Sleep regressions will be a part of your baby’s life for almost the first two years. Ugh! Fortunately, your baby may not experience all of them. My goal is to shed some light on what is going on with your baby during this time and to let you know that having a better understanding will make the transition easier for you. There are several different ages when sleep regressions seem to happen. I’m going to talk about the 6-month sleep regression in this post. First, we’ll discuss how you’ll know if it’s a sleep regression, why it happens, the duration, how to respond to it, and, finally, how to overcome it.
One of the telltale signs of a six-month sleep regression is when there is a sudden change in your baby’s sleep patterns. Your baby may have been napping and going to bed quickly. This has now changed, and your little one is waking up more than usual. There may be struggles at nap time with getting them to take a nap. They may resist and fight going down for a nap, whereas before, they would go down easily. They may have a tough time settling down at bedtime as well. Because they are fighting sleep, they may be getting overtired. Another sign is they are now waking early in the morning and cannot go back to sleep.
Understanding why your sweet little sleeper has turned a different direction may not keep the sleep regression from happening, but at least you will understand a little more about why it happens. When we understand why something is happening, we can look at the situation in a different way instead of blaming ourselves and thinking that we did something wrong. Brain and physical development play a huge part in why sleep regression commonly happens at six months of age. A few other factors could play a part in your baby’s temporary sleep pattern change. Six months of age is a very common growth spurt time, and they may have teeth coming in. Another thing to consider is if there has been any significant change in your baby’s world as they see it.
I can never get enough of watching a baby learn new things. The look of wonder on their face is priceless! Have you ever really watched the expressions they make when they are mastering a new skill? This is such a fun and busy time for them, and there is a lot of brain development going on, which can lead your baby into a 6-month sleep regression. Many babies this age are learning to sit on their own. Most babies will master this skill between 6 and 8 months of age. You may only think of this as a physical skill they’re working on. However, there is a lot of brain exercise going on as well. When they’re learning to sit up by themselves, they have to use their brains to figure out what position their legs and arms need to be in. They have to think about balancing every part of their body to sit up. If their head is too far forward, they may tumble over; if their legs aren’t spaced properly, they’re likely to wobble, and so on. Language development is big now, too. Although we don’t necessarily know what they’re babbling about, it’s a big part of their brain development.
As mentioned above, learning to sit at six months of age is a big deal for your little one. Babies love and need to practice whatever skill they’re working on. Some babies may be working on wriggling around at this age. You place them in a particular spot in their crib, and they spend time wriggling to the other side. Or they’re starting to figure out that when they are on their tummy and move their legs a certain way, they end up in a different spot. My favorite is when they use rolling as a mode of transportation. Mastering all of these skills involves a lot of practice time. They get so absorbed in learning their new skill that they practice them while awake and between sleep cycles when they briefly wake. The practice they do between sleep cycles interferes with their sleep habits and contributes to the 6-month sleep regression.
A baby has many growth spurts in their first year of life. One of the noted times is at about six months of age. A growth spurt can affect a baby’s sleep since they may be getting up more at night to feed. One way to tell if your baby is going through a growth spurt is to determine if they are eating more frequently during the day, as well as at night time. If they are truly having a growth spurt, they’ll need more feedings during the day and night, not just at night. Some babies will eat less in the daytime due to practicing their new skills. Growth spurts usually last 2-3 days. Be sure to offer your baby more frequent feedings during the daytime. Hopefully, this will help cut down on nighttime wakings.
Teething can definitely add to the list of causes of 6-month sleep regression. Somewhere around six months of age, you may see some signs that your baby is getting its first tooth. Drooling can begin two months before you see any sign of a white dot poking through. Other signs that you may soon see in one of the bottom center teeth (lower central incisors) are crankiness, chewing on hard objects or fists, and swollen gums.
Has your baby just started attending daycare or advanced to the next age group? Did you just get back from a vacation? Have there been a lot of visitors to your home recently? If any of these situations apply to your little one, they may be having sleep challenges due to the changes in their schedule. Your baby may need a little adjustment time. These kinds of changes in your baby’s life and routine can add to the many reasons that lead to the 6-month regression. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have these changes occur, but try to be patient while your little one adjusts.
When you first notice that your baby’s sleep habits are running off the track, ensure your baby isn’t sick or in pain. Call your pediatrician if you think they’re not feeling well. If they are sick, they will need extra snuggles, for sure. If your little one is not sick, try to keep things happy but calm and continue with the normal bedtime and routine. Sticking to the normal bedtime and routine will help signal your little one that it is time to wind down.
Below is a list of things to keep in mind as you’re figuring out how to handle the six-month sleep regression:
In conclusion, I’d like to remind you that sleep regressions are a normal part of your baby’s development. The better sleeper they are going into the regression, the easier it will be to get through. If you’d like some help getting through the six-month sleep regression, please reach out to me.
Feel free to read my other related posts!
December 4, 2023
Trust me: you don’t want your baby to hit this point. If you notice any of these seven signs, it’s time to put your baby to sleep — NOW!
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