Your guide to blissful baby naps: 6-12 months

By around 6 months of age, you might see a pattern start to emerge in terms of your baby’s daily sleep needs. All babies are unique, and some need more sleep than others. Your baby’s mood and wellbeing is usually a pretty good indicator as to whether they’re getting enough sleep.

At this stage, your baby may still be waking for overnight feeds, and perhaps having short catnaps during the day. All of this is perfectly normal, but if you’re looking for some tips to stretch out those naps, or if you’re hoping for a bit more of a routine to your baby’s day, you’ll find this guide to blissful baby naps for 6-12 month-olds helpful.

1. Know how much sleep your baby needs 

During these months, most babies still sleep for around 14 hours in a 24 hour period. Awake times during the day are an effective way of managing your baby’s routine and avoiding an overtired baby. These are approximate awake windows between naps:

6 – 7 months: 2-2.5 hours awake time, and often having 3 naps

8-9 months: 2 hours 45 mins – 3 hours, and dropping the third short nap

By 12 months, your baby might be managing on 3.5 to 4 hours between naps, and still having two naps per day

2. Watch for tired signs 

You would have discovered that an overtired baby is unsettled, cranky, and much harder to get to sleep. This is why awake times are an important consideration. If you want your baby to be calm, cry less, and sleep better, keep one eye on your baby and one eye on the clock. Discover how to recognise your baby’s tired signs. 

3. Set the scene for sleep 

If your baby has naps in their cot, it’s important to create a calm sleep environment for them. Ensure that it’s free from distractions, and it needs to be dark (pitch black is best), and use white noise to block out any household or neighbourhood sounds. Dress them comfortably according to the room temperature, and put them in a sleeping bag. Read more about creating a positive sleep environment.

4. Be consistent every day

However you choose to settle your baby to sleep for naps, do the same thing for every nap. If you like your baby’s morning nap to be in the pram so you can get outdoors, try to do that every morning. If you like to hold your baby in your arms in the afternoon so that you can sit and relax, then try to do that every day. If you prefer your baby to nap in their cot for every nap, then your baby will respond best when you are consistent. They’ll know what’s expected of them, and will be less likely to resist it.

5. Keep them active during awake time

A baby who goes from bouncer, highchair, carseat, and then to the pram may not be as tired at nap times as we’d hope. Some days it’s just unavoidable, particularly if you have other children to care for. But it’s great to give your baby the opportunity for some independent play, sensory play, floor play…basically, your goal is to wear them out! We have plenty of in-home play ideas here.

6. Wind down before naps

Babies need some moments of calm when they transition from play to naptime. Trying to put them straight to bed will probably be futile, and they may resist their nap and then become overtired, which will make it near impossible to settle them. Allow time to implement a naptime routine similar to your evening bedtime one, but just condensed. Change their nappy, speak slowly and calmly, snuggle with them, read them a story or listen to a lullaby, turn on the white noise, darken the room, and tell them it’s time for rest.

7. Adjust as your baby grows

Your baby’s sleep needs will change regularly, so you’ll need to adjust their awake times accordingly. What’s perfect this month won’t necessarily work next month. Sometimes it’s a bit of trial and error, and sometimes naps just won’t happen for all sorts of reasons. Sleep regressions, separation anxiety, teething, illness, crawling, and walking. They’re all things that can make sleep go haywire, and usually mean that your baby needs extra comfort and kindness during this time.

8. Link their sleep cycles

Mini naps or catnaps, are the inability to link one sleep cycle to the next. One sleep cycle is between 30-50 minutes, and ideally for a more restorative nap (and to give exhausted parents a much-needed rest), we want babies to sleep 1-2 hours at a time. See Catnaps – Making short naps longer. Babies who are rocked, fed, bounced to sleep may be more prone to catnaps, because when they wake after the first sleep cycle, they’ll be looking for that lovely thing that helped them fall asleep.

Here are 6 more tips to holistically optimise your baby’s sleep

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