What's in this post...
If your little one is going through the 9 month sleep regression,, you know it can be exhausting for you and babe, these solutions will help.
Sleep regressions are like traffic jams.
You may or may not see them coming. They are highly frustrating and make you feel out of control. And you have NO IDEA how long they will last.
Ain’t it so, mama?
Just when you think you’ve got this sleep thing figured out, your little one starts protesting bedtime, waking up at night, and skipping naps – what the hullabaloo?
The 9 month old sleep regression can be just as challenging to get through and can even last longer than the 4-month regression.
The difference is, it’s not a change in their sleep patterns as much as it is a new stage of brain, social, and physical development.
Signs of the 9 month old regression
Regressions are pretty predictable in their unpredictability. Now I’m talking gibberish, okay, but what I mean is when you can’t figure out what’s going on with baby’s sleep, it’s often a regression.
And a little one who previously seemed to sleep well who now does NOT is often in a regression.
- Night sleep disruptions
- Fighting naps or waking early from naps
- Early morning wake ups
- Mood changes that seem linked to overtiredness
- Much more clingy at naps or bedtime
- Practicing milestones during sleep time instead of… well… sleeping
Common reasons for the 9 month old sleep regression
There are quite a few reasons your little one’s day may hit the fritz. It can be related to sleep associations, a daily schedule that isn’t age appropriate, or some of the big reasons below.
Know this, you can sail through this 9 month sleep regression without too much drama.
Separation Anxiety In Babies
Because of their ever-developing brains, separation anxiety can show up for the first time around this age causing some 9 month sleep regression symptoms.
This can make the separation of bedtime and nap time a whole new battle zone.
And, if you are prone to worry or feel guilty, you may end up doing things that make the regression last a lot longer. In fact, this is quite typical.
Baby goes through regression > Mom starts jumping through hoops to make it stop > Baby develops new unhelpful habits
How to address separation anxiety without creating bad habits
If you haven’t sleep trained already, you don’t necessarily need to wait until this regression passes, but you can choose a more gentle method that will give her reassurance while still setting good boundaries around sleep.
If you’ve previously used a sleep training method successfully, stick to your normal plan as much as possible without creating new habits.
- Have some nurture and connection time prior to naps and bedtime
- Do slightly longer wind down routines but don’t begin feeding/rocking/jiggling/driving baby to sleep
- Give your little one a chance to settle before intervening
Social and physical development
If you have an extra social little baby, you may need a longer wind-down routine for naps and bedtime to help them transition.
Their social development also comes into play – they are suddenly much more aware of the fun that they are missing out on when they are asleep. Even if they aren’t anxious about the separation, they certainly aren’t happy about it.
They also may start practicing lots of new sounds and vocalizing much more – even for hours in the middle of the night. You may hear cooing, singing, and baby talk from the crib when they’re supposed to be napping.
How to help your little one get interaction without becoming overtired
- The best thing you can do is give baby LOTS of practice during the daytime
- If they’re working on crawling, give them tons of tummy time
- If they know how to pull up to standing but don’t know how to get down, practice guiding them down gently to the ground during the day, and encouraging them to try it on their own
- And if babe still uses the pacifier, make sure and teach them how to put it back in so they aren’t waking up and calling to you for it
It may be to update your daily schedule
Another very important thing to check is your baby’s sleep schedule. Have you updated it in a while? Is your 9 month old on the same schedule they were when they were 6, 7, or 8 months?
From birth to around 9 months, their schedule should be updated every month to make sure they’re not going into bed or naptime under or over-tired.
From around 9 months up until 12 months, their schedule will be very similar, but at 9 months they may need slightly less daytime sleep than before.
- Newborn sample routine
- 3 to 6 month routine
- 6 to 9 month routine
- 9 to 12 month routine
- 12 months to 1 year old routine
Baby isn’t eating enough or refusing solids
Around this age your little one should be well established on solids.
Many babies, however, still want all their calories from milk. And while many people will tell you don’t rush it, they don’t need food, etc. you will know if that’s the case. If your little one is starving, won’t sleep for waking up every 45 minutes to an hour trying to feed, then is so full on milk they won’t eat real food…
Then it’s up to you what to do. Keep feeding milk until they are ready, or create a strategy that encourages them more clearly to eat food.
How to encourage more solids
- Offer food before nursing
- Don’t start with foods that have strong tastes, start with easy to digest and eat foods
- Give your baby a chance to eat solids at regular intervals, but don’t try to feed them all the time just to get them to eat because then they aren’t building up enough hunger to try new foods
In my sleep class (linked below) I share all about how to optimize nutrition for better sleep.
Create sustainable sleep habits for your little lamb so the whole family can sleep peacefully without the stress, drama, and tears.Learn More
Common questions about 9 month olds
After you’ve ruled out any medical issue or teething from the list, the reason babies wake up crying uncontrollably at night is typically due to overtiredness. When babies are overtired their little bodies produce stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline making it hard for them to sleep.
They will struggle to transition through sleep cycles well and end up waking up crying. The best way to avoid this is to make sure your little one is NOT overtired going into bedtime.
Your 9 month old can absolutely sleep all through the night, 7pm to 7am, without any feeds. If you don’t want to wean them then, of course, that’s up to you. But they are developmentally and physically able to if they are a typically developing baby.
The key to helping them sleep all night is night weaning them and then choosing a settling technique to help them learn these new habits. I teach these in my class, Sleep Little Lamb.
Teething pain is usually acute and short lived. Yes, teeth can take weeks or months to come to the surface, but babies who are already sleep trained generally have very few to NO SLEEP DISDRUPTIONS from teething.
If the tooth isn’t about to break through, and babe has been fussy and unable to sleep well for a long time, it’s likely they simply don’t have the necessary skills to sleep independently. Or they are going through a regression, NOT that they are teething.
Anywhere from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm is a great time for 9 month olds to go to bed. If they wake up from their afternoon nap at 2:30 pm, then you’ll want baby to bed by 7pm or they will risk going into bedtime overtired.
To make bedtimes stick, be sure and wake baby up in the mornings by 7:30 am otherwise they risk shifting their sleep phase later in the evening and waking later in the morning.
Learn how to space naps, how many a day per age, best times, etc. and get your nap game ON!
Lastly, trust that this stage will pass!
Do your best not to start unsustainable sleep habits during this time so that you can sail through it more quickly.