Does Your 6-Month Old Baby Need 2, 3, or 4 Naps?

How Many Naps Does Your 6-Month Old Baby Need?

There is a lot of confusion about how many naps your 6 month old baby needs. The short answer is “It depends on the baby.” This article will go into more detail about how many naps your 6 month old baby needs for healthy development.

During a recent sleep consultation, I was contacted by a mom of a 6 month old who was giving her baby two naps per day. When I asked her why, she said a competing website’s product said that 6 month old babies don’t need more than two naps. She was trying to lengthen her daughter’s two naps. I immediately recommended she go back to three naps because her baby sounded overtired. I decided to check in with this mom to see how she was doing, and she had this to say:

“Hi Nicole, Thank you for checking in. My daughter is napping a lot better. She still has the odd day when either her morning nap or afternoon nap is short. But for the most part she sleeps for an hour and a half in the morning and afternoon. Now that she is a little older, she most often is just taking two naps, but sometimes needs a third. She’s also sleeping a lot better at night! She used to wake 2-3 times, now most nights she only wakes up once between 2 and 3 to nurse, goes right back to sleep, and then wakes up for the day between 6:30 and 7. Thank you so much for your suggestions, they really did work!”

All Babies Aren’t the Same!

One thing to keep in mind is that all babies aren’t the same. Some transition to two naps at 5 months while others still have 4 shorter naps, at the same age. Some transition to 2 naps at 6 months old and others not until 9 months and I even had a mom with a 12-month old still taking three naps! All babies vary.

A very popular sleep book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, says that only 17% of babies need a third nap after 5 months old. I can imagine this might be one of the sources of that competing website. I learned a lot from this book and recommend it often, however, you must still keep in mind that studies are often on very small samples compared to the fact that over 12,000 babies are born daily, in just the U.S. alone.

In my experience with countless parents, more than 17% of 5 and 6 month old babies still need three (or four) naps. In fact, I would say it’s rarer for me to find a baby who needs less than three at such a young age. But even my sample is “tainted” by the fact that I hear about the babies with trouble sleeping, not those that might transition to two naps just fine at 6 months old.

Skip a Nap for Better Sleep?

I can’t tell you how often I hear that a parent is skipping the third nap so “baby is tired enough at bedtime”, but I assure you, this often does more harm than good. Too much over-tiredness at bedtime usually sabotages efforts of sleeping through the night. Regardless, most 6 month old babies can take a catnap at 4:30 p.m. for 30 minutes and still go to sleep by 7 or 7:30 p.m. and still sleep 11-12 hours. Having a baby up from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. at such a young age can be the equivalent of you getting up at 4 a.m. for an early flight and going to bed at 11 p.m. at night without a snooze in between. It’s a loooong day! More frequent sleep is better for your 6 month old baby’s development and to ward off any crankiness, if your baby is prone to that.

How Do You Know if Your 6 Month Old Needs 2 or 3 naps?

First, consider your 6 month old baby’s behavior. Any fussiness or crankiness is a sure sign of a baby being overtired. They don’t play well and some don’t even eat well. Some may be happy, though, and that can make it tougher to tell. If your baby isn’t napping at least 2 to 3 hours in the daytime, that’s a sign she needs more sleep. You need to first encourage your baby to nap longer. A baby who is short-napping most often will need more naps in the day to make it through. If she’s napping as long as she can (at least one hour each for the first two naps), it is easier to transition to two naps, when it’s time. Being overtired at nap time can lead to shorter naps, because it’s harder for your baby to get through that first sleep cycle.

Having said that, keep in mind that your baby might not take longer naps until she has transitioned to just two naps. This is because a baby can only sleep so many hours in a day, so as long as she is napping three times, it is possible her other two naps are as long as they can get. In this case, you need to use your cool mommy instincts and decide whether she is sleeping well for her age or not. It’s okay if the neighbor’s baby is napping three hours per day and yours is only napping two, if that’s all he needs. Just like your 4-month old went through brain development that affected her night sleep, your six month old needs to go through brain development to help her nap longer (the first nap is generally the first to lengthen).

Consider YOUR Baby’s Abilities

Take a look at our sample baby sleep and feeding schedules. This can help you decide whether it looks realistic to put your 6-month old on the 9-month old sample schedule (sleep-wise only, excluding amount of food). Can your 6 month old comfortably stay up 3-4 hours until bedtime or are you having to ward off crankiness by 5 or 5:30 p.m.? Is he falling asleep eating his dinner (it happens!)?

Lastly, are you “fighting” for an hour for a 20-30 minute catnap in the late afternoon every day? If getting your baby to take a third (or fourth) nap is a fight not worth fighting anymore, then it is probably time to permanently transition to fewer naps. Save your frustration and his! Or, has bedtime become too late? (Typically past 8 p.m. is “too late” but all families have different schedule requirements.) Make sure you make changes to his schedule to compensate for the loss of the nap. Missing one nap on one day is one thing, but chronic over-tiredness can make sleep unravel over the course of 3-4 weeks.

In Closing

My personal story is my eldest son (who inspired this site) still took four naps until a bit over 7 months old. He was extremely sensitive to being overtired and CRANKY to show it. Then he transitioned to three naps and to two naps at 8 1/2 months old just that quickly. He also transitioned to one nap at 12 months (rather than the 15 to 18 month average) and stopped napping at 2 1/2 (average is 3 to 4 years old). So, even though it might feel like you are stuck in the house napping with your 6 month old all day, things change very quickly in the first two years of your baby’s life. Enjoy it now because before long you’ll have a non-napping preschooler energizer bunny and need a nap yourself! 😀

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42 thoughts on “Does Your 6-Month Old Baby Need 2, 3, or 4 Naps?”

  1. Hi, I have a 6.5 month old who has been taking 4-5 30 minute naps a day (usually 4). She wakes up happy yet tired but will not go back to sleep. It’s been exhausting to me because I can’t get anything done in 30 minutes! She sleeps for 11 hours all night, she always puts herself to sleep, and she stays awake between naps for 2-2.5 hours. I’ve tried keeping her up for 3 hours and she still sleeps 30 minutes but looks much more tired after waking. What do I do? Should I try only doing 2 or 3 naps but keeping her up much longer? Or just leave it alone and let her drop them when she wants to?

    • Hi @Leah Briggs, I’m so sorry to hear you’re struggling with so many cat naps from your daughter these days. That is super common when they are really little, and there are things you can do now to help her consolidate those naps and get on better schedule. Here is a link to a free guide with tips for nap help:
      If you need more help you may want to check out our ebook Mastering Naps and Schedules which has tons of sample schedules and tips on how to improve your baby’s daytime sleep. You can read more about the ebook and purchase directly from our site here:
      Let us know how it turns out and if you need any more help!

  2. This is the first thing I have read that has made me feel ok about my 6 month old taking 4 naps. Every other sleep consultant makes it seem that if you put them down at the right times they will magically lengthen naps. I think it has happened a handful of times for me with absolutely no consistency. I drive myself crazy trying to keep him up for longer to put him down at the magical time and I am done. The catnaps are exhausting, but at least they are predictable!

    • @Lisa – Thank you for reading and for sharing with us! We are so glad to be a resource for you – as you keep reading, you’ll find that we’re (happily!) quite different from many other sleep consultants out there. Here you’ll find no judgment or bias – just support and encouragement. Please keep reading and thank you, again, for reading!

  3. My daughter is 5.5 months old and takes 4-5 30 minute naps daily to the minute! She will occasionally take a long first nap, but it’s a rare treat. She will sometimes awake once at night, but often sleeps from 7:30-6:00 am without waking. She recently has learned to self-soothe to sleep, but cannot seem to stay asleep longer than 30 minutes. I’ve tried letting her lie in bed to see if she’ll resettle, but never does. She often awakes grumpy due because she’s still tired. I’ve tried both putting her down earlier or later with no change. At this point, I’m desperate to help her feel more rested and less cranky! Any tips you have would be much appreciated.

  4. Hello! I love this site!! You’ve always been so helpful !!
    My 6 and a half month old baby boy knows how to go to sleep on his own since 3 months old with his paci and a lovey. Sometimes I even watch him waking up at naps and he goes back to sleep on his own. He’s also always been a 30 minute naper and usually wakes up only 2 times at night (one to feed, the other I just offer the paci).
    He’s normally awake for 1.5 max 2 hours and then a short nap.
    But… he’s recently refusing 2 out of 3 naps or the 3 of them. He’s awake for 3 hours or more. He’s overtired and waking more at night. He cries non stop when I put him in his crib for a nap, NOT at night. Nothing soothes him, not rocking, paci, lovey, hugs, my voice, sssh, nothing ! I have to take him out of the room and then he calms down but cries again within minutes cause of overtiredness. He already has 2 teeth. Could it be separation anxiety? How can I help him??? ?
    Thank you always!!!!

    • @Paulina, Thank you for your comment! I am so glad the site has been so helpful to you, but I am so sorry your little guy has been struggling with his naps lately! If your son is going through any developmental milestone (learning to roll, sit up, etc) this also may present a set of challenges with his sleep. Here is another article outlining a few other reasons your baby may not be napping:
      It also could be separation anxiety as you already mentioned as this begins to show up around 7 or 8 months which you are practically there. Here is an article with more help on how to deal:
      I hope his sleep levels back out for you again soon! Thank you for using the Baby Sleep Site as a resource for sleep!

  5. My daughter will be 6 months in 3 days but she will only take two naps a day. They are both 2 hours long so she is getting 4 hours worth of naps. Then she sleeps from 6:30pm to 6:00 am with no wake ups. Of course there are days when she will take three. Especially if her morning nap was shorter.

    • @Lauren, Thank you for you comment, and I apologize for the delay in getting back to you! That is wonderful your daughter is taking such great naps and sleeping such long stretches at night! It sounds like she has adjusted to a schedule really well and that you’re doing a great job determining when to offer that third nap on days when things weren’t as smooth. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by and using the Baby Sleep Site as a resource for sleep!

  6. Hi Sara,
    Short naps are very common, they especially creep up around the 4 month mark. They may lengthen without your help, but if you do want to help a bit, try some nap training. Try going in right when your baby (or babies) begins to wake and try shush/patting back to sleep.
    I would continue to offer the 4th nap if bedtime is getting too early. They may not take it everyday, but I would not drop it entirely until they skip the 4th nap everyday for at least one week straight.
    Best of luck!!!

  7. I am having trouble getting me 8 month old twin daughters to nap longer than 30 minutes. Since about 4 months old, their naps have become super short, from 30 minutes to an hour at the longest and I was putting them down for 4 catnaps a day until about 7 months old because they would be so tired. I bumped their bedtime up earlier to make up for the lost sleep during the day but it usually results in an earlier wake time and earlier naps, which still are about 30 minutes on the dot, now 3 times a day, as they are resisting the 4th nap.

    I’m wondering if I should add the 4th catnap back in or just continue to bump the bedtime up. I’ve spoken to many other mothers who claim their child took 30 minute naps until they were crawling and walking and more tired. I’m not sure my girls will ever sleep longer because I’ve tried everything; shorter wake times, longer wake times, separate bedrooms for naps, back in the same bedroom for naps; keeping them in their cribs up to an hour even after they wake after 30 minutes, and so on and they still sleep for 30 minutes only. They wake up still tired so I’m assuming we have a self soothing issue on our hands. They use pacifiers because they have bad reflux and the sucking helped with that.

    I’m wondering if I should just deal with these short naps and wait it out to see if they lengthen on their own once they crawl/walk/etc or am I missing something very obvious here? It seems like most other babies in this age range take at least 2 longer naps a day. It’s exhausting but I worry about their sleep needs far more than my own!! I can drink coffee, they can’t!!

    Thanks for any help anyone can offer.

  8. My son is just now getting better at napping at daycare. He takes two naps a day and they are anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour. Every once in a while we’ll get lucky and he’ll sleep for 2 hours and they will actually have to wake him up. He’s just starting on solids and hasn’t taken to it very quickly but it’s getting better. He’s been sleeping pretty good at night but the past few weeks he’s been waking up at 3:00 am and WILL NOT go back to sleep unless I put him in bed with me. I don’t want to make this a habit but right now I’m a “single parent” (my husband is deployed) so I have to let him sleep so I can get ready for work. I know he’s teething and he hasn’t been feeling well but I’m really concerned that he’s going to start to expect to be put in bed with me. I’ll usually try for about an hour to get him back to sleep in his crib with no luck. Any thoughts or advice?

    • @Kelley,
      The teething and not feeling well could definitely be contributing to his wake ups. However, while I can completely understand bringing him to bed so everyone can get back to sleep, it may, in the long run become a bigger problem for you. Have you tried giving him a bit of Motrin or ibuprofen before bed to see if that helps? Also, he could be going through a growth spurt. Does he eat at during the night at some point? If not, a short feed might assist with this 3 am wake up and getting him back to sleep. (Just don’t let him “fall asleep” while feeding and instead, feed just until drowsy then lay him back down.

      @Blaine- You might try going in right when she begins to wake and try shush/patting her back to sleep. Or laying her back down and then leaving the room to see if she resettle after 10-15 mins and go back to sleep. If she’s sleeping well at night and with three 45 minute naps per day, then as long as she’s generally happy and doesn’t seem overly tired, I wouldn’t worry too much but it’s certainly worth a try to see if you can help her learn to extend her naps.

  9. I cannot get my 6mo old to take a nap longer than 30-45min 3 times a day. I have tried to make naptime as relaxing as I possibly can but nothing works. She is on a good schedule, sleeps 12hrs at night, only waking 1 or 2 times for a feeding. How can I help my baby to extend naptime and turn it into 2 longer naps throughout the day?

  10. Thank you so much for posting this! I kept stressing that my little boy at 5 months wasn’t taking enough naps. He takes two naps a day averaging 1 1/2-2 hours each (we usually wake him at 2 hours) and I wasn’t sure if that was enough for him. He is sleeping just fine at night and doesn’t seem to be overtired so I’m assuming he’s just one of the few that doesn’t need that 3rd cat nap. I used to give him a nap at around 4:30 and he would sleep for about 30 minutes but then it started to be difficult and take longer to get him to sleep for that 30 minutes than he was actually sleeping so I just stopped trying and he doesn’t seem to need it anymore. We did adjust his betime though so he is asleep by 6:00 (6:15 at the VERY latest). I’m a first time mom and my husband is deployed so I feel like I have no clue what I’m doing! ha ha! I’ve decided to just follow my little guy’s lead and as soon as I see him yawning or rubbing his eyes then we start his bath and get him to bed. Seems to be working great! Although, I jinxed myself the other day and he woke up 3 times at night to “play.” Little stinker just layed in there and talked to himself all night. 🙂 My next hurdle (which I will take any advice) is getting him to sleep in his crib instead of his bouncy seat. He has acid reflux so he doesn’t do well laying flat. I’ve tried the wedge under the mattress but he moves around so much that it’s pointless. I’m scared to try to have him sleep in his crib since he’s sleeping so well now. I think I’m just going to have to try to have him nap in his crib and then move to nights but I’m afraid I’ll screw up the schedule that I just FINALLY got to work for him!

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