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. Thanks for this article. We’ve been struggling with our 6.5 month old for the last few weeks. After about 4 months old he started taking mostly 30-40 minute naps. He used to take long naps – but he was always in the carrier when he was little. It was once we started trying to get him to nap on his own. Now he still takes short naps and if he’s up early enough will still need 4 naps to get us through the day. But he always fights the last nap – whether it is the 3rd or 4th one. I’ve been trying for a couple weeks to change our schedule and lengthen naps but he isn’t having it. He just started crawling and I know it’s a big development time right now for him. I know we’ve developed some sleep associations now just because I’ve been trying to get him to sleep. We always shoot for bedtime by 7:00, but on days he skips his last nap, we do it closer to 6. He’s happy generally and doesn’t get fussy unless he’s hungry. Should we keep working on lengthening naps, or would we benefit from trying for two naps. The morning nap gap is the hardest part of the day, but he doesn’t seem to want to sleep after 3:00pm ?

    • Hi Stephanie,
      Thank you for visiting The Baby Sleep Site! 6 months can be really hard just because babies are in such a transition stage. We do usually recommend keeping as many naps as you can, especially if baby is taking shorter naps no matter what you do. A lot of babies only start to lengthen their naps out on their own around 6 months-old anyway. We have an article about short naps that might help you here:

      I’m not a sleep consultant, but we do usually recommend working on dropping any sleep associations first, and just move bedtime up if you need to and it’s no disrupting the rest of his day. Some babies just need early bedtimes during transitions, and you can always scootch it back to 7 later once his naps lengthen out. I hope this helps, but please let us know if you have any other questions!

  2. Hi! My almost 5 month old just started taking a longer first nap, 1.5 hours. He was previously taking 3-4 25-45 min naps/day. Trouble is since he has been taking the longer first one, we cannot put him down again for his next naps! Yesterday he went down 4 hours after his first nap (despite multiple attempts) and slept for 34 min. He has also been difficult to put down at night, and wakes up a lot throughout the night. He is been waking for the day around 8 am. Are these signs he only needs 2 naps? How long awake between 1st and 2nd nap do you recommend? And then before bed? Thanks so much!

    • @Katie – Thank you for reading and for sharing with us. It’s great to hear that our little guy’s first nap is going well – it’s a pretty important one! We generally expect to see a 5 month old taking 3-4 naps per day for a total of 3-4 hours per day along with 11-12 hours of sleep at night, though this varies baby to baby. From what you described, you may want to consider revisiting his entire day schedule to be sure you’re asking him to sleep at the right times. If you haven’t taken a look at our sample schedules, you can check out the one for his age group here: If you find you need or would like a bit more support, please consider connecting with one of our expert sleep consultants for more guidance. Thanks again for reading, Katie!

  3. I have a 6 month baby who will only take two naps. The first nap 2-3 hrs and the second at least an hour. He sleeps 11-12 hours at night. He’s awake between naps for 3 hour stretches. Is that bad for him to be awake that long? He seems happy and well rested. He will fight me if I try to make him take that third nap

    • Hi Miranda,
      Thanks for using The Baby Sleep Site as a resource! Although the majority of 6 month-olds need three naps, we have definitely bumped into babies this age who do fine on 2 solid naps a day. If your son is sleeping well at night, getting enough cumulative day sleep, and making it to bedtime without signs of overtiredness, then your schedule as-is is fine. I hope this helps, but please let us know if you have any other questions!

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