Woo Hoo! You are finally getting into a routine with your new baby and you feel like you finally are getting into the swing of your new life. Your baby has been sleeping through the night for a little while now and you are so excited you have been getting a full night’s sleep. Trust me, I remember how ecstatic I was when my son started sleeping through the night.
Then all of a sudden, 6 months into your new life with your bundle of joy, they start to have a problem sleeping through the night. What happened?
Even though you may have just got over the 4-month sleep regression, it is a good possibility your infant is going through the 6-month sleep regression. Some good news? I am here to help!
In this article you will find:
- What is the 6-month sleep regression?
- How long does the 6-month sleep regression last?
- Signs that your baby is going through the 6 months sleep regression.
- Tips to help you and your infant get through the 6-month sleep regression.
First, before I get started, I want you to know that you are not alone in this. All parents have gone through multiple sleep regressions before. I know sometimes as parents (first time or veteran) we can feel alone in what we are going through. Let me repeat myself, you are not alone and we are all in this together.
Do not forget or be afraid to ask for advice or help from those around you. Your parents, your in-laws, your friends and coworkers have most likely gone through what you are going through and are great resources to use.
Asking for help always seems to be hard, but trust in the fact that the moms and dads in your life are more than willing to help you out. They may even have some tips or tricks that helped them through sleep regressions that you might be able to use.
What is the 6-month sleep regression?
The 6-month sleep regression is an interference in your baby’s normal sleep schedule. The 6-month sleep regression can happen at any time between the ages of 5 months to 8 months.
By this time you have probably started to get the hang of your baby’s schedule, how long they sleep for, how much they eat, and how often they eat when their naps during the day happen when you should start your bedtime routine, etc. So when something seems off with your little one’s schedule, it is easy to catch onto.
Your baby may go to sleep just fine like they normally would, but then wake up a few hours later fussing for no specific reason. Or they may give you a hard time going to sleep when they normally would go to sleep just fine. Sleep regression can happen at night when you are putting your baby down to sleep or during the day when it is nap time.
At 6 months, your baby is starting to reach new milestones. Usually, around this age they are beginning to scoot and possibly crawl. This is a very exciting thing to learn and many will want to practice their newfound trick. As a baby, they do not know exactly what to do with what they have learned or what they have explored. Soon they will realize that night time isn’t the best time to be exploring. You will be so thankful, once they figure this out.
Some people refer to the 6-month sleep regression as your baby acting like a “party animal”. The reason they refer to the 6-month sleep regression as the “party animal” stage is that your little one is learning so many communication skills, such as babbling, laughing and smiling. They have learned how to communicate with you and now they want to practice it! They just do not understand when is a good time to practice socializing with you and when it is time to settle down and relax.
This is where you, as the parent, come in and help them out. We, their parents, are their first teachers in life. We need to help guide them and show them when a good time to talk, laugh, and babble are, such as when you first wake up or during playtime.
We also need to teach them when it is time to calm down from the day, which is where bedtime routines come in handy. Bedtime routines help cue your infant, toddler, or child that we are done playing for the day and it is time to relax our bodies so we can recharge for tomorrow.
How long does the sleep regression last?
This little glitch in your daily schedule is just a small bump in the road, I promise! Usually, any sleep regression lasts about 2 to 6 weeks. I know in the moment, this can seem like a long time. For the most part, your baby will work their way back to their normal sleep schedule.
At this age, you may be starting to sleep train your infant. Most experts would recommend that you continue with your sleep training, as it may help in getting your little one back to their normal sleep schedule. Following your bedtime routine is familiar and comforting for your infant, which will help keep you and your baby on track for getting back to your normal sleep schedule. For infants and even young children, routine is key!
If your little one does not get back to their normal sleep schedule on their own, there are some ways you can help them along. After all, they are still teeny tiny and learning, so they will be needing you for guidance. I will be giving some tips about this later in this article.
Also, yet another reminder; do not forget to ask family and friends for tips. They are awesome at giving advice and offering to help. Let’s face it, if someone offers to come and clean my house or do my laundry, I would jump at the chance….and my son is almost 6!
Signs that your baby is going through the 6-month sleep regression
How do you know if what your baby is going through is a sleep regression? Usually, it is just as simple as your infant’s sleep changing suddenly with no other underlying issues.
Other issues could include hunger, teething, dirty diaper, gas, etc. If your little one wakes up in the middle of the night or will not go to sleep as easily, and you have ruled out hunger, diaper, gas, teething, an upset stomach; you can probably bet on it being a sleep regression.
Keep in mind, sleep regression is a sudden change in your infant’s sleep. This usually means that one night your infant is sleeping well, as you would normally expect, and the next night they are having a problem going to sleep or staying asleep, and in some cases both.
Some other signs that your infant may be going through a sleep regression are:
- A larger appetite than normal or wanting to feed more often, much like when they are going through a growth spurt.
- Your infant is fussier than normal and tends to cry more, mainly due to the sleep they are missing out on. I mean, who is not cranky when they are not sleeping?
- Being clingy to adults (mainly mom and dad). This makes sense since parents are their children’s safe place. Your baby does not understand what is going on and the only thing making them feel better about it, is being with their mom and dad.
Another thing that could possibly cause a change in your infant’s sleep is the new foods they are trying. Around 5 to 6 months, most infants begin to start eating solid (puree) foods.
Each new food your infant tries will affect them differently. Some foods may make them feel more alert, others may make them feel drowsier, while some might make them feel gassy (which is not comforting when trying to go to sleep).
A good tip/suggestion when starting new foods is to keep track of what foods you are trying on that day. If you notice your baby is fussier on some days than others, you can try to track the foods they were eating and see if maybe they are affecting your infant in a certain way.
We had a food journal notebook. We would write down the date, the time of our son’s feeding, what food he ate, and the amount he ate. It was so helpful.
If he was having an issue going to the bathroom, we would check the food journal. If he seemed extra gassy, we would check the food journal. We would also keep notes in the food journal as well, such as if we noticed he was gassy or cranky or happy or had spits up. You truly do not know how new foods will affect your little one and keeping track of it really helped us.
Tips to help you get through sleep regression
You just started to get to sleep through the night and now your baby is waking again! How in the world are you going to get through this? Try some of these tips below to help make this bump in the road a little bit smoother.
- First and foremost, remember that this will not last forever. I promise, from experience, they will sleep again.
- Try to keep your routines the same before the sleep regression kicked in. Like I mentioned earlier, babies and children thrive and crave routine and structure.
- Keep your bedtime routine peaceful. If you want to, you could always add a soothing massage before you put their pajamas on. We used to do this with baby-safe lavender-scented lotion with our son and it helped to calm him right down.
- Keep their environment peaceful as well. Dim lights and soft music can help to set the tone for a calm and peaceful bedtime routine.
- Along with keeping their environment peaceful, make sure there are no other people around that could cause a distraction. As it was mentioned earlier in the article, your baby is becoming a social butterfly and wants to practice all of their new social skills on anyone who will listen.
- Comfort them. It is ok to comfort your baby with some extra love and snuggles. Just be aware that you do not want to create any new habits. Stay consistent with your nighttime routine and add a few extra minutes of snuggles.
- Alter sleep schedules. Your infant at 6 months old needs about 11 to 12 hours of sleep at night, along with 3 to 4 hours of sleep during the day. If your infant is missing out on nighttime sleep, you might need to put your baby to bed a little earlier at night.
- Lastly and probably one of the most important tips is to always ask for help and always accept help. Trust me, as a mom myself, I know this is easier said than done. Over the last few years, I have slowly begun to ask for help and I do not know why I did not ask for help sooner!
Overall, this is just a minor phase in your child’s life. I know that at the moment, this may seem like it will last forever, but I promise it will not.
I remember when my son was having sleep regressions. He hit them all; 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 1 year; not to mention sleepless nights when he was teething. I swore I never thought we were ever going to sleep again.
Now my son will be 6 soon and I think back to his first year of life and barely remember the sleepless nights. When I think back to his first year, I remember the good times. Good times definitely will outweigh the bad!