Side note: I promise I’m not ignoring 5 month olds. In my experience, they tend to fall in this weird transition space somewhere between this group of 6-12 month olds, and the prior group of 2-4 months. I recommend staying flexible, tweaking their schedule as needed, and really paying attention to your baby’s sleep cues, mood, duration of naps in relation to waketime, etc. during that month.
So let’s talk about the third group: 6-12 months. There’s a huge range of development in this group, but surprisingly, sleep stays fairly consistent and starts to become a little easier to manage. Here’s a few key points when it comes to baby sleep schedules for this age:
1. Babies in this age range are generally on two naps.
Unless you have a pretty high sleep needs baby, at about six months of age, you should notice your baby starting to shorten or fight that first early nap we saw in the sleep schedule for 2-4 months olds.
Gradually start to lengthen that first waketime so that the first nap starts later, and you eliminate the need (and available time in the day) for three naps.
2. Naps should total 2-4 hours.
Their two naps should total somewhere around 2-4 hours. Too much or too little daytime sleep can start to throw off nighttime sleep, so we tried hard to stick to this range.
Overnight, you should hopefully get between 11-12 hours, giving your baby a total of 13-16 hours of a sleep per day.
This is just a range. Some babies are higher sleep needs (lucky parents!), and some have lower sleep needs. Don’t beat yourself up if your baby doesn’t immediately fall into this range. Tweak your baby’s schedule and talk to your pediatrician if you are worried they are not getting enough sleep (or if you think they are sleeping too much!).
3. Waketime should be between 2 1/2 and 4 hours.
Ok, so you may be thinking this is a very big range, however, there’s a few reasons why this range is so wide.
First, the age range is large, so there’s a good chance your baby will move from a 2.5 to 3 hour waketime, to a mostly 3 to 4 hour waketime by the time they turn a year old. Others will stay at a 3 hour waketime the whole period. Play around with the waketimes (it’s also a good idea to give any big change a week before you decide if it’s helping/working or not) and as always, pay attention to their sleepy cues.
The second reason the waketime varies so wildly, is because waketime can change throughout the day. Generally speaking, the first waketime of the day tends to be the shortest; baby is still waking up and doesn’t have a ton of energy first thing in the morning, so they may have a hard time making it to that first nap. As the day goes on and they get their naps in, waketime can increase by half hour to one hour segments.
So to break all of this down, babies this age usually fall well into one of these patterns:
- 2.5 hours awake; Nap 1
- 3 hours awake; Nap 2
- 3.5 hours awake; Bedtime
- 3 hours awake; Nap 1
- 3 hours awake; Nap 2
- 3 hours awake; Bedtime
The schedule below is what we used with my daughter. You can see that even we didn’t stick exactly to one of the two formulas above — her waketimes were 2.5 hours, 2 hours 45 minutes, and finally, 3.5 hours. This is just what worked for her and kept her happy during the day, and sleeping through the night.
Sample Baby Sleep Schedule: 6-12 Months Old
The start time and length of Nap 2 stayed pretty consistent the entire six months. Nap 1, however, initially started at 9:30am, and gradually inched later and later, changing the nap from 1 hour 45 minutes, to about 1 hour 15 minutes.
Tip: We used the Glow Baby app to track both of our kids’ sleep and feedings. It’s free, has a ton of features/tracking tools, and provides a great visual of your baby’s sleep patterns.
Ok, I hope that all makes sense! Feel free to drop any questions or advice in the comments, and remember that this is just one example baby sleep schedule of many that could work!