9-Month Sleep Regression: What It Is and How to Handle It
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Nine-month-olds are so full of spunk! Your little one likely loves to babble, giggle, and copycat some of the sounds you make. Some 9-month-olds are even crawling and cruising! With all of these exciting developments, however, can come some sleep regression. After all, your growing baby is just too darn excited to shut their eyes for night-night. What will they miss out on?! The good news? I can help get you all through this sleepytime hiccup. Read on for my 9-month sleep regression advice.
What is the 9-month sleep regression?
The 9-month sleep regression is a period of time—often just a few weeks—when your baby, who has long been a fantastic sleeper, suddenly has a hard time settling down to sleep, is now waking several times a night, and/or struggling with naps. Your little one might need a middle of the night snuggle and be reluctant to doze back off. These sleepytime bumps in the road are known as the 9-month sleep regression (also referred to as the 8-month sleep regression).
What does the 9-month sleep regression look like?
After sleeping well for several months, at 9 months, your baby may begin to have difficulty sleeping through the night. Other signs of 9-month sleep regression include:
- Taking longer to go back to sleep
- Suddenly resisting naps
- Increased crying
- Frequent night wakings
- Trouble going to sleep
Why is my 9-month-old waking at night?
Around 9 months, a new swarm of challenges and developments arise that can shatter a baby’s good night’s sleep: teething pain, first colds, constipation, new foods, pulling to stand, and more. These common disturbances can cause many thorny sleep struggles.
Why is my 9-month-old baby waking up every two hours?
Again, it’s completely normal for your 9-month-old baby to go through sleep regressions. If your baby is waking every two hours, you may want to first look for any external factors that may be disrupting sleep, like itchy PJs, a bright light shining in the window, cold symptoms, noisy traffic, and more. Other reasons for frequent wake-ups include...
Reason for the 9-Month Sleep Regression #1: Developmental Milestones
Right now, your baby might be crawling, pulling to stand…a few are even walking for the first time! There are so many new ways to explore the world…with so many fun things to do and see, it’s no wonder your little one is wide eyed!
Reason for the 9-Month Sleep Regression #2: Teething
Teething is usually just an annoyance that’s easy to ignore during the day, but becomes bothersome when lying in bed at night. And, at around 9 months, babies have as many as eight different teeth coming in! Good thing white noise can actually help distract little ones from internal discomforts, like teething pain! (Here are more ways to safely help ease your baby’s teething pain.)
Reason for the 9-Month Sleep Regression #3: Baby Temperament
A baby’s temperament—or natural inclination—can lead to wakeups. Babies with a sensitive temperament might be more, well, sensitive to internal disturbances (like teething) and external disturbances (like a dog barking or sounds from the TV) that cause sleep disturbances. Likewise, babies who are especially social might enjoy their parents’ company so much that they wake up at 4am thinking, “Is it time to play yet?” (Find your baby’s temperament here.)
Reason for the 9-Month Sleep Regression #4: Hunger
Could a rumbling tummy be behind your baby’s 9-month sleep regression? Right now, your little one is busy filling up on new foods, but remember as you continue to introduce solids, you need to make sure you’re not skimping on milk. Breastmilk and/or baby formula still makes up about 67% of your baby’s calories. It’s very important that your baby isn’t missing milk during the day…otherwise, they’ll pop awake hungry all night long.
How long does the 9-month sleep regression last?
It depends! The 9-month sleep regression may pass after a few days, but it may stretch on for weeks, or possibly months, if it’s not addressed.
How much sleep do babies need at 9 months?
At 9 months, babies tend to sleep around 12 to 14 hours in a 24-hour period. This ends up being about 9 to 11 hours of nighttime sleep and 2 to 5 hours of naps.
How do I deal with the 9-month sleep regression?
There are a number of strategies to help you prepare for, avoid, and handle the 9-month old sleep regression. Here are a few tips:
Prepare your baby’s room for sleep.
Strong sleep cues are a good way to keep sleep regressions at bay.
Use low, rumbly white noise. The proper white noise can work wonders at covering up external sleep disturbances (the sound of a car’s engine outside, for example) and can also help babies ignore internal disturbances (like sore gums) and get more ZZZs. The best white noise for sleep features consistent, low, and rumbly sounds, like the white noise used in SNOObie and SNOObear. Start up the white noise during your bedtime routine, and leave it playing during baby’s sleep.
Make sure the room is dark. Even a little bit of light peeking in through the curtains or under the door can cause wake ups.
Keep Baby’s room at the right temperature. No matter the season, keep the thermostat between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the safest and most comfortable temperature for Baby sleep.
Address teething pain.
If you think throbbing gums are keeping your child awake, it’s time to start tackling the issue with pain-relief strategies.
Try the old school washcloth trick. You may find that something as simple and safe as frozen washcloth may help your teething baby. My favorite tip: Dip a corner of a washcloth in apple juice and freeze it to entice your teething baby to gnaw away their pain.
Consider meds. Ask your doctor about giving ibuprofen or acetaminophen 30 minutes before bed (it takes a little time to work). This may be just enough pain-relief to help you bub off to dreamland. Of note, you do not want to use belladonna, a natural herb used for pain relief, because it can be poisonous at the wrong dose. Also on the do-not-use list: Topical treatments, like gels and creams that include Benzocaine, a local anesthetic.
Turn on the white noise. Yes, white noise is worth mentioning again! Not only can white noise act as a fantastic sleepytime cue, it helps distract babies from common sleep disturbances…including teething pain.
Review your baby’s diet.
In addition to making sure your baby is getting enough breastmilk or infant formula during the day, you can try the following to help your love bug snooze better at night:
Add extra fat to your baby’s diet. Try to boost the fat content of your baby’s evening feeds with a little avocado, or a bit of olive oil, or butter mixed into food. This could help your baby feel fuller longer.
Try a dream feed. Rouse your baby (without fully waking them up) to feed them between 10pm and midnight, right before you go to bed. Research has shown that sneaking in an extra dream feed can help reduce night wakings.
Adjust Baby’s bedtime.
If you’ve tried the above tips and your little friend is still waking, it’s possible that you have a bedtime scheduling issue. Wake ups can be caused by going to bed too early or late…or having an irregular sleep schedule. (Related: Here's a sample sleep schedule for your baby’s first year.)
Move bedtime earlier. If your baby fights falling asleep for 30 to 60 minutes, has trouble waking in the morning, and they’re extra cranky during the day you may need to move their bedtime earlier. (Another clue: Your baby often falls asleep during car or stroller rides.) Try pushing their bedtime routine 15 minutes earlier every two to three nights until you land on your baby’s sleep sweet spot.
Move bedtime later. When your baby’s bedtime is too early, they may show no signs of fatigue (like rubbing their eyes or yawning) at bedtime, fight sleep for up to 60 minutes. Your baby might also wake up in the middle of the night or very early the next day, refreshed and ready to go. If this sounds like your little one, move their bedtime routine 15 minutes earlier, later two to three nights until you find the ideal bedtime for your baby’.
More Must-Reads on Baby Sleep:
- The 5 S’s For Soothing Babies
- Wake Windows, Explained
- When Do Babies Start Sleeping Through the Night?
- Teach Your Baby to Sleep on Their Own
- How to Transition Your Baby from Two Naps to One
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.