Babies go through a series of development phases that may influence their sleep behaviour.
Developmental leap around 6 weeks
Around 6 weeks your little one makes a huge developmental leap, also known as the ‘6-week peak of fussiness’. Your little darling becomes increasingly conscious of its environment, with a sharpening vision at some 20-30 cm distance. Baby starts to keep its parents in its line of sight to make contact and the first genuine smiles start to appear. You can never get enough of those! Still, these new skills are ushered in by a period of unrest and as a result your baby is unsettled, doesn’t get enough sleep and cries a lot.
This is generally the period when your maternity leave comes to an end and the day schedule of your baby changes. These changes often translate into restless behaviour. Baby also becomes much more conscious of its environment and picks up a lot more stimuli. During this period many babies also start teething, which often causes discomfort.
It is also during this period that babies start to roll over onto their tummy. It is very important not to wait too long to wean your baby off swaddling so it can continue to sleep comfortably and, above all, safely.
The entire sleeping and feeding schedule changes: more solid foods and fewer feeding moments. This also has an impact on baby’s sleep routine. For instance, things may be going too fast for your baby, causing it to wake up hungry at night.
Stranger anxiety is a very recognisable developmental leap. Your baby is able to tell its parents from strangers, resulting in separation anxiety. Your little one now has to learn that you will not disappear from its world, even if you are momentarily absent. Baby wants to make sure that you are close by. Even at night.
Baby’s motor skills are sharpening. It takes its first (assisted) steps and experiences a lot of new things. Indirectly this will influence its sleep pattern because new experiences are processed during sleep.
Your little one now starts to develop a mind of its own! This is most clear when it comes to its sleep routine. Your baby will use all of its strategic skills and considerable charm to put off the inevitable and stay with you.
At nearly two, ‘no’ becomes your toddler’s favourite word as its vocabulary continues to grow. Baby’s language comprehension is progressing with leaps and bounds so your child knows exactly what you’re talking about. Of course, whether that coincides with what it wants is an entirely different matter! This can lead to the occasional clash of wills between you two and that’s an exciting experience for your baby.