Reaching the half-year mark is a milestone for both parents and babies. Infants between six and nine months are learning to sit up and crawl; they are also teething and probably going through a growth spurt. And of course, they continue to absorb the world around them, looking to parents for guidance and nurturing. Along with all the new experiences, an infant’s sleep pattern will also continue to evolve during this stage. This is what to expect:
A Full Night’s Sleep
At this age, most infants sleep around 10 or 11 hours per night. What’s more, some babies start sleeping through the night without needing a nighttime feeding, allowing moms and dads to catch up on some much-needed sleep. During the day, infants will likely nap two to three times, for up to two hours at a time, bringing their total sleep time to about 12 to 15 hours in a 24-hour cycle.
Wake-Ups Are Frequent
Along with nighttime feedings, there are a variety of other reasons babies this age wake during the night: Since your child is developing his motor skills, he may startle himself awake during the night by rolling over. Teething pain might also awaken your child, as can separation anxiety if he wakes up and notices you’re not there. It’s important to be flexible and make note of variables impacting your child’s sleep as you work toward a full night’s rest.
This is the stage when many infants drop down from three naps per day to two (one in the morning and one in the afternoon). If your baby is still napping three times a day, make sure the third is the shortest, and not too close to bedtime. By lengthening the last waking period before bed, you’ll help your infant fall asleep faster and wake up less throughout the night. Eventually, you’ll be able to drop the third nap entirely.
Set a Schedule
Figure out what sleep routine works best for your family. Some parents may prefer to set naptimes (for example, 10 A.M. and 2 P.M.). Other may find that their child sleeps best when he’s put down for a nap two hours after waking. The important thing is to find a routine that works and stick with it.
You may also be ready to start sleep training your baby. There are many approaches to sleep training and most parents find success in combining various aspects of different strategies in a way that works best for themselves and their baby.
Continue with Consistency
You can improve the chances of your child sleeping through the night by continuing with a consistent bedtime routine and letting your baby fall asleep unassisted. A quiet, relaxing nighttime ritual, starting at the same time every evening, will calm your baby’s sympathetic nervous system, making it easier to sleep.