All you tired mamas, this one’s for you! If your baby is around 9 months old and suddenly shows changes in their sleep routine, they may be experiencing a sleep regression. 

Here are some signs that your baby may be going through a sleep regression: 

  • Your baby is becoming more and more difficult at bedtime. 
  • Your baby suddenly only wants to fall asleep on you (and not their bed).
  • Your baby’s naps are now shorter than usual. 
  • Your baby’s sleep is more easily disrupted. 
  • Your baby cries whenever you leave the room to put them to sleep. 

I get it. The thought, alone, of yet another sleep regression can feel intimidating. Then add the fact that you’re physically exhausted from a sudden lack of sleep and you may be feeling defeated. Thankfully, though, there is a lot you can do to mitigate the regression and get to the other side with as little disruption as possible!

First of all, you will be happy to hear that this 9-month sleep regression phase is temporary! It should only last anywhere from a few days to six weeks. 

Furthermore, you can take comfort in knowing that a sleep regression between the ages of 8 months and 10 months is totally normal. During this time, your baby is experiencing many developmental changes. They are learning about their gross motor skills. They’re probably even starting to crawl or pull up onto furniture. 

With all these new and exciting skills often comes the (not-so-exciting) “9-month sleep regression”. I want to share with you 5 ways that you can handle this 9-month sleep regression with your baby and get back on the path to sleep!

Want to learn more about the 9-month sleep regression? Read Everything You Need to Know About The 9 Month Sleep Regression.

Tip #1: Abide by Age-Appropriate Wake Windows

If you’re unfamiliar with what a “wake window” is, allow me to explain. A wake window just refers to the length of time that your baby has between sleep/rest periods. 

To explain this in more detail, you should consider your baby’s “rest time” as their sleep time. Even if they’re not asleep, their mind is still resting while they’re in their sleep environment. So you should consider their sleep cycle like this: it begins when you lay them in their crib and it ends when you take them out of their crib. 

For example, if you take your baby out of their crib around 7:00 am (from bedtime) and put them back in their crib around 10:00 am (for nap time), then that particular wake window would have been 3 hours. 

Now let’s talk about what appropriate wake windows look like for your 9-month-old baby. 

A good wake window period to try to stick to for your baby between ages 7 months – 10 months is 2 – 3 hours. This means that you’ll want them to be out of their crib (sleep environment) for approximately 2 – 3  hours at a time. 

Your main goal should be to find a balance between making sure your baby has enough time to be awake, while not becoming overtired. This can be tricky at times, but keeping wake windows appropriate makes a huge difference in how easily a baby will go down for their naps. 

Tip #2: Wear Them Out When They’re Awake

When your baby is going through the difficult 9-month sleep regression stage, it’s very important to prioritize play while they’re awake. 

Expel energy. Wear them out! The more you tire them out when they’re awake, the more likely they are to fall asleep quickly and maybe even sleep in longer stretches.

Need suggestions on what your baby can do during the day to expel their energy? Here are some areas you can focus on with your 9-month-old baby: 

  • Practice gross motor skills.
  • Practice fine motor skills. 
  • Practice cognitive skills. 
  • Practice social skills.
  • Practice emotional skills. 
  • Practice communication skills. 
  • Practice sensory skills.

Think about this… the more your baby practices these new skills while they’re awake, the less likely they are to want to do them at nap time/bedtime!

And don’t forget to get outside! Exposure to natural light during the day helps so much when it’s time to go to sleep – both for naps and nighttime.

Tip #3: Treat Naptime as a Necessity

When it comes to naptime for your baby, you’ll need to make it a priority. It’s important to lay your baby down, even if they don’t sleep. Remember, rest time also includes the time that your baby is in their sleep environment while awake. You can’t make your baby sleep, so if they’re refusing to nap, keep them in the crib for one hour and then call the nap, do a dramatic wake up and get them up. Go ahead and do a milk feed and attempt the nap again in 1 hour. One hour is the max that they should be awake before you attempt the nap again 

To create a more sleep-friendly environment for your baby, remove toys from their crib since they can be distracting and promote playtime. You don’t want your baby to be confused as to what their crib is for. Cribs should tell your baby that it’s rest/sleep time, not playtime. 

This is a great way to navigate the 9-month sleep regression. Think about all those developmental milestones that your baby has been experiencing lately. With all that going on in their little brains, these restful daytime periods are just as vital as their bedtime at night. Keep your routines and responses exactly the same, so you’re being consistent. Remember, your consistency will create consistency in your baby.

Tip #4: Increase Bonding Before Bedtime

Another skill that your baby is developing around 9 months of age is object permanence, which basically means that your baby is now aware of the fact that when they can’t see something at that time, it still actually exists. Out of sight but NOT out of mind. 

So think like your baby for a minute… 

Imagine seeing your mama or daddy – the ones who your entire world revolves around at this stage of your life. When you see them, you’re happy. So when they leave your sight (especially when you’re unable to chase after them), you’re instantly upset. 

This developmental skill of understanding object permanence often has a close cousin known as separation anxiety. Sure, this may seem like bad news for all parents out there, but consider it a good thing. You now know that this is coming, which means that you can deal with it when it does!

So, how do you deal with this impending object permanence and separation anxiety? 

I recommend increasing your bonding time with your baby before bedtime. Work in some extra cuddles. Make playtime extra fun for them. This way they’ll be less likely to feel the effects of separation anxiety at bedtime. Their emotional tank will be full and bedtime should be easier. 

Tip #5: Cue the Consistency

On average, a 9-month-old baby will sleep between 2-3 ½ hours during the day (nap time) and between 10-12 hours at night (bedtime). Obviously, this varies for each baby, but this does serve as a good guideline for your baby’s sleep schedule. 

One of the absolute best ways to promote a consistent sleep schedule for your baby is by being consistent in their bedtime routine. Guess what? Consistency is also key when dealing with the 9-month sleep regression

That’s right~ The last thing you’ll want to do is deviate from your regular bedtime routine in the middle of a sleep regression because your baby is not likely to abide by your new rules. This would likely lead to both you and your baby being frustrated, and it’s important to be patient and supportive with your baby during this difficult developmental stage. This doesn’t mean you may not have to adjust wake windows (remember wake windows lengthen as baby gets older) 

Here are some helpful rules for creating a good bedtime routine for your baby: 

DO make sure your baby’s diaper is dry before bed. 

DO make sure your baby’s belly is full before bed. 

DO lay them down when they’re drowsy, NOT asleep. 

DO continue normal activities at bedtime like reading a book, singing a song, saying prayers, bathing, brushing their teeth (or gums), putting on pajamas, and/or turning on restful sounds/music. 

DON’T rock them to sleep then lay them down. 

DON’T nurse them to sleep then lay them down. 

DON’T start co-sleeping during a sleep regression. 

DON’T start the cry-it-out method during a sleep regression. (Letting your baby fuss/cry a little bit is fine, but the cry-it-out method means letting them cry until they fall asleep, without doing “pop-ins”/check-ins). Anything more than about 20 minutes of hard protesting at bedtime, usually means something else needs to be adjusted in your routine/timing. 

Remember this… the more consistent you are, the more quickly you and your baby will make it through this time. Consistency gives your baby security and comfort.

9-Month Sleep Regression: Additional Help

Let’s face it. These tips are helpful but you may find that you are just wanting (or needing) some additional help to make it through this stage with your baby. You want answers to your specific questions pertaining to your specific baby. I totally get that!

Getting connected with a baby sleep expert can be your saving grace! This is exactly why I started Your Sleeping Baby – to help find your baby’s individual rhythms for sleeping. 

Let’s get both you and your baby through this 9-month sleep regression. Learn more about setting up a sleep consultation with me. The Infant Package was designed with your baby in mind, as it is set up specifically for babies between the ages of 4 months – 15 months!

Conclusion

You don’t have to suffer through this dreaded 9-month sleep regression and neither does your precious baby. 

Handle this sleep regression phase by incorporating these 5 helpful tips into your and your baby’s schedule. 

Ready to start sleeping again? Book your Infant Sleep Consultation today and you (and your baby) can be sleeping tonight!

Keywords: 

9-month sleep regression

References: 

https://takingcarababies.com/8-10-month-sleep-regression

https://sleeplady.com/baby-sleep/9-month-sleep-regression/

https://www.healthline.com/health/baby/9-month-sleep-regression

https://takingcarababies.com/wake-windows-and-baby-sleep

10 Simple Ways to Get Your Baby to Sleep Better Tonight

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