Sleep for Babies at 3-6 Months
My singleton, M, turned 7 months old yesterday. Over the last month his sleep schedule has become much more dependable. This was also the case with the twins at this age. I want all the parents with newborn babies out there to know, it will get easier and you will sleep again.
If you google babies and sleep schedules you will get a whole lot of information. Most of what I found for 3-6 months was not what my babies were doing, which led me to worry they would never be good sleepers. 2 out of 3 of my children took cat naps throughout the day until around 6 months old. This includes my singleton, in the last month he went from taking 4-5 naps per day to a dependable 3 naps per day.
When he was a newborn he would take long naps, but around 2-3 months he all of a sudden started taking short naps throughout the day. A lot of information out there indicates short naps are bad and there is something wrong. M is a great example of short naps being fine at younger than 7 months. Even though M was taking short naps at 3-6 months, he would have a dependable 7 hr stretch of sleep at night. Why was I worried about naps? He is a happy baby and he sleeps well at night. A 7 hr stretch was a welcome break after dealing with the newborn phase. M now takes 3 naps per day, some short (30-45 min) and some long (1-2 hr). Some days his first nap is long and others it’s the second nap. The third nap is typically short because it’s the nap before bed. Below is my favorite sleep chart and one that I found to be the most accurate. The most important thing to pay attention to is how long a baby should be awake between naps:
Another thing that would always stress me out during 3-6 months old was a late bedtime. Some light reading on the internet leads you to believe you are a horrible parent if your child’s bedtime is later than 8pm. J, one of our twins, used to go to bed at 11pm-1am during these months and I didn’t know what to do. Well, by the time she was 9 months old her bedtime was 8pm and it has remained at that time for 2 plus years. Slowly and naturally from 6-9 months her bedtime inched closer and closer to 8pm. So far, M is on a similar path with his bedtime currently 9:00-9:30pm at 7 months old. Bedtime in our house is driven by the goal of having the children wake up around 8:15-8:30am, which is the time their nanny arrives at the house.
The biggest take away from this post is not to stress over your child’s sleep too much in the first 6 months. If your baby is happy and their awake times between naps line up with the above chart you are in good shape. Babies seem to reach a milestone in the 6-7 month time frame where they take more consistent and longer naps.
Overall, I consider all my kids to be great sleepers. This did not happen by accident. Both J and M have required sleep training intervention to instill better sleep habits. On the other hand, S (the other twin), has been an amazing sleeper since she was 6 months old with no sleep training required. Next week I will share our sleep training experiences using the cry it out method.