menu toggle icon
menu toggle icon
menu toggle icon

Is There a Sleep Regression at 6 Weeks Old?

Six weeks into your parenting journey, and you might be marveling at your baby’s first social smiles. Yet, as delightful as these moments are, you might also be puzzled by their erratic newborn sleep patterns. While the notorious 4-month sleep regression looms in the future, at six weeks, there isn’t a widely recognized sleep regression. However, that doesn’t mean all nights will be peaceful, leaving you to wonder, “Is there a 6-week-old sleep regression?”

In this blog, we’ll delve into the intricacies of a 6-week-old’s sleep, from the science behind their circadian rhythm and sleep patterns to the challenges of colic and the period of PURPLE crying. We’ll also provide insights to help you navigate this phase and maximize sleep for both you and your baby.

See here for our Sleep Regression Guide for All Ages

Understanding Newborn Sleep Patterns

Understanding Newborn Sleep Patterns

Understanding Newborn Sleep Patterns

Newborn sleep is spread throughout the day as babies develop their circadian rhythms and over time. These rhythms, which align with the pattern of night and day, influence when babies fall asleep and wake up. At this stage, newborns sleep in short spurts of one to two hours until their body begins to establish a more consistent sleep pattern. This fragmented sleep is also because infants need to eat often, both during the day and at night.

Breastfeeding Dynamics: A Game of Supply and Demand

By six weeks, the breastfeeding game changes. While breast milk supply was driven primarily by hormones after birth, by 6 weeks, it’s all about supply and demand. Your baby’s feeding patterns directly influence your milk production. And with growth spurts around the corner, don’t be surprised if you find yourself in a seemingly endless cycle of evening feedings.

Still Figuring Out Feeding? You're Not Alone

Six weeks in, and every feeding can still feel like a guessing game. Growth spurts can throw a wrench in any established routine, making your baby seem hungrier and fussier. Stay adaptable, and remember: this too shall pass.

Dream Feeding: A Potential Nighttime Savior

Ever heard of dream feeding? It’s when you feed your baby just before you hit the sack, aligning their longest sleep stretch with yours. Post the 4- to 6-week growth spurt, this might be a strategy worth trying to enhance sleep cycles and encourage longer stretches of sleep during the night.

The Six-Week Check-In: More Than Just a Physical Checkup

By now, you’ve probably had your post-birth check-in with the ob-gyn. It’s not just about physical recovery; it’s a time to address any emotional and mental challenges. Feeling overwhelmed? You’re not alone, and it’s okay to seek support.

Colic, the Period of PURPLE Crying, and More

Around the six-week mark, some babies might exhibit signs of colic — prolonged periods of crying without an apparent reason. This can be incredibly challenging for parents, but it’s essential to remember that colic is a phase that will pass.

Additionally, the period of PURPLE crying, which peaks around this age, refers to episodes where babies cry more frequently, especially in the evenings. It’s a normal developmental phase, albeit a stressful one for parents.

Common Sleep Patterns for a 6-Week to 4-Month-Old

At 6 weeks old it’s normal for your little one to sleep anywhere from 11-19 hours in a 24-hour period. It’s still too soon to be able to follow a sleep schedule consistently, and you won’t see much regularity with the sleep schedule until they reach 3-4 months old and their sleep cycles and circadian rhythms mature.

Daytime Naps: Nap lengths are likely to be unpredictable – ranging anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours. You’ll likely notice that your little one is able to comfortably stay awake for 30-90 minutes between naps. It’s still common for your little one to be experiencing some day/night confusion at this age, but it usually resolves by 8 weeks of age.

Evening Sleep: This can be unpredictable, especially during the ‘witching hour.’ Your baby might cycle through short naps and feeds, making evenings a bit challenging.

Nighttime Sleep: It’s normal for baby to have a late bedtime at this age – you might find that the longest stretch of sleep your little one has starts as late as 10pm. Some babies may start to have a longer initial sleep stretch during the night, but don’t expect your little one to be sleeping continuously throughout the night. Their tiny stomachs mean they’ll still likely wake up every 2-4 hours for feeds. This frequent waking is not just about hunger; it’s also a protective mechanism against SIDS.

Would Sleep Training Help?

Parenting is exhausting! Around 6 weeks, many new parents start to hit a metaphorical wall. The initial rush of having a newborn baby is wearing off, the constant stream of visitors has likely started to slow, and the cumulative effects of 6 weeks of disrupted sleep are setting in. As you are settling into the new reality of the fourth trimester it’s very normal to wonder if you’ll ever sleep again.

The possibility of sleep training often becomes a topic of discussion once your baby reaches 4 months of age. However, at Batelle, we recommend focusing on establishing good sleep habits and routines until your baby has reached 6 months old, rather than starting formal sleep training before then. This is because, around the 6-month mark, many babies have achieved significant developmental milestones, such as developing gross motor skills that assist with self-soothing, like repositioning themselves during sleep, and are able to sleep for longer stretches.

However, there are still many things you can do to maximize sleep at set the stage for good sleep habits even before your little one is 6 months old. Our Batelle Babies program is designed to guide parents in creating a comforting, predictable sleep environment and responding to their baby’s needs during this crucial stage. Remember, the sleep patterns you’re seeing now won’t last forever. As your baby grows and matures, you’ll notice a permanent change in their sleep patterns, with longer stretches of sleep and more predictable naps.

Finding Your Footing for Healthy Sleep

With the knowledge that your baby’s sleep patterns are still evolving, here are some tips to help establish good sleep habits and maximize sleep:

  • Swaddling: This practice can help soothe babies, offering a womb-like feel and countering the Moro reflex, a startle response in newborns. However, caution is key. If your baby starts showing signs of rolling, often around 2 months, it’s time to stop swaddling. While swaddling has its benefits, if you skip it, you avoid the transition of weaning off it later.
  • Pacifier introduction: By 6 weeks, many parents consider using a pacifier. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests waiting until breastfeeding is established, usually by 3-4 weeks. Pacifiers can reduce the risk of SIDS, but it’s essential to offer them without force. While they can be a helpful soothing tool, remember the eventual need for weaning and always prioritize hygiene by keeping them clean and checking for wear.
  • Recognize Sleep Cues: Babies often have subtle ways of signaling they’re tired, from yawning to fussiness. By tuning into these cues, you can anticipate their sleep needs, making it easier to establish a consistent sleep routine over time.
  • Gentle Sleep Familiarization: As you bond with your newborn, there are moments when you can gently introduce them to their sleep space. When they’re drowsy but not fully asleep, consider placing them in their crib for short periods, always under your watchful eye. Newborns often make small noises or movements during their active sleep phase. While staying attentive, give it a few seconds before intervening at every sound. They might naturally transition into a deeper sleep. If they seem unsettled, it’s a sign they need your comfort or perhaps a cuddle. This approach is about familiarizing, not self-soothing, and ensuring your baby always feels safe and cared for.
  • Setting the Stage for Night Sleep: Daytime is for activity and exploration. Keep rooms lit and don’t shy away from regular household noises. As evening nears, establish a bedtime routine: dim the lights and reduce loud sounds, signaling that bedtime is approaching. For those middle-of-the-night feedings, a soft night light and hushed tones can help maintain a calm atmosphere.
  • Take Advantage of the Long Stretch: If your baby tends to sleep longer at the start of the night, consider adjusting your bedtime to benefit from this extended rest.
  • Stay Adaptable: Each day with a newborn can be a new adventure. Their needs might shift, and routines can change. Embrace flexibility, adjusting to your baby’s evolving patterns.
  • Seek Support: Parenting is a team sport. Whether you’re tag-teaming nighttime duties, consulting with a pediatrician, or simply chatting with fellow parents for advice, remember that support is invaluable. Stay attuned to your baby’s needs and adjust your approach as necessary.

Navigating the sleep patterns of a 6-week-old can be a blend of joy and challenges. Cherish the moments of connection, like those heartwarming social smiles, and know that with each passing week, you’re one step closer to more predictable nights and better sleep.

This article was written by Batelle – team of sleep experts, lactation consultants, therapists, doulas, and early education specialists. 

You might also like