Six-month-old babies have the ability to sleep through the night with little fussing. They are often calm and content, often falling asleep on their own. While sleep is still a work in progress for most babies at this age, six-month-olds sleep better than most newborns.
However, six-month sleep regression can throw any parent’s routine off kilter. And while it’s normal for an infant of this age to wake up several times during the nighttime sleep, it’s important that parents keep an eye on things to ensure the baby’s sleep is healthy and development is not hindered. In this blog, we’ll tell you about the 6-month sleep regression and how parents can help deal with it.
What Is the 6 Month Sleep Regression?
A 6-month sleep regression refers to the increased sleep disruption or difficulty falling asleep that usually occurs because of new milestones, such as separation anxiety or teething. The good news is, this phase will eventually pass, and your baby sleep patterns will return to normal. But, the bad news is that the six-month sleep regression can be distressing and may take as long as two to six weeks to resolve, varying from one baby to another. Sleep regression can occur at any age from 4 months onwards. Regression is not based on the baby’s age, but on the developmental stage they are going through.
Signs and Symptoms of 6 Month Sleep Regression
The most common symptoms of a 6-Month Sleep Regression include frequent night waking, difficulty falling asleep, and short sleep duration. Babies may also display increased fussiness during the day, difficult self-soothing, and difficulty transitioning between sleep cycles.
Causes of the 6 Month Sleep Regression
The first and most obvious cause of the 6-month sleep regression is simply that your baby is growing and changing rapidly. At this age, they’re becoming more aware of the world around them, which can lead to increased stimulation and a harder time settling down at night. Many infants experience separation anxiety around this time, which can make it difficult for them to fall and stay asleep without you close by.
Another factor that can contribute to the 6-month sleep regression is the introduction of solid foods. While this is an exciting milestone for your little one, it can also lead to digestive upset and discomfort, which can disrupt their sleep patterns. It’s important to introduce solids slowly and carefully, keeping an eye out for any signs of sensitivities or allergies.
Finally, it’s worth considering whether your own behaviors might contribute to the regression. Are you consistently responding to your baby’s cries and needs during the night, even when they’re not hungry? Are you using sleep aids like pacifiers or white noise machines that might reinforce poor sleep habits? By taking a step back and evaluating your own actions, you may make some changes that will help your baby get back on track.
How Can Parents Cope With Sleep Problems in Six-Month-Olds?
Parents need to understand that sleep regression is a normal developmental stage, and it is not a serious problem.
Sleep regressions can occur at different ages in infants, including four months, six months, eight months, and 12 months. Coping with 6-month sleep regression can be tough, but parents can help their babies cope with the transition by sticking to their usual sleep patterns and comforting them when needed. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine, providing a soothing environment, and seeking professional help if necessary can help parents and their infants navigate through this challenging time.
Establishing a Regular Bedtime Routine
To create a bedtime routine for your six-month-old, consider including a series of consistent steps that take between 15-20 minutes. This might include putting on fresh pajamas, reading books, saying goodnight to items in the room, playing a sound machine, singing one song, and minimal talking. You can also establish a similar routine for naps throughout the day.
Creating the Right Sleep Environment
There are simple changes parents can make to create the right sleep environment. This may include reducing stimulation before bedtime, establishing a consistent bedtime routine, and creating a quiet sleep environment.
Responding to Wake-Ups
One of the most common sleep problems in 6-month-olds is frequent wake-ups at night. To cope with these wake-ups, it is important for parents to understand that infants’ sleep and wake patterns develop over the first 6 months of life. Providing sleep onset associations such as rocking or feeding may lead to more wake-ups at night. Over-tiredness can also cause difficulty in falling asleep and staying asleep. To combat Over-tiredness, aim for 2-3 hour wake windows between naps and before bedtime.
When responding to wake-ups, it’s important to create a consistent routine and gradually increase the time between feeds or comfort measures.
Knowing When to Seek Professional Help
Parents may experience sleep problems during a 6-month sleep regression in their infants. At this age, babies should get between 12-15 hours of sleep each day, including naps. Sleep interruptions are normal in infants and not usually a cause for concern. However, if the baby has trouble sleeping or is exhibiting signs of other health issues, parents may want to seek specialized advice from a pediatrician. Knowing when to seek professional help can help ease the stress of dealing with sleep issues in infants.
Six-month sleep regression is considered normal sleep behavior for six-month-old babies and most of the time, it does not pose any problems. The first step is to establish a routine for bedtime. This can be as simple as reading a book or rocking the baby to sleep. Responding to baby’s wake-ups and creating a relaxing environment can also help reduce the risk of sleep problems in infants. If you feel things are getting out of hand, visit a doctor who can prescribe medication or refer you to a specialist who can guide you through infant sleep training.