Many new parents look forward to their little one growing older in hopes that it means better nighttime sleeping habits. Unfortunately, while babies may seem to fall into a sleeping pattern or routine within several months, the 9-month sleep regression is a developmental stage almost all babies go through. This regression can happen anywhere from about 8 to 12 months of age with an average of 9 months old.
The 9-month sleep regression is said to be associated with developmental milestones. The key to getting the baby back on track is usually all about how one interacts with their baby throughout this regression. The 9-month sleep regression issues are usually more significant since their 4-6 month sleep regression. This generally means that they have “worked the system.” For example, they know that if they cry hard and long enough, a parent will come to their rescue and soothe them.
Why Does the 9 Month Sleep Regression Happen?
Major physical developments such as crawling, standing and sitting can be taxing on a 9 month old’s delicate body. One may start to find their baby standing in their crib instead of going to sleep whether it is nap time or for the night. Sometimes babies will practice these physical developments at night as they may be too wired to calm down and fall asleep.
When the baby is going through these physical development changes, it is important that the parent lets them practice these skills as much as possible during the day. Not only will it help them perfect the skill more quickly, but also because the more they practice during the day, the more tired they will be when it comes to bedtime at night. In turn, they may be exhausted once bedtime rolls around and they won’t ‘practice’ these developmental changes when it’s time to go to sleep.
Babies at around 9 months old start to recognize people around them as well as objects and animals. This is when they start to feel the ‘anxiety’ over their parent leaving the room when it comes to nap time or bedtime. They feel as though the parents have left and will never come back, especially because they don’t yet have an understanding of time.
Babies know that their actions create reactions. This is the reason why they cry at every opportunity they have, knowing their parent will come back (if they cry long enough). Think of the game ‘peek-a-boo.’ Babies get excited every time playing this game. This is because once something is out of sight, they feel it has completely disappeared and that it no longer exists. Playing this game more during the day helps them slowly understand that just because they may not see their parent at a certain moment does not mean they don’t exist.
It is also very important that the parent during this stage of their baby’s life does not just sneak away. This causes more separation anxiety. They should always let them know they are leaving for the time being but will be back. Slowly and with practice, the baby will start to learn their parent is not leaving for good. They need to trust the parent. Parent’s should also know to never leave in tears as this can feed the baby’s anxiety too.
What Happens During The 9 Month Sleep Regression?
Many parents will put their baby down for the night and leave the baby to fall asleep independently. Most of the time babies will cry as soon as the parent leaves the room. This cry is usually different than the cry that happens during the day. Most parents will then go back to the room to see what is wrong and even rock their baby or nurse them to sleep. This may not be the normal process for a night routine, but during the 9 month sleep regression before the parent even realizes it is due to the regression, they assume it could be either because of poor napping or them still being hungry.
Naps can also be affected by this regression. If a baby is around the 9 month age mark, parents should consider that these behaviors may be signs of the 9 month sleeping regression. Keeping track of their baby’s milestones and looking out for any changes, parents can pinpoint when it starts to happen and they can ease out of it better.
Dealing With The 9 Month Sleep Regression
Create an Optimal Sleep Environment
An optimal sleep environment helps the baby settle into a deeper sleep faster. Parents should remove any gadgets like toys from the room as sometimes they may go off on their own leading to the disruption of their baby’s sleep. The room should also be kept cool, dark and possibly even with the addition of a white noise machine. Also, calming the baby before bedtime can get them into the right mood for sleep. Most importantly, parents should make sure their baby is well fed and their diaper has been changed before putting them down for the night.
Support Baby’s Separation Anxiety
Parents should try to reassure their baby over and over again that they are not leaving for good and that leaving the room does not make them ‘disappear.’ Having a good cuddle before bedtime can help, but one needs to set a limit for this. The baby needs to realize the parent cannot stay in the room and doesn’t need to be in there for them to get a long nights sleep.
Always be Consistent
With night routines and nap schedules, a parent needs to stay consistent. This will help the baby ease out of the 9 month sleep regression more quickly. Baby’s thrive when there are set routines.
Lay Them Down in a Drowsy State, Not Asleep
When a parent lays their baby down to sleep, it should be short and simple. They shouldn’t sneak out as this will make the separation anxiety worse. Rather, they should lay them down to sleep when they are tired and drowsy and give them a kiss goodnight. This comforting act lets them know everything is okay and will help the baby understand that the parent is not leaving for good.
Not Every Sleep Issue is Due to Sleep Regression
Not all sleep-related issues are due to the 9-month sleep regression. If your baby had sleeping issues when they were 6, 7 or even 8 months old, it could be a sign of a different sleep problem that a parent should be having checked out. Teething, a bit of a stuffy nose or post-nasal drip, or tummy troubles could also be a cause of sleep issues. A parent should pay attention to their baby when there are sleeping issues in order to pinpoint the exact reason why it is happening.
The 9 month sleep regression is not an easy phase for either the parent or the baby. This is definitely a difficult time, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel. This sleep regression just means the baby is maturing and going through some physical developments which is good. Parents should simply make a plan to stay as consistent as possible during this time and soon enough everytine will be sleeping through the night.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on 5 RULES FOR SAFE CO-SLEEPING.