6-Month-Old Sleep Schedule: Sample Schedule And Expert Tips
At six months old, your little one is growing and developing in leaps and bounds! To help them get the rest they need, you may be wondering what a six-month-old sleep schedule should look like. They’re certainly not sleeping around the clock like they did when they were a newborn.
In this article, we’ll offer an example of a six-month-old sleep schedule as well as general tips for sound baby sleep that will serve you well now and in the months to come. But first, let’s go over the basics of sleep at this age.
Table Of Contents
- 6-Month-Old Sleep
- Wake Window For 6-Month-Olds
- Sample 6-Month-Old Sleep Schedule
- Nap Train If Necessary
- Tips For Sound Sleep
- What If Your 6-Month-Old Won’t Sleep?
Babies need lots of sleep. You’ve experienced that first-hand over the past six months! By the time your little one is four months old, their circadian rhythm (the internal body clock that regulates sleeping and waking) is developing which means their sleep is more predictable.
At six months, your baby may experience a sleep regression, or they might sail on through with no problem. Regardless, exactly how many hours of sleep does a six-month-old need?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) suggests that babies between four months and one year old sleep for 12 to 16 hours a day, including naps. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has endorsed this recommendation, and it’s what we stick with, too.
For example, if your six-month-old baby naps a total of three hours during the day, at night they’ll need to sleep anywhere between nine and 13 hours. Knowing that information and what time your baby is up and at ‘em in the morning can help you calculate your little one’s bedtime.
To give you another example, if you know your baby needs to sleep 12 hours at night, and you wake them up at 7:00 a.m., they should be falling asleep by 7:00 p.m.
When it comes to naps during the day, your little one is right around the age when babies typically transition from three naps to two naps.
Between six or seven months and nine months is when they will start refusing their third nap. That’s your cue to switch to only two naps a day and put them to bed a bit earlier while they adjust.
Just keep in mind that every baby is different and part of creating your baby’s six-month-old sleep schedule includes getting to know your little one and their sleep needs.
The Importance Of Sleep
Why is sleep so very important? According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, regular sleep deprivation in kids goes further than just a cranky day. It can also cause behavioral and health problems, such as difficulty concentrating, hypertension, obesity, headaches, and depression.
On the flip side, getting enough sleep is good for the immune system, school performance, and mental health. Your baby also grows while they’re sleeping, as their growth hormone is produced when they're in a deeper stage of sleep.
Not getting enough sleep means they're missing out on important growth and development. That’s reason enough to get in the habit of good sleep from the time your child is a baby.
Wake Window For 6-Month-Olds
Another important element of your baby's sleep is how long they can stay awake between naps.
This is called the wake window. Keeping your little one awake for the right amount of time makes them more likely to actually sleep when you put them down for a nap.
For babies between 4-6 months of age, the recommended wake window is 1.5 to 2.5 hours. Babies who are a little older, between 7-9 months, can stay awake for 2 to 3.5 hours before needing to doze off again.
At six months, your baby is likely right in the middle of those two recommendations. Some will have a little shorter wake window, while others will already be ready to stay up longer.
You need to pay attention to their sleep cues to time it right. If they’re too tired to sleep after two hours, move their nap time up a little. If they’re not showing any signs of sleepiness at that point, try letting them stay up for another 15 or 20 minutes.
Once you find their sweet spot, stick with it for a while. But remember your baby’s sleep needs are always changing, so as they grow, you’ll need to tweak their sleep schedule again.
Sample 6-Month-Old Sleep Schedule
All of that said, what might a typical six-month-old sleep schedule look like? Naps will probably last between one and two hours with the third nap being shorter, simply helping your little one last until bedtime.
Let’s take a look at one possible schedule:
- Wake up: 6:30 a.m. or 7:00 a.m.
- First nap: 8:30 a.m. or 9:00 a.m.
- Second nap: 12:30 p.m. or 1:00 p.m.
- Third nap: 4:00 p.m. or 4:30 p.m.
According to what we discussed earlier, keep in mind that your baby’s bedtime depends on how many hours they’ve slept during the day and how many hours of sleep they require. Just remember that there’s nothing wrong with an early bedtime if your little one needs it.
When planning your child’s sleep schedule, keep in mind that it needs to work with the general rhythm of your family. If you’re more of a stay-up-late and sleep-in kind of family, the schedule above might not work for you.
Here’s another possibility:
- Wake up: 8:30 a.m. or 9:00 a.m.
- First nap: 10:30 a.m. or 11:00 a.m.
- Second nap: 2:30 p.m. or 3:00 p.m.
- Third nap: 6:00 p.m. or 6:30 p.m.
With this schedule, your baby would obviously stay up later at night. After a two-hour wake window in the evening, they may be ready for bed at about 9:00 p.m. or 9:30 p.m.
Then, if they’re still waking for a night feeding, you can do a dream feed around 11:00 p.m. before you hit the hay.
The key is to find a sleep schedule that works for all of you. However, it might take some trial and error and additional sleep training before you achieve that goal.
Nap Train If Necessary
If you find that your baby’s naps are less than an hour, you can nap train. Nap training helps your baby learn to fall asleep on their own when they wake up after a short period of time.
Aim for nap times that last at least one hour. That means that you’ll keep your baby in their crib for an hour even if they’re not snoozing. If they wake up after a 15-minute catnap, use your favorite sleep training method until they fall asleep or until an hour has passed.
This applies to your baby’s first and second naps since the third nap is more of a cat nap anyway.
The Nap Pass
Sticking to a nap schedule similar to the example we listed above is important to help your baby get the sleep they need and rest well at night. But life is busy — especially if you have more than one child! Sometimes your baby will need to take a nap on the go, and that’s OK.
We recommend the Nap Pass concept. The Nap Pass means that you allow your six-month-old to nap while you’re out and about up to three times per week, but no more. This applies to little ones who are sleeping well at night and consistently taking naps that last at least an hour.
If that’s the case and your baby is capable of falling asleep on the go, use your Nap Pass as needed, just avoid using it on consecutive days and never use it more than once on the same day.
And remember to be flexible. If an on-the-go nap means your baby didn’t sleep for very long, bump up the start time of their next nap.
Tips For Sound Sleep
Just because you religiously stick to a six-month-old sleep schedule doesn’t mean that your baby will always drift off without a fuss or sleep soundly through their nap or the night.
To wrap up, we’ll provide a few tips for sound sleep that you can put into practice right away and will be useful for the months ahead, too.
Know Your Baby’s Sleep Cues
In an ideal situation, you’ll put your baby to bed when they’re sleepy rather than pushing them to stay awake and creating an overtired baby. After all, an overtired baby may actually have more trouble falling asleep once you put them in bed.
So, be on the lookout for the signs that your little one is ready to sleep. These sleep cues include rubbing their eyes, yawning, being less interactive, and staring off into space. Crying can also be a sign that your baby is tired, but it’s a late sleep cue.
Don’t wait until your baby cries to start the naptime or bedtime routine. That brings us to the next tip.
Create Bedtime And Naptime Routines
Little ones thrive on consistency. Naptime and bedtime routines can help their body realize that it’s time to rest. If you already have sleepy time routines, keep it up! If not, it’s not too late to get in the habit.
What should a naptime or bedtime routine consist of? Calming activities, such as taking a bath, singing a lullaby, a baby massage, rocking and reading a book, or a goodnight kiss.
Choose a set of activities that work for your family and do them in the same order each time you put your baby to bed. That said, your little one’s naptime routine will probably be less extensive than the bedtime routine. For instance, it probably won’t include a bath.
A quick nap time routine could be:
- Diaper change
- Quick foot rub with some lavender baby lotion
- Singing a favorite lullaby
- A sleep-tight kiss
Feel free to mix and match to find what works for you and your baby. You might have one song you sing at naptime and another for bedtime. Or you could keep them the same. There’s no right or wrong way to do a bedtime (or naptime) routine.
Adjust The Temperature
Before putting your baby down for their nap or for bedtime, adjust the thermostat. While there’s not one temperature that’s ideal for a sleeping baby, a common recommendation is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Play it by feel. If it’s comfortable for a lightly clothed adult, it’s probably a good temperature. Keep in mind that babies should be dressed in no more than one layer more than what you would wear. And covering your sleeping baby with a blanket is a no-no.
These cozy wearable blankets will keep your baby warm while they sleep, and there’s no risk of entanglement.
Keep The Crib Safe
Make your baby’s crib a secure place for your little one. We just mentioned that your six-month-old baby shouldn’t sleep with a blanket.
Use Safe Sleep Practices
In addition to creating a safe sleeping space for your baby, use safe sleep practices when putting them to bed. This includes — but is not limited to — putting your baby to sleep on their back and offering a pacifier at bedtime.
You’ll also want to make sure your baby is sleeping on a firm, flat surface. Sleeping on an inclined surface can restrict their airway. This means it’s not considered safe for your baby to regularly sleep unsupervised in their car seat, swing, or an inclined sleeper.
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Check Their Sleep Environment
Is your little one's room conducive to sleep? If there's a lot of noise or light coming into the room, it might be hard for your baby to rest. To prevent this, use blackout curtains and white noise machines to create a sleep-friendly environment.
Cap The Nap
You can get a lot done while your baby is sleeping! It's so tempting to let them nap for several hours. But, unfortunately, that can backfire. If your baby doesn't have enough active awake time during the day, they will want it at night.
This means they won't be ready for sleep when bedtime rolls around. They’ll be ready to play!
To avoid this situation, cap naps at two hours. While it might seem strange at first to wake a sleeping baby, it’s the best way to ensure you get a full night’s sleep.
Make Sure Your Baby Isn’t Hungry
Hungry babies don't sleep well. And now that your baby is staying up longer between naps, they may need to eat a bit before settling down.
Babies need to eat every 2-3 hours during the day. Let’s say your little one eats at 10:00 when they first get up from a nap. Then, they have 2.5 hours of awake time and start to show some sleep cues.
Now, it’s time for another nap, but it's also almost time for another feeding. If you put them to bed without a snack, they're likely to wake up hungry before naptime is over.
To prevent this, offer a small snack before bed. If they're eating solids, oatmeal or pureed bananas can help keep them asleep. You can also offer breastmilk or formula.
Engage Your Baby While They’re Awake
Tired babies sleep well. Make it a point to engage your baby during their awake times. Play with them, sing songs, or read a book together — anything to keep them active and alert.
Here are a few activities your six-month-old might enjoy:
- Sitting (with support if needed) in a nursing pillow
- Having belly time with a few toys in front of them
- Playing with a musical toy
- Exploring their environment in the baby carrier or stroller
- Dancing in your arms
- Playing peekaboo
- Playing in water (never unsupervised!)
Try mixing things up throughout the day so your child is exposed to different stimuli. This will help keep them engaged and encourage healthy development.
Have A Travel Crib
When you’re on vacation or spending the day at Grandma’s house, your little one won’t have their own bed to sleep in. This can throw off their sleep schedule if you’re not careful.
Invest in a travel crib you can take with you to promote consistency. This makes it easier for your little one to transition from place to place without missing out on their much-needed rest.
And it also allows them to have a safe sleep environment, no matter where they are. For even more tips for sleeping on the go, read this post.
What If Your 6-Month-Old Won’t Sleep?
Does sleep seem elusive to your six-month-old? If they're having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, here are some common problems.
Did your child have a sleep regression when they were 4 months old? If they did, you're already familiar with this concept. And you might be surprised to learn that your baby could be going through another one so soon.
Sleep regressions are a normal part of development but can be frustrating. To get through this time, double down on your bedtime routine. Do it consistently to help your child start calming down before bed.
In addition, make sure your baby is getting enough daytime naps. This is the age when many babies transition from three naps to two, which means you may need to adjust bedtime to ensure your little one isn't too tired to fall asleep.
Even if your baby doesn’t yet have any teeth poking through their gums, their first teeth may be getting ready to emerge. Teething can be painful and disrupt your baby’s sleep, so if they seem restless or unable to stay asleep, check their mouths for red or swollen gums.
If you suspect they’re teething, offer them something cold, like a chilled teether or washcloth, to ease the pain. You can also give them a dose of infant acetaminophen if your pediatrician recommends it.
Babies typically have a growth spurt about this age. They may be hungrier or fussier than usual if they're working hard on growing. You'll also notice changes in their sleep routine, such as needing to be rocked longer or waking up to eat at night after not needing to previously.
Keep your baby's sleep schedule as consistent and predictable as possible during this time, and ensure they get adequate nutrition to support their growth. If you have questions about what they should eat, ask your child's pediatrician.
Your six-month-old is exploring their world and becoming more active, making it hard for them to settle down at bedtime.
To avoid overstimulating them, keep their environment calm before they go to sleep. Avoid screens and loud activities and instead opt for quiet activities, such as reading stories or playing soft music.
Lack Of Consistency
Babies thrive on routines and daily rhythms. If you've used the nap pass too often, your little one could be confused. They may not know if you want them to sleep or play.
Try to keep the same bedtime and nap times every day, even on weekends. This will help your baby's internal clock become more regulated so they learn when it's time for sleep.
A 6-Month-Old Sleep Schedule For Sweet Dreams!
Sufficient sleep is essential for healthy development, wellness, and happy days! Follow the example of a six-month-old sleep schedule that we listed in this article, keeping in mind that every baby is a little different and parenthood requires lots of flexibility.
As you get into the swing of things with your baby’s sleep schedule, put into practice the sound sleep tips we mentioned.
With a schedule in place and safe sleep practices in mind, it’s “goodnight” and “sweet dreams” to your little one!