July 7, 2022
By age 6 months, most babies sleep a total of 11 1/2 to 15 hours a day (including nighttime sleep and naps) and can sleep for long stretches at a time. The average 6 month old baby needs about 14 hours of sleep per day.
Between the ages of 6 and 9 months, many babies may drop to two naps, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Don’t worry if your baby continues to take three naps a day. Keeping regular times for bedtime and naps will help him to have healthy sleep patterns.
If your baby hasn’t yet settled into a sleep pattern that fits your family life, now might be a good time to try some type of sleep learning. Sleep learning can help for easier bedtimes and larger stretches at night.
We all wake up several times every night and are able to “put our selves back to sleep.” If your baby hasn’t figured out how to fall back to sleep on their own when they wake up during the night, they will cry for you to help them fall back asleep (even when they are not hungry). If you know your baby isn’t hungry in the night when he wakes (because they have skipped these feedings before) it is ok at this age to think about allowing him to cry himself back to sleep. Usually, within a week (max), he’ll learn that he can soothe himself to sleep and his crying will disappear.
Putting your baby in the crib tired but awake helps them to learn to fall asleep on their own! If they fall asleep in your arms, they are shocked to wake up alone in the middle of the night.
Teaching your baby to put themselves to sleep (also called self-soothing) is very important for their development.
If your baby is growing well, does not have more than one middle-of-the-night feeding, and your pediatrician agrees, you can allow them to “cry it out “during their middle-of-the-night feeding. This is not the only way to get your baby to sleep through the night, but it is the fastest way. When your baby cries for their middle-of-the-night feeding, don’t go to them. If you do this 2 or 3 nights in a row they will soon be sleeping through the night!
If the “cry-it-out” method makes you uncomfortable, you can help your baby learn to sleep through the night more gradually. Allow them to cry for short intervals and then check on your baby, soothe them, rock them and then put them down, without feeding. Increase the amount of time you allow your baby to cry each night. This is a more gradual method, but also effective. Once your baby gets used to not eating at 2am, they will stop waking up.
If your baby was sleeping perfectly and is suddenly waking up in the night, don’t stress! Issues with sleep often come up when babies reach certain milestones (for example, sitting up, crawling, standing, walking). Your baby may be practicing new skills or finding themselves stuck in a position they can’t get out of. Try and giver your baby time to practice these skills during the day so they can get rest at night!
Waking up and finding you’re not there may also upset your baby. After a couple of nights of going to your baby and soothing them verbally, your baby will learn to selfsoothe. This is a normal phase of separation anxiety (see “Separation Anxiety” for additional information).