Surviving the 9-Month Sleep Regression: What to Expect and How to Cope for Your Baby
15. 8. 2023
19. 7. 2023
For newborns, the first year is filled with leaps and bounds of achievements in their development. They are constantly crushing milestones and beaming with excitement as they learn new skills.
At 9 months, most of them are probably gearing up to walk and attempting to replicate sounds.
With growth comes drastic changes, and sleep regression is one of them.
We’ve cracked the code on the 9-month sleep regression; we’ll explain what it is, what signs to expect, and how to survive it effortlessly in this guide.
What Is 9-Month Sleep Regression?
The 9-month sleep regression is a temporary phase of disruptions in your newborn’s sleep pattern. These disruptions could be in the form of changing sleep schedules, difficulty falling asleep, or even staying asleep.
It is normal for your baby to take shorter naps and wake up more frequently at night during this period.
The sleep regression at 9 months is usually tied to certain developmental milestones, such as crawling, standing upright, walking, and teething.
Nine-month-old babies’ sleep regress for only a few weeks. To support this, Healthline explains that it can last anything from two to six weeks. Essentially, if it persists beyond the sixth week, it’s unusual and worth contacting a pediatrician.
Symptoms of 9-Month Sleep Regression
An interesting trait in newborns is that they always manifest signs of deficiencies in their sleep patterns or how well they nap.
Once the regression starts, you can identify it with various symptoms that may or may not all appear in this phase. And in most cases, these symptoms are quite frustrating for both the baby and parents.
Let’s look into some of them below:
1. Frequent Night Wakings
The amount of sleep babies need daily largely depends on their age. For 9-month-olds, they can spend an average of 14 hours sleeping, 11 of which is at night.
As they begin to have a more consolidated nighttime rest, sleep regression can set in, threatening this milestone.
Your baby will wake up more frequently at night, hampering its sleep and resulting in overtiredness.
2. Difficulty Falling Asleep
Your little one may struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep during sleep regressions. So aside from waking up frequently at night, it may not be able to sleep at all.
It separates you and your baby from adequate rest, leaving it unnecessarily anxious and unable to calm down to sleep independently.
3. Increased Fussiness
With sleep regression, babies are likely to become more cranky and fussy. Since they cannot talk or speak, the best way to communicate their discomfort is by being fussy or irritable.
Their fussiness can be expressed by a strong desire to explore their environment, a preference with food choices, and general whining.
4. Prolonged Clinginess
Clinginess in babies is completely normal, but this could also be a struggle. During sleep regressions, they may become more clingy than usual.
Why is this so?
At 9 months, they hit a pivotal part of their development and exhibit separation anxiety. As such, it becomes harder for your little one to stay away from you or its primary caregiver; they’ll fall asleep only by clinging to you more often.
5. Appetite Changes
The chances that your 9-month-old would experience changes in appetite when sleep regression occurs are high. It may also show increased or decreased hunger and inconsistencies with meal portions.
Sleep regression can alter your baby’s meal schedule, causing them to eat, even at night. But while these may throw you off balance, you should know what meals to try to help them recalibrate their appetite.
Causes of 9-Month Sleep Regression
Babies have a tendency to nap more than usual, and sometimes, they tend to nap only for a short while. Nonetheless, the latter becomes an issue when sleep regression sets in.
It further begs the question:
What causes sleep regression in babies 9 months of age?
Let’s answer that right away!
1. Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety describes the fear babies and toddlers experience when separated from their parents. It refers to babies being more aware of their attachment to primary caregivers and feeling stressed by their absence.
Healthychildren.org says separation anxiety can start as early as 4 months but is more prominent at 9 months. It shows your little one is learning object permanence—a phenomenon explaining that people and things exist, although out of sight.
As a result:
Your baby could be tensed around strangers, feel lonely when left in the crib at bedtime, and fuss. In worse cases, they may regress in previously acquired skills.
While this is a challenge, you can overcome it by providing reassurance that it is safe and you’re there to protect it.
2. Burst of Developmental Milestones
Developmental milestones are worth celebrating and culminate in your child becoming an adult. These milestones in 9-month-olds could be babbling, laughing, and imitating sounds or teething.
They develop new skills daily, like crawling and pulling up to stand. But while it is completely normal for them to test these skills out, they could become extremely active.
In the process:
Your newborn may fail to settle back into a peaceful sleep routine, thereby leading to sleep regression.
3. Change in Sleep Routine
Another major catalyst of the 9-month sleep regression is the transition from long to fewer naps. At this age, most babies move from 3 naps a day to 2 naps, initially disrupting their sleep schedule.
Your baby staying awake longer can trigger certain fatigue-fighting hormones like melatonin and serotonin. Thus, it becomes more difficult for it to fall and stay asleep.
It’s no news that babies are more susceptible to infections and viruses leading to diseases. So age may not be the issue here. While the cause of the illnesses may not be evident, the symptoms are always apparent.
These symptoms, including sluggishness, loss of appetite, vomiting, or fever, can induce sleep regression.
Your newborn may feel restless, leading to shorter naps and prolonged wakefulness.
At 9 months, you’re gushed with a feeling of relief as you migrate slowly from breast milk to solid foods. And interestingly, babies at this age can eat thrice daily, in addition to breastmilk and formula.
They’ll have an increased appetite and tend to become hungry more frequently. As a result, their food and sleep routine changes, which might be challenging to keep up with.
They’ll have increased night wakings and shortened sleep durations. It could also lead to your baby being more restless, thus, influencing sleep regression.
How to Cope With 9-Month Sleep Regression
The temporal disruption in your baby’s sleep pattern comes with peculiar problems, leaving parents confused at first. But surviving this period is a walk in the park, which requires patience and consistency with specific actions.
Let’s consider the best possible ways to cope with 9-month sleep regression below:
- Observe a consistent bedtime routine: Having a constant sleep routine for your baby helps them know when it’s nap time or time to wake up. Eventually, your baby will naturally follow the pattern.
- Adjust your baby’s naptime and sleep schedule: Finding the right schedule for your baby’s resting needs helps them sleep better and develop a more efficient sleeping routine.
- Feed your baby regularly: If it gets hungry in the middle of the night, this could disrupt its sleep. Hence, it is best to use an effective baby feeding schedule to prevent distorted sleeping patterns.
- Provide more comfort: The environment your baby sleeps in plays a major role in how well they’d sleep. Using soft, clean sheets and a firm but not hard mattress can help achieve a cozy sleeping environment for your child.
When Does 9-Month Sleep Regression End?
Nearly all parents have experienced the 9-month sleep regression, yet it remains a struggle. This is because while you’re in the midst of it, the journey might appear too long for you to see an end.
The 9-month sleep regression only lasts a few days to a few weeks; it is a temporary but important development phase.
Every child is different. So, while it might take a few days for one baby’s sleep regression to end, it might take weeks in another.
SleepFoundations.org suggests that 9-month-olds sleep for 12 to 16 hours per day. So, if your baby isn’t getting this amount of sleep over a stretched period, ensure to consult a professional for help.
The 9-month sleep regression in infants could last weeks and can render both parents and newborns restless.
Causes of this regression are; separation anxiety, developmental processes, changes in sleep routine, illness, and hunger.
Some possible solutions to the 9-month sleep regression include:
- Creating an enabling environment for your child
- Providing more comfort
- Feeding your baby properly
- Adjusting your baby’s nap time
I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comment section below.
FAQ: 9-Month Sleep Regression
Common factors that trigger the 9-month sleep regression are developmental changes, illness, hunger, and change in sleep routine. Separation anxiety can also cause this sleep regression.
You can manage the 9-month sleep regression by following a bedtime routine and sleep schedule. Offering more comfort and creating an enabling environment are additional ways of managing this regression.
There are no known long-term effects of the 9-month sleep regression in babies. The 9-month sleep regression is a common temporary phase that many babies go through. It lasts for about two to six weeks and marks a milestone in development.