Nine months old. An age of babbling, pointing, laughing, playing peek-a-boo, and overall cuteness. It’s not all adorable fat rolls and toothless grins, though. Your 9-month-old baby is undergoing an explosion in development, which can sometimes lead to sleep regression. If your baby’s sleep has suddenly gone haywire and you’re starting to believe sleepless nights are your new normal, this article is for you.
What You Should Know About Sleep Regressions
Sleep regressions are temporary disruptions in sleep due to bursts in cognitive or physical development. Think of it like this: whenever your baby is going through a developmental leap or working on a new milestone like standing, another part of their development regresses. Similar to two steps forward and one step back.
This may seem strange at first, but it actually makes sense. Mastering new skills take an enormous amount of physical and cognitive strength, so, understandably, your little one’s system might need a few days to integrate a new skill and move forward.
Signs of the 9 Month Sleep Regression
Your baby’s sleep worsens with no apparent cause like sickness or recent travel.
Your baby is more hungry, fussy, or restless.
Mastering big physical skills like rolling, standing, or walking burns a lot of energy. You may find that your baby’s appetite grows during this time. Also, fighting sleep makes our little ones fussier and more tired in general.
Your baby is mastering new skills.
At 9-months-old, many babies learn to sit up, stand, crawl, or cruise around furniture. If you see your little one actively working on new skills and seeming more restless, and fighting sleep, chalk it up to the 9-month sleep regression.
How long does it last?
The 9-month sleep regression is commonly called the 8-10 month sleep regression, making parents think it’s a 3-month long regression. Don’t worry; it’s not! There’s just a lot of development going on for our little ones at this age, and each baby develops on their own timeline, so this regression might occur any time during those three months.
Sleep regressions can last up to two weeks. Yes, I know this sounds like an eternity to a sleep-deprived parent. Focusing on the new (adorable) skills your baby is mastering can help relieve any frustration you’re feeling. And see my survival tips below for specific ways to help your baby sleep well during this phase.
9-Month Sleep Regression Survival Tips
Surviving a sleep regression can feel like an impossible task at times. It’s tough to hear your baby cry and see them struggle to sleep both day and night. Here are some things you can do to help your baby relax and sleep better during this restless time.
Tip #1: Start a relaxing bedtime routine.
If you haven’t already, start a relaxing bedtime routine for your little one. Bedtime routines have been proven to improve sleep habits, foster the emotional bond between parents and children and enhance overall wellbeing. A familiar bedtime routine serves as a cue for your little one to relax and fall asleep easily every night. This is especially helpful during sleep regressions when our little ones are more restless and wired.
Tip #2: Give your baby a consistent daily schedule.
Daily schedules can sound boring or stifling for parents who aren’t natural planners but let me assure you, they can be a parent’s saving grace! Keep it simple. Aim for a consistent wake-up time, nap times, and bedtime every day. That’s it! When your baby sleeps at the same times each day, it makes sleep come easier for them, so they fight sleep less.
Tip #3: Remind yourself that this is temporary.
When you’re up at 3 a.m. with a fussy baby that won’t sleep, it’s hard not to go a little crazy (been there, done that!). Whenever my babies were going through sleep regressions, I would say a little mantra in my head like this: “This IS temporary. My sweet baby is learning so much right now, and they need my help to process it all and relax. Before I know it, we’ll be sleeping great again. I can do this.”
All of these things are true. Your baby is overwhelmed, but it won’t last forever. And soon enough, they’ll be past this milestone, and you’ll be so proud of them! So don’t worry, mama, it really will be over before you know it.
I’d also visualize the strong coffee I’d treat myself to the next morning. I found that to be especially helpful! 😉
Tip #4: Start sleep training once the regression passes.
After two weeks of a sleep regression, you’re free to begin sleep training to get your baby sleeping better. At this point, it’s safe to say the regression has passed, and most of your baby’s sleep struggles are turning into habits.
Sleep training is the process of teaching your baby to fall asleep independently so that they can sleep longer stretches at night (and eventually sleep through the night). It’s been shown to strengthen sleep patterns for both babies and parents and improve maternal mental health. I know I’m a happier mom when I’m well-rested!
You don’t have to suffer long-term with a baby that refuses to sleep. The 9-month sleep regression is a temporary disruption in your baby’s sleep. It will pass. Focusing on the new words your baby is babbling, or new skills they’re learning can help, as can starting a relaxing bedtime routine and consistent daily schedule. Teaching your baby the skill of independent sleep will set them up to sleep great for years and help them ride out future sleep regressions easier. Good luck!