Baby’s sleep needs at 3 to 6 months
Some more sleep tips from MyChild.ie
By 3 to 4 months of age, babies begin to settle into a sleep and wake routine.
How much sleep your baby needs
Between 3 to 6 months, your baby needs between 12 to 14 hours sleep across the day and night. They will usually nap for around 3 to 4 hours. There should be 2 to 2.5 hours between naps – see below for more information.
Your baby may still go straight to sleep after a feed. They’ll then wake for a while before the next feed is due. By about 6 months your baby will stay awake for longer and be more alert between feeds.
Waking during the night
It is normal for your baby to wake briefly during the night. Avoid stimulating your baby if this happens. For example, by talking loudly or playing with them.
They may drift back to sleep or cry. Settle and soothe them if they are crying by talking softly and holding them. Feed them if hungry.
Difference between day and night
At this stage they are starting to identify the difference between day and night. A bedtime routine can help show your baby that sleep time is approaching.
You can build a sleep routine by:
- having your baby out in the daylight early in the day and being active in the evenings. This helps them to make the hormone melatonin that helps them to go sleep
- not exposing your baby to bright screens like a mobile phone, tablet or TV. This can make it harder for them to get to sleep.
- having ‘wind down’ or quiet time in the hour before bed – use dim lights and a low voice in the evening along with relaxing activities like a bath
- feeding your baby after a bath or after you change them into sleeping clothes – have 30 minutes between feeding and putting them to bed
- putting your baby to sleep in the same place when at home
- putting them into the cot while awake so that they fall asleep where they will be waking up.
- avoiding feeding or rocking to sleep – otherwise they’ll always need this to sleep and if they wake up during the night
During the night
- Use a yellow or red dim light when you feed your baby at night as a bright one may over-stimulate them – avoid blue lights and bright screens in the bedroom.
- Speak to your baby in a quiet calm voice when you are feeding them at night – talking loudly may encourage them to stay awake.
- Put your baby back into the cot drowsy but awake so that they wake up where they fall asleep.
- Don’t change your baby’s nappy during sleep time unless it is dirty.
Naps for babies and young children
It is important for your baby or toddler to take naps during the day. Children who are well rested find it easier to get to sleep at night. Children will usually continue to take naps until around age 3.
Naps can help their:
When your baby or toddler should nap
Babies nap for between 3 to 4 hours per day. At 2 months of age, your baby will take around 4 naps a day. They will reduce this to 1 in the middle of the day at around 12 to 15 months of age.
You should space out the length of time between your baby or toddler’s naps.
A baby or toddler who naps frequently will not get the same benefit as one who has solid naps. Look at how long they have been awake and judge when they’re due to sleep.
Spacing out naps
- Up to 3 months: there should be 1 to 2 hours between naps
- 3 to 6 months: there should be 2 to 2.5 hours between naps
- 6 to 9 months: there should be 2.5 to 3 hours between naps
- 1 year or over: 1 nap a day
- 3 years or over: phase out naps
Babies over 9 months of age should not sleep after 3.30 pm in the day. This is because it will cause difficulties with bedtime and may also cause early morning waking.
Older children should not have naps in the late afternoon. This is because it may also make it hard for them to go to sleep at bedtime.
Help your baby or toddler nap
Your child will find it easier to nap during the day if you:
- have a consistent daily routine so that your baby or toddler knows when it is time to nap
- do not let your child play or relax in bed. Your child’s bed should be for sleeping only
- keep their room dark during nap time
- take off your baby or toddler’s shoes and outer clothes so they do not become too warm
- give them a special blanket or toy as a comforter
- read them a story in a calming voice
It is better to let your child wake up on their own, as they will be in a better mood.
For more information on all aspects of your child’s health, well being and development see https://www2.hse.ie/my-child/
If you need some support on sleep issues with your child please contact your Public Health Nurse who has been specially trained. You can find contact details for your PHN on the Parent Hub Donegal Services page by clicking this link http://parenthubdonegal.ie/services/job-listings/?search_keywords=public+health+nurse&search_region=0&search_categories%5B%5D=147 Put in the region of Donegal you are in (http://parenthubdonegal.ie/donegal-regions/ will help you) and click update.