6 Week Old Sleep Schedule: Optimizing your newborn’s sleep

So many of us thrive off of routine and schedules, so it is totally natural to want to figure out the best 6 week old sleep schedule for your little one. 


That being said, a sleep schedule for a newborn is likely going to be less of a schedule and more of a “schedule”. I am going to talk more about why this is, but ultimately it’s because the best thing you can focus on during the newborn phase is preventing overtiredness and laying a foundation for solid sleep skills. 


In this blog post, I will dig into: 


Does a 6 week old need a sleep schedule?


What to expect at 6 weeks old 


What should a 6 week old sleep schedule look like?


How to improve your 6 week old’s sleep


So wrap your little burrito in a baby wrap and let’s dig in!



Does a 6 week old need a sleep schedule? 


6 week old baby |The Peaceful Sleeper


You wouldn’t be reading this blog post if you were not looking for a sleep schedule for your 6 week old, but the truth is, at 6 weeks we are aiming for predictable cycles instead of a sleep schedule. 


It’s just not realistic to have the goal of a sleep schedule at 6 weeks. Newborn sleep can be all over the place, so it’s more important that we help them get the sleep they need, as opposed to trying to get naps to start and end at a specific time. 




What to expect at 6 weeks old


One of the main things you should prepare yourself for is that there is often a sleep regression at 6 weeks. This is because there is a shift in your baby’s awake patterns. They start to become much more alert and they are noticing more. Around this time, they become more susceptible to overstimulation. You also may find that in the evening and bedtime, they are fussier and harder to get down.


The best thing you can do is prevent overtiredness. This means keeping your baby’s wake windows to around 60 minutes and also watching for sleepy cues to be sure that you put them to bed for naps and bedtime at THEIR optimal time. 


This extra fussiness may make you question if there are other things going on. And it’s totally worth it to talk to your pediatrician to rule out reflux, tongue/lip tie, etc. but also know that it could just be the 6 week sleep regression. 



What should a 6 week old sleep schedule look like? 


As we discussed in the first section “does a 6 week old need a sleep schedule?”, it is not realistic to expect a 6 week old to be on a sleep schedule. 


That being said, we can aim for predictable cycles. 


Every baby is different, so please keep that in mind, but in this section I am going to share what newborn sleep at 6 week typically looks like, so you know what to expect and can have realistic expectations around the timing of sleep. 


Most newborns start the day between 6am-8am. They take around 4-7 naps a day. It’s totally normal for these naps to be short (45-60 minutes) but if they will sleep longer stretches that’s great! However, I would wake them if they started getting close to the 3 hour mark as we want good full daytime feeds, and we don’t want getting too much daytime sleep to impact nighttime sleep. 


The evening can be a tricky time for 6 week olds. You may find that they want to do a lot of cluster feeding or are hard to get to sleep and stay asleep. The best thing you can do is prevent overstimulation and know that 6 week olds are usually not ready for bed until around 10pm. 


If you find charts and tables helpful, here is a very rough outline of what a day with a 6 week old could look like: 

6 Week Old Sleep “Schedule”

Start the day  6-8am 
Diaper change, feed, tummy time, feed again, diaper change again… 
Nap 1 60ish minutes after waking up 
More feeding, more diaper changes, more hanging out 
Nap 2 60ish minutes after waking up from nap 1
Back to feeding, diaper changes, chilling out, more tummy time
Nap 3 60-90 minutes after waking up from nap 2
More feeding, more diaper changes, more hanging out
Nap 4 60-90 minutes after waking up from nap 3
Feeding, more diaper changes, more playing, maybe some tummy time 
Nap 5 60-90 minutes after waking up from nap 4
Again, feeding, diaper changes, probably entering witching hour… 
Nap 6 60-90 minutes after waking up from nap 5
Diaper changes, feeding, preventing overstimulation, more feeding, more diaper changes, maybe some cluster feeding…
Bed 10pm ish 
Night time Up every 2-4 hours to feed 


Remember, this is a very loose guide for what your day could look like with your 6 week old. If what you are doing is working, no need to change anything! If you are finding it tricky to get into predicable sleep cycles and your little one is hard to get to sleep and stay asleep, we would love to help! 



How to improve your 6 week old’s sleep


The main focus during the newborn phase is to help your baby fill their sleep tank and lay the foundation for solid sleep skills. You can’t spoil a newborn! So helping them get the sleep they need now, not only benefits them now, but will make sleep learning at 4 months so much easier!


1. Prevent Overtiredness

The first thing you can do to improve your 6 week old’s sleep is to prevent overtiredness. This means getting your little one to sleep before they become overtired. The best way to do this is to keep wake windows short (60 ish minutes) and look for your baby’s sleepy cues to know exactly when your baby is ready for sleep. Sleepy cues are not to be confused with tired cues! 


Sleepy cues are often when your baby: 

  • starts staring off into the distance
  • has a calm and peaceful demeanor
  • gives a subtle yawn
  • has a reddish hue on their eyebrows and eyelids

These are the “first alert” signs that your baby is ready for sleep. If you wait too long they will start showing “tired cues” which means they are becoming overtired. 


Tired cues can be: 

  • fussing
  • rubbing their eyes
  • tugging on their ears
  • avoiding eye contact
  • arching their back/ becoming rigid
  • jerky flailing limbs



prevent overtiredness in 6 week old |The Peaceful Sleeper



2. Prevent Overstimulation


The second thing you can do is prevent overstimulation. This is especially true for the evening. If you are going to be out and about with your newborn in the evening, use a portable white noise machine and a well-ventilated car seat cover. 


3. Swaddle

Using a swaddle is a great tool for helping your baby go to sleep and stay asleep. Around 6 weeks I like to switch to a Velcro swaddle. Remember, you need to drop the swaddle completely once your baby shows signs of rolling. 



6 week old baby swaddled |the peaceful sleeper



4. Experiment with less intervention

You can also start experimenting to see if your baby can initiate sleep independently, or with a little amount of intervention. This can look like offering them a few minutes when they wake in the night to see if they will put themselves back to sleep, and/or putting them down for bed or naps drowsy but not fully asleep and see if just a little soothing will help them drift off to sleep. If they need more support though, that’s ok! It’s more important that we prevent overtiredness. 


Again, our goal during the newborn phase is to lay a foundation for healthy sleep habits. This means helping your 6 week old get the sleep they need. If they wake from a short nap, see if you can help them extend it. As I mentioned above, this not only helps them optimize their sleep now, but it will make sleep learning at 4 months much easier! 




Recap on a 6 week old sleep schedule for your newborn 


Even though we are not trying to get our 6 week old on a sleep “schedule”, there are still so many things we can do to optimize their sleep now, get into predictable sleep cycles, and lay the foundation for solid sleep skills later on. 


The best things you can do at 6 weeks are: 

  • Prevent overtiredness (by watching wake windows and sleepy cues) 
  • Prevent overstimulation 
  • Keep swaddling (until they show signs of rolling) 
  • Lightly experiment with scaling back on the support you give them to fall asleep


Most of all, remember that we are here to help! I have a robust and comprehensive Newborn Package, we can also hop on the phone for a free 10 minute call to build a custom concierge newborn support package with you, and best of all, I have a free newborn guide that has 7 simple and realistic tips for better newborn sleep!


Every baby can get better sleep – even your 6 week old! 


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