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Baby Sleep: How Much Does Your Little One Need – Three To Six Months

By the time your baby’s nine months old, he’ll be eating, playing and probably crawling, so his sleeps needs will have changed. Keep up with our sleep guide

The sleep hormone melatonin plays a crucial role in regulating our body clocks, so we sleep at night and feel alert during the day. But, while a newborn has melatonin in his system from your placenta, this disappears after seven days and he won’t produce any himself for a while. ‘This means a baby doesn’t know the difference between night and day, until around the 12-week mark, when he starts to produce his own melatonin,’ says sleep expert Sarah Ockwell-Smith.

Time for a routine

Gently introducing a routine can help this process of knowing when to wake and when to sleep, so try doing bath-massage-feed-bed around now. ‘If nothing else, it will help you feel more in control and give some structure to your day,’ says Sarah. 

But as your baby reaches six months, sleep can become more challenging, as your baby starts to resist it. ‘His attention span is growing and he’s developing skills rapidly,’ says Tina. ‘He may be able to roll, lift his head up or crawl, and all of these things will affect how well he sleeps.

He can keep himself awake, even when he’s tired – unlike the early months when he’ll fall asleep more easily. If he misses his nap, he gets a burst of adrenaline and become hyper, overtired and, ironically, less likely to have his next nap.’

How much?

At three to six months old, your baby will sleep for around five hours in the day and up to 10 at night. However, it probably won’t be a continuous stretch and will more likely be broken with one or several feeds. The same goes for their daytime sleep. By six months, he'll have around three to four hours of daytime naps and a 12-hour sleep at night. Even though he should be able to go all night without a feed, he may still wake for one.

Your sleep tricks

Now is the time to nudge your baby towards a daytime nap routine. ‘If you sort out his daytime naps, his night-time sleep will fall into place more easily,’ says Tina. ‘It’s still early days and won’t always work out, but aim for a morning, lunchtime and afternoon rest, rather than lots of power naps throughout the day.’

For more articles on baby sleep, subscribe to Mother & Baby magazine here

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