Is 9-Month Sleep Regression Real?
Nine months-olds are full of personality and spunk! They often experience a wide range of emotions, from happiness and frustration, to joy and discomfort. It is around this age that they begin experiencing these emotions and learning new skills like babbling, laughing or imitating sounds. And although they can't verbally express how they feel, they smile when they are happy and cry when they are uncomfortable or frustrated.
Of course, sleep regressions look different every time and for every child. However, most are associated with developmental milestones or leaps. And unfortunately, it's true-- after several weeks or even months of your baby sleeping restfully through the night, they might start waking up again around 9 months.
What exactly is the 9-month sleep regression and how can you cope? We’ve gathered insights and tips and advice to share with you to make the transition easier!
Understanding Sleep Regression
Sleep regression is a period of time when your baby’s sleep patterns shift. They wake up often during the night and might have a hard time going back to sleep, regardless of how well they were previously sleeping through the night. Sometimes, they will even refuse to nap or settle down during the daytime hours too.
The good news though is that if your baby is experiencing a sleep regression, it may mean they’re going through a growth spurt and that their brain is developing. And hang tight, because it will likely only last 2-6 weeks.
Sleep regressions might vary in length or happen at different times because babies don't read calendars, so time for them is fluid. That being said, keep in mind that the 9 month sleep regression can really happen any time between 8 and 10 months.
What does it look like?
There are several signs of sleep regression and they all vary from baby to baby. However, if a little baby is experiencing any of these changes a sleep regression may be on the way!
- frequent night wakings
- trouble falling asleep
- increased fussiness, clinginess, or crankiness
- excessive crying
- suddenly resisting naps and/or taking shorter naps
How long does it last?
Often, the nine month sleep regression will feel like it goes on forever, especially when you’re right in the middle of it. But don’t fret, sleep regressions are temporary with most lasting from anywhere 2 to 6 weeks.
Be aware that other disruptions in sleep can and often do occur. These are usually caused by something else like an illness or maybe a change in your routine. If you notice that sleep disturbances aren’t resolved within 4 to 6 weeks, you may want to contact your child’s doctor so they can help rule out any underlying health condition your baby might have.
Most nine-month-old babies sleep about 14 hours a day, though it can vary from 12 to 16.
How to Deal with a Sleep Regression
Even though a sleep regression is temporary, it can feel like an eternity when you’re an exhausted, sleep-deprived mother. So here are a few things you can do to cope during this trying and tiring time...
- Make sure the baby is dry and well-fed before bedtime. Being hungry or uncomfortable will cause the baby to fuss.
- Remove gadgets and toys from the crib. These can distract the baby and keep them awake.
- Maintain a solid bedtime routine. Make sure they have predictable activities and a routine before bedtime like dinner, bath, a book, song, and dimmed lights.
- Put your baby in their crib drowsy but awake. Holding or rocking them to sleep can become a sleep crutch.
- Make sure they rest during the day. To prevent them from getting overtired, put them down for a nap even if they don’t sleep.
- Make sure there’s physical activity in their daily routine. Let them “practice” their new physical skills and milestones (like standing, crawling, rolling over, etc.) as much as possible.
- Be consistent! Stick to your routine. Let them fuss a little in the middle of the night to help them learn to soothe themselves back to sleep.
Change is good, but don't make it a habit!
It will be hard, but try not to implement any new habits during this period such as co-sleeping or the cry it out method. When your baby is going through a sleep regression you aren’t likely to get consistent results.
Sleep regressions are hard and you may feel tired, cranky, exhausted, and frustrated. But just remind yourself-- it’s temporary. It will pass and when it’s done your child will have reached new developmental milestones so be patient, consistent and remember to take care of yourself!