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Baby Sleep Problems Related to Milestones

by Shailynn Krow, studioD

During your baby’s first year, she goes through numerous changes. From teething to sitting up to walking, each developmental milestone has the potential to impact her sleep in some way. Each time your baby progresses, you might notice her sleep and daytime nap routine gets interrupted. Luckily, these milestone-related sleep hiccups only last a short while.

Baby Sleep Facts

Your baby’s sleep cycle is not like your own. Before 4 months, your baby sleeps on and off throughout the day and night. According to the University of Michigan Health System, she should be able to sleep a six- to eight-hour stretch by 4 months and 10 to 12 hours by 6 months. But that doesn’t mean she won’t wake up for a feeding or a little reassurance. In fact, your baby might wake at least once a night until she reaches 9 months -- and some may have night wakings even longer than that.

Separation Anxiety

Your baby eventually becomes aware of her surroundings. By the time she reaches 6 to 7 months, she may start to show signs of separation anxiety. This occurs when she notices you have left the room. She will likely be upset, act needier and have difficulty falling asleep when you’re not there. Help her overcome this anxiety by letting her know when you’re leaving, spending extra time with her during the day and establishing a healthy bedtime routine that lets her know bedtime is approaching.


Teething, the time when teeth are cutting through the gums, is painful for your baby and can certainly can disrupt her sleep. Try helping her fall asleep during teething by comforting her and holding her until she nods off, or ask her pediatrician about using pain relievers such as children’s acetaminophen. Hold off on sleep training during this period, and keep in mind that it only lasts a short while.

Motor Skills

Your baby picks up new motor skills at a rapid pace. When she learns to sit or stand, she just might practice it throughout the night. Learning how to roll can also interfere with her sleep, especially when she rolls and finds herself stuck in an unfavorable position. During the day, let her practice her new skills and refine them with more tummy time and playtime on the floor. Once she masters her new skills, they are less likely to impact her sleep.

Growth Spurts

If you have eliminated other possibilities and your little one is still waking, a growth spurt might be to blame. Growth spurts can happen any time but are especially common around 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months and 9 months, according to parenting website What to Expect. A growing baby will want to eat more frequently and can be crankier than normal. Growth spurts typically last just a few days and your baby’s sleep should return to normal quickly. Though you might be tempted, don’t give your baby solids before she’s ready. Starting solids prematurely will not help her sleep longer and can upset her stomach, making her sleep even less, according to the UM Health System. Consult your baby’s pediatrician to make sure she is physically ready to start solids.

About the Author

Shailynn Krow began writing professionally in 2002. She has contributed articles on food, weddings, travel, human resources/management and parenting to numerous online and offline publications. Krow holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and an Associate of Science in pastry arts from the International Culinary Institute of America.

Photo Credits

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