6 Month Sleep Regression Tips
The half-year mark is a milestone for parents and babies alike. At 6 months old, an infant is becoming more aware of the world around them and the people in it. They are beginning to showcase their personality and will most likely go through a growth spurt. A 6 month sleep regression can also occur, which may have many parents feeling like they did when their baby was just born.
Don’t worry. The 6 month sleep regression won’t last forever, and there are some ways you can cope and work through it. Happier parents make a happier baby, so read on to learn about all the most important 6-month-old milestones and how to handle the 6 month sleep regression that may occur.
Your Baby at 6 Months Old
Your baby is halfway through their first year, and big changes are in store this month! Some of the biggest “firsts” occur during this time period, so make sure you have the camera ready.
Six months is the average age when most babies are ready to start solids. Introducing your baby to solids can be a fun and comical experience, especially when they pull some crazy expressions and get a taste for what they like and dislike.
Your baby should be double their birth weight by now, and their bodies need more nutrients than what they get from milk. Although breastfeeding or formula should still be their primary source of sustenance, solids will help give them the necessary protein and vitamins they need to support their growth.
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Most 6-month-olds can roll from their tummy to their backs, or at least onto their sides. Some babies may even be rolling across the room as their preferred method of transportation. If they haven’t already, your baby is probably gearing up to start sitting up on their own without support. They may also prop themselves up into a crawling position and gently rock themselves.
Sleep is always on every parent’s mind. The 6 month sleep regression will have some babies struggling to fall or stay asleep. Although your 6-month-old should sleep through the night, the regression could cause them to wake more frequently or nap longer during the day, making it harder for them to go to bed in the evening.
A 6 month sleep regression is normal, so don’t panic if your good-natured baby suddenly starts to have a meltdown at naptime. Around 60 percent of 6-month-olds sleep through the night, so it isn’t abnormal if your baby is not yet fully adjusted to a nighttime routine.
There are some ways you can start to sleep train a 6-month-old, though, and doing so may help reduce the effects of their sleep regression.
Sleep Training a 6-Month-Old
Babies are ready for sleep training around four to six months of age. Sleep training can be a challenge for many parents, especially those who have fussy babies. All the tears and wailing lead to guilt, which causes parents to swoop in, swaddle and cajole a baby to sleep night after night.
This is fine in the earliest months of a baby’s life, but as they get a bit older, they need to develop the ability to self-soothe and put themselves back to sleep. You should begin sleep training your baby in their own crib. If your baby’s crib has been in your bedroom, now is the time to make the transition to their nursery.
Some babies will adjust easier than others, which is why your sleep training style will have to change. The 6 month sleep regression can make a baby extra fussy and irritable, so you will have to be considerate of their feelings and fatigue. An overtired baby will not respond or benefit from sleep training, so timing is everything during this period.
Signs of the 6 Month Sleep Regression
Your baby may not stop napping or sleeping altogether, and you may even wonder whether they’re really going through a regression or just changing. Here are some signs to keep an eye out for throughout the month.
- Waking up earlier than usual
- Becoming fussier around naptime
- Resisting sleep or crying when put down for bed
- Waking up frequently
- No longer sleeping through the night
- Seeming more cranky and tired than usual between naps
How Much Should a 6-Month-Old Sleep?
Is your baby napping too much? You may think that your child is going through the 6 month sleep regression when they’re really just getting older and need a different schedule. A 6-month-old should have two to three naps every day, which last approximately two to three hours each. Then, they should be sleeping for eight to 12 hours at a time at night.
If your baby’s nap schedule has them sleeping more than they need to, then they will naturally begin to become frustrated when you try to put them down before they’re tired. They may also wind up napping and being more alert at night, which means more crying and less sleep for everyone.
Sleep Training for the 6 Month Regression
If you know that your baby is regressing, there isn’t much you can do except try to implement some soothing strategies and sleep training techniques. You should first start by putting your baby in their crib 10 to 20 minutes before naptime.You can place them in a sleep sack, which many babies find comforting throughout the first year of life.
You may also want to include some white noise or soft sounds like lullabies on your iPhone or an iPad. Once you place your baby in their crib, spend a few minutes patting their tummy or sushing them to sleep. Then, leave the room.
When they start to fuss, wait a few minutes before coming back in to reassure them. You should slowly build up the distance between the number of times you come in the room. The point of this method is to help babies learn how to fall asleep on their own and comfort themselves.
Keep in mind that during the 6 month sleep regression, your baby may be more tired or crankier than usual. If they are too upset or fussy, it’s okay to go back in and help them fall asleep.
The Chair Method
For babies that are especially sensitive to being left alone when they sleep, you can try the chair method as an introduction to sleep training. Sit by your baby’s crib when they are ready to go down for a nap or go to sleep for the night. They are allowed to fuss and make noise, and they will gradually become more calm as they realize you’re there.
Slowly begin to move the chair further from the crib every other night. Eventually, you should be in the doorway as your baby falls asleep. During the 6 month sleep regression, babies need quality rest. Frequent naps that aren’t refreshing will not help them, and they’ll be prone to staying up longer as they reach exhaustion and become frustrated.
The chair method can be a good alternative for a crying baby that is used to always falling asleep in the presence of a parent or caretaker.
Tips for Overcoming the 6 Month Sleep Regression
As a curious 6-month-old, your baby may regress as they fight sleep and try to take in as much as possible. To help combat this, light sensory input can be helpful. Relaxing sounds such as a fan will give your baby something to focus on while simultaneously being lulled to sleep.
Incorporate plenty of playtime into your baby’s daily schedule. This will stimulate their minds and make them more tired when it’s time to lay down. They should be able to use a rolling walker at this age, and this will help them stretch their legs and use their energy so they aren’t prone to rolling around in their crib for hours.
Growth spurts can also make your baby hungrier, so pay attention to their needs. If they still seem hungry after a bottle, give them another one or two ounces. You may find that this adjustment needs to be permanent, especially if you’ve fed them less milk because they’ve been eating solids.
Don’t default to a feeding, though. Separation anxiety may start to emerge around this age, and sometimes, the only thing your baby needs during the 6 month sleep regression is a good cuddle.