Is your baby struggling with the six-month sleep regression? Learn why the 6 month sleep regression occurs and tips for dealing with this sleep regression.
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 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 sleep setback and how you and your family can cope with the 6-month sleep regression and get back to longer stretches of sleep.
Is your baby struggling with short naps? To help you better, grab my free guide to solving short naps to get practical tips of how to get your baby to take longer naps every single day. Click here to grab it, it’ll be super helpful.
Why is My 6-Month-Old Not Sleeping Well Anymore?
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. Here are some signs of sleep regression:
Other 6-month sleep regression signs include:
- Waking up more times than usual during the night
- Increased upset and fussiness during the day
- Short naps
- Longer naps during the day to make up for less sleep at night
- Taking longer to fall asleep at bedtime
If your baby is experiencing a 6 month sleep regression, keep reading to see how you can help them get better sleep.
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 your 6 month old waking up multiple times in night all of a sudden?
You may even find that your 6 month old is screaming at night for no reason, even if they never used to do this.
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 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.
How Long Does 6-Month Sleep Regression Last?
If you and your little one breezed right through the 4-month 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.
But it is a good idea to see how long it might last and how you can cope.
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.
Stay as consistent as possible so all your hard work with sleep doesn’t go away by introducing new sleep habits.
Get Better Sleep with The Baby D.R.E.A.M. System
If you want someone to walk you through the process of sleep training, let me help. The Baby D.R.E.A.M. System is for babies 4 months through 2.5 years old. I’ll walk you through how to establish daily routines, sleep schedules, and sleep training techniques to help you break the sleep associations you no longer find beneficial! Check it out here.
Is It A 6-Month Growth Spurt or Sleep Regression?
Most sleep regressions are caused by your baby’s brain and body growing and your baby going through major cognitive and physical milestones.
The 6-month sleep regression goes hand-in-hand with your baby’s growth.
Not all babies will experience it though. Make sure to give your baby plenty of time during the day to practice their new skills like sitting up, crawling, rolling, and more.
Try to limit the amount of time that you have your baby in a car seat, stroller, or other container. If your baby gets plenty of practice with their new skills during the day, they are less likely to want to practice them during sleep times.
5 Tips for Dealing with the 6 Month Sleep Regression
While this sleep regression is typically brought on by major developmental changes in your baby, there are some things you can do to help.
Follow these 5 tips to help everyone get enough sleep during a 6-month sleep regression.
1. Follow an appropriate 6-Month old sleep schedule
You might notice during the 6-month sleep regression that your baby is all of a sudden not napping, taking shorter daytime naps, or taking a very long time to fall asleep. You may 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.
2. Triple check your baby’s sleep environment
Your baby is becoming so much more aware of their surroundings. These days they may be more motivated to play than to sleep.
Make sure their sleep space is conducive for sleep and not too stimulating.
Their crib should be flat and bare. No need for blankets, toys, or other soft objects in the crib.
Be sure to continue using a sound machine to block out any outside noises that may wake baby up from their sleep.
3. Give them plenty of practice during the day
Your baby is learning so many new tricks and they want to show them off!
Allow them to move freely during their wake windows so they can work on their new skills and get out their energy.
Try to be mindful of how long you have your baby in a container such as a carseat or stroller.
If they don’t get the chance to practice their new physical milestones during the day, they’ll likely do it at night when it’s time to sleep.
4. Stay Consistent
If you’ve worked hard up to this point on your baby falling asleep on their own, try not to throw in the towel at the first sign of a regression by introducing unsustainable sleep associations.
A consistent bedtime routine can go a long way in helping kick the regression to the curb.
Continue to put your baby down awake and allow them to put themself to sleep. You can use a sleep training technique if need be.
5. Use a Sleep Training Method
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.