Figuring Out and Overcoming the (Infamous) 6-Month Sleep Regression

6 month sleep regression
Overcoming the 6-month sleep regression is no easy task. Here we explain it and share tips for navigating the changes in your baby's sleep.

Why does my 6-month old keep waking up at night?

Every parent

Is this possibly the most asked question of parents with little ones this age?

We can’t attest to why your particular 6-month-old is waking up but what we are here to do is talk about the 6-month sleep regression. Today, we’ll be going into all things sleep at this tender age where both your and your baby’s nights seem like a hazy number of hours, at the same time too long and too short. From 6-month-old sleep schedules, sleep training, signs of sleep regression, what causes it, and how to fix it according to experts.

Why does my 6-month old keep waking up at night?

By the time your baby’s 6 month mark rolls around, it’s likely that they are sleeping soundly. After a feed, a diaper change, and a regular bedtime, all should be resolved, right?

Especially considering that your baby doesn’t really need feeding at night. Sure, some babies still wake mommy up to get a little cuddle time, but in general, sleep has gotten a lot easier. 

So, what’s the deal?

As you probably guessed, you might have a 6-month sleep regression on your hands.

baby is ready to sleep through the night

What is sleep regression?

A sleep regression is a fancy way of saying that your baby used to sleep so well and now suddenly doesn’t and you can’t figure out why. You put them down, they go to sleep, and hours later they’re fussy for no reason.

The reason? They’ve regressed.

The worst part? This is probably going to happen somewhat regularly. There are a number of ages when parents tend to observe sleep regression in their children, more on this later.

What does a sleep regression look like?

If your baby wakes up a couple of times in a week, that might not be a telltale sign of a sleep regression. Things happen! Interruptions to a great sleep schedule are normal and can be a sign of a tiny change or something that wakes the baby up, even the temperature in the room or other types of discomfort. 

The common signs of a sleep regression are often one or all of the following: 

  • Frequent wake-ups at night (with or without crying)
  • Difficulty falling asleep at night 
  • Fussiness or crankiness without reason
  • Resisting naps

If this sounds like your little one all the time, you could benefit from implementing a stricter sleep schedule or formally sleep training. You don’t even have to do it alone, there are sleep consultants out there who are ready to help turn your nights around.

You can even sleep train and room transition with a smart baby monitor. 

What causes a sleep regression

There are lots of reasons why your baby could regress in their sleep at the six-month mark. They might be ill, teething, growing, or maybe experienced an interruption to their regular sleep routine like the holiday season. 

3-4 monthsThere are 3 main developmental events that happen for babies at this age. They’re growing, so they’re hungry in the middle of the night. They’re teething so they’re in pain and sometimes get fevers. They start rolling over on their own. Which can be scary (here’s a baby monitor that alerts you about rollover events)
6 monthsThey grow so fast! Another growth spurt. This one should be quick but can be “fixed” or brought back to normal. (more on this later)
8-10 monthsWe see signs of crawling! But also, babies can be more attached and anxious with separation than usual. Frequent wake-ups in the middle of the night are probably baby wanting soothing.
12 monthsWhile baby’s sleep is likely regulated at this point, your baby is reaching or has passed the walking age and, for some reason, big milestones tend to lead to sleep irregularities.
ToddlersFinally, once you no longer have a baby on your hands and they’ve been replaced by an adorable, though moody, toddler you might experience more regressions. These can be due to nightmares, toddler teething, and more separation anxiety. Hang in there, mom & dad. 

I know what you’re thinking. This is just about every age. Sleep irregularities are all too real. Not just for children, but also for young people and adults.

We really do struggle to sleep and spend immense amounts of money on sleeping better. Sleep masks, sleep trackers, mattresses, pillows, pajamas, etc. 

We’re all doing our best here to get a good night’s rest and be healthy for the morning.

How long does 6-month sleep regression last?

You’re in luck!

Your baby’s regression at this age is probably short-lived, unlike some of the others. Just the same as they grow out of cute stages, they quickly grow out of hard ones. Sometimes it can take over two weeks, but usually, they’ll adjust quite quickly to all the new goings-on in their life and will get back to resting at night. 

If you’re just starting out on sleep training, you will hear more crying around this phase and it probably won’t happen for too long. Yes, we know even one night of crying it out is hard, but it’s all just a transition period to better sleep for everyone. 

How do you fix sleep regression

Surely, you want to do more than just wait for the regression to pass. I mean, we’re talking about weeks of spotty sleep, which is not good for anyone’s health. So what steps can you take to get things back to normal?

  1. Turn on rollover alerts on your baby monitor so, if your baby gets tangled or rolls into a ball, you can untangle them and place them in a position facing up. 
  1. Let them babble and chat. If you have notifications on and adjust your crying settings on your smart baby monitor, your baby can babble without triggering the crying alerts. They’ll fall back asleep on their own safely and without waking you.
  2. Soothe them. There are lots of ways to soothe baby without picking them up. Rub their back, stroke their head, whisper. You can even turn on lullabies remotely so they can listen to their dream soundtrack as they drift off. 
  3. Be strict with your schedule. Keep sleep training faithfully and wait your way out until your baby adjusts. 

What if my baby’s sleep regression doesn’t go away?

Bring up your baby’s sleep struggles with your pediatrician during their next check-up if you see that the regression is persistent. 

Sometimes, extensive crying (even for an hour or more) can occur for no medical reason at all. Allow your support system to back you up in your duties and call your doctor if you need extra help. 

It can be difficult to get through times of regression but know that not only is there a light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s also actually brighter than you imagine. Sleep regressions are just the road to development, growth, and all the things you and your baby can look forward to really soon.

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Ximena

Ximena

Ximena is the Content Marketing Strategist at Cubo Ai. She follows plants, dogs, and babies on Instagram and almost no one else.