Is your 6 week old fighting sleep and going through a growth spurt? Learn how to stop the sleep regression and fussiness with these tips!
After several weeks of somewhat decent sleep from your baby, she seems to be fighting sleep a lot lately.
Getting her to sleep during the day has gotten really hard, even when she’s clearly tired and needs to rest. It’s also been difficult getting her back to sleep after a night waking. She used to doze off soon after putting her down, but now takes a long time to transition back to sleep.
It doesn’t help that the longer she’s awake, the crankier she gets. And it’s not like she’s not a toddler who might fight bedtime because she wants to keep playing with her toys.
After adjusting to the changes of caring for a newborn baby, these sleep patterns can definitely be a challenge.
How to stop your 6 week old fighting sleep
Is this normal?
Every mom who has found herself 6 weeks later with less sleep than when she started can certainly relate. I know I can.
As a new parent, I found myself rocking my baby for a long time to get him to take a nap or settle down for bedtime. If he started to nod off, he’d wake up the second I moved or laid him down in the crib. Even though it was “only” a nap, I was beyond exhausted and emotional trying to meet his sleep needs.
If anything, I just wanted to know that there would be an end in sight.
It was then that I learned about the 6 week sleep regression, where many babies have a growth spurt and a peak of fussiness. Whatever sleep schedule you’ve had may be unpredictable now. And it seems like you’re going downhill instead of up, despite several weeks of doing this.
Hang in there, mama—we’ve all experienced milestones like these. While your baby won’t be sleeping through the night until a few more months, you can still do plenty to establish healthy sleep habits. Here’s what worked for me, and I hope you find these sleep regression tips useful:
1. Watch the clock
The first mistake I made was assuming that my baby would fall asleep whenever he felt tired. Unfortunately, I learned that babies need our help to snooze—no matter how long they’ve been awake, they won’t always fall asleep.
In fact, the longer they stay awake, the harder it gets to put them to sleep.
Instead, watch the clock. At six weeks old, your baby likely can only be awake for as little as 45-60 minutes at a time. As soon as she wakes up, either for the day or from her last nap, make a note of when to put her down to sleep so she doesn’t get overtired.
For instance, if she woke up for the day at 6am, she’s likely ready for her first nap around 6:45-7am.
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2. Look for sleep signs
Another way to handle your 6 week old fighting sleep is to look for sleep signs right away. This is her way of letting you know that she could use some sleep just about now.
A few sleep cues to look for include:
- Yawning (I’ve heard to put your baby down before the third yawn before she hits overtiredness)
- Rubbing her eyes
- Tugging at her ears
- Glazed eyes that aren’t really alert
3. Give your baby a bath (even during the day)
By now, your baby may have gotten used to taking a bath as part of her nighttime routine, a way to calmly end the day and settle in for the night. If you find that she sleeps better at night after the bedtime routine, consider giving her a bath before one of her naps as well.
Do the same sleep routine as you would at night, changing her into pajamas after a bath. Keep the bathroom subdued and calm to help her relax. Not all babies like baths (some actually cry more during one), but if yours enjoys it, giving her a bath can help her stop fighting sleep.
4. Keep your baby snug
One simple trick to stop your 6 week old fighting sleep is to keep her snug and tight. You might have found that she sleeps hours on end when she’s held in your arms, but only a short period when she’s flat on the crib or bassinet.
But since you can’t always hold her 24/7, keeping her snug in other ways is your next best bet.
For instance, you can wrap her in a swaddle and gently rock her to a drowsy state before putting her down. Hold her in a baby wrap, which frees up your arms while still keeping her close to you. Place her in the swing or even the stroller for added motion that can lull her to sleep.
Feeling snug and tight offers her the comfort she needs to finally drift off.
Bonus tip: Use a white noise machine or app while she sleeps. The constant hum will muffle sudden sounds that can startle her awake.
5. Offer a pacifier
Not all babies take to a pacifier (one of my kids certainly didn’t get the memo). But a pacifier can be a fantastic way to lull your baby to sleep—or at least extend her sleep mid-cycle.
The sucking motion gives her comfort when she might be feeling overwhelmed and cranky, relaxing her enough to finally fall asleep. Or perhaps she’s about to wake up and stir from a short nap—giving her pacifier a gentle “tug” can encourage her to suck on it more and start another sleep cycle.
Even if you set her down drowsy but awake, offering a pacifier right after can help her drift off than if you had simply put her down.
6. Feed on demand
The newborn stage is not the time to dole out rations of milk—instead, feed on demand, or as often as your baby needs.
At first, I didn’t like this idea, especially since I breastfed and was therefore the only one who could fulfill this need. But like our pediatrician told us, babies usually cry because of hunger than for any other reason. After all, their stomachs are still so tiny.
So, even though it seemed like you had just fed your baby, or that she’s feeding more than usual, give her what she needs. You’ll find that she’ll likely sleep better once she’s full than if you had stuck to a strict schedule.
Of course, you also want to balance this out with making sure that she’s actually eating, especially if you’re nursing and suffering from pain. Prevent her from falling asleep while feeding, and check for signs of swallowing, like listening for a gulp or looking at her throat for movement.
7. Comfort your baby
I don’t know about you, but whenever my baby didn’t sleep, I saw it as a setback and felt a sense of failure on my shoulders. A short or skipped nap was enough to make my day feel horrible. And at times, I’d feel frustrated and resentful toward him, thinking, Why won’t you sleep already?!
I’ve since learned that this isn’t exactly what a baby needs right now. Instead, she needs you to comfort her during this time.
After all, if you’re upset, you can imagine how she feels. She’s certainly not fighting sleep on purpose—in fact, she needs your help and comfort more than anything.
So, instead of getting upset, see this as a chance to help. Carry and walk with her throughout the house, holding her and trying to make her comfortable. Sing lullabies, and show compassion to her tears and frustration. Give her a massage to ease her mind and body.
If anything, calm yourself down enough to know that you haven’t failed in any way. Remind yourself that these sleep problems are temporary in the long run. And more than likely, she’ll take your cue and calm down herself enough to sleep.
Dealing with a 6 week old fighting sleep is never easy, especially when you’d been hoping things would get better, not worse. Rest assured mama, this regression is normal and will pass soon enough. Still, you can do plenty to cope in the meantime.
First off, prevent her from feeling overtired, either by making sure she isn’t awake too long or by looking out for sleep signs. Give her a bath during the day, and keep her snug and tight to help her relax. Offer a pacifier to calm her down and extend her sleep.
Feed her as often as she needs instead of going by a strict schedule. And finally, give her the comfort she craves—this will help her settle down faster than if you stayed frustrated.
No more sleep regression or frequent night wakings, my friend! Here’s to good sleep habits for your little one.
Get more tips:
- 12 Things to Do When Your Newborn Fights Sleep
- How to Get an Overtired Newborn to Sleep
- Newborn Not Sleeping? 9 Tricks to Help Your Baby (Finally!) Sleep
- Baby Feeding Every Hour (And Not Sleeping, Either)?
- 11 Ways to Cope with Newborn Sleep Deprivation
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