If your 9-month-old’s sleep schedule is more irregular than regular, it can easily become a cause for concern. You’re not alone, but your baby does need lots of sleep while their brain and body rapidly evolve. Knowing what’s normal and what’s not can be challenging, especially because every child brings a unique array of joys and frustrations.
It’s natural to feel discouraged when hearing tales about “easy” babies, but in just a month or two, that baby’s sleep schedule could differ wildly. What’s most important is the relationship you build with your little love and trusting your intuition, as being your child’s primary caregiver gives you extraordinary insight into their needs.
Sleep Training A 9-Month-Old—What’s Normal?
How Long Should a 9-Month-Old Sleep?
As children grow, they need adequate amounts of daily sleep to properly funnel the nutrients they receive to the developing parts in their bodies and brains. According to a study at John Hopkins, “kids who regularly get an adequate amount of sleep have improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health. Not getting enough sleep can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, and even depression.”
Aim to have your baby get 2 to 3 hours of naps daily on top of an average of 11 to 12 hours each night, regardless of how often they wake up.
What’s a Normal Feeding Schedule?
If a baby is hungry, it’s okay to feed them as needed on-demand. There is no right or wrong way regarding when or how often you feed your little one because when they’re this young, they will most likely let you know one way or another.
Feeding them as needed may sound cavalier, but babies are continually growing, and they need the sustenance to fuel their increase in function. If they’re zeroed in on breastfeeding and won’t entertain solid foods until one year, it’s all right. To each (baby) their own.
How Often Should a 9-Month Baby Wake Up in the Night?
Nine months is often the age when babies have a regression in sleep due to an explosion of development. If they were once content with being put down for bed, they might suddenly cry out when you exit because their brains are now processing the fact that you’re not immediately available.
When this happens, it’s common to have some initial concern, believing your child to be sick or teething. During a developmental growth spurt, it’s not uncommon for your child to wake up multiple times at night, needing a snuggle, and, unfortunately, taking shorter naps.
What’s a Normal Nap Schedule?
While everyone is different, it’s best to have your child nap twice a day, once mid-morning and once in the afternoon.
Find out more: Is My Baby Not Napping Long Enough?
Sleep Schedule for Your 9-Month-Old Baby
Wake Up Milk
Your infant’s morning feed will likely be their most substantial meal of the day, especially if, at this point, your little one is sleeping through the night. However, if you’re still nursing during the night and discover they’re eating less in the morning, it’s a reliable indicator you can cut back on nighttime feeds.
Breakfast One Hour After Wake-Up
We always hear it’s the most important meal of the day. Breakfast is an excellent opportunity to infuse some creative foods into your baby’s repertoire and expose your youngster to new and exciting solids. You may still need to puree or mash them first, but starting at six months old, they can begin enjoying solid foods, like avocado, soft fruit, and scrambled eggs.
By mid-morning, your munchkin will likely be ready for their first nap of the day, which often varies by a small window. Try not to let them sleep too long or it could throw the rest of your day off balance. If they don’t wake up naturally after an hour or two, you can gently wake them. Every baby is unique; with a bit of trial and error, you’ll know how much is too much.
After Nap Milk
Following a nap, your little angel will be ready to eat once again. If they’re still nursing, that is certainly not unusual, and if they’ve graduated to solid foods already, try cutting back on this feed and let them snack on some soft solids, like yogurt, mashed peaches, or bananas.
Here, you have a daily opportunity to introduce your baby to new flavors and textures while still young. Each kid has an individual palette, but at nine months, babies can eat an entire rainbow of foods, as long as they’re soft and easily digestible for their small mouths and bodies. Try mashed potatoes, rice, boiled carrots, roasted tomatoes, or cereal O’s.
Once your growing baby is full of sustenance, they’ll likely start to feel drowsy and be ready for another nap. (Freedom!) Napping at this stage should total 2 to 3 hours daily in addition to about 11 to 12 hours each night. If they’re sleeping more than usual, it’s entirely reasonable it could be due to growth spurts in development.
When you start to hear a few coos and ahhs, you’ll know your sleepy head is ready to take on the rest of the day. It’s typical to feed them breastmilk, formula, or other soft foods at this time. As their primary caregiver, you will know what they prefer and what they may need more of.
If your little animal has been eating solid foods all day, go ahead and let them plow through more. Dinner time is an excellent opportunity to expose your kiddo to adult foods. They may see what you’re eating and express curiosity. Let them explore new things, like salmon, soft chicken, or green beans to name a few.
Splish-splash now we’re takin’ a bath! Baths are a great way to let your child unwind and relax after a full day. Warm baths with Mom or Dad offer your baby a chance to become more comfortable in the water and can soothe your baby into a peaceful state.
After a relaxing bath, it’s time to put your little bundle to bed to recharge for another day of adventures. Babies often enjoy reading a book together or listening to you sing, as hearing your voice promotes listening skills, introduces new words, and encourages rhyming and play.
Now it’s time for your baby to close their eyes so they can dream up new tricks for the next day. This can be a trying time for some parents because bedtime can evoke a bit (or a lot) of tears. Whether you choose to sleep train your child or stay with them until they’re sound asleep, it’s entirely up to you—each little person’s needs will vary.
9-Month-Old Milestones to Watch for
Sleeping Through the Night
It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game when trading notes with other parents. Remember, every child evolves at a different pace and on their schedule. But don’t be discouraged; there are still methods to alleviate a dire sleep situation.
A great trick to achieve the ever-elusive full night of sleep is to dream feed, which is essentially giving your babe one more feeding after they’ve gone to bed. Often, kids will still latch while unconscious, allowing their little tummy to fill up once more and minimizing the chance they’ll wake up hungry at three in the morning.
It can be tricky to get an adult to look after themselves, much less a baby. Training your baby night owl to self-soothe can be tricky, and some kids may not be born with the ability. You might luck out with a child who is “easy” and falls asleep like an angel or one who is cited for disturbing the peace; they are all unique, and parents will always know their child best.
If you’re hoping to establish more structure, research from the National Institute of Health shows that typically, the more we practice routine and the more we enable their independence, the less likely they’ll need your help to fall asleep.
Pat yourself on the back—you’re doing great. We know how hard parents work to provide heaps of love, patience, and care around the clock for their children. Being confident in taking on a role you’ve never done before doesn’t always come naturally, and even if this isn’t your first child, we all need a little help sometimes.
If your baby is not sleeping through the night yet, that’s okay. And if your baby is sleeping through the night, fantastic. They all bring their own surprises. Every day brings a new adventure, and it may not be easy, but it’s worth it.