Baby Sleep Problems & Solutions: 0 to 3 Months Old

Welcoming a new baby into your home is an amazing and exciting time. However, all new parents face concerns and challenges, and one of the biggest challenges new parents experience is helping their baby sleep.

It’s normal for new parents to have worries; babies, particularly newborns, are small and fragile. Having this new, vulnerable being entirely dependent on you can be frightening, especially when you’re facing a challenge that you’re not sure how to solve!

The National Sleep Foundation says that newborns, zero to three months, need about 14-17 hours of sleep within a 24-hour period.

Even though a newborn needs so much sleep, it doesn’t happen in one long stretch.  A newborn needs to eat every two to three hours; therefore, you should never allow your newborn to sleep more than four hours without eating.

Short sleeping periods and frequent wakings might make it feel like your baby has sleep problems, and you could worry that they may not be getting enough rest. This feeling may be magnified by the fact that you don’t feel rested. 

During the first year of their life, your baby’s sleep schedule will change many times, and you may feel, often, that just as you’ve figured out what works to get your baby to sleep, their routine and likes and dislikes have changed again.

In the film Fatherhood on Netflix, there’s one scene where Kevin Hart goes into a new mom’s group asking how he can get his daughter to sleep because she will cry for hours on end, and it makes him want to gouge his eyes out! 

While meant to be a comedic portrayal of a common parental problem, having a newborn who struggles to sleep can be a real challenge. And you may indeed face moments where you feel at the end of your rope. But don’t lose hope because this article is here to help! 

Common Baby Sleep Problems: Age 0 to 3 months

Sleep problems, especially in the first three months of life, are more common than you think. You are definitely not alone in facing these issues, and finding the right people to talk to about these things can significantly help you find options on how to solve them.

But before you can find a solution, you need to identify the problem. To help you discover some possible causes of your baby’s sleep issues, here is a list of the most common baby sleep problems new parents encounter.


Colic happens when a baby cries for hours for no particular reason. The Mayo Clinic defines colic as “frequent, prolonged and intense crying or fussiness in a healthy infant.”

Colic poses a considerable sleep problem because colicky babies are extremely hard to console and can cause a lot of frustration for new and exhausted parents.

Nocturnal baby

When you’re pregnant, you may notice that some days, your baby is calm in the womb most of the day, then at night, you can’t get any sleep because your baby is doing somersaults inside you!

Unfortunately, this may still be your little one’s schedule when he comes out—sleeping most of the day, awake and lively at night.

With a bit of help, a nocturnal baby usually adjusts naturally, but challenges can still arise during this phase.

 Easily startled

The startle reflex, or Moro reflex, is a natural reflex that happens when a baby is startled. The reflex makes the baby extend their arms and legs then quickly pull them back in. Abrupt changes in lights, changes in the baby’s head direction or balance, or loud noises can trigger the reflex.

The Moro reflex should naturally go away around five or six months, but it can cause sudden wake-ups until then.

Back Sleeping

Even though some parents claim babies prefer stomach sleeping, newborns should never sleep on their tummies. Instead, they should always be placed on their backs. This is because stomach sleeping increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. This happens when a healthy baby under the age of one dies unexpectedly during his sleep.

The American Academy of Pediatrics lists these conditions for a safe infant sleeping environment:

  • on a flat and firm surface
  • on their back
  • in a crib or bassinet without any additional pillows, bedding, blankets, or toys
  • in a shared room (not a shared bed)

Babies should be placed on their back for naps and sleep until the age of one. Once your baby can roll onto their stomach on their own, you don’t need to move them, but you should still place them on their back to sleep.

Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep Better

Once you’ve identified some possible causes for the problem, you can start to implement a solution.

Rocking or swaying with your baby, singing to them, and cuddling them works a lot of the time, but when you’ve tried all that, and your baby is still struggling to sleep or stay asleep, here are some tips you can try.


Babies are used to the tight and warm space inside your womb. However, the cold outside world is unfamiliar territory, making them feel like they are not safe.

Swaddling can help mimic the tight and warm feel of the womb; it can also help ease the startle reflex so your baby can feel more secure and help him sleep for longer stretches.

You can purchase ready-made swaddles based on your baby’s size and weight. 

White noise

While inside the womb for nine months, your baby hears mom breathing, her heartbeat, gastric sounds, and even voices; in short, your baby is used to hearing a lot of white noise. 

Parents are concerned about noises keeping their baby up, and while you should avoid sudden, loud noises, a silent room can actually make it difficult for your baby to sleep. Instead, consider using a fan, white noise machine, or playing a heartbeat noise.

Skin-to-skin contact

Skin-to-skin contact will help your baby feel your warmth, hear the same things he used to hear inside your womb, like your breathing and heartbeat, and create a feeling of being held.

Skin-to-skin contact has been known to have a lot of great benefits not just for the baby but also for parents, so you should engage in skin-to-skin contact even in the absence of sleep problems.

Teach Them Day vs. Night

One mistake new parents make is adjusting to their baby’s sleeping schedule instead of teaching their baby day versus night. When your baby was in the womb, they were often lulled to sleep by mom’s movements during the day, and then when mom finally sat down to relax at night, they would wake up and start moving. Once your baby is born, you need to work them around to learning day and night slowly.

Parents desperate for sleep add black-out curtains in the baby’s bedroom and keep noises minimal during the day so the baby can sleep longer when you should be doing the opposite. During the day, keep the room dim but still lit; when they’re awake, talk to them, make lots of eye contact, and don’t be afraid of noise.

Even though newborns will not and should not sleep more than four hours at a time, shorter naps during the day will help them get those long stretches at night.

When they wake up at night for feedings and diaper changes, do not turn the lights on, avoid eye contact, and avoid talking to them as all of these things will stimulate them; save those behaviors for the daytime.

Create a routine

Children and babies thrive on routine; therefore, creating a routine that lets your baby know what is expected can help create a calm and secure environment for them.

Having a routine means knowing when is the time to eat, sleep, and play. Creating a schedule and sticking to it will help avoid surprises in your daily activities. While it is impossible to plan every moment of the day with a newborn, trying to establish a routine will help both you and your baby.

Go for a drive

Have you ever noticed that your baby can sleep so well in the car? Sometimes, even as adults, we find a car drive so relaxing we tend to get sleepy too.

The combination of motion, noise, and security in the car seat can be the perfect formula for an easy, hassle-free sleep time. Not to mention, you could quickly go to a drive-thru and have a chill “me time” while your little one sleeps in the back.

There are so many ways you can help your baby sleep better. However, if you’re worried about something and feel like you’re still at a loss with handling everything, never be afraid to seek professional help. Consult your pediatrician. Find a support group to help answer your questions and speak to a childcare professional.

Having a baby is a wonderful time and shouldn’t be tarnished by simple problems with easy, simple solutions. With the right information at hand, you can make an informed decision on what you can do to create a better experience for yourself and your baby.

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