“WHAT” – 9 month sleep regression? Another one?!” I hear you say. Well, yes and no. Nothing like the 4 month regression, so don’t panic. However, there are big changes going on during this period both physically and developmentally which you need to be aware of in order to support your little one.
Where your child is already with their independent sleeping skills and how you respond through this wobbly patch will determine how smoothly and quickly you come out the other side. If your baby is self-settling and sleeping independently, you should breeze through.
However, if you are helping your baby get to sleep and they are waking multiple times during the night you may want to consider doing some form of sleep training at this point. Your little one should be able to sleep through the night without feeds (provided they have no medical issues) and be able to self-settle once given the tools and opportunity.
Common Causes of 9 Month Sleep Regression
Your little one is going through HUGE physical development during this period and they might be eager to practise sitting, crawling, and pulling themselves up at any available opportunity. It’s not uncommon for babies to do this even during sleep time. Their little brains are in overdrive. A predictable and calming bedtime routine can help with this.
Separation anxiety hits around this age and you might notice your little one suddenly starting to cry when you leave the room. Usually, the stronger the separation anxiety the bigger the reaction when you leave. This can also occur at bedtime, which can leave parents puzzled as to what to do to minimise the crying.
As a result, they might start to rock, feed, or co-sleep with their baby. Unfortunately, this can create new sleep habits that can be tricky to get rid of again. Just remember that separation anxiety is actually a normal part of development; it indicates that your baby is forming strong, healthy attachments to their parents or caregivers.
Routine Adjustments Required
Babies will drop from 3 to 2 sleeps per day somewhere between 7 and 9 months, their time awake will increase, and they will develop the ability to sleep through the night without requiring feeds. They should be on 3 solid meals per day plus milk feeds, and be gaining satisfactory weight.
5 Tips for 9 month sleep regression
- Adjust their routine as required (it might be time to drop a nap/ increase their awake time) and ensure their sleep environment is one that promotes sleep. Darkness and white noise can help.
- Practise leaving and returning (short periods to begin with, then slowly increase). Use phrases such as, “Mummy is just going to the toilet and I’m coming back”. Then, when you return, say, “Mummy went to the toilet and now I’m back” and give them a cuddle.
At first they might cry, but over time they will trust that you will return and become much better at coping with the separation. It’s a good idea to get them familiar with other people, whether it’s family members or a babysitter. The sooner the better, even if for short periods, and avoid just sneaking off!
- Lots of physical activity during their awake times (so they can practise their new skills like crawling, sitting, etc.).
- Check their diet (ensure they are having a good balance of protein, carbs, and veggies, and not too much sugar or yoghurt).
- If you have been helping your little one get to sleep by rocking or patting and the length of time it’s taking is suddenly increasing, or these activities are not working anymore – it might be an indication you should move towards teaching your little one some more independent sleeping skills. Putting your baby to bed awake and slowly minimising your presence at sleep time can assist with this.
Food For Thought
If your little human wakes in the night and sits up, starts chatting, crawling around the cot, or even just lying there with their eyes open, I always encourage parents to let them be. They will let you know if they need you, but being awake during the night for short periods can be normal during these crazy periods of development.
Sometimes parents feel that they need to help them get back to sleep, but this may not be helpful. Remember, we all wake throughout the night, but the key is being able to get back to sleep independently.