Learn all about the six-week sleep regression, six week growth spurt, and how to help your newborn baby sleep.
Newborn babies are very sleepy those first several weeks after birth.
But around 6 weeks old, they may start to wake up more, making sleep trickier.
This can lead to a 6 week sleep regression.
Let me share some tips on how to comfort your newborn and help them sleep better.
Want a realistic newborn sleep schedule? Download my free newborn sleep schedule to see what a day with your newborn might look like. Click here to grab it, it’ll be super helpful.
Is There a Sleep Regression at 6 Weeks?
The short answer is yes, there is a 6 week sleep regression. But it’s a little more complicated than that.
This is the first sleep regression you might run up against. Since new parents have never experienced a sleep regression before, they don’t know what signs to look for.
But to complicate things further, newborns also go through a major growth spurt around 6 weeks old, too!
Signs of A Sleep Regression
Sleep regressions are bound to pop up as your baby grows and meets new milestones.
Signs that your baby is going through a sleep regression include:
- Frequent night wakings
- Baby fighting bedtime
- Short naps
Since sleep is all over the place in the newborn phase, the 6 week sleep regression often gets lumped in with the newborn phase.
The most common sleep regressions are:
- 4 month sleep regression
- 6 month sleep regression
- 9 month sleep regression
- 12 month sleep regression
- 18 month sleep regression
- 2 year sleep regression
Why Is My Baby So Fussy at 6 Weeks?
Newborns go through a period of transition from their very early sleepy days to a more alert and awake existence.
Some people refer to this as the time when your newborn finally “wakes up.”
This transition from sleepy to alert days typically happens between 4-6 weeks old.
By 6 weeks old, your baby has really begun to notice that the world outside the womb is much different from where they spent the past 9 months.
The more time your newborn spends awake and alert during the day, the more stimuli they’re exposed to.
There are so many new sights, sounds, and even smells that your baby is experiencing for the first time! It can be a bit overstimulating for baby.
It’s no wonder that your newborn is feeling overwhelmed and fussy.
Imagine all of your senses (auditory, visual, olfactory, and tactile!) are being heavily stimulated at the same time for longer periods than you’ve ever been used to.
Wouldn’t you start to feel grumpy and overwhelmed, too?
Does the 6 Week Old Growth Spurt Affect Sleep?
Growth spurts can affect sleep, which can make this particular sleep regression tricky.
Your baby may need to eat more than usual and may want to cluster feed in the evening.
6 Week Growth Spurt Signs
Here are some signs to look out for that could indicate your 6-week-old is going through a growth spurt:
- Baby isn’t sleeping as deeply and is waking more easily. Noises and movements that they used to sleep through now wake them up easily.
- Baby is experiencing even more nighttime wakings than usual.
- Naps are very short. Instead of the typical 1.5-2 hour naps, your baby is all of a sudden waking up after 30-45 minutes.
- Your baby is cluster-feeding. Instead of filling up their tummies and nursing every 2-3 hours, your baby seems to always want to be eat.
Once you’ve recognized the signs of the 6 week sleep regression and growth spurt, what can you do to help your baby through it?
Help your newborn sleep better
My Newborn Sleep Program walks you through the process of getting your 0–3 month old to sleep. Parents love that it’s short and sweet, without all the extra fluff that tired parents don’t need! You’ll be able to start healthy sleep habits and feel confident in getting your baby sleep. Check out the Newborn Sleep Program here.
How to Help Your 6 Week Old through the Regression
There are some things you can do to help your 6-week-old get through this temporary sleep setback.
Feed on Demand
A full tummy means better sleep. Even if it feels like your baby just ate, keep in mind that growth spurts could mean an increased appetite.
Try to keep your baby awake at the breast or bottle to make sure they’re getting a full feed each time.
Use a baby carrier to help baby sleep at nap time or through their witching hour.
Spend time outside and/or in natural light
Your baby’s natural circadian rhythm is still developing, especially when they’re this young.
Spending time in daylight will help with any day night confusion, and can help their bodies move into a more reliable sleep routine.
Set up a calm sleep environment
Create a calm environment to encourage sleep.
Use blackout curtains to make their room dark and use a sound machine to drown out any household noises.
Look for baby sleep cues to avoid an overtired baby
Watch your baby for sleep cues to know when it’s time for a nap. If your baby starts zoning out, yawning, or getting fussy, it may be time for sleep.
Pay attention to wake windows
While sleep cues are important, so are knowing your baby’s wake windows!
Newborn wake windows are super short. It’s just about enough time for a feed, burp, and diaper change. Some babies may not show sleepy cues so be mindful of the clock as well.
Utilize the 5 S’s
The 5 S’s are a set of soothing techniques that you can use to help replicate the womb-like environment and calm your fussy baby.
Dr. Harvey Karp coined the 5 S’s and they include:
Dress your baby for sleep
When babies are this young, their body temperature plays a huge role in whether they are comfortable enough to sleep. Your baby won’t sleep well if they’re too hot or too cold, so learn how to dress them for sleep.
Use a swaddle
Wrap them up to help them feel secure. If your newborn fights the swaddle, find ways that it may be able to work.
In the midst of a sleep regression, take the naps where you can get them. In the car, stroller, baby carrier, contact nap, as long as your baby is safe, embrace the zzz’s!
Know that nap times and lengths will vary in the newborn phase.
Remember this is temporary
As with any other regression, the 6 week sleep regression probably won’t last more than a week or two at most.
Remember that it’s temporary and with the right approach, your baby’s sleep will improve soon.