6 month old sleep schedule: bedtime and nap schedule
Once your baby turns 6 months old, they’re likely to settle into a fairly reliable schedule with three regular naps. This makes it easier to prioritize some naps at home, while planning activities in between! We’ll equip you with a sample 6 month old sleep schedule and ways to combat upcoming nap resistance
IN THIS ARTICLE
How much should a 6 month old sleep?
Expect to see at least 14 hours of total sleep daily at 6 months old. Aim for 11 - 12 hours at night, and 2.5 - 3.5 hours during the day.
[Note: for children who were born early, we go by their adjusted age for sleep development.]
Most babies still need 2 - 3 hours of awake time in between sleep periods. Since that last nap can be so tricky, we often encourage parents to help their child fall asleep any way they can for the third nap of the day, as long as it’s safe. This will help your baby make it to bedtime without getting overtired.
Top sleep tip for 6 month old
Your 6 month old baby probably still needs three naps. If that last nap is hard to get, consider lengthening the wake window beforehand by 15 minutes. It’s okay if bedtime ends up being later as a result of the later nap.
Sleep fact for 6 month old babies
Most 6 month olds are now developmentally ready to fall asleep independently and link sleep cycles for the entire night. If you’ve been helping your baby fall asleep (e.g. by rocking or feeding) and your family isn’t getting enough shuteye, it may be time to help teach your baby to fall asleep with less help at bedtime. This should help lengthen and consolidate night sleep!
Sample 6 month old sleep schedule
Note: Sleep needs vary by child and this chart should be viewed as an example only.
Naptime schedule for a 6 month old
Expect your 6 month old baby to take three naps a day and need 2-3 hours of wake time in between sleep periods. Wake windows increase as the day progresses (so the longest awake period is just before bedtime). Your baby may need two hours of waketime before their first nap, and up to three hours of waketime before their last one.
Many babies start to resist the third, and final, nap of the day around this age. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s time to transition to two naps; most babies aren’t ready for that until 7 - 9 months old. When a baby transitions to two naps too early, it can lead to a host of sleep challenges (hello, increased night waking!). Aim for longer wake windows to increase drowsiness instead of rushing to drop a nap.
How long should a 6 month old nap?
Ideally, the first two naps will each be 60 - 90 minutes long. The third, and final, nap is typically shorter, around 30 - 45 minutes.
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How many naps for a 6 month old?
Target three naps a day at this age. While it’s not uncommon to see 6 month olds still taking four naps, keeping on this schedule for too long usually leads to shorter naps and shortened night sleep. To solve this, lengthen the wake time in between naps and aim for three naps a day. This allows sufficient sleep pressure to build, resulting in longer stretches of sleep.
On the other end of the spectrum, we sometimes see 6 month olds taking just two naps a day. This tends to cause overtiredness, which leads to increased night waking and/or early waking, which is why we don’t recommend a 2 nap schedule for 6 month olds. To sum up, aim for three naps a day at this age for maximum benefits!
Here’s what a typical day may look like at this age:
|Morning rise||6:30 AM|
|1st nap||8:30 AM - 9:45 AM (1.25 hour nap) 2 hours of awake time before 1st nap|
|2nd nap||12:00 PM - 1:30 PM (1.5 hour nap) 2.25 hours of awake time before 2nd nap|
|3rd nap||4:00 PM - 4:30 PM (30 minute nap) 2.5 hours of awake time before 3rd nap|
|Get ready for sleep||6:30 PM|
|Asleep||7:15 PM 2.75 hours of awake time before bed|
Bedtime for a 6 month old
Schedules tend to become more predictable at this age, and bedtime is typically 12 - 13 hours after they wake up each morning. However, it’s important to be flexible and adjust the bedtime earlier if needed. When babies have short naps or skip a nap, bedtime may need to be moved earlier to limit overtiredness. Likewise, if that third nap creeps later, bedtime may need to be pushed later as well.
What time should a 6 month old go to bed?
Many 6 months olds are ready for bed between 7:00 - 8:00 PM. However, the best bedtime for your baby will be determined by their circadian rhythm, or internal clock, plus how well they’ve napped that day. The circadian rhythm is set by light exposure, meaning that your baby’s morning rise time will have a big impact on bedtime.
As babies approach 7 months of age, it’s common for them to skip the third nap of the day. This is especially true for babies who nap well earlier in the day. Moving bedtime earlier on those days can help minimize the impact of overtiredness on night sleep.
6 month old baby sleep FAQ
Q: Can a 6 month old baby sleep through the night?
Some babies this age can sleep through the night. For example, a 6 month old who’s mastered the skill of falling asleep independently and is getting sufficient calories during the day is more likely to sleep through the night. On the other hand, if your baby has a parent-led sleep association, or is hungry at night, you’re likely to see some night wakings. It’s still common for babies to have 1 - 2 night feedings at this age.
Q: How often do 6 month old babies sleep?
An average 6 month old baby needs three naps per day, with 2 - 3 hours of wake time in between sleep periods. The period of wakefulness before the first nap tends to be the shortest of the day, and most babies are ready for that first snooze after two hours of wake time. The longest period of wakefulness comes at the end of the day. As a result, a 6 month old typically needs 2.5 - 3 hours of wake time before bedtime.
Q: How much nighttime sleep for a 6 month old?
Most babies this age need at least 10 hours of night sleep, although 11 - 12 hours is ideal.
Q: How much awake time for a 6 month old?
Aim for 2 - 3 hours of wakefulness in between sleep periods. Wake windows tend to increase throughout the day, with the longest period of wakefulness occurring before bedtime.
Q: How much daytime sleep for a 6 month old?
Six month old babies typically need 2.5 - 3.5 hours of daytime sleep each day. Napping more than that can impact nighttime sleep and lead to split nights (where a baby stays awake for hours during the night), or early waking in some cases.
Q: Why does my 6 month old still have short naps?
Expect the third nap of the day to be a shorter nap of 30 - 45 minutes. However, the first two naps of the day should each be at least an hour long. Short naps at this age are typically caused by schedule issues, and/or parent-led sleep associations (such as using movement or sucking to help your baby fall asleep). If your baby is taking 4 naps a day, lengthen the wake time between each nap, and transition to a 3-nap schedule. This allows more sleep pressure to build, making it easier for your baby to link sleep cycles and extend their naps.
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