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Six months is a time when many parents start to feel like they have a routine again. Babies around this age tend to nap at semi-regular times, and about 60 percent of six-month-olds sleep through the night. You’ll likely find that your little one is also increasingly fun to be around as she becomes more social, cooing and laughing at anyone who plays with her.
And just when you’re feeling like you’ve got the hang of things, another sleep regression hits. The six-month sleep regression isn’t as common as regression at other ages, but it does impact many families. Milestones like rolling and pushing up on all fours combined with a desire to interact with others can make it difficult for your little one to sleep. Read our guide to understand more about why sleep regression can occur around six months and what you can do to help your baby through it.
Sleep regression is when a young child suddenly experiences sleep issues after previously sleeping well. It shows up differently for different children, but can include trouble falling asleep, refusal to nap, shorter-than-usual naps or frequent night wakings. If you notice sleep issues for more than a couple of days, then chances are good that your child is experiencing a sleep regression.
Sleep regression tends to occur because of changes in sleep patterns or physical or developmental milestones. That’s why it’s common for them to happen around specific ages. Changes like learning to crawl, walk or talk are important developments but can also make it difficult for your child to settle down for sleep. Separation anxiety can also come into play, and you may also experience challenges as your child learns to fall asleep independently as he gets older.
It’s completely normal for young children to experience sleep regression, and it’s actually a sign that they’re developing well. Sleep regression is temporary and usually lasts between two and six weeks, though every child is different. These facts don’t take away from the fact that sleep regression is hard on babies and parents alike. Proper sleep is vital for child development, and adults need enough sleep to ensure proper cognitive functioning and mood regulation. If you’re especially sleep deprived during a period of sleep regression, be sure to reach out for help.
If you’d like more detailed information about sleep regression, read our comprehensive guide to sleep regression.
Babies go through a lot of changes around six months, and while exciting, these developments can lead to temporary sleep trouble. Many children are on their way to becoming mobile around this age. If he hasn’t already, your child may begin rolling or pushing up on all fours. Some six-month-olds even begin crawling. Your child may want to practice his newfound skills rather than sleep, which can lead to trouble falling asleep. You may peak in to see how his nap is going only to find him wide awake, up on all fours. He may even cry out for you in the middle of the night if he’s rolled onto his stomach and is having trouble rolling back.
You may also find that it’s simply more difficult to get your baby to fall asleep than it once was. If you previously rocked, nursed or bottle-fed your little one to sleep, you may find that this simply doesn’t work anymore. Maybe your baby falls asleep only to wake up an hour later, or she wakes up the minute you try to lay her down. The reason is that your baby is simply more engaged with her surroundings and doesn’t want to miss out on anything. She wants to play and interact rather than sleep. Separation anxiety can also come into play around this age.
While sleep may have been more random when your child was younger, most six-month-olds have fallen into a routine with a consistent bedtime and two to three naps at regular times. This is a great development, but may also mean that big changes to the schedule can wreak havoc on sleep overall. Your baby may simply be less flexible than before. If your child misses a nap, she may fight bedtime later because she’s overtired. She may also be less able to catch a few Z’s while you’re on-the-go and needs the quiet environment of home in order to nap.
Finally, many children experience growth spurts around six-months. If your baby was previously sleeping through the night and is now waking, it may be because he’s hungry. You may need to institute a night feeding until the growth spurt passes.
Not all six-month olds experience sleep regression, but for those who do, it’s important to remember that it’s temporary and may last anywhere between two and six weeks.
If you’re in the midst of the six-month sleep regression, or anxiously anticipating it, check out these ways to help your baby (and you) make it through as easily as possible:
Six months is a fun time when babies become more active and social than ever before, but sleep regression sometimes accompanies these milestones. Growth spurts and separation anxiety can also be thrown into the mix, making it more difficult for your little one to fall and stay asleep. It’s important to remember that like any sleep regression, the six-month sleep regression is temporary. Try to encourage independent sleep while providing extra comfort to your baby. Do what you can to encourage your family to get rest when possible, as sleep is so vital to the well-being of both children and adults, and don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family when you need help.
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