By 6 months of age, your child is probably beginning to develop a sleep routine, according to KidsHealth website. You may have established a nap and bedtime routine, but if not, now may be the time. Preparing and relaxing your baby before sleep times, as well as some other habits, can help your baby develop a good sleep routine.
Your 6-month-old baby will sleep approximately 14 hours, according to the experts at BabyCenter. That breaks down to roughly 11 hours at night and three hours of napping, generally spread over two naps. Your 6-month-old baby may even be able to sleep a 6-hour stretch overnight. Or, he may still wake for one feeding.
Establish a Routine
By the time your baby reaches 6 months, she is more able to benefit from a bedtime routine, according to Murray et. al. Even if you follow no other routines in your home, this may be the one routine worth following. A routine helps your baby know what is coming next, and babies are comforted by the structure.
The routine you choose to follow is up to you, but it often includes a bath, pajamas, a story and cuddling, followed by a bottle. Putting your baby in her crib while she is drowsy will help her learn to fall asleep on her own, though this does not work for every family and baby, according to Murray et. al.
Waking at Night
At this age, your baby may have been sleeping through the night, but now you are finding that he is waking up during the night. There are a few things that could be waking a 6-month-old. According to BabyCenter, your baby is prone to separation anxiety at this stage of development, teething, and the boom in his physical skills, such as sitting and crawling can have him awake in his crib, trying to practice--yes, even at 2 in the morning.
Other possible culprits for nighttime waking include illness, hunger or discomfort, according to KidsHealth.
If your baby has been sharing your bed with you, she is probably taking up more room now. It is up to you to know when you feel your family is ready to transition her to her own crib; however, Murray et. al point out that the younger the baby is when she is transitioned out of her parents bed and into her own crib, the easier it will be on the both of you.
If you are ready to try moving her to her own bed, you may start in steps, such as having her take her naps in her crib, slowly warming her up to her new sleeping environment. You could also try putting her in a smaller portable crib first. The final suggestion made by Murray et. al is to put her in her crib in your room, then transition the crib to your baby's room eventually.
Once you have made the decision to move your baby to her own bed, avoid bringing her back to your bed, as this will only confuse her and complicate the process.
Effects of Little Sleep
If your baby is still waking multiple times each night, leaving you sleep deprived, this can leave you experiencing irritability, confusion or depression. Your speech or decisions may be affected, as well as your relationship with your partner. To counteract the effects of broken sleep and survive until your baby is sleeping soundly through the night, Murray et. al suggests the following: take a 15- to 20-minute nap, head out for a walk in the fresh air, establish and follow your own bedtime routine, split the night in half, your partner can respond to the baby while you get a solid chunk of sleep and reach out to other new moms going through the same thing.
- KidsHealth from Nemours: Sleep and Your 4- to 7-Month Old
- "The Babycenter Essential Guide to Your Baby's First Year"; Linda Murray, Anna McGrail, Daphne Metland, and the BabyCenter Editorial Team
- BabyCenter: Baby sleep basics: 6 to 9 months