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?

 

236 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.

    • It prob depends on how many total hours of napping she’s getting. If the naps total a few hours a day, she’s probably fine, but what other symptoms does she have?

      My daughter has a sensory processing disorder and she was impossible to get to sleep. Ever. Still is. SPD can affect a child’s ability to fall asleep and transition from asleep to awake (and scream their heads off quite a bit). Might want to look into that.

  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.

  8. My 7month old schedule is now messing up. How do I arrange arrange the schedule to (eat, play sleep routine) when feeding coincides with nap(s)? And how do I get LO to take longer 30-45min naps? Or perhaps Lo is getting enough sleep in 24 hours? LO sleeps 11-12 with 1-2 night feedings and takes a total of 1.5- 2hours of day time sleep.
    Is that ok?

  9. Hi Alexis,

    I have been reading your recommendations and explanations and I can’t seem to figure it out for myself.

    This is my story:
    Alex is now 8 and a half months old. Since birth, he seemed to be a difficult day sleeper. He hates cuddling, rocking, cradling, etc. He was born in our mid summer so maybe he just didn’t like being held too much as that just made both of us hotter (although I breastfed him till 2 months)! So, swaddling didn’t even happen.

    Then from around 3 to 5 months he started sleeping through at night. From 19:00 to anything from 5am…like a set clock, with no complaints going to sleep! But still the days were a scream! Everybody said suck it up you are lucky! I tried CIO for a while because it was just so exhausting, then I started carrying him on my back until he would fall asleep and then I would put him in his room and he would sleep maybe 30-45 mins.
    He is getting big now and the back carrying isn’t working for me any more.
    Since he was 7 months old, I went back to working half day and we have a nanny now…but she is religious about back carrying (she is African, and that’s the way they role here….and although it works, and there’s some good stuff connected to baby carrying…I don’t think it’s in my genes to do it any longer)…
    So I’m back at CIO…

    I could tell the nanny that carrying is over…
    But I remember the first time I tried CIO it never got better!! Like weeks!! And he will just not settle getting into the swing of falling asleep.

    He hates swings, bouncers, all that. Bought them all, wasted money!

    Currently at night, he goes to bed around 20:00 now, without a fuss, wakes anything from once to max 3 – 5 times if he is teething, but he will drink his bottle and go back to sleep. No dramas…

    But the day naps! Man, I don’t know what’s happening there. And we will be going on holiday soon. Not sure what our neighbours by the beach will think about this day time screaming!

    Ps: I could not even get him to suck a pacifier since birth! I know there are pro’s and con’s to it, but it helps to soothe at least. Bought different types of pacifiers, tried selling them to him with milk on, peanut butter (thank goodness he doesn’t seem allergic), honey, chocolate syrup…and then just gave up.
    I think it’s ‘Mummy or nothing’ in his head!

  10. Hi i have a 7 month old and i think i have made a rod for my own back and i need help please. Since my little boy was born i have rocked him to sleep on naps and bedtime. Latley hes become a massive struggle i no longer rock him for his naps he just sleeps if i put him down to sleep in the living room he sleep literally 15 mins a times 3 times a day usually about an hour after his feed he will have 15 mins otherwise hes happy playing. But bedtime is the biggest struggle ever. He will have his bath and pjs on and then have his bottle about 7pm every night he gets sleepy having his bottle but then hes wide awake. I am trying to put him in his cot straight after his feed but he just stands in his cot

  11. Hi Alexis (and others who may have a similar issue),

    Thanks for your website. I read a good deal of it before we had our son.

    Our son is 6 mo old and has either GERD, EE, or some similar condition which has made eating painful enough that, since he was three weeks old, he’s almost always refused food when hungry if awake. We’ve worked with a number of specialists and tried nearly everything we’re able to do at this stage. We are only able to feed him when he’s in a sleep state or very near sleep (closed eyes, body limp), and since keeping him growing is our first priority, sleep and eating are as linked as they can get. It’s very, very far from ideal; we lay with him during naps to try and get him on both ends of it (the first stage, and then right before he wakes). Aside from the difficulties seeing someone we love so challenged in such a basic way and the energy it takes to manage feeds like this, I’m aware that his sleep is less than ideal for him, and for us. (He sleeps about 8 hours at night with us, breastfeeding every 2-3 hours which is again needed, and if napping solo will only nap for very short time)

    I’m wondering whether you’ve worked with/heard from parents whose children were sleep-feeders and who needed to continue it just to keep them nourished but who also wanted to give their children other associations so that whenever the dream-feeding is no longer a necessity (may this be soon) they’ll at least have a reference point for helping themselves to fall asleep.

    Thanks for your time.

    • Hey Laurel,

      I do know somebody who had a similar situation, in fact she wrote this amazing piece on food allergies: http://www.troublesometots.com/baby-food-allergies-survival-guide/

      You are entirely correct – when you have to choose, food trumps sleep. If “eating while sleeping” is what you need to do to ensure baby thrives, then you just keep on trucking with it.

      You’re sort of stuck there, until you figure out that you aren’t :( What can you do in the meantime? Not a whole lot but you CAN:
      – Have other sleep association. Have some part of your pre-sleep routine so it’s not all about food. Could be books, songs, diaper change, etc. Have her sleep in the dark and use white noise, maybe introduce a lovey.
      – Work on having her sleep at consistent times – day and night.

      So having non-food associations + schedule consistency lays a bit of groundwork for the future. And in the meantime, you do what you need to so she gets the food she needs.

      Good luck!
      Alexis

  12. Hello Alexis,
    I am loving your articles! My 7 month old is having a sleep issue opposite to that of most of my friends. He has always been scheduled with feedings and we have always had play time after feeding and prior to napping. He began sleeping through the night at 4 weeks (5-6 hours) and he has only progressed (10-11 hours) and is consistant. At night we are able to put him down awake and laughing. We have a routine of bathing, feeding, brushing teeth, story , song and bed. The problem arises with napping. In the past we had to rock him to sleep and gently tip toe away from the room. We would put him down at first yawn. At six months we began to put him down awake, following the same bedtime routine sans the bath. He will fall asleep most days after 10-15 minutes of crying (which he does not do at night). After falling asleep he will only sleep for 20-30 minutes and wakes up screaming. I do recognize that his nap location is inconsistent- his crib, daycare and my mother in laws one day a week. For a baby that is able to sleep so well and self soothe at night I am so frustrated. I understand that rocking him for naps did not help as well as multiple locations. I am not sure what to do after his 20 minute naps. He is often so mad that I have to rock him to calm him. Also to note, he has a great temperament during the day. I am concerned that his development will suffer with lack of day time sleep. Please advise!!

  13. Do you have any advice on how to get my 6 month old to nap and be alone to play for a minutes in his pack and play. He isn’t very happy when I am doing other things. Mind you we have a very small one br house so I’m rarely or never out of his sight but out of his sight or not you would think he is being tortured, by his extreme crying/tantrums. I can’t make dinner or do laundry or dishes without him carrying on in a scream and cry fest. Its only when he’s in his pack and play and maybe a few times in his bumbo seat but I don’t put him in that and leave him very often because he is getting bigger (almost 7months old and weighing 17 lbs) and will tumble out of it. But when I do leave him in it I put it on the floor to avoid a tumble. I don’t know how to get him to be calmer when left alone. Usually if he can see me, he is almost totally fine. But when I walk away he isn’t happy. He will sleep through the night in his p and p but he does not nap well in it, nor does he play in it. In order for him to sleep for a long period of time and know he will get a good long nap, I have to have him on me in the rocker recliner. How can I make my baby want to be in his pack and play, to nap and play? I have layered it with a few thinner blankets. And he uses a pacifier, mostly at the beginning of lying down or getting to sleep, then he spits it out. I don’t have it full of toys. Its just him and the blankets and paci in there.

  14. hi Alexis,

    Is there such thing as too much daytime sleep? My son is almost 6.5 mos old and he’s still on 3 naps/day. What is appropriate nap time for this age? The first 2 are usually 1.5-2 hrs and the 3rd one is usually 30mins. His total daytime naps is at least 4 hrs and sometime 4.5 hrs. I’m concerning because his nighttime sleep is usually only 9 hrs and if we re lucky that night, he gets 9.5 hrs. He has gotten 10-10.5 hrs only a couple times before. He doesn’t know how to self soothe yet. We usually rock him until he’s asleep or sometime drowsy. We have to do that 2-3xat night. I still nurse one motn which I don’t mind because I believe he is hungry and usually takes 4oz. His bedtime is anywhere from 745-815pm and wake up time 545-645am. When we tried bedtime at 730-745am he wakes up at 545pm because he only sleeps 9-9.5hrs max total at night so we’re shifting bedtime to 8-830pm and he seems to sleep until 630-645am. Ideally and realistically we would love for him to get 10 hrs at night. Then how much nap time should he take total? And how long each? When should each nap start? Of course we still follow his cues when to put him down but it’s hard someyime because he doesn’t show too many cues. Most of the time we just rock him to nap when it’s been 2 hrs since he woke up. TIA

  15. How do we get a 6 month old off the bottle at bed and naps. Which turns into frequent night waking and short naps. Even if he has ate a full feeding a half hour before hand he will cry untill we give in. Any recommendations ?
    Thanks
    Ps
    No luck with a binky either

  16. My baby is 6 1/2 months. She slept so well at night and only woke once for a feed previously but at nearly six months she stopped sleeping in her cot entirely. She would fall asleep and when I put her in her cot whether drowsy or asleep she would kick her legs or roll over then wake up and start crying every 5 to 15 minutes. I pick her up and she falls asleep instantly before I’ve even had a chance to get her to sleep but then I put Herr down and she is instantly awake and crying again. Beforehand she would gurgle and suck on her fingers and get herself to sleep that way. I could put her in her cot then go “shhh” and stroke her nose and she would close her eyes and I’d leave her to fall asleep. Now it is impossible. I’m weaning her now but nothing has changed.

  17. Hi can I have some advice? My little girl slept right through never had any problems but these last couple of days I’ve been up and down every hour cause she’s started crying/ winging ect but as soon as I go in and give her back her dummy she goes back to sleep then a hour or so later I’m up again. Usually when she used to go to sleep if she lost her dummy she’d sleep right through still I was wondering if I could get any advice on how to keep her settled throughout the night she has just recently got both her bottom teeth through at the same time so I wasn’t sure if that was why?
    Thankyou!

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