Surviving The 6-Month Sleep Regression: Tips From The Experts
As a parent, you know that sleep is crucial for you and your little one. So, when your baby suddenly starts waking up more at night, it can be frustrating. But take heart. The 6-month sleep regression is a good sign!
It means that your baby is growing and developing normally. However, just because it's normal doesn't mean it's not exhausting.
To help you survive (and thrive!) during the 6-month sleep regression, here are some tips from our experts.
What Is The 6-Month Sleep Regression?
The 6-month sleep regression is a normal phase that most babies go through. To help you better understand what it is, let's look at each word in the phrase.
Babies are typically six months old when they go through this stage of development. But, of course, not every baby will hit it when they're precisely this age. Some will go through it a bit earlier and others later.
The latter part of the phrase, regression, means to return to a former state. It's taking a step backward instead of forward. So, a sleep regression is when your baby, who was once sleeping well, suddenly starts waking up more at night or taking shorter naps.
Note: If your baby hasn't yet started sleeping through the night, they may start having trouble settling down for naps. Either way, they're sleeping less, which means you are, too.
Why Does Your Baby Stop Sleeping During This Time?
At this age, your baby is busy learning new things. They're starting to sit up, roll over, and babble. They’re playing with toys and recognizing your voice. These milestones are exciting, but they can impact your baby's sleep.
For instance, your child may roll over at night and get into an uncomfortable position in their crib. Since they might not yet have the skills to roll back over, they'll fuss to let you know they need help.
It’s important to note that there are specific recommendations for when to stop placing your baby to sleep on their back and when it’s OK to leave them if they roll over. For more information on this, read our article here.
Your baby might also wake up and start babbling and then realize that they're lonely and want you. If this happens, they may cry to get your attention.
In addition, this age is when your child's napping schedule naturally begins to shift. For example, some babies start to transition from three naps to two when they’re about six months old.
Any one of these things could disrupt your child’s sleep. And, at this age, your baby is likely experiencing more than one.
Do Sleep Regressions Happen At Other Ages?
Sleep regressions are normal throughout your baby's first two years of life.
Typically, you'll notice major changes in your child's sleeping habits around the ages of:
- 2 months
- 4 months
- 6 months
- 8-9 months
- 12 months
- 24 months
Developmental changes, teething, and growth spurts are common culprits for these sleep regressions.
How Long Does A 6-Month Sleep Regression Usually Last?
Thankfully, the 6-month sleep regression is only temporary. Your child will eventually start sleeping well again.
This phase usually lasts between 2- and 6-weeks. However, some babies may only struggle with sleep for a few days, while others may have a difficult time for a couple of months.
8 Tips For Surviving The 6-Month Sleep Regression
If your baby is going through the 6-month sleep regression, here are some tips that can help you both get through it.
1) Sleep When Your Baby Sleeps
There's a reason this is one of the most frequent pieces of advice given to parents. You cannot take care of your child if you're running on empty. You need to sleep.
If you're exhausted, you're more likely to be short-tempered. And, let's be honest, no one wants to deal with a grumpy parent.
So, when your baby takes a nap, take one, too. Even if it's just for 20 minutes, those few minutes of sleep will help you feel refreshed and recharged. It really can make a huge difference.
2) Establish A Bedtime Routine
If you don't have a bedtime routine yet, now is the time to start one. And, if you do have one, stick to it the best that you can.
Having a calming, consistent bedtime routine signals to your baby that it's time to sleep. In addition, it can help their brain start to wind down so they're more likely to fall asleep quickly.
Your bedtime routine doesn't have to be complicated. It can be as simple as reading a book, singing a lullaby, hugging your baby, and kissing them goodnight. Just do the same thing every night — in the same order — so your baby knows what to expect.
3) Don’t Let Your Baby Get Overtired
If your baby is waking up in the middle of the night, you might be tempted to keep them up later in hopes that they sleep longer. While it may be a good idea in theory, this plan can backfire.
If your baby is overtired, it's harder for them to fall asleep and stay asleep. And the more tired they are, the grumpier they get.
Keep an eye on your child and watch for signs of sleepiness. These include:
- Rubbing their eyes
- Being fussy
When you begin to notice these things, it's time for your child to rest.
4) Know That You Didn’t Do Anything Wrong
If your baby suddenly stops sleeping, you might worry that you've done something wrong. But that's simply not the case.
It's not your fault that your baby isn't sleeping well. And no matter what well-meaning strangers may say, it's not a sign that your baby is spoiled or that you're a bad parent.
The 6-month sleep regression is normal. It's something that nearly every parent experiences. You and your baby will get through this difficult time. And, someday soon, you'll be sleeping through the night again.
5) Consider A Schedule Change
Sometimes, changing your baby's schedule can help improve their nighttime sleep. As we mentioned above, babies typically transition from three naps a day to two between 6 and 9 months.
These older babies typically take one nap in the morning and one in the afternoon. And it's not unusual for them to sleep a full two hours during each nap.
If your child isn’t ready to make the nap switch, you can try adjusting your child's bedtime. Try scooting it up a half an hour or so to see if that helps. You can also experiment with letting them stay up half an hour later.
Whatever you decide, consistency is key for your child's long-term sleep habits.
If you don't want to figure this sleep schedule thing out on your own, help is available. A Newton Baby Sleep Consultation can help you make practical adjustments to your child's schedule that can make a big difference.
6) Ensure Your Child’s Comfort While Sleeping
If your baby isn’t comfortable, chances are they won’t sleep well.
Now is a great time to ensure they're sleeping on the best mattress possible. A Newton Baby Mattress has a soft, quilted cover that babies love. And the breathable material helps keep your little one from overheating, too.
In addition, the crib sheet you use should fit snugly on your mattress. The cozy Newton Baby Organic Crib Sheets fit our mattresses perfectly. And since they’re so soft, they’ll help your baby sleep peacefully.
While you're reevaluating the comfort of your baby's nursery, continue to practice safe sleeping habits. For example, avoid pillows and blankets until your child is at least one. And know which swaddles, sleep sacks, and sleep positions are safe.
7) Address Teething Pain
When your child hurts, they can't sleep well. So, whenever they're having trouble sleeping, it's crucial to rule out pain.
At 6-months, many babies are cutting their first teeth. Take time to look in your child's mouth and see if that could be the cause of their sleep regression.
If you notice bumps on their gums, lots of drool, a tooth poking through, or other signs of teething, give them a frozen washcloth or teething ring to chew on. You can also rub their gums with your fingertip to help ease the pain.
If nothing seems to work, speak to your child's doctor about options for teething medicine.
8) Check-In With Your Child’s Pediatrician
The 6-month sleep regression usually only lasts a few weeks. But, in rare cases, your child might continue to struggle with sleep.
If nothing you’ve tried has helped your child get back to snoozing, it's time to ask for help. Bring it up at your baby's next well-child visit or make a special appointment with your child's doctor to discuss sleep.
There are underlying health issues that can impact their sleeping patterns, so it's always best to rule those out. And, even if there's nothing wrong, your child's doctor might have additional strategies you can try to get your baby back to a healthy sleep schedule.
Better Sleep Is Coming
The 6-month sleep regression isn't fun. When you're in the middle of it, you'll likely experience frustration and exhaustion.
But don't give up. This stage won't last forever, and better nights are coming!
You'll be putting your baby to bed on their cozy Newton Baby Mattress with a smile on your face in a few weeks. And that is a great feeling for both you and your little one!