Is your baby struggling with the six-month sleep regression? Learn why the 6 month sleep regression occurs and how to get your baby sleeping again!
At your baby’s half birthday, they are learning so many new milestones that are so fun to witness!
Six month olds are busy learning new things—rolling from front-to-back and back-to-front, crawling or scooting all over the place, babbling like it’s nobody’s business, and soon they’ll start sitting up on their own without toppling over!
It’s all so much fun to watch as a new parent and also so much for their little brain and body to be taking in at once.
Thanks to all these newly acquired skills, some babies can experience a sleep regression around six months.
Whether it’s rolling, teething, or other developmental milestones, your growing baby has plenty of good reasons to slip into the 6-month sleep regression. Then again, some babies (and parents) never experience this common sleep regression. Lucky you!
Let’s talk about this common sleep setback and how you and your family can cope with the 6-month sleep regression and get back to longer stretches of nighttime sleep!
The Baby D.R.E.A.M. System walks you through the process of sleep training and how to stop baby from comfort nursing all night long as well as how to stop nursing to sleep for naps so your whole family can get better sleep. Check it out here.
How Long Does 6-Month Sleep Regression Last?
If you and your little one breezed right through the potential four month sleep regression without any sort of sleep disruption, the 6-month mark might be your first foray into a sleep regression. There’s no need to lose (more) sleep worrying over this—you can and will get through it!
Like most other sleep regressions, you can expect the 6-month sleep regression to last between 2-6 weeks.
Sleep regressions are easier to navigate if you’ve already started sustainable and consistent sleep practices with your baby. For example, following age appropriate baby wake windows and practicing independent sleep habits prior to the onset of a regression can make bouncing back from the sleep setback quicker and easier.
That being said, if you notice an abrupt disruption to your baby’s sleep even when you’ve been steadily following a consistent schedule, you’ve probably got a regression on your hands.
Although they aren’t fun, sleep regressions are a natural part of your baby’s development!
Why is My 6-Month-Old Suddenly Not Sleeping?
Those of you who recently made it through the 4-month sleep regression are probably wondering: is there really a 6-month sleep regression, too? So soon? The short answer is yes, there can be.
Maybe you didn’t notice a sleep regression around 4 months of age, but instead encountered more of a 5-month sleep regression. Every baby’s development is different. But just because your baby’s sleep regressed between 4-5 months doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to encounter or avoid the 6-month sleep regression.
As with most other regressions, the 6-month sleep regression is largely due to your baby’s natural physical and cognitive growth.
Some developmental causes of the 6-month sleep regression may include:
- Rolling from back-to-front, front-to-back, or both
- Learning to scoot around on their bellies during tummy time (or even crawling!)
- A desire to communicate by putting sounds together
- Growing new teeth (See how to help your teething baby sleep if that’s the culprit!)
- The beginnings of separation anxiety
If you notice your 6-month old is fighting bedtime or isn’t sleeping long stretches like they used to, some of these developments might be to blame.
Other signs of the 6-month sleep regression include waking up more times than usual during the night, increased upset and fussiness during the day, short naps, and even longer naps during the day to make up for less sleep at night.
Why is My 6-Month-Old Waking at Night?
At 6 months old, your baby is physically capable of getting through the night without a feeding. They have also transitioned from the newborn sleep cycle to a sleeping rhythm closer to that of an adult.
So why is everyone experiencing a sudden night waking?
One of the main reasons is because all of your baby’s new skills and developmental changes are so stimulating.
You know that feeling of not being able to sleep because you’re looking forward to something? The 6-month sleep regression is a lot like that for your baby. They’re likely to want to spend every waking moment exploring all the exciting new developments in life.
Speaking of waking moments, your baby is beginning to have a lot more of those! Your 6-month-old will be spending more of the night in non-REM sleep stages. This means they’re sleeping lighter and waking more frequently throughout the night.
Instead of quickly slipping back into the next sleep cycle, your baby could be tempted to stay awake to explore some of their newly developed skills.
To help your little one get back to sleep more easily at night, you’ll want to make sure their daytime schedule allows for enough active and awake time. You can also guide them through this sleep regression by helping them learn strong independent sleep skills.
One of the best ways to nip the sleep regression in the bud is to give your baby tons of time to practice all his new motor skills throughout the day.
6-Month Sleep Schedule & Wake Windows
You might notice during the 6-month sleep regression that your baby is all of the sudden not napping, taking shorter naps, or taking a very long time to fall asleep for naps. You could also find that your baby is waking up too early to start their day.
All of these can be signs that you need to adjust your baby’s wake windows during the day.
Between 5-7 months, your baby will be ready to transition their age appropriate wake windows from 2 hours to 2.5 or even 3 hours.
If you haven’t moved into a schedule with longer awake time for your 6 month old, now might be a good time to slowly start that transition.
A 6 month old wake window can be between 2.25 and 2.75 hours.
A wake window for a 7-month old is typically between 2.5 to 3 hours.
Longer wake windows mean more time for your baby to try out the new things they can do and enjoy solid foods! It also means more time to wear out their bodies and minds, which will lead to an easier time falling asleep.
Sleep Training Your 6-Month-Old
Is your baby still not sleeping through the night? Well you are not alone, momma!
What if I told you that your baby is capable of sleeping through the night at the six-month mark? They just might need some extra help, and that’s where sleep training comes in.
Six months is a great age to begin exploring sleep training methods. Your 6-month old can fill up their belly enough to last from dinner to breakfast, eliminating night feedings from the equation.
The only thing that’s left standing in the way between you and that beautiful 10 to 12 hours of sleep is your baby’s ability to self-soothe.
The goal of sleep training is to help your baby learn independent sleep associations so they have the skills to soothe themselves in the middle of the night when they wake briefly between sleep cycles.
While many people hear about sleep training and think of “cry-it-out.” Sleep training is a holistic approach that includes optimizing your baby’s sleep environment, using a consistent sleep schedule, and teaching your baby how to put himself to sleep so he has the skills to do it in the middle of the night as well!
A sleep regression can be as exhausting for the parents as it is for baby. I know it’s tempting to give in to sleep habits like rocking or nursing to sleep just to get by. While those things might work in the moment, they’re not easily sustainable sleep practices.
The best thing you can do for your baby (and yourself!) during a sleep regression is to stick to your bedtime routine, a sleep schedule, and continue to foster your baby’s independent sleep skills. Like so many developmental challenges in your baby’s life, the 6-month sleep regression will pass.