After having a baby you’ll hear the word “regression” a lot. We all want to explain and solve any potential sleep problems. If your baby had been sleeping well and suddenly is waking up at night or demanding a feed we use the word “regression” to describe this (hopefully) temporary setback. A 6 months old your baby’s world and skills are exploding so it’s entirely possible that sleep may take a hit. As a postpartum parent educator and infant/toddler sleep coach I get asked about regressions all of the time. Let’s talk about what the 6 month sleep regression is and what you can do about it.
Is There a Sleep Regression at 6 Months?
It is more common to see disruptions in sleep around 4 months, 8 months and 12 months but sometimes a 6 months old will say hey, remember me? At 2 am. Hopefully they have a solid and predictable bedtime routine and went to bed great but are now up and fussing in the middle of the night for no reason. If this happens more than 3 days in a row you can assume your baby is experiencing the 6 month regression.
During the first year of life your baby is growing at an incredible rate, their fine and gross motor skills are on the fast track and while this means they need a lot of sleep sometimes their brain’s and bodies don’t communicate very well. While their brain is saying we really need some rest, their body is saying let’s practice sitting up! When you hear your little one making some noise in the night give them a few minutes before rushing over to them. It’s normal to have some stirrings or wakings in the night and you want to give them some time to get back to sleep on their own.
What Are Signs of the 6 Month Sleep Regression?
There are a few reasons that your little one may be inexplicably waking up more frequently, here are some you may be seeing.
- Learning to roll, scoot or sit
Lots of energy goes into learning a new skill and when your baby is trying to master something new practice, practice, practice is going to be your mantra. The more time you spend practicing your baby’s new skill during the day the less it will interfere with sleep at night.
- Separation Anxiety
You may notice your little one is a little less likely to spend time with people other than mom or dad. They get clingy and shy of strangers or cry when you leave the room. This is a normal part of their cognitive development but can cause some upset during bedtime and naptime. Keep things as normal as possible and spend lots of cuddle time during the day.
- Adjustment in sleep needs
You may have had your baby on a 3 nap schedule with a 2/2.5 hour wake window up until this point. 6 months is a great age to work on a set schedule rather than watching those pesky wake windows all of the time. At 6 months old your baby will be ready to push toward a 3 hour wake window and 2 nap schedule. This can look like:
Wake up at 7 am
Nap 10 am
Bedtime 6:30/7 pm
It can take time to work up to this schedule so be patient with your baby and yourself. Sleep adjustments can feel messy and frusterating. Do your best to stay calm and consistent.
All parents worry about teething. Teeth are such a weird part of parenting. Growing them in is disruptive, losing them costs money, and then we spend the rest of our lives cleaning them and straightening them. But it’s something we all have to deal with. Most babies start teething around 6 months but as with all growth and development every child is different. There are lots of home remedies for teething including frozen washcloths, teething beads, gels and tablets. Talk to your doctor about the safest option for you little one. Your baby will teethe off and on through their toddler years. Give them grace and comfort but keep in mind that sleep will be the best thing for them so try to keep things normal and consistent.
What Can I Do if My Baby Won’t Sleep?
Rest assured (pun intended) that the 6 month sleep regression can be short lived. Do your best to stay on track with a bedtime routine, plenty of day sleep, lots of consistent full feeds and a calm energy and you’ll all get through this just fine.
While things are feeling chaotic stick close to home and make sure your baby has plenty of opportunities to nap in their own bed.
Avoid introducing new foods at dinner to avoid any potential tummy aches before bedtime.
Don’t be afraid of an early bedtime. If naps have been hard that day a 6:30 bedtime is absolutely ok.