Sleep regressions are tough - not only is your baby not getting enough sleep, but neither are you, and the more sleep-deprived you are, the less happy and healthy you all become.
But if there's one thing that makes sleep regressions worse, it's reading horror stories about them being never-ending from random sources online that you can't verify, or hearing unwanted advice from a friend of a friend that this (somehow) could have been prevented.
That's why we're here to clear up some of the myths that surround the 6 month sleep regression and give you some great tips to get you and your baby sleeping soundly again.
In this article:
What is the 6 month sleep regression?
Myths vs reality
Sleep needs for 6 month olds
What is the 6-month sleep regression?
What is six month sleep regression?
The six month sleep regression is a period of disrupted and inconsistent sleep your baby may experience at around 6 months after a period of consistent sleep patterns and habits. You may find that your baby is fighting sleep, waking up in the night more frequently, and causing you to miss out on sleep too!
Six month sleep regression myths vs Reality
We know that an infant sleep regression can take a toll on the whole family, so we’re setting the record straight on five common misconceptions about the 6 month sleep regression.
Myth: Every baby has a 6-month sleep regression.
Almost all babies go through sleep regressions, and the 6 month sleep regression is especially common. However, regressions are often associated with developmental leaps, so they’re more associated with the developmental stages than a specific age.
So, this sleep snafu can occur anywhere between 5 and 7 months of age, not just at the six month mark, despite usually being called the 6 month sleep regression.
Myth: By 6 months my baby should sleep through the night.
About 38% of 6 month old babies don’t sleep for what is considered a full night, or six hours plus, without the occasional wake-up. And even at twelve months, about 28% of babies still have not reached that coveted sleeping through the night milestone.
So, take comfort in the fact that you’re in the good company of many other parents who have to navigate this shortage of baby sleep with their little ones.
Myth: I can prevent the 6 month sleep regression altogether.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to control how your growing little one reacts to the growth and development that comes along at this age.
But, the good news is, you can help ease its effects by preparing for inevitable sleep hurdles. Even something as simple as a consistent bedtime routine can help set your baby up for success in sleep training and healthy sleep habits in the future.
Myth: My baby’s sleep schedule will never be the same.
Sleep regressions don’t last forever! Typically a baby's sleep regression will last two to six weeks. By using some simple strategies to aid your baby in their growth journey, you’ll get over the hump sooner than later.
As we mentioned, a sleep regression is normally a result of your baby developing in some way — whether they’re learning to sit up, crawl, or chew. So, a pro tip is to help your baby practice their new skill a lot (like a lot, a lot) during the daytime, so when it’s time for bed they're ready to rest.
If you're finding that your baby is still not sleeping soundly after a couple of months, you may want to seek medical advice from your baby's pediatrician to rule out any other problems.
Myth: I should do whatever it takes to comfort my baby while they’re restless.
Routine for our little ones is always crucial and that is especially true during a sleep regression for a couple of major reasons.
First of all, a steadfast bedtime routine helps signal to your baby when it's time to start getting sleepy. This day-after-day routine may help you kick the 6-month sleep regression faster.
Second, you don’t want to foster bad habits. It’s completely okay to give extra snuggles and comfort, but it’s also important to maintain some sense of normalcy to avoid developing sleep associations with things like nursing or rocking.
This is to avoid letting your baby become dependent on those things to fall asleep after a night waking and worsening any separation anxiety they may be developing naturally at this age.
A great way to set your baby up to successfully self-soothe through any sleep regression is to use gently weighted Zen Sleepwear to mimic your touch, so they can fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
What to remember about the 6 month sleep regression
The six month sleep regression can be tough - but like most other baby sleep problems you come across, it's highly unlikely to be anything serious, or to last for longer than a few weeks (if it does, you should seek medical advice from a pediatrician). This is also a point at which you can start sleep training methods that will aid with future regressions and help promote good sleep habits and sleep schedules going forward.
Remember - sleep regressions are only temporary, and you're doing a great job!
Zen Sleepwear: mom hack!
'So far SO GOOD! We have used the sleep sack for the last 3 nights now, the first night we saw improvement but the second and third he slept through the night! We had him sleeping through the night before but since his 4 month sleep regression we have been struggling to get him back to that, this sleep sack has helped tremendously. He is now 6 months and back to sleeping through the night thanks to this sleep sack!'
- Abbie C., Zen Sack review
Sleep needs for 6-month olds
At the 6 month mark, your baby will be needing between 12 and 15 hours sleep per day - this is referring to both naps and bedtime, not just nighttime sleep alone.
For example, you could have 2 naps a day that are 2 hours long each and 8 hours of sleep at night, or 2 naps that are 3 hours long and 7 hours of nighttime sleep - whatever schedule works best for you and your baby.
If your baby is going through the 6 month sleep regression, don't be too tempted to change up the schedule right away, as consistent sleep schedules are the key to getting your little one's sleep back on track.
Don't worry if your child's sleep routine doesn't exactly match someone else's for their baby of the same age - every baby is unique, and different families have different needs to meet. As long as they're getting all the sleep they need in a day, you've got this!
Here are a few quick tips to get your baby sleeping again during a sleep regression:
- Create the right sleep atmosphere - if you live in a busy city with bright lights and loud noises, you can try using blackout blinds and a (baby safe) white noise machine to keep a tranquil feeling in your little one's sleep space.
- Keep up your sleep schedule - panicking and changing up your little one's schedule is likely to just confuse them, and won't solve the root causes of the sleep regression. Instead, you should stick to your routine to give your baby a sense of familiarity.
- Put baby to bed when drowsy, not asleep - putting your baby down in their crib when they're drowsy encourages them to learn how to self soothe, even if it's only for a minute or so before they're completely fast asleep!
- Try sleepwear like our Zen Sack - gently weighted to mimic your soothing touch, this wearable blanket is suitable for 6-month-olds and can help them learn to self-soothe - ideal for sleep training!
- Play during awake time - if your baby isn't sleeping because they want to practice a new milestone skill at night, give them plenty of time to try it out during the day instead.
The six month sleep regression isn't a walk in the park, but with the right knowledge - and maybe some Zen Sleepwear - you'll find this period of your baby's sleep much easier to navigate. So stick with the facts, maintain a consistent bedtime routine, and we know that you'll do great!
Commonly asked questions about 6 month sleep regression
How long will 6 month sleep regression last?
Baby sleep regressions generally last for anywhere between 2 to 6 weeks - if it lasts for much longer than this, you should contact your baby's pediatrician to rule out any other problems.
When do babies sleep through the night?
As with anything related to infant sleep, each baby is different and will hit milestones at different times.
By 6 months old, babies are developmentally able to sleep through the night, but that doesn’t mean they do. Several factors can cause them to lose sleep including: the 6-month sleep regression, being in the habit of night feeding, and more.
How to cope with 6 month sleep regression?
Gently weighted Zen Sleepwear can offer extra comfort during an extra fussy time. Parents who introduce Zen Sleepwear during a sleep regression have seen improvements in sleep.
The Zen Sack™ offers sizes perfect for 6-month old babies and has adjustable straps that allow you to use even after baby is past the 6 month mark so they can continue to self-soothe beyond their sleep regression. For babies that have separation anxiety or struggle to sleep on their own, Zen Sleepwear can give them the little bit of extra comfort they need to get to sleep independently.
Do 6 month old babies still need night feedings?
At this stage, babies are developmentally able to make it through the night (6-8 hours) without feedings. But it’s still new, so they might just be in the habit of waking up and crying to be fed.
How can I get my 6 month old to self soothe?
When babies reach 6 months, you can usually start sleep training with a method of your choosing.
This, along with a consistent sleep schedule, is usually the best way to help your baby sleep independently through the night, and to set up good sleep routines for baby and toddler sleep in the future.
Why does my 6 month old keep waking up at night?
If your baby's sleep is becoming disrupted and inconsistent after a period of good sleep patterns, you're likely facing the six month sleep regression.
There are a range of reasons why this can come about, from physical reasons like teething and reaching new milestones to more psychological reasons such as separation anxiety. But this doesn't mean you should worry - all of these reasons are perfectly normal, and your child's sleep is more than likely to settle back down in a matter of weeks.
Is it 6 month sleep regression or teething?
Though you might consider these two things separate, teething is actually a factor that can contribute to your baby having a sleep regression. Regardless, a few ways to see if teething pains are to blame for a lack of nighttime sleep is to check for symptoms such as a flushed cheek, a high temperature, or red and sore gums. If this is the case, you can try remedies like rubbing a wet finger gently on their gums, or giving them a teething toy that has been cooled in the fridge (not frozen). With these tricks, hopefully you can start to get baby's sleep back on track!
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