6-9 Month Baby Sleep Guide

If your baby is in the 6-9 month age range one of two things is happening:

1

Things are getting dramatically better!

Your baby is taking longer more predictable naps, you’re down to 0-1 feedings at night, you’re no longer wearing flannel PJ pants to the grocery, and you’re reading enough to show your face at your monthly book club meetings. WOO HOO!

2

Things are bad or possibly getting even worse!

Your baby is taking short unpredictable naps, bedtime is a dreaded chore, and you’re up so often at night you wish you could go back to the newborn phase because that was easier. (If so keep reading!)

You’re probably done swaddling your bigger baby but some older babies still need to be swaddled although I promise you you’re very close to being done with wrapping up your baby Houdini. You’ll want to continue to use loud white noise and work hard to make sure you aren’t keeping baby awake too long. Your 6-9 month old baby is hopefully taking somewhat longer and more regular naps (check out Baby Sleep What is Normal for more details on this). Most babies at this age are napping ~3 times a day. The first 2 naps are serious where the 3rd nap (which falls in the late afternoon/early evening) is generally more of a cat nap.

Teaching Your Baby to Fall Asleep

teaching baby to fall asleepYou can no longer nurse, rock, pat, etc your older baby to sleep. If your 6-9 month old baby is sleeping poorly THIS is the problem. It’s not the teething, growth spurts, wonder weeks, learning to roll over, or any of those other changes that make parenting an older baby so exciting. The problem is that they haven’t yet learned how to fall asleep on their own.

The process of gradually reducing the amount of nursing, rocking, and butt patting you do can be frustrating. But it’s REALLY important. Also? Failure to do so almost guarantees you will never ever sleep through the night. That’s how important it is.

I know it’s not easy but trust me, the longer you wait to deal with this issue the more likely it is that you’re headed towards cry it outsville. I’m not saying you can’t avoid this path, but as your baby get’s older, it get’s harder to do so. So really, now IS the time.

Further Reading

How and Why to Use and Loose the Paci
Weaning Baby OFF the Swing
When Night Weaning isn’t Working
Bedtime What Time?
Why Your Baby Hates the Crib
What to Do About Short Naps
Are You Keeping Baby Awake Too Long?
Sleeping Through the Night Part 1
Sleeping Through the Night Part 2
What You Need to Know About Sleeping Through the Night – Part 3
And of course the ever popular – Baby Sleep What is Normal?

 

222 Comments


  1. Hi Alexis,

    My baby boy is about to turn 6-month. We are struggling with his bedtime and naps. Hope you could provide some tips.

    When he was under 4-month old, he always self-soothed to sleep at night around 10pm within 10 minutes after we put him in the crib. Then 4-month hit it took him much longer to fall asleep. We moved his bedtime earlier but he was fussy about that. In order for him to sleep earlier and quicker, we rocked him to sleep at night. Things got tougher as he got older and started to roll from back to tummy; as soon as we transferred him to his crib he woke up and we had to repeat the process again and again. So we decided to sleep train him. We put him down awake within 2 hours after his wakes up from last nap. We do have a bedtime routine. Now he rarely cries; he sucks his thumb to sleep. He rolls on his tummy once we put him down awake; he’ll suck his thumb to try to sleep as he crawls around the crib. It took a good hour for him to fall asleep coz he and these past few nights, things are worse and by the time he finally fell asleep it’s almost 4-5 hours since he woke up from nap. He’s teething lately but I don’t think he was in pain as he didn’t seem fussy. I don’t know why it takes so long for him to fall asleep.

    He used to be able nap 90 minutes on our bed and now couldn’t nap more than 1 hour either on our bed or his crib. He can nap easily 2 hours on stroller. I feel like a homeless spending hours outside in the hot weather trying to get him nap longer. Most of the time he wakes up 30 minutes and won’t fall back to sleep when he’s in the crib. If I were to rock him back to sleep, it takes at least 20 minutes and it’ll be his feeding time again. I’m breast feeding him and want to follow the 4-hour eat, play, sleep cycle but he’s not a great eater either and wouldn’t take much each feed. If he naps in the stroller, he can go for 4-hour feeding interval but if he naps in the crib, he eats every 3 hours.

    When he was 4.5-month old, he followed a schedule well for a week then things fell through all in a sudden. The length of his naps keeps changing and most of the time he wakes up early at weird times. After night feeds sometimes he just wakes up completely and takes 1-2 hours to fall back to sleep. We want to establish a more consistent schedule for him but he messes things up pretty well; I’m basically working around his schedule, which changes every day, in order to prevent him from getting overtired. Because he takes catnaps, he’s constantly overtired and cranky and not eats well. It takes much longer for him to fall asleep for a nap then how long he naps.

    I heard that after 6-month things will get better but I don’t see the light; in deed, it’s getting more difficult and every day there’s a new challenge.

    Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.

    Celia

    • Wow your baby sounds just like my 7month old. I now feel like Im not alone. When he was 3-4 months, he was able to take naps during the day every 2 hours and soothe himself to sleep. Then at 6months, when his teeth broke in, he progressed backwards. He refuses to be alone now, suffers from separation anxiety, won’t nap during the day (maybe just 2 naps max 45 minutes each), he will only sleep around 3am for the night but you have to rock him to sleep which is something we stopped doing at 3 months, and as you rock him, he is fighting you to stay awake. The only good thing is, once he sleeps he’s out for 10 hours. I am mortified to teach him to sleep on his own b\c I know this is going to be a battle.

      Any advice would also be appreciated.Thanks.

  2. Hi Alexis,
    Our 6 month old baby girl is our first and she such a joy! She has become a great sleeper until she turned 6 months old. It was practically to the day that she changed in how she likes to be put down. Before this change she would wake between 5:30-7:30am take 3 1-2 hours naps/ day and I would put her down at 7:15pm awake/sleepy and she would play in her crib then pass out for 10-12 hours. She is thriving and doing great. She just started to get her teeth (1 has poked through but not all the way through).
    The only thing that I have changed at the 6 month mark is her formula. I am nursing her 2x a day and then giving formula bottles the rest of feedings/oatmeal cereal/veggies/fruits.

    It was CRAZY I couldnt believe it – I was pretty sure I had hit the sleep jack pot…

    Now, when I put her down at 7:15 (after we do our night time routine) she gets mad and cries for a while and i go in every 10 minutes then make it 12 minutes, etc etc and then at 9:15 I either rock her to sleep or give her gas drops or motrin because I am convinced it is her stomach/teeth. I only gave her motrin 3x the last week because I dont want to give her medicine but i am pretty sure it is her teeth???

    Thoughts?
    Kate

    • Hey Kate,

      It’s not teeth or gas or any of that stuff. It’s how she’s falling asleep at bedtime which – if I gather correctly is not happening. Basically she grumps along till 9:15 then you rock her to sleep.

      It changed miraculously at 6 months because of this:
      http://www.troublesometots.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-sleeping-through-the-night-part-i/

      I know this sounds harsh but these checks and then the 9 PM rocking are all working against you and dragging something out that can and will be a relatively quick process if you’ll get out of the way. So…

      Consider putting her down awake at 7:15/7:30 and then nothing. Yep nothing. No rocking at 9:15. If you must give motrin give it at 7 and then that’s it.

      Ignore fully. That’s my advice. Try it for 3-5 days and then let me know what happens. Sound like a plan?

  3. Yeah, hope your 6 months is better than mine. I nanny 6 month old twins. One sleeps fine, but the other one NEVER wants to sleep well. They’ve rarely been rocked to sleep so that’s not the problem. She’s put down for a nap and maybe 45 mins later, she’s screaming. Sometimes it’s after 20 mins and she might go back to sleep but it takes a long time and sometimes she ends up waking the other twin. It’s so frustrating! And she seems tired and cranky when she doesn’t sleep. Not sure what to do about it…

    • Hi my name is kitty. I have 6 months old twin boys. I have same issue like yours. One twin sleeps really good and other one sleep 20 min to half hour which takes me to put him to sleep for an hour. And sometime when he sleeps and other twin or his older sis wake him up with noise. This twin is very light sleeper and very sensitive to sound. I don’t know what to do. Please do let me know if u have any idea.

  4. Alexis –

    My 6 month old daughter sleeps through the night from about 8pm to 6am, and has done so since 4-5 months. I helped her “connect her sleep cycles” by waiting a minute or two to see if she’d fall back asleep, and sure enough, it took only a few days before she slept through. She’ll still wake me once occasionally for a nursing snack or because she’s uncomfortable from teething (working on the bottom two right now), but it doesn’t happen regularly at all.

    The problem is: daytime naps. She takes like 4 or 5 tiny (30-45 minute) naps. Occasionally there’s a long one in the afternoon (1-1/2 hrs). Occasionally there is a tiny 10 minute nap. I don’t understand how her successful night sleep can be so different from these choppy daytime naps!

    The other challenge is that I have an older daughter who is 2 years old, and I work from home. I am swamped, and can’t quite figure out a plan to get these naps longer and more consistent.

    Here are the things I might be screwing up: (1) still nursing her when she seems sleepy until she’s *really* sleepy; I cannot seem to figure out how to feed her ahead of naptime so that I’m putting her down full but awake–because I cannot predict her naptime and plan ahead! and (2) not letting her fuss, maybe, when she wakes, until she sleeps longer? She howls and gets worked up almost immediately upon awakening. And it’s not the type of cry that settles easily — when I helped her sleep through the night, it was a fussy whimper-and-flail that I suspected would work itself out, and it did. In the daytime, she howls. I find myself picking her up quickly — sometimes so she doesn’t wake her big sister (who has a whopping long 2 hour nap every day). At other times, big sis comes along to “check” on her beloved little sis whenever she starts crying.

    How can I help my awesome night-time sleeper sleep like a champ by day?

  5. Our 6 month old daughter is not sleeping well at all. We put her down around 8pm and she’s up every hour or less until 3am. She then sleeps til 7 am. She naps at 10am and that usually lasts for an hour. Today she napped again for 20 minutes twice. We are very concerned about brain development. She’s already crawling and trying to stand up. Any advice would be appreciated. She’s a light sleeper, has reflux on medication, and falls asleep better when upright.

  6. Hello,
    My LO is 6months this week. I’ve been trying to get her to go down for naps and sleep for the night in her own. I’ve tried everything from about 4.5 months when she regressed. Here’s what out schedule looks like:

    7am awake
    8:30am nap
    12pm nap
    3pm nap
    5pm solids, snuggle time
    6pm bath
    6:30 (asleep at this point) and only wakes once for MONF

    The issue:
    1) I can only ever get her to take two naps yet I know she’s tired. She’ll cry and cry … 15-30min then nap or cry and cry up to 40mins plus … and have a second and third wind than ready to play.

    When she falls asleep she’s a great sleeper… rarly a 30-45min napper, mostly 1-2hours and sometime in the past 3 and I am sure she could have kept on sleeping but I tend to wake her as I am scared that it will interfere with night.

    Should I not wake her from long naps?
    Is she sleeping too much at night and / or naps that it may interfering with her wake time?

    2) I’ve tried everything from patting, shushing, rocking etc nothing every works other then adds fuel to her fire. so I have learned I have to stay out of this equation. CIO so far has worked the best as she’ll actually get to sleep supposed to me egging her on and CIO longer by soothing her.

    3) I only recently started her on solids before that I exclusively breastfeed. Therefore I feed on demand which was 10min feeds. Now that she is getting older I am trying to change her feeding schedule / routine (eat, play, sleep)… Now its like she want to snack all the time, 5-6mins feeds, when she wakes she demands milk and again before I put her down. I am trying to change it gradually but it doesn’t seem to be working…….

    I am pretty sure she thinks my boobies / milk are her only way to sleep. Although, I know she self soothes at night.

    How do I change her feeding schedule?

    Any suggestions would be great.
    Thanks

  7. My little fella is 6 months old. He has a a really bad go with acid reflux. He’s always been a horrible napper but would sleep well at night up until about the 4 month mark. It’s been downhill since then.

    We have had to put him back on the swing instead of thee crib. Now that he can roll to his stomach that’s all he tries to do in his crib. But the moment he gets over he starts screaming and will throw up. He has a dependency to his pacifier and I’m sure doesn’t know how to soothe himself. He tries but he ends up scratching his forehead to pieces no matter how short we cut his fingernails.

    How do you sleep train such child? CIO scares us because when he gets upset it’s terribly difficult to soothe him. Forget it unless you pick him up. Things are so bad. We want to make a change. He’s not sleeping much. But really have no idea what to try. I know he would be such a happier baby if he was getting enough rest.

    • Matt,

      Refluxing kiddos need MORE soothing MUCH longer than non-refluxing kiddos. He may need to be swaddled in the swing with a paci till 9-12 months. I don’t say this to bum you out, but sometimes understanding that your timeline differs from other kids helps reset expectations.

      If flipping causes problems then that’s yet another checkmark in the “swing” column. Even if the swing isn’t on, it holds them upright(ish) which helps and keeps them on their backs. Swaddling would help with the face scratching.

      Anyway it’s what I would do (and DID with my own 2 refluxers). Swaddle, swing, white noise for 10 and 13 months respectively. Give it a try for 1 week and let me know if things don’t improve!

      • Wow, thanks Alexis for the swift reply. Pleasantly surprised to get a response from you, I’m sure you are super busy.

        Just want to let you know how amazing I think this website is. My wife and I have had a horrendous past 6 months. For the first three weeks of our little guys life we lived in the Children’s hospital. Your website makes us feel like there is hope.

        We’ve been using the swing again for about a week and a half now. Both naps and night. We aren’t able to swaddle him. He freaks out. I don’t think he likes not being able to touch his face. Not to mention he won’t hold his pacifier in on his own. We have to (kind of) pro it up with a lovie.

        We do use a noise machine. Have been since he was a month old and I noticed he conked out when my wife would blow dry her hair. Not sure it helps a lot. Then again we’ve never not used it so I don’t know what the difference would be without it.

        At nap time he sleeps for 30 minutes then on the dot…awak and can’t get him back to sleep. Nights vary but most of the time he wakes up at about 11pm, 11:30pm, 3am, 3:30am, 5am, 5:30am sometimes 6 and never sleeps past 6:30am.

        He spits up all the time. LOTS. Even two hours after feeds.

        I know you have lots of things going on. We really appreciate your help. In any form you can provide.

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