The Wonder Weeks and Sleep

The Wonder Weeks and Sleep. The impact the wonder weeks have on baby’s sleep. Sleep regressions to expect and how to quickly get baby sleeping well after a mental leap.

The Wonder Weeks and Sleep. The impact the wonder weeks have on baby's sleep. Sleep regressions to expect and how to quickly get baby sleeping well after a mental leap.

Babies need sleep. Sleep helps baby develop physically, mentally, and emotionally. Despite the need for sleep, there are many times babies have sleep regressions. These are often tied to The Wonder Weeks, including leap 4, perhaps the most infamous of all the wonder weeks.

Read Everything You Need to Know About Wonder Week 19

Ages to Expect The Wonder Weeks

When your baby goes through a wonder week mental leap, there is an excellent chance there will be some disrupted sleep in conjunction with the leap.

There are seven different leaps in the first year alone! The Wonder Weeks book outlines the exact ages to expect the leaps.

Once baby leaves babyhood and enters toddlerhood, you will even see three more leaps.

That is a lot of potential sleep regressions during the course of baby’s first year and a half of life.

Not every leap will have sleep issues in association with the leap. The impact of each leap on sleep can also vary from baby to baby. Do not look at these numbers and despair.

As you look through leaps in The Wonder Weeks book, you will notice certain leaps coincide with well-known sleep regressions.

Read Sleep Disruptions You Will Face as a Babywise Mom (and How to Deal with them)

Read up on 7 Milestones During the First Year

How Baby’s Sleep is Impacted by The Wonder Weeks

During a wonder week, your baby’s brain is developing at a rapid pace. There is always some new skill a baby is mastering during a wonder week. Because of this, REM sleep is longer during a wonder week. During REM sleep, new brain connections are formed (The Wonder Weeks, page 454). During REM sleep, babies (and any aged human) wake up easier.

During Leap 1 and perhaps Leap 2, you might not notice much of a sleep disturbance. This is because babies that young usually wake up so often that you can’t tell if there is a sleep “disturbance.”

>>>Read: Reasons Your 3 Month Old Won’t Eat (and how to help)

The leaps that seem to impact sleep the most are Leap 4 (four months old), Leap 6 (eight months old), and Leap 10 (seventeen moths old).

Baby will tend to take shorter naps and perhaps even wake up in the night. Your baby might have a harder time falling asleep than usual. Your baby might have nightmares during these leaps.

Having healthy sleep habits set up before these leaps come along can greatly help your baby get through the leap with as little sleep problems as possible.

  • Have a sleep routine. This helps signal to baby’s body it is time for sleep. Read Sample Nap Routines
  • Have a good sleep environment. A quiet room with a sound machine can help baby sleep more deeply and make it through that REM sleep and transitions. Read What is a Sleep Transition and How Does it Impact Naps
  • Avoid sleep props. Sleep props often lead to baby waking up at transitions unless the prop is still present. Read When Sleep Props are Okay and When To Avoid Them
  • Use some sleep props during leaps. This is contradictory to my previous point. Avoid the sleep props before the leap, but during a leap, if you need a prop to help baby get better sleep, do it! A swing, rocking baby back to sleep, a pacifier…baby’s brain needs sleep to develop through the leap. Short naps do not help that process.

Also, do not try to change up baby’s schedule during a wonder week. You may change things to the point that baby can’t sleep well when the leap is over. You can read more for help handling these wonder weeks as a Babywise mom.

>>>Read: Sleep Regression: Causes, Ages, and What to Do

The Wonder Weeks and Sleep. The impact the wonder weeks have on baby's sleep. Sleep regressions to expect and how to quickly get baby sleeping well after a mental leap.

The Stress of Wonder Weeks

The Wonder Weeks can be quite stressful. It can feel doom and gloom, especially when it looks like baby will always have disrupted sleep. Why bother? Remember that not every mental leap will have horrid naps. There are things you can do to help with the sleep if baby’s naps are bad. Sometimes a wonder week is simply just a grey period. You can follow the Wonder Weeks without completely stressing out about them. Ignorance can be bliss. I didn’t know about The Wonder Weeks book with my first two babies, so I just had times my baby was fussy and worked through it. It can be nice to know the reason, but it can also cast a shadow over your days as you look forward and realize things will get rough. So pay as much attention as you can without making yourself miserable.

I find it can be helpful to know there is a reason for the poor sleep, so overall, I like knowing when the Wonder Weeks are. If poor sleep is caused by a Wonder Week mental leap, it does not help anything to try to change up the schedule. Learn more at The Wonder Weeks: What You Need to Know About Them

Get your copy of The Wonder Weeks here.

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8 thoughts on “The Wonder Weeks and Sleep”

  1. This post has given me such comfort and relief!! The past 3 days my 12 week old has been EXTREMELY fussy, not sleeping well and completely stressing me out! I’ve just been going through my daily notes, and opening all your posts that seem relevant, to see what I’ve been doing wrong, but now I know that she is probably going through a wonder week and this will all end soon. I really love Babywise and am trying hard to stick to it, though these past few days I felt like throwing in the towel! Your post was very encouraging to me, thank you!

  2. I think my 12 week old is going through leap 3 right now. She is awake when I get her up from her nap (yet quiet, so I don’t know how long she was lying awake for) and fusses as I try to feed her, as if she doesn’t want to eat. I do some other waketime activities with her and then try to feed her again, which she still fusses about. I have to hold and rock her until she calms down and then she eats. By this time her waketime is almost over and she falls asleep eating. Is this ok? Am I unintentionally creating bad habits?

    • This is pretty common for this leap. It is necessary that she eats, so if you take the whole waketime getting her to eat, that is fine. I would try to keep her awake and at least be putting her to sleep awake. If you feed and then do a diaper change, that should wake her up for nap routine.

  3. How do you go about the schedule if your baby has been up crying for 4+ hours straight or even a “here and there” crying for that duration, throughout the night?
    I feel like she should have a longer morning naptime, but how long is too long? I don’t want to mess up her schedule.

    • During a wonder week, just do your best to maintain some semblance of an eat/wake/sleep routine. The age of your baby will really change a lot of how the question is answered, as will the baby’s past. A 9 month old who can sleep independently and always has will have a different strategy needed than a 9 month old who has always been rocked to sleep. Nap length varies depending on age and also time of day. But a normal daytime nap will range from 1.5-2.5 hours ideally. Evening naps can be as short as 30-60 minutes.


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