Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
Infant Sleep Transitions: The First 6 Months
September 5, 2022

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Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

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A Healthy Child Needs a Healthy Brain, A Healthy Brain Needs Healthy Sleep

If you have not already done so, please read Blog Posts 1 through 5 that describe how sleep is important and beneficial. I will post specific information for parents and children based on my book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” Please do not be put off by my book’s length. This is a reference book. Read only the topic of interest to you.

Blog 95Infant Sleep Transitions: The First 6 Months

During the first 6 months, there are predictable transitions regarding healthy baby sleep:

  • Starting a few days after birth, there is increasing late afternoon or evening fussiness, crying, and wakefulness that peaks around 6 weeks of age (all ages are counted from the due date, not the birth date).
  • After 6 weeks of age, most babies (80%) have less fussiness and crying.
  • After 6 weeks of age, your baby’s brain wants an earlier bedtime.
  • After 6 weeks of age, the longest single sleep period (4-6 hours) regularly occurs at night; the night sleep rhythm develops.
  • After 3-4 months, a regular midmorning nap emerges and later, a regular midday nap emerges; the day (nap) sleep rhythm develops.
  • During the first few months, nighttime feedings become fewer.

The timing of these transitions are approximations, but they do apply for the vast majority of infants. 

However, some infants (20%) have colic and difficulty settling at night until they are 2-4 months old, and some infants have only brief and/or more frequent naps until 9 months old.

Also, some parents are unable to put their baby to sleep when drowsy but awake (Blog Post 9) and some parents respond to every sound their baby makes with an unnecessary feeding (Blog Post 11).  

Because of individual variation within your child (Blog Posts 14 and 94) and issues within the parents (Blog Posts 1718), it is important to be flexible and nonjudgmental.

My baby sleep advice, during the first 6 months, is simple:

  1. Watch your baby, not the clock, and anticipate healthy infant sleep transitions.
  2. Begin soothing your baby to sleep as soon as your baby appears to become drowsy; try to not delay sleep times.
  3. Feed your baby at night if, and only if, you think your baby is hungry; sometimes, at night, try other soothing methods.

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Related blogs

These blogs are related or mentioned in this blog.
Blog 9
  | January 11, 2021

Drowsy Signs

The brains in babies and young children produce drowsy periods followed by sleep during the day and in the evening. Watch for drowsy signs before your child falls asleep. Drowsy signs are your signals to start soothing your child to sleep for a nap or for the night. Begin to soothe your baby to sleep as soon as your baby starts to become drowsy.
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Be Flexible

Parents would like to have a plan that guarantees healthy sleep for their child, like a tested recipe guarantees a sweet cupcake. Unfortunately, there is not one plan that fits all families. The principles discussed in Blog Posts 1 through 13 have to be adapted to specific individual, cultural, and family circumstances, or what the Army calls “mission constraints.”
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Coparenting is the manner in which parents work together to raise their children. Within the context of specific family differences, to achieve healthy sleep for your child, focus on teamwork. Coparenting quality may be evaluated by asking parents to report on how they see their partner as a coparent regarding positive features.
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Forbidden Zone and Individual Variation

Among some adults, there appears to be a circadian period of high arousal between about 8-10pm. This has been called the ‘forbidden zone’ because it is difficult for well-rested adults to easily fall asleep during those hours. 
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