How much sleep does a six month old baby need during the day? My baby has slept from 8pm to 6am without interruptions for about six weeks. But he only has two 30-40 minute sleeps during the day. Should I be encouraging him to sleep longer during the day ? Or is what he's getting enough sleep? I'd love him to sleep from 7pm to 7am but I haven't been able to. Janelle 

A six month old baby needs 3 sleeps during the day.

The first day sleep will be early morning e.g. around 9-9.30 am.  This sleep starts usually within about an hour and a half of waking. Try to aim for a sleep that is ideally 2 to 3 sleep cycles long e.g. 90 to 150 minutes long.

The second day sleep is at lunchtime e.g. 12 noon. Again this is 2 to 3 sleep cycles long. The third day sleep is a  pre-tea nap and will be 30-45 minutes and will often exist at 4 to 5 pm.

You should certainly be encouraging him to sleep longer during the day for multiple sleep cycles, he is only having one at the most.  A sleep cycle is 40minutes in length. This is not enough sleep for him.

For the nights he needs an earlier bedtime, so aim to put him down for the night between 6 – 7pm.  At this time he has his final feed and goes to bed.  There may be one night feed or there may be none.  It is quite normal for night feeding to cease at around 6 months of age, if he is getting enough food and milk during the day.  His day feeding should consist of solids at breakfast, lunch and tea. At these three meal breaks he gets his solids then a 20-30 minute break and a bottle feed as a late part of the meal or a ‘heading for bed’ event. You can be quite flexible about whether you give milk or solids first from 5 – 7 months.  But by 7 months the solids are first.

Expect him to wake at about 6.00 – 6.30am and I consider this the first day feed. Try to make this a full feed and it is usually just milk.  As soon as possible after feeding, try to put him down to return to sleep.  Whether it be for 30 minutes or an hour or more.  Some children will be fully awake and ready for their day to start, if this is the case then he will have a longer awake time and make sure that his breakfast solids are part of this feed eg. Around 7.00am.

If he has gone back to sleep after his 6.00/6.30 am feed, expect his second feed to be around 7.30 – 8.30am.  Make sure this is a full feed and be sure to include his breakfast solids here.

After breakfast is his happy awake time.  It is fairly short and should be about 30-45 maybe 60 minutes after feeding.  Watch carefully for the very first signs of tiredness or the ‘scratchiness’ of his mood.  At this point get him ready for bed.  The longer his happy wake time goes for the more difficult it will be for him to go to sleep because he is over-tired.

Related Articles:

No Sleep Routine

6 Month Old Sleep Patterns

Introduction to Sleep Aids

Sleeping Cues

Falling Asleep by themselves

Understanding Sleep and Babies






Nicole Pierotti

Written by Nicole Pierotti

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