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6-Month-Old Sleep Schedule

Updated: Jul 4

By the time your baby reaches 6 months of age, they will probably establish a consistent routine with three regular naps. You may be able to start to establish some naps at home in a cot if you haven't already. This guide will provide you with a sample sleep schedule for a 6-month-old and strategies to address any potential sleep issues common at this age.


Image of a yawning baby with a heading reading 'Sleep schedule for a 6 month old baby'

What's in this article:

Below you'll find a list of all the common questions I am asked about sleep for this age group. Click on the link and it should jump you to the answer:





 

Sleep needs of a 6-month-old


sleep needs at 6 months old

How much sleep should a 6-month-old get at night?


Rather than looking at how much sleep your baby should be getting at night vs in the day, it's better to consider this over a 24-hour period instead. At this age, the recommended amount of sleep for. a6 month old baby according to the Sleep Foundation is between 12-15 hours, but as low as 10 and as high as 18 can be normal. You need to be considering whether your baby seems happy and content between periods of sleep and if they seem to be meeting their developmental milestones. That said, overnight sleep could range between 10-12 hours.


Can a 6 month old sleep through the night?


At 6 months of age, babies can be capable of sleeping through the night, but if your baby isn't, please don't feel anxious. According to Basis (the Baby Sleep Information Source at the University of Durham), there are large-scale studies that show 70% of 6-month-old babies will still be waking for at least one feed a night, and the majority of the remaining 30% will wake for other reasons. But if your baby is waking frequently, it could be either that there is an issue making them uncomfortable, such as an allergy, intolerance, or feeding issue, or it could be a sleep association where they fall asleep with assistance at the start of the night (either being rocked or fed to sleep and then transferred to the cot when in a deep sleep). This can sometimes mean they wake between sleep cycles, wonder where they are, and need assistance to get back to sleep.


How much sleep should a 6 month old get in the day?


During the day your baby may get between 2-3.5 hours of total sleep spread across 2 to 3 naps.


How long are naps for a 6 month old?


Your baby may still have short naps at this age. It's common for babies to wake after one sleep cycle which can range between 30-45 minutes during the day - particularly if these naps are in a cot. It is very normal for babies to nap better with contact. But this is also the age where naps can begin to extend (if they haven't already). Naps can be between 30 minutes to 2 hours. Try to cap individual naps aps to 2 hours max in order to preserve nighttime sleep.


What are the wake windows for a 6 month old?


Wake windows or (awake windows as they may also be known) are the period of time a baby can feasibly stay awake between periods of sleep. Typically they are shorter in the morning and they extend as the day progresses. At 6 months the wake windows are typically between 2-3 hours.


6 month old sleep schedule


How many naps should a 6 month old have?


At 6 months of ahge babies are usually on 3 naps a day, but some may drop to 2 naps fairly early.


Sample sleep schedules for a 6-month-old


Below are two sample schedules for a baby aged 6 months. Please be aware that this is just an 'ideal' routine, and your day is unlikely to look like this - if naps are shorter you may need to have shortner wake windows and an earlier bedtime, for example.


Sample sleep schedule for a 6-month-old taking three naps

Sample 3 nap routine for a 6 month old baby

Text version of the sample 3 nap routine for a 6 month old baby

7am: wake up

9-9:45am: Nap 1 (2 hour wake window)

12-1:30pm: Nap 2 (2 hour 15 minute wake window)

4-:430pm: Nap 3 ( 2 hour 30 minute wake window)

6:10pm: Begin bedtime routine

6:40pm: Place in cot

7pm: Aim for your baby to be asleep for this time ( 2 hour 30 minute wake window)


Sample sleep schedule for a 6-month-old taking two naps

Sample 3 nap routine for a 6 month old baby

Text version of the sample 2 nap routine for a 6 month old baby

7am: wake up

9:30-11am: Nap 1 (2 and a half hour wake window)

1:45-3:45pm: Nap 2 (2 hour 45 minute wake window)

5:40pm: Begin bedtime routine

6:10pm: Place in cot

6:30pm: Aim for your baby to be asleep for this time ( 2 hour 45 minute wake window)


What is a good bedtime for a 6 month old?


Really it's what works for your baby - some babies do well with an early bedtime as many babies can be early risers regardless of when they go to bed. But typically I wouldn't recommend a bedtime earlier than 5:30pm (unless your baby is unwell) because it simply isn't feasible. for them to make it to a reasonale wake up time of at least 6am in the morning. Keep in mind that babies might get between 10-12 hours of overnight sleep. If your baby is waking at 7am, that may mean a bedtime of between 7 and 9pm depending on how much daytime sleep they have had. If they are down to 2 naps already they may need longer overnight sleep of more than 12 hours.


What is a good wake up time for a 6 month old?


Again, this is whatever works for you, but I do find a wake up between 6 and 7:30am is typical at this age.

How long should the last wake window be for a 6 month old?


It will depend on your own child's sleep needs, but it will be closer to 2.5/3 hours and is usually the longest wake window of the day.


How long can a 6 month old stay awake?

Typically at this age they can usually manage to stay awake for between 2-3 hours before they will need more sleep.


Can a 6 month old transition to 2 naps?


At this age the vast majority will be on 3 naps still. Before cutting out the 3rd nap entirely I do recommend capping the last night right down first. Then, when you're in the transition you may have some days with 3 naps and some days with 2 naps. This is very normal.


Can a 6 month old still be on 4 naps a day?


I do often see this where a baby is having chronically short naps. But this can be a cycle: the naps are short because the wake windows are short, and the wake windows are short because the naps are short. So it can help to break the cycle and try to widen the wake windows to achieve 3 naps. If naps are a struggle for you, you may be interested in my 'Mastering Naps' guide and webinar here.


Does a 6 month old baby need to feed during the night?


As I said earlier, around 70% of babies this age do still wake for 1 or more feeds a night. But some babies are capable of sleeping through without a feed.


Common sleep problems for 6-month-olds


Why is my 6 month old awake every hour at night?


This is hard to say without knowing more - there are many factors that can contribute to night wakes. I go into great detail on this in my online sleep course for babies aged 0-18 months. Typically though, if a baby isn't uncomfortable, they aren't unwell or overtired/undertired they can be capable of patterns that look like this in the night this:


  • An initial stretch of up to 3.5 hours

  • Then a second stretch of up to 2.5 hours

  • Thereafter wakes can be every 45 minutes to 2 hours


Of course, this does vary from baby to baby, but this is typically what I see if a baby is waking out of habit. When I refer to habitual wakes I mean that they are being fed, or rocked to sleep in someone's arms and then transferred when in a deep sleep. This can mean when they wake between sleep cycles they are confused about where they are and they signal for their caregiver who will then need to help them to get back to sleep. This is where it can be really helpful to support your baby to learn to fall asleep where they will be sleeping all night so they don't wake out of confusion between sleep cycles. There are many ways you can do this, and you can do this, and sleep training is one way. I have a baby sleep course which teaches gentle strategies to teach your baby to self settle at bedtime.


Why does my 6 month old keep waking up at 5am or earlier?


There are so many reasons why your 6 month old might be waking at 5am. As I write this article, it is currently July and the sun is rising just before 5am each day so for many of this age it can be light. But it can be multiple factors. I have a detailed article about why your baby might be waking early right here.


Is it ok if my 6 month old only sleeps on their stomach?


You must always place your baby in their cot on their back. However, if your baby is able to roll from front to back and back to front independently and they roll onto their front or side independently, then it is safe to leave them in this position. In fact, many babies prefer to sleep in this position. If your baby cannot roll over both ways yet, I'm afraid you will need to place them back onto their back if you see they have managed to roll to their front.


Why is my 6 month old only sleeping 2 hours at a time?


Similar to a previous point, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons for nighttime awakenings. I delve deeply into this topic in my online baby sleep course designed for infants aged 0-18 months.


Why is my 6 month old fighting naps?


It may simply be that they aren't tired enough - as your baby gets older they need more awake time before sleep. Conversely, it could be that they are overtired. My Mastering Naps Webinar and Guide should give you all the answers you seek regarding your baby's naps.


Is it normal for a 6 month old to jump in their sleep?


Yes, it can be totally normal for a 6-month-old to have movements or "jumps" in their sleep. These movements can be part of their normal sleep patterns and development.


These are a some reasons why this might happen:

  1. Startle Reflex (Moro Reflex): This is a normal reflex seen in infants, which can cause them to suddenly jerk or "jump." While this reflex usually diminishes by around 4-6 months of age, it can sometimes persist a bit longer.

  2. Sleep Cycles: Babies have shorter sleep cycles compared to adults, and they spend more time in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, a light sleep stage where dreaming and movement are more common. Movements during REM sleep are normal.

  3. Developing Nervous System: As babies grow, their nervous systems are still developing. This can lead to various involuntary movements, including twitching or jumping, during sleep.

  4. Physical Development: As babies learn to control their muscles and movements, they might move more in their sleep. This is part of their physical development and coordination.


However, if the movements seem excessive, are accompanied by other symptoms (such as difficulty breathing, feeding issues, or developmental delays), or if you are concerned about your baby's sleep patterns, it is always a good idea to consult with a paediatrician to rule out any underlying issues. Something is simple as having low iron can also cause a child to be more restless in their sleep, for example.


My 6 month old has irregular breathing during sleep, is this normal?


Again, it can be normal for a 6-month-old to have irregular breathing during sleep. Infants often experience variations in their breathing patterns for a couple of reasons:


  1. Periodic Breathing: This is common in infants, where they may have a pattern of rapid breaths followed by a pause in breathing that can last up to 10 seconds. This is usually observed in the newborn phase, but can persist to around 6 months.

  2. REM Sleep: During REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which is a lighter sleep stage, babies can have irregular breathing. This is the sleep stage where dreaming occurs, and it can cause changes in breathing patterns.


While some irregular breathing is normal, some signs may require medical attention:


  • Sleep Apnea: Pauses in breathing that lasts longer than 20 seconds.

  • Colour Changes: If your baby’s skin, lips, or nails turn blue or dusky.

  • Laboured Breathing: If you notice signs of distress such as grunting, flaring nostrils, or the chest appears to be 'sucked in' around the ribs or neck to breathe.

  • Persistent Coughing or Choking: Frequent coughing or choking during sleep.


If you observe any of these concerning signs or if you are worried about your baby’s breathing, it’s important to consult with your GP or health visitor for a thorough evaluation.


Is there a 6 month sleep regression?


While some parents report changes in their baby's sleep patterns around six months, there is no universally recognised "sleep regression" at this specific age. However, several factors can cause temporary disruptions in sleep:


  1. Developmental Milestones: Around six months, babies often start achieving new skills like sitting up, rolling over, or beginning to crawl. These developments can make them more restless or wakeful at night.

  2. Teething: Many babies begin teething around this time, which can cause discomfort and disrupt their sleep.

  3. Separation Anxiety: Babies become more aware of their surroundings and may start experiencing separation anxiety, leading to more frequent nighttime awakenings and a need for comfort from parents.

  4. Changes in Sleep Patterns: Your baby is getting older, and they simply may need more or less sleep.


Will teething disrupt sleep at 6 months?


Yes, teething can disrupt sleep at 6 months. Many babies begin teething around this age, and the discomfort associated with teething can lead to difficulties in sleeping. Here are some common ways teething can affect sleep:


  1. Increased Wakefulness: The pain and discomfort from emerging teeth can cause babies to wake up more frequently during the night.

  2. Difficulty Falling Asleep: Babies might have a harder time falling asleep initially due to the discomfort in their gums.

  3. Shorter Naps: Teething pain can also result in shorter naps during the day.


Sleep Training for a 6-month-old baby


Can I sleep train my 6 month old?


Yes you can, but equally, you don't have to. 6 months is a good age to sleep train as your baby is likely through the worst of the 4 month regression and they won't yet have reached the peak period for separation anxiety which happens at around 9 months of age. In addition, this is also when many babies start to consolidate their daytime naps.


What is a good sleep training method for a 6 month old?


There is no 'one-size fits all' sleep training approach. A good sleep training method for a 6-month-old depends on your baby's temperament, parental comfort level, and family dynamics. Here are a few commonly used methods:


  1. The Ferber Method (AKA Controlled Crying or Graduated Extinction):

  • This method involves putting your baby into their cot while they are still wide awake and allowing them to cry for short intervals before briefly comforting them. The intervals gradually increase over time. I have a detailed guide on this method here.

  1. Pick Up/Put Down Method:

  • This method is seen as a gentle method, you pick up your baby when they cry, comfort them until calm, and then put them back down to sleep. This process is repeated as needed until the baby falls asleep independently. In my experience, this tends to overstimulate many babies.

  1. The Chair Method (AKA Gradual Retreat or The Sleep Lady Shuffle):

  • This method involves putting your baby down in their cot wide awake and sitting by the cot until they fall asleep. The idea is that every few nights you will gradually move the chair further away until you are out of the room. It allows you to provide reassurance without picking up the baby. I have a detailed guide on this method here.

  1. Gentle Sleep Training:

  • It is possible to sleep train your baby using responsive methods that allow you to remain in the room offering comfort and reassurance. My online baby sleep course teaches three of these methods.



Hello!


Headshot of Janine Orford Baby Sleep Consultatn based in London

I'm Janine and I'm a certified Sleep Practitioner, Mum of two and the founder of The Bedtime Champ. The Bedtime Champ is a sleep consultancy service offering in-home consultations in London (England) and remote consultations worldwide. One-to-one consultation packages start at £97, and I also have an online course and community which is a comprehensive sleep resource for parents of babies aged 0-18 months of age. To find out more about The Essential Gentle Baby Sleep Course for babies aged 0-18 months of age, click here.

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