Many infants begin to noticeably improve their ability to sleep for extended periods of time between the ages of 4 and 6 months. During these months both infant and parents can look forward to getting an “almost” good night’s sleep. But sometimes, there are roadblocks along the way, and sleeping problems can occur.
A sleep regression signals a halt or reversal in a baby’s development toward consistent sleep. A 6-month sleep regression can be difficult for you, even if it is rarely permanent. Knowing the fundamentals of infant sleep and how to enhance it will assist you during a 6-month sleep regression and beyond.
What Is the Cause of a 6-Month Sleep Regression?
Typically, the causes of a 6-month sleep regression are numerous and not based on any one, single factor. Babies may experience periods where their sleep seems to stall or worsen as they grow because of the uneven pace at which development may occur.
Infant sleep can be affected by a variety of things, some of which include:
Sleep onset interactions: Rocking, feeding, or otherwise comforting infants while they sleep tends to wake them up more frequently. As a result of receiving assistance before bed, they are more likely to cry out for help when they awaken at night in between sleep cycles. In the same way, parental assistance frequently results in shorter naps during the day.
Over-tiredness: When your baby is awake for too long between sleep intervals, hormones build up, making it difficult for them to stay asleep. Aim for 2 to 3-hour wake intervals between naps and before bedtime. This will help to keep them from being overtired.
Excessive daytime sleep: Most 6-month-olds require 14 hours of sleep every 24 hours (but this can vary depending on their particular sleep needs). If a baby naps for more than 3 – 3.5 hours or takes more than three naps, it may interfere with getting enough nighttime sleep.
Discomfort: Babies who are unwell, teething, or in some sort of other pain tend to wake up more at night. If your infant wakes up in the middle of the night (40-50 minutes after falling asleep), it could indicate that they are in some sort of discomfort.
Mastering a new motor skill: Acquiring new motor skills, such as rolling, sitting up, or crawling, frequently disrupts infant sleep. Your infant may become “stuck” in an awkward position or choose to practice new moves at night. In either case, your infant may need a few weeks to acclimate to their newfound mobility.
Is 6-month Sleep Regression Common?
Many babies do not undergo a 6-month sleep regression. Sometimes, around this age, you may see a noticeable improvement in your baby’s sleep with longer nighttime sleep periods.
While there are broad patterns in infant sleep, studies have revealed significant variation from one baby to the next. This means that it is typical for a child to have a sleep regression at six months or for their sleep to remain stable or improve at this age.
Symptoms of a 6-month Sleep Regression
Possible indicators of a 6-month sleep regression include:
- An increase in nighttime awakenings, which could make it harder to fall back asleep
- Initial difficulty falling asleep
- Longer daytime naps and less nighttime sleep
- During awakenings, there is more sobbing or agitation
The duration of these symptoms can vary greatly. Symptoms of a 6-month sleep regression typically last for a short time, especially if you implement appropriate sleep habits. Sleep issues usually resolve after a few days or weeks. However, a plateau in sleep improvements may last longer.
Tips for Dealing with a Six-month Sleep Regression
A 6-month sleep regression allows you to reassess your approach to your child’s sleep. Even while you cannot reverse a sleep regression right away, using healthy infant sleep guidelines can help encourage good sleep patterns for the future.
Establish a Bedtime Routine
To alert your baby that bedtime is approaching, use the same set of preparations for bed each night. Feed your infant and engage in soothing activities like rocking or hugging to assist them in relaxing before bed.
Even while you might not be able to keep to a minute-by-minute routine, having a ritual with a set time for bed and naps can stabilize your baby’s sleep pattern. On the other hand, more activity during the day can help your infant adjust to the idea that the day is for play and the night is for sleeping, especially if it involves exposure to natural light.
Encourage Your Infant to Sleep in Bed
Get your baby ready for bed and place them in their crib when they show signs of sleepiness. Eye rubbing or fussiness can be clear indicators that it is time for your baby to prepare for a night’s rest. In this way, infants will associate their bed with falling asleep. Keep the space where your child sleeps quiet, dark, and free of potential distractions. A white noise machine might be useful if outside noise enters the child’s bedroom.
Your child may still get up at night even if you correctly follow these instructions. If that occurs, you should hold off on entering right away. Wait to see if your infant can settle back down and fall back asleep on their own. Keep light and sound to a minimum, and try to avoid any stimulation that might prevent them from falling asleep again if you need to check on or feed them.
Your infant can cry when you leave their crib if they are experiencing separation anxiety. Avoid the urge to remove them from the crib if this happens. Try soothing them gently instead by massaging their head or speaking in a gentle, soothing manner. After they’ve calmed down, you can leave the crib and let them fall asleep.
A sleep regression may cause a sudden change in your 6-month-old baby’s sleeping habits. Sleep regressions are prevalent in babies, and the symptoms may include a change in their sleeping habits, such as waking up more frequently than before or having trouble with bedtime and naptime. Illnesses, routine changes, or developmental milestones commonly bring them on. You can get your child back on track by continuously implementing a calming nighttime routine and attempting sleep training.
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