The term 6-month-old sleep regression indicates a change in the sleeping pattern of babies of that age. However, this is nothing to worry about and a reason to celebrate since it is a milestone.
It is natural for babies to change their sleeping schedules at six months. As a result, the sleeping pattern established during the first few months of their life gets disrupted. This disruption may result in daytime fussiness, disturbed sleep at night, shorter naps than usual, and refusal to nap.
Read on to know more about sleep regression at this age, its reasons, and a few management tips.
How Long Does Six-Month Sleep Regression Last?
The six-month sleep regression may last from two to six weeks, similar to sleep regressions at other stages of a baby’s life (1). However, each baby is different, and the duration of sleep regression could vary, and it may even last for a few days in some babies. The signs and symptoms of sleep regression do not usually last for long if you know to manage your baby’s sleep (2).
What Causes Sleep Regression In A Six-Month Old?
There is no precise cause for sleep regression. Baby’s natural developmental milestones and growth spurts could affect their sleep patterns (3) (4). The following developmental milestones may affect a six-month-old’s sleep, leading to sleep regression.
- Rolling over: Most babies roll over in both directions (front to back, back to front) starting at the age of six months (5). In some cases, your baby may roll over while in the crib, thus disturbing their sleep.
- Babbling: Your baby will enjoy making one-syllable sounds, such as “oh” and “ah,” repeatedly. The new ability to babble and coo may cause the baby to experiment with these sounds during their sleep time (6).
- Sitting: Most babies can sit without support by the age of six months. The little one may experiment with sitting in their crib, causing disturbed sleep cycle.
- Separation anxiety: Social developments, such as separation anxiety, might also disrupt a baby’s sleep. These milestones are a normal part of a baby’s development and may sometimes affect their sleep at night (7).
- Teething: Baby teeth may begin to emerge from the age of six months. The pain and discomfort caused by teething could affect a baby’s sleep habits (8).
What Are The Signs Of Six-Month Sleep Regression?
Your baby may show the following signs of a sleep regression (2).
- Awakening frequently at night and taking longer to go back to sleep
- Facing difficulty to sleep immediately
- Napping more in the day and less at night
- Crying or agitation while waking up in the middle of the night
Keep in mind that six-month-old babies need at least 14 hours of sleep in 24 hours, including the daytime naps (9).
How To Deal With Six-Month Sleep Regression?
It is normal to worry when your baby stops sleeping on their regular schedule. Remember, it is temporary, and there are some ways to manage it. You may try the following ways to cope with your six-month-old’s sleep regression (2) (10).
- Stick to a sleep schedule: Follow a regular bedtime routine, including naps. If you cannot manage a routine, making a plan with a standard time for sleep and naps could create stability in your baby’s sleep pattern.
- Build positive sleep associations: Establish the same series of steps every night to prepare your baby for sleep. Some comforting rituals include a bedtime story, cuddling, rocking, swaddling, and listening to music. These activities would set the baby at ease and help them wind down for sleep.
- Look for sleep cues: Your baby may show signs of drowsiness such as fussiness, eye rubbing, yawning, quietness, crying, or clenched fists. Put your baby into the crib and settle them to sleep when you notice these sleep cues.
- Minimize distractions: Keep the sleeping area calm and dark, with no disturbances. If you cannot control the external noise, use a white noise machine to soothe your baby to sleep. Use curtains to block light coming through the windows. You may maintain a night lamp during the evening and avoid the bright ceiling light to minimize stimulation.
- Keep baby within reach: Place your baby’s crib close to your bed so that you are always within reach to attend to them when they wake up at night. Remember not to share the bed with the baby since it can increase the risk of injuries for the little one (11).
- Monitor separation anxiety: If your baby wakes up crying, gently stroke her head, tummy, or arm, and offer cuddles so they can get back to sleep.
When To Call A Doctor?
Consult a doctor if sleep regression continues for more than six weeks. You should also consult a doctor if the following issues accompany the baby’s sleep regression.
- Low appetite or poor feeding
- Reduced urination or bowel movements
- Lack of weight gain or stunted growth
- Abnormal breathing
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Should I feed a baby at night during sleep regression?
Six-month-olds usually may not breastfeed at night. Even if they wake up, they do not feed much (12). Nevertheless, breastfeeding and formula-feeding should be on demand, and you need not avoid feeding if your baby demands it at night.
2. What should I not do during sleep regression?
A few of the things you should avoid during your baby’s sleep regression are (13):
- Don’t let them sleep with you in your bed
- Don’t rush to them if they wake up crying and let them self-soothe for awhile
- Don’t pick them up immediately and make them fall back asleep in their crib
Babies may or may not experience the six-month-old sleep regression. There is no certain way of knowing which category your child will fall in. However, if your baby is showing persistent changes in nighttime sleep patterns at different stages, it most likely indicates that they are going through a sleep regression. In such circumstances, you must be patient and try to figure out multiple ways to comfort, soothe, and take care of your little one’s sleep cycle.
Infographic: Baby Sleep Facts
Adequate sleep is paramount for a baby’s mental and physical development. Explore this infographic to learn the various stages and intriguing facts about a baby’s sleep.
- At six months, babies may show a change in sleeping pattern that may last from two to six weeks.
- Some causes of six-month sleep regression are developmental changes such as rolling over, babbling and teething.
- It can be managed by settling them down when they show sleep cues and minimizing distractions.
2. 6-Month Sleep Regression; Sleep Foundation
3. Developmental milestones record – 6 months; U.S. National Library of Medicine
4. Your baby’s sleep at 3-6 months; NHS UK
5. Important Milestones: Your Baby By Six Months; CDC
6. Speech and language development from birth to 12 months; NHS UK
7. Understanding Separation Anxiety in Infants and Young Children; DC Government
8. Teething; University of California San Francisco
9. Infant Sleep; Stanford Children’s Health
10. How Much Sleep Do Babies and Kids Need?; Sleep Foundation
11. How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe;American Academy of Pediatrics
12. Your baby at 6 months; Benioff Children’s Hospital
13. Managing sleep regression in infants and toddlers; Phoenix Children’s
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Maria Carmela Villania-Mamauag(MD, DPPS)
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