6 Week Sleep Regression? Or Growth Spurt?

6 Week Sleep Regression

“My newborn baby was sleeping so well…what happened??”

Sound familiar? We hear this all. the. time. Our answers vary, depending on the unique baby in question. In our experience, the answer can be anything from teething to illness to temperament to the birth of a new sibling to a nap transition.

But often, our answer is – sleep regression.

Common Sleep Regressions

Generally, we offer up a diagnosis of sleep regression for babies and toddlers who are the following ages:

6 Week Sleep Problems

But recently, we’ve been hearing more and more from parents about their 6-week old babies going through what seems like a sleep regression. Their baby was sleeping pretty well (for a newborn, anyway).

But, around 6 weeks old, mom and dad are up every hour and the baby is feeding constantly…what gives?

Is this a 6-week sleep regression, or is it something else?

Sleep Regression Signs and Symptoms

First, let’s start with the definition of ‘sleep regression’. Remember, a sleep regression generally describes a phase or season in which a baby who normally sleeps well suddenly starts waking more often at night and refusing naps (or taking very short naps) – for no apparent reason at all.

Common signs of a sleep regression include:

  • Increased fussiness and crying (aka major crankiness!)
  • Increased night waking and/or shortened or missed naps
  • Changes in appetite
  • Extra clinginess and a need for more cuddle time

6 Week Sleep Regression, or 6 Week Growth Spurt?

If your 6-week old baby is currently struggling to sleep well, you may be looking at that list and nodding your head – it may be that your baby has all those symptoms!

But here’s the thing to remember – most babies also go through a pretty pronounced growth spurt at 6 weeks, too. And, that growth spurt will likely have your baby waking more often, and seeming to be fussier than usual, simply because your baby will be hungrier than usual, and will need more feedings.

So which is it? Sleep regression, or growth spurt?

Both, actually – it’s a double whammy!

In addition to a short, 2-3 day (or perhaps 1 week) growth spurt at 6 weeks, most babies also experience something that Dr. Weissbluth calls “the peak of fussiness”. By 6 weeks of age, most babies are growing out of their drowsy newborn state, and are starting to perk up and notice the world. And that world is quite overwhelming for them – so many sights and sounds and smells! What’s more, all that observing can really wear a baby out, causing overtiredness and increased fussiness.

If your 6 week old is struggling with sleep, it’s most likely due to this one-two punch – the 6 week growth spurt AND that 6 week “peak of fussiness.” (Of course, you’ll want to rule out illness or another source of discomfort first, if your baby is extra-fussy around 6 weeks.)

6 Week Sleep Regression – How Long Will It Last?

Take comfort in the fact that this phase won’t last long – the growth spurt will last just a few days, and even the “peak of fussiness” will last about a week or so and then gradually improve. It’s not nearly as long as a regular sleep regression.

Once this phase passes, you should see your baby’s sleep improve again (that is, until the 4 month sleep regression hits!).

Nicole’s Note
“I remember when my first son was about 6 weeks old. We were losing it with his fussiness! I was juuuust about to cut dairy from my diet, just in case it was that, when I let Weissbluth’s words ring in my head that fussiness peaks at 6 weeks. For us, it was SO true! It slowly started to get better at 7 weeks and beyond. I’m so glad I didn’t cut out dairy unnecessarily since I didn’t think life would be as good without cheese. However, ironically, when I turned 38, I became lactose intolerant anyway! Strange, but true. So, I am dairy-free now, but now it’s to avoid really bad stomach pain, which is actually far worse than my son’s fussiness was. :)”

6 Week Old Baby Sleep Tips

When it comes to soothing your baby during the 6 week baby growth spurt, you’ll want to stick with gentle techniques – your 6 week old baby is still a newborn, after all!

For more help with your 6-week-old, you may be interested in these resources:

Hope this 6 week sleep regression or growth spurt is not affecting your family too much!

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