Of course, we've all heard of the 4 month and 8 month sleep regression... But what about the 6 month sleep regression?
What is it? What are the signs you need to look out for? And most importantly… HOW CAN YOU SURVIVE IT?!!
Learn all that and MORE in this post and start reclaiming your precious sleep and bedtime routines today!
Is there such a thing as a 6 month old sleep regression?
YES! A sleep regression is possible at any age from 4 months onwards.
The most common are the 4 month sleep regression or the 8 month sleep regression, but a 6 month sleep regression is very possible and very real (as some of you already know!)
What is the 6 month sleep regression?
Any sleep regression is identified as a short period of time in which your baby’s established sleep routine and pattern is suddenly disrupted.
At 6 months of age, babies need between 12 - 15 hours of sleep in a 24 hours period with most of this sleep being taken at night with two naps in the day. This is known as 'sleep consolidation' and results in many babies reaching that blissful stage of sleeping through the night.
However, if your baby starts to show signs of struggling to fall asleep or waking more than usual at night, then they may be experiencing a sleep regression.
There are a lot of things going on developmentally with your little one at 6 months old, both physically and mentally. They are probably rolling, learning to sit and their mental awareness and sensitivity to their environment will be developing too. They may also start to develop separation anxiety or cut their first tooth.
Any time a baby goes through a big developmental leap or milestone, you may experience a sleep regression.
Is my baby really going through a 6 month sleep regression?
If your baby starts to wake more at night and is struggling to fall asleep after having had an established sleep schedule where they were falling asleep easily, consolidating their sleep by having most of it at night and waking less, then they are more than likely experiencing a sleep regression. Click here to jump to 6 month old sleep regression causes!
So, how long does the 6 month sleep regression last?
A 6 month sleep regression usually lasts from 5 days to a couple of weeks. The most important thing to remember when your baby is going through a sleep regression is that is is just a phase and will not last forever,
There are also things that you can do which involves implementing some basic healthy sleep routines and practices to deal with night time waking that will help you hugely when dealing with a 6 month sleep regression.
Do all babies go through a 6 month sleep regression?
No. Not all babies will experience a 6 month sleep regression. It will very much depend on the personality of your baby, what is going on their development and what is happening in their environment.
In fact, many babies of this age actually have improved sleep patterns and may start to sleep through the night for the first time.
4 Signs your baby is going through a 6 month sleep regression
Here are 4 KEY signs to look for to identify whether your baby is going through a 6 month sleep regression or not:
- They will wake more often at night and struggle to get back to sleep
- They may struggle to fall asleep in the first place
- Your baby may take longer naps during the day and less nighttime sleep
- They may cry more and be more agitated when they wake
8 Causes of the 6 month sleep regression
There is not always one clear reason why your baby may be experiencing a sleep regression but at 6 months old there is a lot going on in your baby’s development.
From growth spurts to a developing diet, teething, reaching developmental milestones and an increased awareness of the world around them, there are a number of factors that may be instrumental in triggering a sleep regression.
1. Growth spurt
This can often cause your little one to have temporary blip in their sleeping patterns.
2. Reaching physical, mental and emotional developmental milestones
All that extra brain and body activity can also disrupt sleep!
3. Change in environment
If you move house, go on holiday or visit family overnight this may trigger a sleep regression.
4. Change in daily routine
Any major changes in routine could also upset an established sleep schedule such as starting daycare, parents returning to work or the primary caregiver changing.
5. Separation anxiety
Some babies of this age experience separation anxiety that will make it difficult for them to fall asleep and cause them to become distressed on waking in the night.
6. Reaching a developmental milestone
When your child reaches a significant milestone such as learning to sit or being more aware of their environment then they may experience a sleep regression as the extra stimulation to their brain and body makes it difficult for them to settle and or stay asleep.
If your baby is experiencing pain due to teething their sleep is very likely to be disrupted for a short while and although this is not a true sleep regression in itself, it may trigger one. Investing is a natural teething toy may help soothe your baby helping them sleep better!
Like teething, illness may cause sleep disruption for a short period of time and although this is not a true sleep regression, it may trigger a brief one.
Undoing bad habits that evolve during teething and or illness can sometimes be difficult to turn around. Try and get back to your established routines as soon as possible after interruptions caused by teething or illness.
9 Tips to get through the 6 month sleep regression
There many things you can do to get through the six month sleep regression.
1. Establish a healthy bedtime routine
If you have not established a bedtime routine now is the time. Having healthy sleep habits will make it easier for you to cope with when baby decides to fight sleep. Lowering the energy at the end of the day and following the same routine every day will give all the right signals to your little one that bedtime is on the way.
2. Stick to your routines
Having a healthy routine will help you keep sane. When your little one's sleep schedule sticks to your established routine, it will help you feel more in control. You may have to shift timings a bit but keep pre-nap and bedtime rituals consistent.
3. Keep night time interactions low key
If your little one wakes as night then keep interactions low key. Keep the lights low and don’t chat. A night light is a great investment as it stops you having to turn on a light when visiting them at night.
4. Try not to pick baby up everytime they wake
When it comes to night wakings try to comfort your baby in the crib rather than picking them up. Gently stroke their head or pat their tummy instead.
5. Encourage self settling/soothing
If you have not done so already, try and teach your baby to self settle. Allow them to spend time in their cribs while they are awake and put them down when they are not fully asleep. If you baby wakes in the night do not rush in straight away they may re-settle themselves.
6. Make a distinction between day and night activities
Make sure your little one makes the most of their day. Be busy and get out into the fresh air, encourage them to be engaged in different types of play. When it is time to sleep, lower the energy levels so they learn that bedtime is coming up.
7. Minimise sleep distraction
Keep sleep distractions to a minimum. Your little one needs to be sleeping in a calm, dimly lit room with maybe a white noise machine. In essence, the environment must be conducive to sleep.
8. Chat to other mums and share your experience.
Sharing is a great way to help you through a sleep regression. Knowing you are not alone or that others have been through the same thing will be very comforting.
9. Try using a White Noise Machine
As I briefly mentioned when minimising sleep distractions, if you have not done so already, a white noise machine may help your baby stay asleep and comfort them if they wake.
Self-Care For Parents To A Sleep Regression Baby
Sleep regressions or sleep disruptions are common especially in the first year of life. Accepting this is normal and it has nothing to do with your parenting will make it easier on you as a parent.
I would challenge any parent to say that their little one has never had a blip in their sleep schedule. Accepting that such things as sleep regressions are normal, ensures that you are not blaming yourself for what is a perfectly natural occurrence.
Another way to take care of yourself during a sleep regression is to accept help and, if possible, take shifts with your partner when dealing with night waking or let a close family member or friend look after your baby occasionally to give you a break.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are finding it tough to be consistent with sleep routines and nap times, just hang in there knowing that this is a passing phase.
If you are feeling very tired, then put your little one somewhere safe, such as a playpen or crib, and make yourself a cup of tea and have a 5 minute breather. You will be a better parent when you go back to doing this.
So there you have it! The complete rundown of how to survive the 6 month sleep regression.
Just stay consistent and patient. Remember, it's just a passing phase and it has nothing to do with your parenting. It's perfectly natural and just a part of the journey of parenthood!
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As always, thank you for your continued support!