Six-month-olds truly are bundles of joy, wanting to see, taste, and experience as much as possible. However, your baby’s curiosity can lead to excess energy, messy nap times, and unhappy campers all around. This article explains what your baby needs to rest comfortably and some 6 month old sleep schedule ideas to help you get there.
How Much Sleep Should a 6 Month Old Get Per Day?
In my mind, the answer is whatever’s needed to stop my baby from being fussy while he’s awake. There’s a bit more science to the matter though, as research indicates. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (1) (AAP) and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2) (AASM) agree that babies should get somewhere between 12 and 16 hours of sleep each day.
Every baby is different, so you’ll have to weigh in how your kiddo does at night and offset that sleep time with naps during the day. If your baby sleeps 11 hours through the night without waking up, you’ll need somewhere between one and five additional hours of sleep in the form of naps.
Hopefully, by this point, your baby doesn’t have much trouble sleeping through the night. Between three and six months, infants tend to develop a circadian rhythm (3) that attunes them to night and day. He or she may be at a point where they don’t need help falling asleep and can drift off all on their own. If your baby isn’t there yet, no worries, but it may be time to encourage the behavior.
Since this behavior can develop as early as three months, your kiddo may have already found this groove. However, even six-month-olds can deal with sleep regression.
...Continue reading about sleep regression.
6 Month Sleep Regression
Sleep regression occurs when your baby has an unexpected interruption in his or her regular sleep schedule. Although most common at four or eight months, it is certainly possible for babies to experience sleep regression (4) at six months.
As a parent, you may notice changes in the length of sleep at night or awakenings at odd hours that weren’t there before. It’s also possible to have a baby struggle to fall asleep where there was no trouble before, or more agitation when trying to get here.
There may be no clear indication of why your baby is waking up in the night, especially if you follow a similar routine each night when getting ready for bed. Most likely, he or she is experiencing some new physical or emotional sensation while awake, like rolling over, dealing with teeth, or a feeling of separation.
The good news is that sleep regression rarely lasts long. Keep following your routine for bed and things should return to normal shortly. Even the best sleepers have bad days here and there, so try not to let the experience get you down.
Why Is Getting Enough Sleep Important?
I joked about it earlier, but not getting enough sleep can certainly lead to a cranky baby and a restless household. However, a lack of sleep in babies can extend much further than a little attitude.
Infants have a lot going on and even more new experiences to process each and every day. Less than nominal sleep may cause issues with behavioral development and problems with health. If you think too little sleep affects you after a few days, it impacts your baby that much more.
How Many Naps Should My Baby Take?
Assuming your kiddo sleeps 10 or 11 hours through the night, you’ll want to add somewhere between one and five hours of nap time during the day. How many naps you need largely depends on how long your baby sleeps at nap time.
In most cases, babies need either two or three naps during the day to make up the extra sleep they need to remain healthy and function well. My son doesn’t sleep long during nap time. If he’s anything like me, he’s thinking about all the things he wants to do while he’s awake. We tend to get away with two 45-minute naps, but I bank on him falling asleep in the car while I’m out and about which is effectively another nap.
Babies Need Awake Time Too
It goes without saying that babies need time awake to practice what they know and take in new things. Plan to have your baby up at least a few hours after a nap to allow time for feeding and activities. The first wake window of the day tends to be the shortest, allowing them to get a little longer after each nap.
At times, a third nap may not appeal to a baby who’s in the mood to play. It’s okay to push back nap time a bit to allow your infant to get tuckered out before settling down. If a later nap affects bedtime, you may have to adjust when your baby goes to bed for the night on that particular day.
If your baby wants to sleep several hours during a nap (especially a third nap), it may be a good idea to reevaluate how much time your baby sleeps at night. Even if there are interruptions, he or she should get ten hours of actual sleep every night.
Develop A Routine
The best way for babies to follow your lead with a sleep schedule is to have a routine that sets up nap time and bedtime. Infants are aware of patterns and can pick up the clues even at six months of age.
While you don’t always have to do the exact same thing, lead into sleep times with calming activities that don’t require large amounts of energy. Your baby should have already spent his or her energy in the wake window leading up to this point anyway.
Having a talk time with your baby is a great way to relax and encourage them to make noises. You could also read a book, do some cuddling (my favorite), or use this time for a bath.
Eat Play Sleep
Going beyond nap and sleep time, rhythms help babies adjust to a schedule and anticipate what’s coming next. They may not be able to talk yet, but babies quickly detect patterns!
The most common rhythm parents use is eat-play-sleep. Baby eats first, has awake time to play, and ends the cycle with a nap or bedtime. Leading your baby through these steps helps ensure they don’t develop a need to eat before going to bed, which can lead to sleepy feedings or difficulty falling asleep.
Instead, your infant will be well-rested when it’s time to eat and should have no trouble making it through a meal.
Activities That Can Tire Babies Out
Six months is such a great age for babies. They’re starting to fill out that body a little more, getting much more curious, and finding more energy sources. This is a blessing, but can also be a curse when nap time rolls around!
However, use your baby’s curiosity to keep them active during wake time. Encourage rolling over and add in lots of tummy time to strengthen muscles. My baby loves to swim on his tummy on the floor, and we even picked up an ocean-themed play mat to complete the look. Other energy-spending ideas (5) include supported sitting or games like peek-a-boo.
Watch for Your Baby’s Cues
No schedule can ever be set in stone, especially with a baby. There may be days when your infant has a seemingly endless limit of energy to work through before a nap is even possible. My son loves pushing buttons that make music; it gets him so excited that I feel he’ll never take a nap. Other days I catch him rubbing his eyes after being awake a short while, a sign that nap time is near.
There’s a good chance your baby has similar tells that give away a level of tiredness as well. Rubbing the eyes is a common one, but babies may also yawn or seemingly stare off into space. Super tired infants may start to cry, but this usually means he or she has been up too long.
Cues are important but do your best to stick to that sleep schedule even if your baby doesn’t seem tired.
When Should Bedtime Be?
For six-month-olds, the ideal time to hit the hay is somewhere between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. every night. Whether you stay at home or travel to a job every morning, going to sleep at this time sets your baby up for a solid 11 or 12 hours before you need to get them up and moving.
At this age, be prepared to adjust this bedtime depending on when the baby woke up in the morning and how successful naps were during the day. Don’t be afraid to move bedtime earlier if your baby needs the sleep; this does not mean he or she will wake up that much earlier the following day. You may also have to make bedtime a little later if a nap starts late or runs longer than expected.
A Room for Baby
Many parents keep babies in their room for the first several months of life. There’s nothing wrong with this practice, but at six months you should consider giving the baby his or her own room if at all possible. Doing so allows you to control several factors that will help your baby fall asleep and stay asleep during the night.
Babies are very perceptive and will quickly make the connection between this room and sleep time. I don’t use our baby’s room for play, so he knows when we walk in there that it’s time for bed.
We have central air, but putting my baby in his own room allows me to control the vents and at least somewhat adjust what the temperature will be while he’s sleeping. Babies are little heaters and sleep best when it’s somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees in the room. I can also remove any annoying sources of light and keep his brother from stomping in there and waking poor baby up.
Dropping a Nap
At six months, babies should be well into the rhythm of getting three naps a day to make up for what they don’t get during the night. By nine months, infants should have made the shift to just two naps instead of three.
Usually, your baby will let you know when it’s time to drop that last nap of the day. Common signs include fighting the last nap of the day, waking up early from naps, or taking a long time to fall asleep at nap time. If you pick up on these clues, consider dropping the final nap of the day.
Sample Sleep Schedules
Below you’ll find possible sleep schedules for six-month-olds requiring two or three naps during the day.
Six-Month-Olds Needing Three Naps
7:00 to 7:30 a.m. – Wake up and feed
9:00 or 9:30 a.m. – First nap time, followed by feeding upon waking up
12:30 or 1:00 p.m. – Second nap time, followed by feeding upon waking up
3:30–4:00 p.m. – Third nap time (usually shorter), followed by feeding upon waking up
6:00–6:30 p.m. – Start preparations for bed
7:00–7:30 p.m. – Bedtime
Six-Month-Olds Needing Two Naps
7:00 to 7:30 a.m. – Wake up and feed
10:00 or 10:30 a.m. – First nap time, followed by feeding upon waking up
2:00 or 2:30 p.m. – Second nap time, followed by feeding upon waking up
6:00–6:30 p.m. – Start preparations for bed
7:00–7:30 p.m. – Bedtime
We’ve all wished at one point and time for a manual describing exactly how to take care of our little one. As you are well aware, no such thing exists as each baby has a literal mind and personality of his or her own. Still, having a regular sleep schedule can help create patterns your baby will learn to follow, making life easier for everyone involved.
Have questions about your six-month-old’s sleep schedule? The answers below may offer some clarity when planning out your routine.
Question: When Should Last Nap Be for a Six-Month-Old?
Answer: At six months, a baby’s last nap shouldn’t be any later than four in the afternoon. It should also be a shorter nap, allowing a few hours for food and play leading up to bedtime around 7 p.m.
Question: Are Two Naps Okay for a Six-Month-Old?
Answer: Most babies still need three naps at six months, but by nine months they should be down to two per day. If your baby fights that third nap or wakes up earlier than expected, it may be time to drop one and just have two.
Question: Do Daytime Naps Affect Night Sleep for Babies?
Answer: Daytime naps should complement night sleep for babies, as they need between 12 and 16 hours of total sleep per day. If your baby is waking up too early in the morning, he or she may be napping too long during the day.
- “Recharge with Sleep: Pediatric Sleep Recommendations Promoting Optimal Health.” American Academy of Sleep Medicine – Association for Sleep Clinicians and Researchers, 13 June 2016,
- “National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS).” National Institute of General Medical Sciences, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
- “6-Month Infant Sleep Regression.” Sleep Foundation, 11 Mar. 2022,
- Savchenko, Marina. “Things to Do with a 6-Month-Old Baby: Activities, Games, and More.” Flo.health – #1 Mobile Product for Women’s Health,
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As a new dad, Noah joins Upside Dad as one of our dad product testers, with years of experience in both engineering and the medical space, Noah joins us here on Upside Dad to buy, test, and share his personal insights on new baby gear. He currently lives in Michigan and also loves hiking, and playing video games.