6 month sleep regression solved

The 6 Month Sleep Regression

What is the 6 month sleep regression?

The 6 month sleep regression is a period when a baby who previously slept well suddenly starts waking up more frequently during the night and has trouble napping.

When does the 6 month sleep regression start?

Technically the 6 month regression can start at any age, because all baby sleep regressions (besides the 4-month sleep regression which is actually a 'progression') are unique to a baby's specific sleep situation. Not all babies will even go through a 6 month regression.

The only reason we may label regressions by age is because there are often typical and predictable sleep issues we see at particular ages and stages, so it’s easy to assume what the likely causes might be.

What does the 6 month sleep regression look like?

Parents describe the 6-month sleep regression as a significant setback to what were previously good sleep habits. This can include suddenly fighting bedtime, short naps, waking up during the night, early rising, and generally unpredictable sleep patterns. But this can look different for every baby.

What causes the 6 month sleep regression?

As mentioned, your baby might not go through a 6-month sleep regression at all, but if you’re on this page, you’re probably dealing with some kind of sleep disruption - so here are the most common reasons for sleep issues that typically occur around 6 months old:

  • Needing a Routine Tweak: At 6 months, the most common issue is that your baby is ready for a routine shift. They’re starting to need more sleep pressure before bed to be able to settle easily and sleep soundly until morning. In our nap and feeding routines, this is typically when we start the transition from 3 to 2 naps. Planning ahead for their changing sleep needs can be key to avoiding a big regression.
  • New Developmental Milestones (i.e., sitting, crawling, rolling): Whenever a baby is learning a new big skill, it has a tendency to disrupt sleep. Babies will often decide it’s a great time to practice their newest skill right in the middle of a nap or overnight. If they’re happy enough, you can leave them to it and don’t stress about the temporary disruption to sleep. If they’re still mastering the new skill and are constantly getting stuck or frustrated, make sure to offer them lots and lots of practice time when they’re awake so that this phase passes as quickly as possible. 
  • The 4-Month Sleep Regression (Delayed): If your baby never seemed to go through their 4-month sleep regression, you may have celebrated too early - and this might just be them hitting it now. The 4-month sleep regression is actually a progression as it marks a big biological change to how their sleep cycles are made up. Before this change, babies could easily pass from one sleep cycle to the next, but now they will start to wake fully between every sleep cycle. This can lead to waking every couple of hours through the night and naps no longer than 30-60 minutes during the day. If this sounds like you, then our Sleeping Through the Night guide is your answer.
  • Separation Anxiety: At around 7-9 months (but sometimes earlier), babies learn ‘object permanence’ – and realize that things continue to exist even when they can’t see them. Around this time, babies also start to understand that they are separate from their primary caregivers. This new idea that a parent can leave can initially be unsettling. Your baby doesn’t understand the concepts of time or space, so whether you’re just out of sight, in the next room, or miles away, it’s all the same to them! So how can we help them through this and ensure sleep stays on track? Read our blog “Helping Your Baby Overcome Separation Anxiety for Better Sleep” for tips.
  • Moving Rooms, From Bassinet to Crib: If you’ve recently moved your baby to their own room or transitioned them from their bassinet to their crib, it might be something in the environment that’s actually causing their sleep disruption. Babies can usually move sleep locations without much fuss, especially under 6 months old. You might be thinking, "Oh no, they hate sleeping in their room," but realistically something else has changed which is just making it hard for them to sleep well. Is their room cooler than when room sharing with you? Is there more light or more noise in this room? Have you recently changed sleepwear? Investigate what might be different and fix it.
  • Still Following Wake Windows Instead of a Routine: By 6 months, a baby’s circadian rhythm is well established, which means aiming for a nap routine that follows the clock rather than shifting your days constantly based on wake windows is ideal to support their internal sleep systems. If you constantly shift your days based on wake windows, it can lead to early rising, false starts at bedtime, and unpredictable naps and nights. Read more about when it’s important to switch from wake windows to a routine here.
  • Solids Introduction: Many people think that starting solids can help a baby start to sleep through the night, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, sleep can sometimes actually get worse after introducing solids. It's a new and complex process for a baby's little tummy to handle, and it can lead to discomfort, wind, and constipation. Plus, sharp drops in blood sugar levels can make it hard for a baby to settle to sleep or stay asleep. Some key tips are to make sure you’re avoiding high-GI carbohydrates close to sleep times (yes, this includes pureed fruit and baby food pouches) and ensure you’re offering small amounts of protein with each meal. If you’re introducing a new food type for the first time, make sure to offer it at breakfast or lunch (not dinner) so you can watch for any signs of discomfort.

But as mentioned, regressions are all unique, and these might not be the only factors impacting your little one’s sleep.

How long does the six month sleep regression last?

Like all sleep regressions, if it lasts more than a few days, it typically means you’ll need to actively change something for sleep to improve.

6 month sleep regression or growth spurt?

If your baby is newly waking once or twice to feed at night, it might not be a full-blown regression but rather a sign of a growth spurt. Growth spurts can temporarily increase a baby’s appetite, typically lasting only a few days.

Another important consideration is the introduction of solids. By 6 months, a baby’s nutritional needs increase, and it’s essential to start supplementing breastmilk or formula with solid foods. Iron is crucial for healthy growth, brain development, and sleep quality. Before 6 months, babies usually get sufficient iron from breastmilk or formula, but after this age, their iron needs surpass what milk alone can provide. Introducing iron-rich foods like meat, fortified cereals, and iron-rich vegetables can help meet these increased nutritional demands.

Is this the 6 month sleep regression or teething?

The most common question we get is whether teething can cause a sleep regression. The answer is a bit complicated: yes, teething can disrupt sleep, BUT it is often blamed too quickly for sleep issues. True teething-related sleep disruptions typically only last a few days before and after a new tooth pierces the gum. If your baby’s wakeful nights have been persistent and there are no signs of a new tooth, then the cause is likely something else.

How many times should a 6 month old wake at night?

First, let me premise this with - if your baby is content during the day, gaining healthy weight consistently, and you’re coping fine with the disrupted sleep, then it doesn’t really matter how many times they wake to feed at night. Night wakings are normal at this age and are not usually a sign of any larger medical issues or concerns. So, if what you’re currently doing is working for your family, don’t stress!

However, if you are ready to start reducing night wakes and feel you will both benefit from more consolidated sleep, it might be helpful to know that the average 6 month baby (with continued healthy weight gain) will only need max one night feed, and by 8 months all babies will be well and truly ready to drop that last night feed. This means 11-12 hours of undisturbed sleep for your little one—hooray!

How to solve the 6-month sleep regression and get your baby to sleep through the night?

Our Sleeping Through the Night Baby Program transforms your baby's sleep, nurturing a happier, well-rested baby. With proven success and 5 star reviews from coaching hundreds of families 1:1 globally, this self-paced guide helps you tackle night wakes, achieve long crib naps, transition to independent sleeping, and avoid future regressions.

It's the ideal solution for parents looking for a straightforward approach that supports both their baby's sleep needs and their parenting style. Join the many families who have found success with our program and start thriving in parenthood with a more contented, well-sleeping baby.