Learn all about the six-week sleep regression, six week growth spurt, and how to help your newborn baby through all of it! Here are 10 tips for the 6-week sleep regression.
As a new parent, you’re bound to have a lot of questions. There’s so much new information to learn in the newborn stage about feeding, dressing your baby, daily routines, newborn health, and baby sleep.
The most common question that came to my mind over and over again in those early sleep deprived days was, “Am I doing this right?”
But around the 6-week mark with my new baby, the questioning refrain became: “What did I get myself into?”
You see, somewhere around that time, my daughter changed from a snoozy, cuddly little bundle to a wide-eyed banshee.
I had heard of sleep regressions before, but I wasn’t sure if the 6 week sleep regression was really a thing! All I knew was that something was very different and I wasn’t sure what to do about it.
Let me share what I’ve learned about the 6 week sleep regression so you can be better prepared than I was!
Is There a Sleep Regression at 6 Weeks?
The short answer to this question is yes, there is a 6 week sleep regression. But it’s a little more complicated than that.
I think the 6 week sleep regression is a bit mystifying to new parents for a couple reasons.
First of all, it’s the first potential baby sleep regression you can run up against. Since new parents have never experienced a sleep regression before, they don’t know what signs to look out for.
But to complicate things further, newborns go through a major growth spurt around 6 weeks old, too!
Let’s just say you’re not the only one who’s overwhelmed by these big changes—your baby is experiencing all of this for the first time out in the big, bright world!
Why Is My Baby So Fussy at 6 Weeks?
Many pediatric experts will tell you that that newborns go through a period of transition from their very sleepy early 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, and might correspond with some longer periods of awake time.
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’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?
6 Week Growth Spurt Signs
A big reason why your baby is able to stay awake and alert more is because they’re going through a pretty significant growth spurt!
Here are some signs to look out for that could indicate your 6-week-old is going through a growth spurt:
- Your baby is waking more easily and isn’t sleeping as deeply. Noises and movements that they used to sleep through now wake them up easily.
- Baby is experiencing even more nighttime wakings than usual. That’s hard to imagine at this point, I know!
- 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. In other words, instead of filling up their tummies and nursing every 2-3 hours, your baby seems to always want to be eating and never seems full.
- Baby is acting tired but is having trouble settling into sleep. This can be a sign of an overtired baby, which can be caused by overstimulation.
But 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?
The Key to Better Sleep for Your Baby
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 Stop Your 6 Week Old from Fighting Sleep
Aside from learning about the developmental sleep needs of your newborn, there are some other things you can do to help your 6-week-old get through this temporary sleep setback.
Check out these 10 tips on how to help your 6-week-old get the rest they need!
1. 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.
2. Set up the ideal sleep environment
In addition to making sure that you’re following safe sleep practices for your baby, you can do other things to their environment to encourage sleep. Use blackout curtains to make their room dark, and add a white noise machine to drown out any household noises.
3. Learn to look for sleep cues to avoid an overtired baby
Believe it or not, it’s possible to miss the ideal time to let your baby rest. And unfortunately, once you miss that window of opportunity, your baby might get overtired, which is a big reason why your baby fights sleep. Very counterproductive!
4. 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 for a feed, burp, and diaper change. Some babies may not show sleepy cues so be mindful of the clock as well.
You don’t need to be rigid, but having a good idea of a sample newborn sleep schedule can be helpful.
5. Utilize the 5 S’s
Six weeks is still so tiny and your baby is still adjusting to life outside the womb! 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:
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 in the summer as well as how to dress them for sleep in the winter when temperatures are more extreme.
7. Use a swaddle or a sleep sack
8. Always feed a hungry baby
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.
Following an eat play sleep routine can help with this!
9. Stay flexible
Keeping all of the other tips in mind, know that it’s okay to deviate from the routine or plan if it means keeping your baby comfortable. In the midst of a sleep regression, take the naps where you can get them. In the car, stroller, baby carrier, etc. as long as your baby is safe, embrace the zzz’s!
Know that nap times and lengths will vary!
10. 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. Be consistent and stick to your routine if you can, but give your baby the attention they need and know that this isn’t forever!