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The 6 month age range is a very exciting time with tons of changes to their sleep patterns! In this blog post, I’ll be covering everything you need to know about 6 month old wake windows, sleep schedules, developmental milestones, naps, and sleep regressions.
Let’s dive in!
What are the typical wake windows for a 6 month old?
A 6 month old usually has wake windows in the 2 hour-2 hour 45 minute range. The first wake window of the day before the morning nap tends to be on the shorter side. The wake windows before nap 2 and 3 are usually longer. And the last wake window of the day might need to be shorter, around the same length as the first window.
Sample 6 month old sleep schedules
Here are two examples of sleep schedules for 6 month-old babies. The first example has shorter wake windows and reflects a baby who will not be ready to transition from a 3 nap schedule to a 2 nap schedule anytime soon. The second example has slightly longer wake windows and reflects a baby who might be ready for a 2 nap schedule in the near future.
Remember that these are examples that are not meant to be followed to the T. Make sure you are always adhering to your baby’s sleep needs and to simply use these schedules as a general guideline.
6 MONTH-OLD SAMPLE SCHEDULE #1
9:00am-10:30am- nap 1
12:45pm-2:30pm- nap 2
4:45pm-5:30pm- nap 3
6 MONTH-OLD SAMPLE SCHEDULE #2
9:30am-10:45am- nap 1
1:30pm-2:45pm- nap 2
5:30pm-6:00pm- nap 3
How many naps does my 6 month-old need?
The vast majority of 6 month-old babies truly need 3 naps. This is because 6 month old wake windows aren’t 3+ hours long just yet, which is exactly what’s needed to pull off a 2 nap schedule.
I don’t recommend putting a 6 month-old on a 2 nap schedule since most babies in this age range will become VERY overtired. And overtiredness can cause difficulty falling asleep, nightwakings, early rising, and short naps– basically every possible sleep problem! So if your 6 month old baby is fighting his naps on a 3 nap schedule, try extending his wake windows by as little as 15 minutes. Don’t worry if bedtime gets pushed a bit later as a result of these scheduling shifts.
On the flip side, most 6 month-olds are ready to drop their 4th nap and transition to a 3 nap schedule if they haven’t done so already. If your baby is still napping 4 times, he is probably ready for longer wake windows and to drop that 4th nap. This will increase daytime sleep pressure, allowing those remaining naps to lengthen.
How much overall sleep does a 6 month-old need?
Most 6 month-olds needs approximately 14.5-15 hours of sleep over a 24 hour period. This usually equates to about 11-12 hours of nighttime sleep and 3-4 hours of daytime sleep.
Ideally, your baby’s first two naps of the day would each be 75-90 minutes long. The third nap is usually a catnap and only needs to be 30-45 minutes.
Note: if your baby was born prematurely, use their corrected age to calculate their approximate sleep needs and wake windows.
Is a 2 hour nap too long for a 6 month-old?
In short- yes. Unless your 6 month-old needs MUCH more sleep than average (which happens sometimes), you might find it very challenging to get all 3 naps in without pushing bedtime too late.
Alternatively, a 2 hour morning nap might mean you end up with subsequent catnaps the rest of the day because there isn’t enough sleep pressure leftover for your baby to nap longer. And that’s a problem!
What is the best bedtime for a 6 month old?
Most 6 month-olds are ready for bed somewhere between 7pm and 8pm. However, the exact answer to this question will mainly depend on their own internal circadian rhythm and when they’re usually waking up in the morning. In other words, a baby who starts their day at 6:30am will naturally need an earlier bedtime than a baby starting their day at 7:30am.
That being said, if your baby skips a nap or gives you short naps, move bedtime earlier to minimize overtiredness.
**If you need more guidance on figuring out your little one’s wake windows and nap timings, grab a free copy of my sleep chart here!**
Can a 6 month-old baby sleep through the night?
Some 6 month-old babies can sleep 11-12 hours uninterrupted without a feed at this age, while others still need one night feed.
If you have any concerns about your baby’s night feeds, always discuss this with your baby’s pediatrician.
Why is my 6 month-old waking so frequently at night?
If your 6 month-old is up more than 1-2 times a night and is otherwise healthy, there’s usually a multitude of factors causing your baby to wake up at night. Some of the main culprits of unnecessary night wakings in 6 month-olds include:
- Inability to fall asleep independently and relying on external sleep crutches to fall asleep (e.g. feeding, rocking, patting)
- Reliance on these external sleep crutches to fall BACK asleep
- Overtiredness, likely stemming from incorrect wake windows, short naps, and insufficient consolidated sleep
- “Reverse cycling”- eating patterns that involve consuming more calories at night than necessary
- A sleep environment that isn’t conducive to good quality sleep
- Wind-down sleep routines that require modifications
**If your baby is waking more frequently at night to eat and you’re looking for evidence-based solutions to gradually remove these extra feeds and teach your little one to (mostly) sleep through the night, grab a copy of my FREE night weaning guide!**
Is there a 6 month sleep regression?
While there’s no well-known sleep regression that happens at 6 months, babies are always experiencing developmental leaps that can temporarily impact sleep. Some of these milestones for 6 month-olds include:
- Gross motor development. Some babies are learning how to roll at this age while others might be learning how to crawl! Any development of a new skill can temporarily impact sleep.
- Separation anxiety. While most babies don’t experience a big bout of separation anxiety until the 8-10 month range, some babies begin developing “mommy-itis” earlier.
- “Distracted feeding syndrome”. Many 6 month-old babies are incredibly aware of their surroundings but they don’t know how to multitask just yet. This can lead to lots of distracted feeds during the day and can cause your baby to wake up more at night due to hunger.
Don’t worry, none of these developmental milestones need to get in the way of teaching your little one to sleep well at night. We simply need to take them into account when coming up with a proper sleep plan for your little one!
Can a 6 month-old be sleep trained?
Yes! 6 months is a great age to explore sleep training options. In fact, babies are developmentally ready for sleep training at about 4 months of age. So by 6 months, you’re good to go!
The 6 month age range is also when babies are ready to consolidate and lengthen their naps if they are still catnapping. With the right foundation in place, most 6 month-old babies can learn how to link their sleep cycles, allowing their naps to go past the 45 minute-mark.
If your baby is still taking 30-45 minute catnaps at this age, this is likely caused by scheduling issues or a reliance on sleep associations to fall asleep, such as feeding or rocking. It’s very fixable 🙂
Remember that every baby is different and that your 6 month old baby might not fit the exact wake windows and scheduling recommendations I outlined here. These are general recommendations and guidelines to follow, rather than cookie-cutter schedules to follow to the T. Always experiment and play around with wake windows and schedules to figure out what works best for your particular baby- and keep a written log so you can track your little one’s progress!
By following these guidelines and troubleshooting common challenges for 6 month-olds, you can help your little one establish a restful sleep routine, benefiting both their development and your own well-being.
If you figured out your 6 month old’s wake windows but sleep is still a struggle…
I’d love to help! My Sleep Bible program helps exhausted moms with big hearts get their little one’s consistently sleeping through the night so they can feel like a functioning human again. If you’re feeling anxious and exhausted over your little one’s never-ending sleep woes but you’re ready to get your baby sleeping like a champ, this baby sleep program is for you!
For more information, you can learn more about the Sleep Bible here!