You Have a 6-Week Old Fighting Sleep - How to Help Your Baby

You Have a 6-Week Old Fighting Sleep - How to Help Your Baby

Whether it’s your first baby or your fifth, welcoming an infant into your home is a wonderful occasion. It’s an exciting time when the smallest family member is settling into your intimate environment. Certainly, it’s a time to appreciate every precious moment and to delight in what lies ahead for baby and you.

That said, at times taking care of an infant may feel overwhelming. As we all know, babies don’t come with instruction manuals, which means that parents spend a lot of time wondering what the heck to do to keep baby happy and healthy.

Even the best intentioned may not know what to do when faced with a brand new challenge. For example, if your 6-week old fights sleep, what do you do?

Know the numbers

It’s always a good practice to arm yourself with relevant facts before tackling a new problem. In this instance, knowing how much sleep your little one actually needs is extremely beneficial. If you have a sense of the parameters—namely, what is too little and what is too much sleep—you can establish realistic goals.

How much should infants sleep?

Keep in mind that all babies are individuals and, therefore, they may have unique sleeping patterns. In other words, your baby may not sleep at the same times as your cousin’s baby, but that’s probably OK. Infants have yet to establish regular sleep patterns so don’t worry if you can’t predict the exact times for napping and going to bed at night.

Here are some general guidelines: In a 24-hour period, infants should get between 14 and 17 hours of sleep. Specifically, baby should enjoy 8-9 hours of overnight sleep and then take numerous naps (totaling 7-9 hours of sleep) during the day. In the early days, it’s perfectly normal if babies don’t seem to do anything other than eat and sleep!

Why infants fight sleep

There are a variety of reasons why an infant might refuse to settle down for a nap or for an overnight snooze. Unfortunately, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution; what’s more, what works to put baby to bed one day may not work the next.

6 week old fighting sleep
So, do your best to remain patient and keep your expectations at a minimum. And when in doubt (or when you’re at your wit’s end), consult your pediatrician.

Is baby comfortable?

Babies need to feel tired and safe in order to naturally drop off to sleep. Sometimes, when babies are put down on their backs, they feel too exposed and become anxious and unable to drift off. Unfortunately, putting babies to bed on their stomachs is not recommended because this position has been linked to SIDS

So, what do you do to let baby know she’s safe and sound?

Does baby feel secure?

The goal is to make baby feel as secure as possible so she can sleep safely on her back. If she’s using a large crib, try switching it out for a smaller one or a bassinet. Another option is to swaddle her in a soft, gently weighted sleep sack

 

Benefits of swaddling

  • Keeps arms and legs tucked in so baby won’t make a sudden movement and wake up.
  • The feeling of being “wrapped up” is reminiscent of being in the womb.
  • The blanket will keep baby’s body at a controlled temperature.
  • Baby won’t be able to accidentally scratch herself with her fingernails.

Swaddling tip:

It’s time to stop swaddling when baby can poke her arms or legs out of the blanket. 

Is baby confused about the time?

In the early stages, baby doesn’t have an established circadian rhythm, or inner clock. In turn, she may confuse night and day, especially if she’s taking multiple naps during the daylight hours. As she develops, she will adjust to the 2-hour cycle, but right now you may need to help her out.

The first thing to do is to make sure you are treating naptime and bedtime differently. For example, naps shouldn’t be longer than 3 hours (whereas an overnight snooze should last longer). During a nap, go ahead and turn down the lights, but at bedtime darken the room even more and maybe use a “nightlight” or play certain music that you reserve for overnight.

Another tip is to make sure baby soaks up some sunshine during the day (either outside or by receiving sunlight through a window). The sunlight helps to naturally adjusts baby’s inner clock and should help her to regulate her sleep cycle. 

Is baby all hyped up?

If baby has been enjoying playtime a little too much, she may have trouble winding down. It’s important to give her time to transition (to go from eyes wide open to eyes closed), rather than plopping her in her crib immediately after a stimulating play date. In addition, be mindful when planning your days’ activities; try not to book too much. Remember, overscheduling can lead to overstimulation!

Is baby distracted?

Everything is new to your infant, including sights, smells, and the way things feel. If baby is having trouble sleeping, check to see if she is uncomfortable in her clothes, in her blanket, or if there is a smell or sound in her room that’s distracting her. 

Possible distractions:

  • Temperature in the room (either too hot or too cold)
  • Open window (noise from outside or a draft)
  • Scratchy clothes or annoying tags on the clothes
  • Uncomfortable blanket (swaddled too tightly/loosely)
  • Noise from another room (TV, conversation)
  • Too much light in the room
  • Unfamiliar smell (from cooking, a candle, laundry detergent or soap)

Is baby hungry?

While it’s true that infants eat frequently, they don’t necessarily fill their tummies every time. In turn, it’s common for a baby to fight sleep if she is hungry. It’s impossible to say how much your baby should be eating—this is something to discuss with your pediatrician. However, once you know what a healthy amount looks like, you’ll know if she needs to eat in order to nod off. 

Is baby sick?

If baby is fussing, there’s always a chance that she is under the weather. While it’s tough to decipher exactly what may be going on with her, some common ailments include a cold or allergies, a stomach ache (gas, reflux, or constipation).

For an upset tummy, you may be able to cycle her legs, rock her gently, burp her, or rub her belly. That said, be sure to contact your pediatrician with any medical concerns. 

Is baby overtired?

This may not sound logical, but if baby misses a nap or is deprived of sleep for some reason, she may have a harder time following her normal sleep schedule and she may fuss when she’s put down as she is overtired.

This is tough for some parents to grasp because, really, it doesn’t make much sense. But remember, even if baby is obviously exhausted, it doesn’t guarantee that she’ll go right to sleep. 

Tips to prevent overtiredness: Learn to spot the signs of a tired baby, like rubbing eyes, yawning, clenching fists, clinginess, fussing, and even sudden bursts of energy.

Is baby lonely?

While your goal should be to teach baby to sleep independently, at just a few weeks old she’s probably not quite ready to fall asleep entirely on her own. With this in mind, consider staying in baby’s room until she falls asleep. You may choose to rock her until her eyelids close or wear her in a carrier until the gentle movement lulls her to sleep.

Important note: Check with your pediatrician regarding the appropriate age to introduce a lovey or a blanket (it is most likely closer to 6 months old).

If you need additional support

Chances are if baby isn’t sleeping well, you aren’t either. When you’re exhausted, it can feel overwhelming to make decisions regarding the care of your infant (not to mention trying to keep the rest of your family on track). The time to ask for help is before it becomes too much to handle.

Find a support group

Many moms agree that it’s worth joining a parenting support group if you’re looking for advice or emotional support. Sometimes just sharing stories and being around others who are in a similar situation is enough to get you through the trickier stages. Always remember that you don’t have to be on your own.

Write it down

You may find it useful to keep a journal of naps and bedtimes. Sometimes writing things down will reveal a pattern of behavior that that you can share with your pediatrician. Or members of your support group. Another reason to journal is so you can be reminded of what sleep strategies have worked for you in the past.

Take care of yourself

Sleep training is one of the most challenging parts of caring for an infant. Knowing this, it’s important to be mindful of self-care. What this means is you need to take a bit of time every day to focus on yourself. It doesn’t have to take up too much of your time: you could take an evening bath, an afternoon stroll, work in the garden for 30 minutes, or eat lunch outside.

The reason is, the better you feel (both mentally and physically), the more capable you’ll be in terms of caring for your little one. And overall, you’ll be able to find joy in not just the easier moments, but the more difficult ones as well.

How To Help Your 6-Week-Old Fall Asleep

Why is my baby's sleep getting worse at 6 weeks?

Sleep regressions can cause sharp u-turns that can result in sleep loss for your baby and everyone under the same roof. Around six weeks, most babies go through a growth spurt, all the while learning to recognize the world around them. As they start to have more thoughts and pay attention to more details, this can cause a disruption in sleep patterns. It can also cause them to become particularly clingy. If your baby is undergoing a 6-week regression, you’ll likely notice the signs during your daily routine, not just at bedtime or naptime. You may notice your baby is demanding, hungry, or fussy, more so than usual, during 6-week regressions. 

Why is 6 weeks the peak of fussiness?

A fussy baby is still cute, but as a parent, you probably prefer a not-fussy baby. Around six weeks of age, your baby may be fussy for seemingly no reason at all. They’ve slept, eaten, and are being held, yet still fussy. You may be wondering when it will end or if it’s your fault. In case no one told you yet - you’re doing great. Being a parent is a hard job. Hang in there, and hopefully, the fussy days should soon fade. 

Around six weeks, your baby’s vision is getting better, and they are likely undergoing a growth spurt. And you know what growing means… more food! All of these changes combined can cause your baby to be more fussy. It can also cause your baby to sleep less. Some babies go from 4-5 hour stretches of sleep back down to 2-3 hours. It can be frustrating, but hang in there. Keep adapting. Keep comforting. And keep being the devoted parents you set out to be. Babies truly put our patience to the test, so try to find the silver lining in every meltdown. These days will go by faster than you think, and who knows, you may even want them back one day. 

What is the awake window for a 6-week-old?

Babies have wake windows, which can vary depending on their age. A wake window is the typical stretch of time they are awake. At 6 weeks old, most babies have a wake window of about 2-3 hours. Identifying wake windows can help you get into a routine that works for you and your baby. Additionally, knowing what your baby’s wake window should be can help you keep them awake for the appropriate amount of time so they can hopefully sleep better. Be prepared, though; wake windows can change quickly. 

How long should my 6-week-old sleep at night?

Babies between two weeks to two months old sleep about 15.5 to 17 hours daily, but not straight through. While we encourage sweet dreams, it’s important to be realistic and know what to expect and prepare for as a parent. The 15.5 to 17 hours daily is typically broken down into 8.5 to 10 hours at night, with the remainder spread out between several naps. During the night, your baby will likely wake every 2-4 hours to feed. 

How many times a night does a 6-week-old wake up?

A 6-week-old usually wakes every 2-4 hours or so to feed. There is really no way to avoid this, but if you can get your baby to take a bottle, you may be able to enlist more help. 

How can I get my 6-week-old to sleep longer at night?

The great game of getting your baby to sleep longer at night might be simpler than you’re making it. 92% of parents who use Dreamland’s weighted sleep products saw their baby’s sleep improve in the first week. We can confidently say that we, too, once dreamt of getting a baby to sleep faster and keeping them asleep longer. During a desperate night (we’ve all been there), founder Tara Williams threw a throw blanket over her precious baby boy, Luke. An instant sense of calmness came about, but she knew this was not the safest option. She also knew she was not the only one in a state of desperation with a fussy baby. And just like that, her mission grew and Dreamland was created to deliver safe weighted sleep products for babies. Our products are proven to help babies fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. 

What is the ideal sleep schedule for a 6-week-old baby?

Newborn babies sleep a lot. Sleeping and eating is really all they know. While your 6-week-old baby may have sleep and wake windows, maintaining a perfectly consistent schedule may be a false reality. However, predictable cycles are something we can aim for to find some consistency. Baby's schedules can vary, as can their parents, which can impact what the day-to-day schedule looks like. For example purposes, here’s what a schedule might look like for a 6-week-old:

  • 6:00-8:00 AM: Rise and shine (diaper change time, feeding, more diaper changes, etc.)
  • Nap 1 and Nap 2: Nap 1 might start about an hour after waking, and nap two may follow about an hour after waking from nap 1. 
  • Nap 3-6: The remainder of naps for the day may be spaced about 60-90 minutes apart from one another. 
  • Bedtime: During bedtime, you may wake up every 2-4 hours to feed your baby. 

As your baby tries to combat their busier mind during the 6-week regression, they may feel overstimulated. It can require extra effort to help them relax in order to get them to sleep. Once they’re asleep, you’ll also need to keep them asleep. Weighted sleep products such as a swaddle or sleep sack can help calm your baby so they can fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Weighted sleep products can help soothe anxiety for babies, similar to how they can soothe anxiety for adults. While the idea of weight may take your mind to different places, let us help provide you peace of mind. At Dreamland, we specialize in wearable sleepwear for babies, including weighted swaddles, sleep sacks, and blankets. All of our products are designed with safety on the forefront and are designed in collaboration with pediatricians, NICU nurses, and certified sleep consultants. Furthermore, they are reviewed by pediatric pulmonologists for breathing safety.  Down to our non-toxic BPA-free inner beads, our sleep aid products are safe if used as recommended. For more safety information, check out our safety page.

 

 

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