It is never fun when your previously good sleep starts to regress. You can wonder whether they have lost their sleep skills. Sometimes, though, all it is is a slight regression, a bump in the road for a short period of time before they go back to being the same great sleeper they always were. The 6-month sleep regression is one that not all babies experience, and is probably not as common as the 4-month sleep regression, but can be all too real for many parents. Sleep regressions tend to be easier to navigate when a baby has healthy sleep habits and independent sleep skills.
6 month sleep regression
Signs of a sleep regression:
- More frequent night wakings
- Early morning wake ups
- Being clingy and fussy during the day time.
- Short naps or completely missed naps.
The 6 month old sleep regression happens due to many developmental milestones happening including rolling, the beginning stages of learning to crawl, babbling, teething, starting solid foods, a growth spurt and the start of separation anxiety. All of this is a perfect storm for sleep issues!
A true regression shouldn’t last more than a week or two. If your baby is struggling more than this, it is likely something else is at play and it can be helpful to consult with your baby’s pediatrician and your favorite sleep consultant. It may be that there is an issue like an ear infection or other illness at play, or that your baby has a sleep association and needs some sleep training to learn or relearn independent sleep skills.
6 month sleep regression
So what can you do?
- Give your baby plenty of time during awake time to practice any new skills they are working on. Lots of play time gives this opportunity along with tiring them out for sleep. It also lessens the likelihood of them wanting to practice their new skills when they should be sleeping.
- Check your baby’s sleep environment. Is it dark enough, with outside noise muffled by a white noise machine? Being able to see and hear the exciting things around them can make it more likely for a baby to not fall asleep.
- Make sure you’re putting your baby down to nap at appropriate times in line with their circadian rhythm so that you can ride their sleep wave. This enhances your chances of them falling asleep each nap time and staying asleep for a nice long nap. The six-month mark is a perfect time for a consistent sleep schedule each day, instead of following wake windows. Most baby’s this age still take a third nap, unless they are doing super long morning and midday naps. If you make this nap transition too early this can contribute to a sleep regression.
- Keep a consistent nap and bedtime routine to cue your baby into sleep time. Studies have shown that bedtime routines can actually reduce middle of the night wakings.
- Many 6 month olds either only need one feed overnight or none at all. If your baby is doing more nighttime feedings than that you may want to look at reducing them to encourage longer stretches of sleep.
- Early bedtimes are your friend. This helps make up for missed sleep during the day and also prevents overtiredness from causing a vicious nap strike cycle. It also helps if there has been lots of overnight waking.
New motor skills and leaps in brain development can cause a sleep disruption, leaving the whole family exhausted. Knowing that it should only last a short period of time makes it easier knowing that there is an end. The good news is, following the tips above you can make sure that your baby gets as much sleep as possible until they return to their normal sleep patterns post regression.
And please remember, if this regression seems to continue for too long, it might be a good idea to reach out. We can work together to improve nighttime sleep and get them taking solid naps again.