Six months old is a time of rapid developmental change. Your baby has probably started sitting up, coming to hands and knees, and trying to crawl just in the last few weeks! She’s probably smiling, laughing and babbling throughout the day. She may seem like a completely different baby than she was just a few months ago.
These might seem like natural phases, but all these developments and newfound abilities can be a lot for your little one to manage.
Developmental milestones, like sitting and crawling, involve a surge in brain development. We often see one aspect of development temporarily regress while your baby advances in another area. For example, your baby’s sleep may worsen when he’s learning to crawl.
Many parents reach out to me at 6 months old because their baby is struggling with sleep. This isn’t surprising, given how much development is happening. Sometimes it’s the 6 month sleep regression causing problems. Other times it might be a sleep schedule issue or that their 6 month old won’t sleep through the night anymore.
Consider this to be your 6 month old baby sleep guide. It’s going to walk you through what you can expect, example daily schedules and the best sleep training advice for your baby. Let’s dive in!
What to Expect
- Naps & Awake times
Keep awake times 2-3 hour max. Your 6 month old should have a total of 2-3 hours everyday. This is usually divided between 2-4 naps.
Bedtime for your 6 month old should naturally fall between 6:30-8 pm. This is the time that suits most babies body clocks.
- Night Sleep
Your 6 month old should sleep 11-12 hours at night.
- Night feedings
Most 6 month olds need 1-2 night feeds. Your baby’s growth and weight gain will determine how many night feeds he needs. Some 6 month olds are ready to sleep through the night. It’s best to ask your baby’s doctor how many night feeds he needs.
- Total sleep in 24 hours
14-16 hours. Make sure your 6 month old is sleeping at least 14 hours total each day.
6 Month Old Schedule
The first step to getting your 6 month old sleeping well is to get on a consistent daily schedule. Babies thrive on routine.
It doesn’t need to be strict. When my daughter was a baby I could stick to consistent sleep times, but that was about it. I didn’t plan feeding and play times, they just happened. Other moms really enjoy knowing exactly how to plan their day.
Here are 2 example daily schedules for your 6 month old.
Baby takes 2 naps
7:00 Wake, milk
9:00 Morning nap
11:00 Wake, milk
1:30 Afternoon nap
3-3:30 Wake, milk
5:00 Set the scene for relaxation
5:30 Dinner, bath
6:00 Bedtime routine, top-up feed
Baby takes 3 naps
7:00 Wake, milk
9:00 Morning nap
10:00 Wake, milk
12:15 Afternoon nap
1:30 Wake, milk, solids
4:00 Cat nap (30 mins)
5:45 Set the scene for relaxation
6:00 Dinner, bath
6:45 Bedtime routine, top-up feed
Note: If your baby wakes at a different time in the morning, move your schedule accordingly.
- Milk & solids can be combined or staggered depending on baby’s preference.
- On-demand breastfeeders do not need to follow a feeding schedule like this one.
- If baby isn’t yet into solids, offer more milk throughout the day
Download my Daily Schedules below!
Step 1: Create a Sleep Friendly Space
Even though you’re out of the “danger zone” of SIDS it’s still critical that your baby has a safe sleep space. Now is not the time to add bumpers, pillows, or stuffed animals to your baby’s crib. Your baby’s crib is safest with a fitted sheet and nothing else. Also, lower the crib mattress to the lowest level even if your baby isn’t standing yet.
Step 2: Sleep Training Begins at Bedtime
When sleep training, we always focus on one aspect of sleep at a time. Trying to fix your baby’s night sleep and naps at the same time is a recipe for disaster. You’ll end up with an over-tired and cranky baby that won’t sleep!
We begin at bedtime because it’s the time of the day that your baby is the most tired and most likely to comply with changes to his sleep routine.
The purpose of a bedtime routine is to calm your baby in the evening, so that his body can relax and welcome sleep. Certain activities have been proven to relax babies, and when done in the right order, it sets your baby up to sleep longer at night.
Your baby’s bedtime routine should include a bath, massage, feeding, books and lullabies (or anything else that relaxes your little one.)
My Exhausted Mom’s Survival Kit guides you through the essential steps of creating a peaceful bedtime routine. Doing these elements in the right order is critical for your baby sleep longer at night.
Step 3: Reduce Night Wakings
Once you have your bedtime routine going, it’s time to start reducing night wakings. Remember, most 6 month olds only need 1-2 night feeds. This means your baby can sleep 4-8 hour stretches at night!
Night weaning and sleep training go hand-in-hand. My sleep training program, 21 Days to Peace & Quiet, walks you through the process of reducing your baby’s night wakings. Plus, it explains when your baby is ready to eliminate night feeds and HOW to do it. Find out more about it here!
Step 4: Work on Naps
Once your 6 month old is going to bed happy and sleeping great at night, it’s time to work on naps.
Your 6 month old should nap every 2-3 hours. Awake times longer than this can over-tire and over-stimulate your baby, making it harder to settle for sleep. Sometimes it just takes tweaking awake times for your baby to take longer naps!
You can start with awake times of 2.5 hours and see how your baby does. Or you can use a more structured approach like this one:
1st awake time: 2 hours
2nd awake time: 2 – 2.5 hours
3rd awake time: 2.5 hours
4th awake time: 2.5 – 3 hours
Now is the time to begin a 5-10 minute pre-nap calming routine. Take a few elements from your bedtime routine to relax baby so he can fall asleep.
Once you begin formal nap training, it’s best if baby naps in the crib at home (if possible.) Use familiar sleep props (like white noise and a sleep sack) so baby understands that it’s time to sleep.
RELATED: How To Extend Your Baby’s Short Naps
Step 5: Wake Your Baby at the Same Time Every Morning
This is one of the easiest and gentlest sleep training tips I have for you! And it’s a great way for your 6 month old to get into a consistent sleep schedule.
Waking at the same time each morning sets baby’s body clock and helps her sleep become more predictable. For example, if baby always wakes at 7am, then her morning nap will always happen at 9 am. Having this predictability helps you plan your day.
If you need help picking a wake time, write down the times your baby naturally wakes for one week. Then pick the time that falls right in the middle of this range. That’s your new wake up time!
Is the 6 Month Sleep Regression Real?
Yep. But not every baby experiences outward signs of this regression.
Sleep regressions are disruptions in sleep for a baby who was previously sleeping well. It’s when your baby starts waking more at night, fighting sleep or his naps worsen out of the blue.
These disruptions come at predictable times because they are associated with developmental milestones. When your baby advances in one area (like verbal development) he may temporarily regress in another area (like sleep.)
If your baby’s sleep has suddenly become a nightmare for no apparent reason, the 6 month sleep regression is probably to blame. This article explains this sleep regression and tells you how to help your little one get through it.
Why is My 6 Month not Sleeping Through the Night?
Following the 5 sleep training steps above will help your 6 month old start sleeping well. Sleep training takes time, though. You’ll need 1-2 weeks of consistency before you may begin seeing real improvements.
If you’re doing all the above steps and your baby is still waking often in the night, it may be because of the reasons below.
Reason #1: Your baby is too drowsy at bedtime
If your baby is half-asleep when she goes into her crib at bedtime, she’s not learning to fully settle herself to sleep. This means when she wakes in the night, she’ll still need your help to settle. This could happen 4-5 times a night!
Practice putting your baby down in the crib more awake
Make sure your baby’s eyes are still open when she goes into the crib. That will tell you she isn’t too drowsy.
You want baby to be aware that she’s going into her bed and falling asleep on her own. That way, when she stirs in the night she knows exactly how to resettle herself just like she did at bedtime.
Reason # 2: Awake times and overtiredness
Baby sleep is completely counterintuitive. Most parents would think that an overtired baby would crash hard at bedtime and sleep through the night. Unfortunately, just the opposite happens.
Babies need to be well-rested during the day to sleep well at night, and vice versa. If your baby was up for a long stretch of time during the day, he may be too overstimulated and wired to sleep well at night.
Make sure to follow the recommended awake times from Step 4 above. This will help your baby stay well-rested during the day so he can sleep great at night.
6 months old is a time of rapid development and change. All the changes that your baby is going through may cause his sleep to suffer. No matter if your baby is mastering a new skill or going through the 6 month sleep regression, there are always steps you can take to help her sleep well.
Babies can learn to settle themselves to sleep and sleep long stretches around 5-6 months old. All is takes is a consistent sleep routine and following the 5 sleep training steps above. As with anything parenting related, consistency is key.
Is your 6 month old having problems sleeping through the night? Let me know in the comments below.
Want to get your baby sleeping well, but not sure where to start? Join my free Exhausted Mom’s Survival Kit where I walk you through the first steps of getting your baby sleeping well.