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6 Month Sleep Regression

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Cara Dumaplin

RN, BSN, Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant

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6 month old in crib not sleeping during 6 month sleep regression

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Is your 6 month old struggling with sleep? You’re not alone. Many families notice changes in their little one’s sleep around six months. Let’s talk about whether you’re seeing a 6 month sleep regression and how to help your baby if sleep is rough. 

What is a sleep regression?anchor

A sleep regression is a change where your baby’s sleep becomes more disrupted. Sleep regressions are often associated with developmental progression. When babies experience growth (physical, mental, emotional), sleep can be impacted. Their brains and bodies are working hard! 

Is there a 6 month sleep regression?anchor

It’s possible! Babies can experience a sleep regression at any age depending on their individual development, and families might see some new sleep challenges around six months. Maybe your 6 month old is waking up at night, taking short naps, or having early morning wakings. If you’re seeing changes in sleep around 6 months, your baby may be experiencing a 6 month sleep regression.  

What can cause a sleep regression at 6 months old? anchor

Sleep regressions can happen at any age and are often tied to developmental progress. The most common ages to see sleep regressions are at 4 months, 8-10 months, 12 months, 18 months, and 2 years. At six months, we can see changes in sleep tied to developmental strides and changing sleep needs. Here are some reasons you may see a sleep regression around 6 months:

Developmental progression: Perhaps your six month old is rolling all over the place or starting to sit up using their own arms for support. You may be hearing some new sounds, like those sweet baby giggles or babbling. As your baby is learning these new skills, sleep may be disrupted. 

Separation anxiety: While I usually see a major peak in separation anxiety around 8 to 10 months, it can begin developing around six months for some babies. You might notice your six month old is clingier than usual and may show stranger anxiety. Sleep can look different when a baby is experiencing separation anxiety.

Changes in sleep needs: As babies get older, wake windows need to increase. If your baby is on the lower end of the age-appropriate wake window range, slowly add a few minutes to each wake window. Be sure to give your baby a few days to adjust to each shift then reassess; gradual change will prevent overtiredness. For some 6 month olds, it may even be time to move from 3 naps to 2

Feedings: I do tend to see an increase in distracted feedings around six months. This can impact the calories your baby consumes during the day and cause night wakings due to hunger. If you’ve also recently introduced solids, let’s consider if starting solids is causing some of your sleep problems.

Teething: During these next few months, your six month old may have some new teeth popping up. Teething can be a temporary culprit of sleep disruptions, but having a strong sleep foundation can make a big difference.

What are some signs of a 6 month sleep regression?anchor

Here are a few signs of a 6 month sleep regression: 

  • Your baby’s sleep feels “off,” and you’re not sure why. 

How do I know if it’s the 6 month sleep regression or teething? anchor

The only SURE sign of teething is seeing a tooth. Sometimes you may notice swollen gums with a little white nub prior to the tooth popping through the gums. This is typically when your little one would experience pain from teething. Teething discomfort usually occurs in the 24-72 hours before a tooth erupts through the gums. 

Whether your baby is going through a sleep regression or teething, being consistent is so helpful for keeping sleep on track. Please hear me, we always want to meet any physical need your baby has, so soothe your baby if they're in pain. Providing comfort for a night or two won’t derail a solid sleep foundation. Once that little tooth pops through, go right back to your approach to sleep. Introducing new habits during a sleep regression or teething can take a little bump in the road and turn it into an ongoing struggle.

If your baby is struggling with sleep for more than a few days and you need a plan to get back on track (or get on track), I can help. My 5–24 Month Collection will give you the tools you need to achieve solid nights, establish great naps, and handle all the bumps along the way (including regressions and teething).

Important Note: Please know, intense crying is NOT teething. If you’re seeing sudden changes in your baby’s sleep with periods of intense crying, let’s check for signs of an illness or other physical discomfort. 

How long does the 6 month sleep regression last?anchor

I want to reassure you: the 6 month sleep regression is temporary! This regression typically lasts about a week. The way to help your baby through a sleep regression is to remain consistent with your approach or follow a plan to establish healthy sleep habits. If we introduce new habits or make changes to our healthy routines, we can see a sleep regression turn into a long-term struggle. Check out my best tips to help this sleep regression pass quickly.  

What can I do if my 6 month old won’t sleep? How do we get through the 6 month sleep regression?anchor

Here are my best tips for a 6 month old who just won’t sleep: 

1. Practice new skills during awake time.anchor

Give your baby lots of floor time to practice rolling, sitting up, and just observing the world around them. The more you practice during the day, the less exciting those skills seem when your baby needs to sleep.⁣ 

2. Pay attention to bedtime.anchor

For most 6 month olds, a bedtime in the sweet spot between 7:00 and 8:00 pm can make falling asleep and staying asleep easier for your baby. A consistent bedtime routine can also help prepare your baby’s active body for sleep to set your night up for success. ⁣

3. Prioritize restful daytime sleep.anchor

Both daytime and night sleep are vital for the major development your baby’s brain and body are experiencing around this age. If you need guidance for creating a consistent (yet flexible) daily routine, check out these sample schedules for 6 month olds.

Expert Tip: Start watching for signs it’s time to drop a nap, but don’t rush. Waiting until your baby has been consistently showing these signs for a week or two can make the transition from 3 naps to 2 much smoother.

4. Begin to expand wake windows.anchor

Getting good awake time during the day is key for good naps and night sleep. Your goal wake windows at 6 months are 2-3 hours. BUT as your baby nears the 3 to 2 nap transition, a little more awake time and potentially more activity during that awake time may be needed. 

5. Maintain adequate feedings during the day.anchor

Continue offering feedings every 2.5-3.5 hours during the day according to your baby’s hunger cues. Remember, during feedings, a non-stimulating environment will be best to ensure adequate caloric intake without getting distracted. This leads to more consolidated sleep!⁣

6. Stay consistent.anchor

Being consistent, especially with routines and healthy sleep habits, is key to getting through any regression. Avoid starting new habits that you don’t want to maintain.⁣ This regression can make sleep tricky for several days, but staying consistent with your approach will help.

7. Have a plan.anchor

If your nights and naps are rough beyond just a few days, I have a class for you! The 5-24 Month Collection will give you a step-by-step, emotionally-connected plan to restful nights and solid naps even when you experience regressions.

Are you ready to have a great little sleeper?

If you're overwhelmed, exhausted, or just not sure where to start. I was there too. Let me show you everything you need to confidently handle sleep so your whole family can thrive!

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