleep cycles and fall back to sleep (as he needs the pacifier to fall asleep). Unfortunately, at this age, they don’t have the fine motor skills to put the pacifier back into their mouth, so they call out for us to do it and continue to call out until they fall back to sleep. If you’re comfortable with it, I would consider trying to teach him how to fall asleep without the pacifier (as outlined in the nap strategies). As, when he learns to fall asleep without the pacifier, it’s likely that he will start to naturally link sleep cycles overnight and start having longer stretches of sleep.

    4. Consider feeding him at the 2am/3am wake-up: If he no longer wakes at 2am and is sleeping soundly from 11pm to 5am, you can disregard this suggestion. But if you find that he is waking every 5 minutes for 1-2 hours from 2/3 am onwards, then I am wondering if he is hungry?

      Typically, overnight sleep patterns evolve with the first part of the night consolidating first. Babies often start with longer stretches of sleep early in the night and continue to wake every few hours for a feed. For instance, if your baby goes to bed at 8:30 pm, you might notice that, over time, his first sleep stretch extends. Instead of waking at 11 pm, he might start waking at 12 am, then eventually 1 am, and so on.

      As this first stretch lengthens, the subsequent wake times will also shift. Currently, he might be waking at 11 pm, 2/3 am, and then again at 5 am until about 6:30/7:30 am. If his first feed shifts to 12 am, his next wake might be around 3/4 am, allowing him to sleep until morning. Eventually, if his first overnight feed shifts to 1 am, he might wake again at 4/5 am and then sleep until morning.

      Would you be open to trying a feed when he wakes at 2/3 am to see if this helps him settle back to sleep more easily? I am not sure if you previously were feeding him at 2/3 am he was just not settling back to sleep. So sorry if I got this wrong.

    What do you think of these suggestions? Are there some that you think are possible to implement?