One of the great surprises for many new parents—who have likely been told their baby will be up all night, every night—is how much time newborns spend asleep. According to Stanford Children\’s Health, newborns can sleep as much as 17 hours a day, split evenly between night and day without a real pattern (although they do eat every few hours, which makes for exhausted parents). It\’s not until around 3 months of age that some babies start actually sleeping through the night—and for some it\’s much later than that.
By 6 months of age, however, most babies have fallen into a somewhat predictable pattern with their sleep needs. Here is what you can expect from your 6- to 8-month-old baby.
Sleep averages. On average, it is recommended that your 6-8-month-old have 10-12 hours of nighttime sleep with 3 1/2 hours of daytime sleep divided between two or three naps. Your pediatrician can help you decide if feedings at night are still necessary. Babies at this age can typically sleep through the night fairly regularly, but if yours doesn\’t, don’t worry. It’s quite easy to get them on track with healthy sleep habits at this age.
Developmental changes. At this developmental stage, babies are rolling over, sitting up, and some are scooting and crawling. With this increase in mobility, it’s important to promote nighttime security, develop a solid sleep schedule, and start incorporating routines that will help your little one calm down before bed. While developing rolling skills, sometimes babies may be able to roll themselves over on one side but are unable to roll themselves back. Give them time to practice during the day and talk to your doctor if you’re concerned that your baby is unable to return to a safe back-sleeping position.
Separation anxiety. It’s common for babies in this age group to experience some setbacks as they experience their first wave of separation anxiety. They may wake up wanting to see their parents or begin to battle bedtime. Loveys, or a special stuffed animal or blanket, can be a helpful tool to ease separation anxiety (make sure they are small with no removable parts). By developing a good sleep schedule and remaining consistent, parents can combat separation woes and build the security babies are searching for.
Sample schedule. Some variation is inevitable, but bedtime consistency can help transform those tired tears into a rested and content baby. Healthy sleep patterns should be a priority, so it\’s a good idea to build other activities and errands around sleep and meals. By devoting yourself to a sleep schedule, you can look forward to more flexibility when everyone is more rested. Your own baby’s routine should be based on careful observation of sleep cues.
7-7:30 a.m.: Wake-up. Upon waking, nurse or bottle-feed, and give solid food.
9 or 9:30 a.m.: Time for the first nap. A typical morning is 1.5-2 hours. Upon waking, nurse or bottle-feed, and give solids.
12:30 or 1 p.m.: This is a good time for a second nap, depending on when the first nap was. This second nap is often 45 minutes to an hour.
5 or 5:30 p.m.: Nurse or bottle-feed, and give solids.
6- 6:30 p.m.: Start bath and bedtime preparations, which may include an additional bottle or nursing.
7-7:30 p.m.: Bedtime for the night.
This schedule applies to generally healthy children with no growth or developmental concerns. Sleep schedules are based on recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Remember, you should always consult with your child’s pediatrician.
- Kim West, LCSW-C. The Sleep Lady’s Good Night Sleep Tight.
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