Want to know a secret? This is my FAVORITE baby age! Their little personalities just start to explode and they are curious about EVERYTHING around them. Their sleep also has the ability to start to consolidate as well (although it may not feel like it if you are in the thick of the six-month sleep regression!)
To review, regressions fall into three categories:
1. Skill-Based Regressions: Your baby is learning a new skill like crawling, sitting, or talking!
2. Separation Anxiety-Based Regressions: Your child is learning more about how they exist in relation to you in space. They might also be learning what is an effective way to have you come back to them!
3. Cognitive-Based Regressions: We see this often in the toddler years! Toddlers are learning a variety of skills that include power, control, and reasoning.
The six-month sleep regression is purely a skill-based regression! Your baby is learning a variety of new skills, some of which they might try to practice at 3 AM. While babies develop their skills at various rates, some of these skills might include:
· Rolling (both ways!)
· Babbling, squealing, and blowing raspberries
· Pushing up on their hands
Don’t forget that your baby may handle each regression differently. While the 4-month regression may have been AWFUL for you, the 6-month regression may be a breeze. Try not to build up anxiety in anticipation of the regression. We will be able to handle whatever comes your way!
Symptoms of the 6-Month Sleep Regression
· Short naps (You may see the return of some 30-45 minute naps)
· Trouble falling asleep at bedtime or elongated wakings in the middle of the night
Strategies to Manage the 6-Month Regression
1. Practice new skills during the day!
Mastering these new skills is what will help your baby work through this regression! Make sure you are giving your baby lots of floor time and interactive time with you to practice these new skills! Here are some ideas on how to do this:
Place interesting items just out of reach on the left or right side of your baby. Shake the items or encourage your baby to roll toward them. If needed, help guide your baby through the process of rolling but don’t just flip them over! Instead, help them first twist their lower body then tuck their arm over. Once they have rolled onto their tummy, use the same toy to help them roll back by holding the toy within their view over their shoulder, and slowly moving it behind them until they initiate the roll back. If they need help, then you can use your hands to help guide them back over.
If you need help teaching your baby to roll, I absolutely LOVED this video Series from Emma Hubbard. Emma is a Pediatric occupational therapist with over ten years of experience in her field. She offers newborn development courses and evidenced based tips through her website and social media outlets!
If your little one is working on rolling from front to back, watch this video:
Emma has an equally valuable video to teach your baby how to roll from front to back as well! If your baby often gets “stuck” on their belly, this video is PERFECT for you!
Talk to your baby, smile when they babble or squeal, and imitate their sounds back to them! Need some ideas on working through this skill with your baby? I found this video from The Early Talker to be incredibly helpful!
Pushing up on their hands
This is the first sign that your baby is developing the skills they need to work on crawling! This skill comes after you have mastered tummy time. If they can clearly lift their head, then they may be ready to work on the next step! Put a toy in front of them and slowly raise it up higher and higher, encouraging them to lift to look at it. If they have trouble with this, then you can roll up a towel and lay it under their armpits so they get the sensation of lifting up on their hands first!
Emma Hubbard has an excellent video to walk you through the steps to help your baby master these skills that lead to crawling, and you can find information on this first step towards the beginning of her video!
2. Give your baby space at night if they are not crying.
I remember when my boys were little, I felt like if they were awake, then I needed to be there interacting with them! However, I was greatly minimizing the importance of independent play! If your baby wakes in the middle of the night and is practicing their new skills, then there is no need to interact with them, especially if they are happy! Let them roll around, babble, squeal, and enjoy time in their crib.
Having some quiet and independent time to work on these skills is just as important in mastering them. It can also help raise a confident and happy baby!
3. Do not immediately jump to the rescue if your baby is upset.
This regression is notorious for babies getting “stuck” on their tummies because they have mastered rolling one way but not the other! They might get a bit frustrated as they work on rolling back.
If you notice your baby getting frustrated on the baby monitor, then it is important to pause before going into the room! Learning isn’t easy, and frustration can be a useful tool in helping us become motivated in learning a new skill.
If your baby is simply fussy or grumbling a bit, then I would recommend not going in the room at all. However, if your child starts to escalate then I would recommend waiting 2-3 minutes before going in the room.
When you do go in the room, do not immediately flip your baby back over. Instead, guide them through the motions of rolling, much like you would during the day if you were practicing these new skills with them! It will take a little longer, and there may be a few more tears involved, but it will also help your baby learn faster if they are going through the motions.
Once rolled over, if your baby is still upset, then you can pick them up and feed/comfort them if you would like to. Otherwise, you can return to your preferred sleep training method.
How Does this Regression Impact Sleep?
This regression can vary quite a bit between babies, but in general, the impact might include:
· Chronically short naps or a delay in connecting sleep cycles during naps.
· 1-3 Night wakings in which your baby gets “stuck” on their belly.
· An increase in the amount of time in which your child takes to fall asleep at the beginning of bedtime.
· Early morning wakings (Wakings prior to 6:00 AM in which your baby has trouble re-initiating sleep)
In general, the regression will resolve within 2-3 weeks! If you have not seen improvement, it may be time to introduce sleep training! I would love to walk you through this process, let’s book a call to chat about it:
Is it time to Night Wean?
Some families will find themselves in a bit of a feeding pickle during this regression. Like I mentioned earlier, your baby’s world is exploding and everything Is SO interesting. This may cause them to become quite distracted during the day, which can start to disrupt feedings! This is a very common source of frustration for many parents.
At night, they may naturally feed more easily because they are simply too sleepy to take in the world around them. This can lead to reverse cycling: when baby’s primary nutrient intake happens at night instead of during the day.
If you start to notice some symptoms of reverse cycling, then it can be a great time to gradually wean from some or all of your night feedings. Prior to weaning, you should seek approval from your pediatrician since they know your child’s weight gain the best. With their approval, you can then focus on weaning one feeding at a time by reducing your feeding session by 2 minutes (if breastfeeding) or ½ oz if bottle feeding.
Gradually reducing the feed will encourage your baby to transfer those calories back over to the daytime.
What if conditions don’t improve after a few weeks?
If you don’t notice any improvement within 3 weeks, then it may be because your little one is gearing up to drop a nap! This is around the age when some little ones drop down from 3-2 naps. Not sure what a 2-nap schedule looks like? Download my free schedule guide here:
Not sure if your little one is truly ready for that nap transition, read more about that in this blog post:
Patience, parents! Your little one will be a babbling, rolling champ and through this regression before you know it!
Edited by the Amazing Emily Schafer