By 6 months old, your sweet baby’s circadian rhythms are vibing, their sleep cycles are maturing, and they most likely no longer need to eat overnight. All amazing accomplishments that should, in theory, result in blissful ZZZs-filled nights. But, spoiler alert, at 6 months old, roughly 62% of babies are sleeping 6 hours a night—and a mere 43% are sleeping for 8-hour stretches. Some even go through a dreaded sleep regression at 6 months. Here’s everything you need to know about weathering the sleep storm that is the 6-month sleep regression.

What is a sleep regression?

“A sleep regression is when a baby’s sleep patterns switch from good to crummy…seemingly overnight,” says pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block.  

In general, baby sleep gets better and better over the first couple of years. “It’s not that they sleep more and more hours, exactly. It’s that they start to have longer periods of unbroken sleep,” Karp explains. That means during a sleep regression, you may see your baby go from 0 to 1 wakeup a night to 2 or more.

“While sleep regressions are frustrating, they’re a normal part of development,” Karp notes. With that, sleep regressions often coincide with big cognitive jumps. While a sleep regression can happen at any time, the most common ages for sleep regression are 4 months, 8 to 9 months, 12 months, and sometimes between 18 and 24 months. That said, because 6-month-old infants are suddenly more aware of all the exciting sights and sounds around, a 6-month sleep regression is not out of the ordinary.

Why won’t my 6-month-old baby sleep?

While many 6-month-olds can sleep for 6 to 10 hours a night with zero wakeups, research in the journal Pediatrics discovered that up to about 38% of 6-month-old babies aren’t sleeping for 6 consecutive hours at night—and 57% aren’t sleeping for 8 hours straight.

What is the cause of 6-month sleep regression?

There’s no singular cause of the 6-month sleep regression. Instead, there are a variety of reasons your little one might be experience sleep setbacks, such as:

  • Change of environment: Many babies migrate to their nurseries at 6 months, but if you haven’t familiarized your little one with their room and their crib—and built happy memories there—the move can spur a sleep regression.
  • Separation anxiety: While separation anxiety tends to strike around 9 months, for some babies it can begin as early as 4 to 5 months, which can make sleepytime especially difficult.
  • Teething: Babies often start teething by about 6 months, which means sore gums could be sabotaging your bub’s sleep.
  • Distracted eating: Many babies around 4 to 6 months become easily distracted during nursing, which can lead to not getting enough to eat and then waking from hunger.
  • Developmental leaps: At 6 months, your baby is especially aware of their surroundings, they’re more sensitive to sleep disturbances, and often love to practice the new skills they’re learning—like sitting up—all night long.
  • Sleep schedule adjustment: As your little one gets older, their wake windows increase and their nap schedule changes—so scheduling tweaks are must. In fact, at around 6 months old, give or take, many babies drop their late afternoon nap.

Sleep Habits of a 6-Month-Old Baby

By 6-months-old, your little one should be on the path to a somewhat predictable sleep pattern. While not all 6-month-olds “sleep through the night,” most no longer need a feed in the middle of the night.

Here’s what sleep looks like for most 6-month-olds:

  • ​​​Babies don’t have regular sleep cycles until they are about 6 months old.
  • Most 6-month-olds sleep between 12 and 16 hours over a 24-hour period.
  • Bedtime for 6-month-olds often falls somewhere between 7 to 9pm.
  • Most 6-month-olds sleep 6 hours a night.
  • It’s normal for a 6-month-old to wake during the night—and then fall back to sleep after a few minutes.
  • Most 6-month-olds take at least two naps during the day, totaling about 3 to 4 hours of daytime sleep.
  • Most 6-month-olds have a wake window ranging from 2 to 4 hours.
  • At 6 months old, your baby is more aware of the sights and sounds around them, making a dark sleep space and a proper white noise machine must-haves.
  • At 6 months old, your baby should be sleeping in a crib, free of all loose bedding and soft objects.
  • Once your little one is about 6 months old, they tend to naturally outgrow the need for rocking to help them sleep.

Do all babies  have a 6-month sleep regression?

No! While some babies go through a 6-month sleep regression, many don’t. Some 6-month-olds actually experience sleep improvements at this age, including longer stretches of sleep at night. Whether your baby is dealing with a sleep regression at 6 months or not, both are considered “normal” sleep behaviors.

6-Month Sleep Regression Symptoms

The most obvious sign of a sleep regression? Your baby starts waking up several times a night. Other sleep regression signs include:

  • Appetite changes
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Either shorter or extended naps
  • Frequent wakings
  • Increased fussiness
  • More crying at night

How long does the 6-month sleep regression last?

The good news is that the 6-month sleep regression is often short lived, usually lasting just a few days. However, a sleep regression could stretch for a few weeks—or even months—if healthy sleep habits aren’t implemented.

Coping Strategies for Parents During the 6-Month Sleep Regression

The 6-month sleep regression can take a toll on any weary caregiver! To help get you through it, remember the old saying: This too shall pass (and refer to these super-effective parenting affirmations for a boost on tough nights!).

All babies are different, so comparing your little one’s sleep to, say, your friends’ babies or randos on the internet is not helpful. If you’re concerned with your baby’s sleep regression, turn to your pediatrician for guidance—and reassurance. And maybe take a mini break from social media. 

Above all, take care of yourself during your baby’s sleep regression. Do what you can to allow yourself to rest and recharge. This could mean taking turns with your partner having “nights off” of sleep duty, hiring some help if you can swing it, reaching out to your support network for help, or even seeking professional help if the sleep regression is wearing down your mental health or confidence.

How to Handle Sleep Regressions in Your 6-Month-Old

Sleep regressions have been occurring since the dawn of time, which means, there are several proven strategies to not only help avoid a sleep regression, but to fix it, too. Here are some sleep strategies to use with your 6-month-old:

Stick with sleep cues.

Babies depend on specific sleep cues to get them to dreamland. Plus, they thrive with familiar and predictable routines. That means: It’s not the time to wean your 6-month-old from the sleepytime triggers they love, like the pacifier and white noise.

“White noise is one of the best ways to help prevent sleep regressions in the first place,” says Dr. Karp. This is especially true at 6-months when babies are more aware of the distracting sounds around them.

“Continuous, multifrequency white noise can obscure the distracting sounds and disturbing internal feelings, like teething pain, that often cause an infant to slide from light-waking into full arousal,” says Dr. Karp. 

Adjust your baby’s bedtime.

Just because, say, 8pm has been your go-to bedtime, doesn’t mean it’s your baby’s forever bedtime. (Most 6-month-olds have a bedtime between 7 and 9pm.) If your baby suddenly shows no sign of fatigue at bedtime, fights sleep for 30 to 60 minutes, and wakes in the middle of the night (or very early the next day) raring to go, try pushing their bedtime routine 15 minutes later every two to three nights to nail the right bedtime.

On the flip side, if your bub is irritable during the day, takes unplanned naps in the car or stroller, naps for 2 hours or more, and is overtired by night-night, you should push your baby’s bedtime routine 15 minutes earlier every two to three nights.

Help your baby self-soothe.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to introduce your baby to Dr. Harvey Karp’s wake-and-sleep trick. Every bedtime, turn on the white noise and place your drowsy 6-month-old in their crib awake. If they’ve dozed in your arms, gently rouse them with a light tickle on their feet until they barely wake. After a few seconds, they’ll close their eyes again. (If your baby fusses, pick them up for a feed or a cuddle, then repeat the rouse-to-wake routine.) Those few seconds of drowsy wake-time are the first steps to helping your baby learn how to self-soothe and sleep longer.

Don’t rush in to soothe.

If you set up your 6-month-old for sleep success and they still wake in the middle of the night, it’s wise to pause before rushing in to soothe them back to dreamland. Waiting for a minute or (or a few) allows your baby the opportunity to calm themselves down and get back to sleep without your help. If you do need to check on them, rely on a dim nightlight and avoid any too-stimulating bright lights.

Tweak nighttime feedings.

By 6 months old, most babies are not waking up due to hunger, but habit. If this sounds familiar, slowly decrease how many ounces you offer overnight. If you are nursing your 6-month-old, shorten the duration of nighttime feeds—and/or just offer milk from one breast.

Get a familiar sleep sack.

Got a recent SNOO graduate? Congrats! To help your baby adjust to their new sleep environment, turn to the sleep sack (also called a transitional swaddle) that’s nearly identical to the SNOO Sack they’ve been happily sleeping in for the past 6 months: the award-winning Sleepea 5-Second Swaddle. (It’s a SNOO Sack without the “wings!”) Sleepea allows for safe arms-out sleeping but offers your baby the familiarity and comfort of their favorite swaddle.

Final Thoughts on the 6-Month Sleep Regression

Sleep regressions are a normal part of babyhood—and even toddlerhood. Your little one’s sudden downward shift in sleep is not a reflection on your parenting skills—sleep regressions are more often a sign that your baby is experiencing some kind of developmental leap…which is exciting.

So, please, give yourself some grace. Remember, “offering your 6-month-old strong sleep cues is a great way to handle sleep regression as they come—and to help keep them at bay,” says Dr. Karp. That means, ensure your child’s room is dark and at the right temperature for sleep, which is between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn on that low, rumbly white noise about 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime—and keep it on all night. And there’s no need to shy away from the pacifier. “They can greatly help kids get through sleep regressions,” says Dr. Karp. 

More on Sleep and Your 6-Month-Old:



  • Uninterrupted Infant Sleep, Development, and Maternal Mood, Pediatrics, December 2018
  • The Happiest Baby on the Block, Dr. Harvey Karp, MD
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics: How to Ease Your Child’s Separation Anxiety
  • Australian Breastfeeding Association: Feeding Your Distractible Baby

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.