Dr. Sarah Mitchell
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5 Things You Need to Know About Your 6 Month Old’s Sleep

Congratulations!  You’ve made it to the 6 month mark where things generally get a little easier.  A this age babies can stay awake a little longer and you have bigger windows to get out of the house and do more things for yourself without compromising your baby’s sleep.

5 things you need to know about your 6 month old’s sleep

1.  Your 6 month old can stay awake for 2.5 hours at the very most  

We refer to this as the “awake time”.  The time between sleep periods that a baby can comfortably be awake for.  This is a maximum amount of time.  At the beginning of 6 months your baby might not quite be able to stay awake this long, but this will become most true closer to the end of 6 months.  Also, the first awake time of the day before the first nap will be closer to 2 hours.  Note that this is the time to be back asleep, not being put into the crib.

2.  Your baby has naturally adapted to a 3 nap routine

The 4-3 nap transition occurs around 5 months.  By 6 months your baby likely has two longer naps and then a third 30-40 minute cat nap at the end of the day.  This third nap is always the hardest to get them down for, and the first nap is always the easiest.  If your baby has never napped longer than 45 minutes, she probably does not know how to soothe herself into sleep.  She will surface from a daytime 45 minute sleep cycle and looks for the same method that put her to sleep in the first place. You can read more about that on my blog post “Blissful Baby Naps and Why You’re Not Having Them.”

3.  Less night feeding

By six months and the introduction of some solids, most EBF babies can feed only once at night over 12 hours.  If your baby is taking all formula, many babies sleep 11 hours overnight with no feeds.  To do so they need to be consuming 25-30 oz of formula during the day. If your baby is waking every 3 hours to nurse or feed, then she is waking up at the end of every 3 hour sleep cycle and is using nursing to fall back asleep.  EBF Babies will sleep 11 hrs or more without any night time feeds once solids are well established with 3 meals a day.

4.  Bedtime is between 6 and 7 pm

While newborns up to 3 months may have bedtimes in the 9 pm range, by 6 months your baby’s bedtime should be around 6 or 7 pm.  This will be earlier when she is getting used to the drop of the 4th nap, and then adjusting a little later as she ages.  Bedtimes later than 7:30 pm can set you up for more night waking.

5. Your 6 month old needs 11-12 hrs of total overnight sleep

If she is going to bed at 8 pm and waking at 6 am, she is only getting 10 hours of overnight sleep which will leave her in an overtired state.  If she is waking multiple times per night, that will also cut into the quantity of restorative sleep.  Being overtired makes it harder for baby to fall asleep and to stay asleep.  Sleep begets sleep.

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