Baby Sleep Guide Stage 4
Settling into a Pattern: 6 to 9 Months
Most 6- to 9-month-olds sleep 14 to 15 hours a day (between night-time sleep and naps) and are now capable of sleeping for long stretches at a time. If your little one is still waking frequently during the night, think about how she falls asleep at bedtime. All babies wake naturally during the night but not all babies know how to return to sleep on their own. The skill of self-soothing at bedtime typically generalizes overnight. Also, know that by about 6 months, most babies no longer need to be fed overnight.
Keep things consistent!
As your baby gets older, you can certainly change some of the activities to make sure they are appropriate for her age (for instance, change the bedtime book), but keep the same general bedtime routine. Similar to when your baby was younger, make sure feeding is the first step of the routine instead of the last, and work toward helping her fall asleep independently at bedtime.
As your little one gets older and more aware of her surroundings, it may become a bit more challenging to help her learn to fall asleep on her own. Consistency is key!
If she is struggling to learn this self-soothing skill, you can take one of two approaches. You can end the routine by putting her down in her cot, leaving the room, and returning as frequently or as infrequently as you wish to check on her.
Alternatively, you can spend a few nights ending her routine by putting her down and patting her until she falls asleep, the next few nights remaining in the room/doorway until she falls asleep providing those consistent verbal responses, then the next few nights leaving the room but consistently checking on her. Either approach will take consistency and practice.
If having her fall asleep independently (on her own) is not a goal for you and your family, though, don’t worry. Some babies can sleep through the night without needing to learn to self-soothe at bedtime. Other babies can sleep for longer stretches after simply moving the bedtime feeding to the beginning of the bedtime routine (or before the routine altogether).
Learning to Move
Somewhere between 6- and 11-months-old, your little one will probably start pulling herself up to a standing position. Some of these normal developmental milestones can impact on bedtime. For instance, after your put your little one down at bedtime she may immediately stand up and reach for you. If that happens, go ahead and lay her back down the first few times saying the same thing each time such as, “it’s night-night time, I love you.” If she keeps doing it after the first few times, go ahead and let her figure it out herself. Make sure, though, that she knows how to get back down on her own. Some little ones struggle to get back down once they pull themselves up. If she doesn’t know how, practice with her during the day, keeping your bedtime routine consistent.
Between 6- and 8-months-old, your baby may still be on one of two nap schedules – with some babies taking several shorter naps per day, each beginning about 2 hours after they last woke, and other babies taking two consistent naps. By 9-months-old, most babies are on a consistent two nap per day schedule. The first nap is typically at about 9:00 or 9:30 a.m. and the second at 2:00 or 2:30 p.m.
The Sleep Environment
Remember – even though your baby is getting older she’s still too young to have anything in her cot with her when she is sleeping. That means you should make sure to take any toys or blankets out of the cot, and definitely remove any bumpers. Also, your baby is probably old enough at this point to roll over on her own. Keep putting her on her back at the beginning of the night when she falls asleep, but if she rolls over during sleep, there’s no need to do anything about it. During the day, help her to practice rolling onto her stomach then back over onto her back. If she’s rolling over, also remember to wean her swaddle if she still has one. Be sure to remove any mobiles or other hanging objects from over the cot in case she can grab and pull those objects.
Kate has worked in the field of Sleep Medicine for over 15 years. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne and has since worked extensively both here in Australia as well as most recently in the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She is passionate about working with families to help children sleep better and is the founder of Babysomnia. She currently lives in Melbourne with her husband and four young children. If you have a question for Kate you can ask it on the Facebook page or for more information check out the website at www.babysomnia.com