What to Expect For 6 to 8 month old Sleep
At this age, babies need an average of 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep at nighttime and about 3.5 hours of daytime sleep spread out over 2 to 3 naps. This comes out to an average total sleep of between 12-15 hours based on your baby’s sleep needs.
Between 6-8 months of age, babies are becoming more mobile and experiencing the developmental milestones of rolling over, sitting up and some may even be holding on to something to pull themselves up and stand. Many babies at this age scoot or crawl and have teeth starting to come in.
Around 6 or 7 months, some babies who have been good sleepers start to have sleeping difficulties. It is around this time that babies experience their first wave of separation anxiety and they may start to resist being left in their crib or start waking up more often to see you. To help with this, you can spend more time with them during the day, playing with them and practicing their new developmental skills which should help give them needed attention and also give them the necessary time doing the new skills that they may be less likely to wake in the night seeking you or to do those things.
During this period, it is important to create a regular schedule and try to stick to it. There is no “right” schedule, but it is important to have a solid framework and know that change and variation are inevitable as each child is unique and different. The starting point and ending point should be about the same everyday, such as waking up at 7:00am-7:30am and going to bed at 7:00-7:30pm. It may be adjusted earlier for babies, whose internal clocks start at 6am, which means you will need to shift the schedule, particularly morning naps a little earlier.
If your baby is in childcare, it will be important to make your home schedule as similar to the childcare schedule for feeding and nap times, as much as it makes sense because consistency is important.
In addition to a regular schedule, it is important to develop a wind-down/bedtime routine, to get your baby ready for sleep. This can include a bath, a book, snuggles and a song.
This is a sample schedule for this age:
(Shift the schedule an hour earlier if baby wakes at 6:00am)
7:00 to 7:30 a.m. Wake-up. Upon waking, nurse/bottle feed and solids (Consult your pediatrician about the introduction of solid foods)
9:00 or 9:30 a.m. Morning nap, 1.5 to 2 hours
12:30 or 1:00 p.m. Afternoon nap, 1.5 to 2 hours
3:30–4:00 p.m. (Depends on previous nap time) Optional third nap, about 45
minutes to an hour
5:00 or 5:30 p.m. Nurse/bottle feed and solids
6:00–6:30 p.m. Start bath/bedtime preparations, which may include an additional
bottle or nursing
7:00–7:30 p.m. Bedtime
It is key to get your baby on a regular schedule, while following your baby's cues and modify, if needed, to factor in they need more or less sleep.
If your baby is not sleeping well at night or for naps, this is a good time to start sleep coaching to get them sleeping through the night.
If your baby is used to being rocked, walked, nursed, or stroked to sleep, to get back to sleep in the middle of the night, you will need to help them discard those sleep crutches, also called negative associations, by slowly shifting away from them and moving towards self-soothing and positive sleep associations.
As you make changes you will likely have to tolerate some tears, but you don’t have to let your baby cry endlessly or alone. I suggest you sit by them as they cry, stroke their head or pat their back a little and whisper soothing words or a short song to comfort them and slowly do this less as they are calming down.
Your baby’s tears are their way of communicating to you that they are tired and frustrated and do not like this change. However, with time and consistency, on your part, they will learn to cope, adapt, and soothe themself to sleep.
The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Without Leaving Them to Cry it Out.
By: West, Kim, and Joanne Kenen.
Hachette Book Group, Inc 2020