Solving typical sleep problems at 1-6 months, part 4

Author Name: Heidi Holvoet, PhD

In this last part we examine how to help your 1-6 month old baby settle for sleep and avoid the common sleep disturbers. And you can browse Frequently Asked Questions for help in your specific situation.

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Difficulty settling

Cute baby sleeping on moms shoulder

Straight to the solutions

Unless your baby is a natural self soother, settling to sleep all alone is still tricky at this age. Real self soothing to sleep – and I mean the kind that lasts, not trained by crying it out – is a skill to be learned.
Just like with learning to walk and talk, learning to settle alone takes time.

And it will only really happen when baby is ready, both mentally and physically. For most babies, this time is somewhen during the second half year …

Between 1 and 6 months old, avoiding over-tiredness and nurturing positive sleep associations are more important than the self soothing itself.

That means that holding, rocking, singing, nursing or bottle feeding to sleep are no big sins ... as long as you do encourage independent sleep also.

So the fact that it is difficult does not mean you can't do anything right now. On the contrary, relaxed self soothing practice now will pay dividends soon!

What to do
  • First of all, don't feel guilty about holding, nursing or otherwise helping your baby to settle to sleep if that is necessary. Positive sleep associations and getting any sleep at all are more important now, because those are what will improve your child's long-term sleeping skills.
  • At the same time, it' i's important to give your baby the chance to practice self soothing. That means you regularly do put her down awake to sleep. Or put her down earlier than usual after having settled her. Use the right techniques to help you.
  • Explore the different self soothing techniques to find the one that suits you and your baby best: to wean from holding, or from nursing, from staying in your bed, …

Just one rule of thumb: when you notice that your baby gets frustrated (or you) and nothing seems to work, give yourselves a break. Then try again after a week or two, the difference for the better can be huge!

Typical sleep disturbers

Straight to the solutions

Your baby's sleep is still light and fragile most of the time. That means that any physical discomfort will easily keep her awake more than usual. If she's feeling unwell, it will be more difficult to settle. And once asleep, she'll lightly wake up if the discomfort plays up.

The most typical sleep disturbers you can expect between 1 and 6 months old are:

  • a cold or mild infection
  • early teething
  • reflux
  • colic
  • a stuck nerve or bone issue
  • sleep apnea and night terrors are rarer but not impossible
What to do

It' is's important to know the symptoms of the most common issues. Recognizing an illness or discomfort early on is crucial for proper treatment. That, and knowing how to relieve the discomfort is what you need to avoid the worst of sleep troubles.

Explore the section on sleep disturbers for sleep tips for baby colds, recognizing early teething signs, colic and reflux, osteopathy needs, dreams and night terrors.

Although luckily less likely, I do recommend you learn about sleep disorders in babies too. Again, spotting it early on will be critical in treating it well and avoiding more serious consequences.

Frequently Asked Questions

Each parent question is answered in person by myself. For your own personalized 1:1 advice, don't hesitate to contact me here.


Our 15 week old wakes up every hour now

My 4 month old has started waking up every hour

9 week old wakes up after half an hour

My two month old stays up all night

Why does my baby wake up every hour?

Trying to put 3.5 month old to bed without rocking her

Waking baby for the Baby Whisperer sleep method?

Day time sleep (3.5 months old)