What to Expect: 6-12 months old babies

I get so many parents who ask me questions such as “when will my baby sleep through the night” or “when can I expect my baby to take better naps”, and “how much should my baby be sleeping”? These questions are difficult to give a concrete answer for since all babies are indeed different people and cannot fit into one category when it comes to something so complex such as sleep. However, there are some general trends that can help identify if your particular baby is getting enough sleep.

baby sleep

Overnight sleep: At around the 6 month mark, MOST babies, so long as they are growing well, are given the okay by their pediatrician to sleep through the night without feeds. This means that if your baby is not currently sleeping through the night without feeds, and you want to cut out feeds in the night, it is usually a good time to start working on cutting night feeds and increasing daytime calories.

If you decide you want to keep feeds in after 6 months, I recommend one feed only, and only if and when your baby wakes up naturally.

Sometimes, keeping the night feeds can actually create more night wakings. So if you are having a tough time sticking to one feed, or your baby starts to wake more often than previously, it may be time to cut out feeds altogether.

What if my baby is low on their growth curve? Nutrition and health is most important, that’s why I recommend speaking to your pediatrician if you are concerned about dropping night feeds.

What if my baby drops night feeds on their own? Great! They are showing you that they are ready to consolidate sleep and don’t need the feeds anymore. Focus on full feeds during the day, and as long as they are eating well in the day and you aren’t concerned about weight, do a happy dance!

Naps: By 6 months old, the goal should be that your baby is taking more consistent naps. Nap length should be at least an hour for the first two naps of the day and timing should become more predictable.

A 6 month old baby should be taking 2-3 naps per day. The goal would be that the first two naps are longer, while the third nap may be a shorter sleep.

Usually by 8 months (if not sooner), most babies will be ready to stick to two naps a day, one mid morning and one mid afternoon.

Here is an example schedule:

6:00-7:00 am: wake up

9:30 am: nap #1

2:30 pm: nap #2

7:00-7:30 pm: bedtime

Nutrition: while I do not claim to be a nutritionist, there are some tips that are important to healthy sleep. Again, always consult your pediatrician if you have concerns about weight, calories or allergies.

  1. At 6 months and older, I recommend that babies be kept completely awake for their feeds. This is easier to do when feeds are given at least 20 minutes before your baby is going down to sleep. This also helps your baby break any association they may have with wanting a feed to settle down for sleep. Once they are used to falling asleep without the use of a feed, they are also going to have an easier time to consolidate night sleep and take longer, more restorative naps.

  2. When your baby is starting solids, it may be beneficial for sleep to only introduce new foods earlier in the day. The last thing you want at bedtime is an upset tummy when your baby is trying to sleep.

  3. Make sure that your baby gets enough fat, protein and iron in their meals. Rice cereals may be a good experiment to learn textures, but it does not contain the nutrition to help your baby stay satiated and will likely not help them sleep longer through the night.

  4. Formula vs. Breast milk for sleeping through the night: this is 100% your personal choice. I have not found that either makes a significant difference in how well a baby sleeps so long as they are getting enough milk in general. This choice should be about what works for your family.

Sleep Totals: again these are general recommendation, your child may vary slightly from these numbers, however, if your baby is much below these totals, they are likely not getting enough sleep and it needs to be addressed.

6- 9 month old: 3 hours total of daytime sleep with 10-12 hours of total overnight sleep.

10-12 month old: 2-3 hours of total daytime sleep with 10-12 hours of consolidated night sleep.

I hope that this helps for you as a parent to understand what are reasonable expectations when it comes to sleep for your baby.

If you are struggling with sleep for your baby, consider reaching out. I have individual coaching packages as well as group coaching.


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