Baby Sleep: Normal Sleep Patterns for the 3-6 month old
What Can I Expect with my 3-6 month old Babies Sleep?
So you have made it through the newborn phase. Congratulations, you survived it! You now have a 3-6 month old baby and perhaps you're wondering what you should expect with her sleep now that she’s this age. Well stay tuned because today's video is going to be talking all about sleep expectations for the 3-6 month old baby.
Let’s get started. One thing you can expect during the 3-6 month age period is some huge developmental advances. Such advances include milestones such as rolling and possibly sitting up. There's lots of things going on with movement of their hands and their startle reflexes are starting to reduce however, they're becoming more mobile in their sleep space. Due to this, this often sees some big transitions. It can see you going from a swaddled baby to an un-swaddled baby, which can be a huge transition for your bub. And then there is also the learning how to roll. Now a lot of babies tend to practice these fantastic new developmental skills in their sleep, sure, why not? But it can also lead to them not necessarily being able to rectify the position they have perhaps rolled themselves into.
Another huge developmental change that you will notice with your baby during the 3-6 month age gap is a change in their sleep cycles. Now this change has been dubbed the 4 month sleep regression. And to give you a bit of an idea about what actually is going on with this whole 4 month sleep progression, it's actually a permanent change in the way your baby sleeps. It's called a regression because often parents notice that their baby's sleep regresses. The reason that this happens is a developmental change and it happens to all babies. They're moving towards more adult and mature-like sleep cycles but what's actually occurring is prior to the 4-month sleep regression, your baby was cycling into deep sleep but not quite coming to awake. He/she would just come to a light surface sleep and fall back into another sleep cycle and so on. Now that the 4 month sleep regression has hit, in a full sleep cycle, they will go from wide awake into their deep sleep cycle and then back to awake. Therefore, their ability to continue to fall back into another sleep cycle is potentially dependent on how they got to sleep at their first wake.
This is where parents often start to feel the pinch of the regression however it's important to know that it exists, but it's not something that necessarily passes on its own because it's a permanent change. So just being aware of it and starting to be conscious of how you put your baby to sleep can help you smoothly get through this 4 month sleep regression without too much disruption to your baby's sleep routines.
Another area that is very common in the 3-6 month age group is catnapping. Catnapping is the short naps babies have. It can be 30 to 45 minutes in length, sometimes less. It can be quite a frustrating period for parents because perhaps you have worked hard to get your baby to sleep for them to only wake 30 to 45 minutes later. Parents also know that their baby does actually need more sleep than 45 minutes at a time. One thing I will say about catnapping, because it deserves its own video that it will get, catnapping is developmentally normal between 3-6 months. You can do everything in your power to improve it but sometimes you just have to ride the wave and let your baby learn to consolidate sleep cycles on their own. In saying that, there are things that you can do, which I won't go into in this video as it will come at a later time, keep an eye out! In saying that, if you are experiencing catnapping and feel like you would love some assistance in helping your baby to consolidate sleep cycles, then I encourage you to get in touch with me so that we can work together and put in some actions to help improve those nap lengths.
In terms of expectations around settling and ‘self-settling’, what I want to make clear is that in the 3-6 month age group, your baby still needs a lot of your assistance to settle to sleep. I call it the settle to soothe stage where perhaps your goal, if you are aiming for more independent sleep as your baby gets older, is to begin offering small periods of allowing your bub to try and self-settle. This does not mean putting your baby to bed awake and expecting them to fall asleep independent of everything. There will be some babies who are able to do this and if your baby does, fantastic but for those who don't have the baby who's capable of doing that, I want you to know that that is very much developmentally normal.
During this phase if you even get your baby into a nice drowsy state and then you place them down and allow them some space to settle on their own, this is a great way of working towards that independent settling and sleep. But know that your baby still needs a lot of assistance during this phase.
The final thing I wanted to talk about is expectations around night waking. During 3-6 months, it is still normal for your baby to be waking at least two times a night for a feed. That would be the average. If your baby's doing less, that's fantastic. If they're doing more, that's okay too. You go by what your baby is demanding. If there is excessive night waking and you're concerned that it's not just due to hunger, that's something that can be worked on. However, in terms of what they need for their nutritional and calorie intake, lots of babies still need at least two feeds a night.
Well there you have it. There is a summary of what you can expect with your baby's sleep now that they are 3-6 months of age. I hope that you like this video. If you did, please give me a thumbs up and comment below and tell me what your experience was with your baby's sleep. I would love to hear the stories and it's also great for other mums to read and know that what they're perhaps going through is quite normal.
Anyway, I will be back in another fortnight with a brand new video. If you want to hear about when that video is released, then please subscribe to my channel and hit the bell so that you know of when my next video is released and you get the notification so you don't miss out on any.