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Sleep expectations for 9 month old
Carrot Cabaret
puddinhed wrote in parenting101
I apologize in advance for the haphazardness of this post. I'm trying to get it out quickly before he wakes up from this nap.

Any day now, a baby sleep specialist is going to return my call and help get my baby sleeping better. When she does, I'd like to have a preconceived notion of what's realistic and healthy to accomplish. Her website says she doesn't do cry-it-out, which I like, because we tried that, very briefly (for naps only, for 2 days, with a time limit of 1 hour of crying). I don't much care to try that again.

Currently, Oscar is taking 2-3 naps a day, for a total of 3-4 hours of napping. But he'll only sleep 35 minutes at a time on his own. When he wakes up, I usually just hop in bed and nurse him and he'll sleep 30 minutes to an hour more for that nap. He used to take all his naps in the Ergo, the stroller, the car, or nursing, so being able to put him down at all is a huge improvement over where we were a month ago. Since we've been doing designated nap time, his night sleep has gone down the tubes. He used to go to sleep about 9 PM, wake about 5 AM, nurse, and wake for the day about 7. Now he has an earlier bedtime of 6:30/7 PM (Per Weissbluth, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child). He wakes up at 9, 11, 2, 4, 5, and 6, give or take. Sometimes he's wide awake at 6, sometimes I can get him to doze til 7. When he wakes up I try bouncing him, and if that doesn't work in a short time (usually under a minute), it's generally because he really wants to nurse. So we nurse and he goes right back to sleep. Am I trying to make him nap too much? When I put him down to nap, he always genuinely seems tired, and the only reason I nurse him to get him to sleep longer is because he wakes up grumpy. After his part-2 naps nursing, he's happy and ready to go. Since we started our nap regimen, he is happier. I realized that he wasn't getting good quality sleep on-the-move anymore, and changing to stationary sleep has made SUCH a difference in his mood.

I'm confused about night weaning. How many wake-ups for feeding are appropriate for 9 months, if any? Weissbluth seems to think that they should be able to sleep right through, and that's best for them. Jay Gordon says don't night wean before a year (based on my cursory internet investigation). Does it just depend on the kid? I'm pretty sure that Oscar isn't ready to night wean, based on current observation, but his pediatrician assures me that if I want to night wean, it's fine; he'll just eat more during the day. Personally, I enjoy our night nursing sessions and hope to keep at least one of them. But I don't want to do it at the expense of his sleep. It doesn't SEEM to be hurting his sleep any--he nurses and goes right back down.

I know I haven't asked any actual concrete questions here. . . mostly this is because I don't know what questions I should be asking. So bombard me with your experiences, advice, and requests that I clarify anything that's unclear, please. Thanks, y'all. I read this community religiously and have learned so much already.

That sounds like a completely normal night habit for a 9 month-old to me.

Also, your pediatrician doesn't live with your child, you do. What may work for the pediatrician's family/other families isn't going to work for yours necessarily. I personally, wasn't comfortable approaching nightweaning until my child was 18 months, and now at 25 months we still haven't succeeded -- partly because I wasn't ready, partly because my child wasn't/isn't. We're going to give it a try once their 2 year molars are done erupting.

What does this "sleep specialist" do? Personally, I've read a lot of sleep books out of desperation, and while all of them do have good points, I've had to figure out this sleep thing based on what works for my family -- I take what makes sense to me at that point in time (which changes periodically) and leave what doesn't. If night-weaning your 9 month-old doesn't make sense to you, who cares what Weissbluth thinks?

I'm not entirely sure what she does. I've only spoken to her once briefly and she is going to call me back to set up a consultation. . . Which I may not need after all? My pediatrician recommended her when she heard Oscar wasn't sleeping through the night. I never cared if he sttn til I read that darn Weissbluth book and he was all ZOMG sleep deprived kids will die of the death! Which made me worry I was doing it wrong. At this point, my main goal is for him to only call out to me at night when he's hungry and be able to soothe himself back to sleep at other times. Because he really isn't always hungry, and literally about 30 seconds of soothing gets him back to sleep. . . Does he NEED me for that?


Do you have a partner who could help with the waking? Your partner could try soothing him back to sleep and then get you if he is truly hungry and needs to nurse. I think my husband's willingness to help out in that manner is one of the things that has helped our daughter soothe herself back to sleep unless she's actually hungry. She knows that the magic boobs aren't going to automatically appear unless she really needs them. ;)

Yes, sometimes my husband will soothe him back to sleep. I just hate waking him because he often suffers from insomnia and I don't want to make it worse. He works, but I have the luxury of napping with the baby if I need to during the day. He works his daddy magic for some of the earlier night wakeups, though.

Does he act sleep deprived? I used Weissbluth's methods with my son when he was a bit over a year because he really was sleep deprived- very cranky and clumsy as hell. He did not STTN with Weissbuth's methods, but he did start sleeping more and it made a tremendous difference- he wasn't falling on his head all of the time (really, all of the time. I have no pictures of him from 5 months - 14 months without various abrasions on his head).
So, if yours isn't acting like he is sleep deprived, why worry about it?

Aha. This question illuminates something I should have made clearer in my post. Originally, he was sleeping well through the night--going down about 9, waking at 5 to nurse, and up at 7 for the day. But his daytime sleep (in carriers, cars, etc.) wasn't restorative anymore--he was pretty much always fussy, except for about an hour after waking in the morning. So I started focusing on getting him to sleep better for naps. I tried the No-Cry nap solution, but he was so overtired already that the suggestions for long-term help just were making things worse. For instance, putting him down drowsy but awake? Unlatching from the breast while awake? These things only made him mad and after 3 or 4 tries (per nap) he was so agitated I had to abort the nap missions. I tried NCNS for a week and didn't see significant improvements. We ended up taking long afternoon naps nursing in bed to make up for the crummy morning naps, and it was messing up our previously smooth evening routine. At that point we were also cosleeping at night, but once I started changing naps around, he became really fidgety at night. I felt like neither of us was getting any sleep at all that way. We were both on such a short fuse that I needed to do something fast! Weissbluth had been recommended so my husband, who likes to Solve Problems, told me that if I didn't have any better ideas, we needed to try cry it out. I didn't have any better ideas, so we did. Briefly. It got us over a very bad few days, and then I abandoned it: at some point on day 2 of crying, it dawned on me that my goal wasn't to get him to self-soothe yet, it was just to get him to sleep so he'd be happier. So I started just doing whatever it took to get him down for naps. Now that he is sleeping enough--despite the inconvenient wakeups, he goes back down quickly when soothed, for the most part--he is MUCH happier.

I started out looking for one solution, got mired in the opinions of some so-called experts and forgot my original goal of having a happy baby, and along the way I had to reevaluate what my goals would be going forward.
I'm happy nursing him as much as he needs during the night, but I would like to try Pantley's methods again to get him to take longer naps on his own and settle himself when he doesn't need to nurse at night (I love our naps together, but the housework is piling up. . . and I do hear him resettle himself sometimes in the night, but it's very spotty).

I'd tend to think if a book makes you think there's a problem when previously you thought it was OK, it's worth considering that the book *is* the problem....

If nursing at night works for you, don't feel you have to change it to fit in with anyone else's expectations. Personal anecdata - my mother was all about "is he sleeping through the night yet? {her husband's daughter} says that hers is doing it now!) Mine is now 19 months. He woke generally twice at night for ages (around 12-2am & 4-5am) then gradually got to either once or twice (first between 12-3 - if it was later, he slept til 7-ish, earlier & would want to nurse at around 5) and then around 16 months he just stopped doing it altogether (mostly).

Now he generally sleeps all the way through, but sometimes has a couple of nights where he will wake once.

Remember that "sleeping through the night" is officially 5 hours of unbroken sleep! And about half of toddlers don't do that. it really isn't a big deal - you won't break your kid by not having him STTN at X age.

(Deleted comment)

Thanks for the reminder that my kid doesn't have to fit into somebody's arbitrary mold. I need to stay away from authoritative parenting books. :)


How many wake-ups for feeding are appropriate for 9 months, if any?

As many as the child needs. Up until age 1 the majority of his nutrition should be coming from breast milk (or formula), so if he's waking up hungry in the night, he should be fed. The number will vary by the child, but if I recall, my daughter was waking up 3-6 times a night to nurse at that age. She's almost two now and usually wakes up once (around 4 am) to nurse.

Thank you! My main concern, I've realized thanks to the comments I've gotten, is that I'd like him to not need to wake me up when he wakes up and isn't hungry. 30 seconds of soothing him back to sleep translates into at least 10 minutes of lost sleep for me. We used to cosleep, but he would fidget all night long and neither of us was sleeping well. So now he's in the pack'n'play and we are getting better sleep but it means I have to get up.


I know this rings hollow, but hang in there, it does get better with time. We co-slept with our daughter full-time until about 6 months, and then transitioned to starting out the night with her in her crib in her room, but bringing her into our bed from her first wake-up on. At this point, when she has her (usually just one) wake up, my husband gets up and changes her diaper and then brings her into our bed. He gets up at 5:30 for work and will return her to her bed, where she sleeps until about 7:30. We all sleep better (her too) with her in her own bed for most of the night, but that hour or two of snuggling/nursing in the wee hours of the morning is really precious, too. :)

Another one just chiming in with time.

Also, is it possible he IS waking up and you don't notice because he puts himself back down? Around 9 months, my son started that, but I would never have known if I hadn't stayed up late one night. I slept right through it.

I read some of Weissbluth's book after a friend gave it to me, and I think that guy is an ass. He has very rigid expectations for infant and toddler sleep habits that jut doesn't mesh with reality. I would toss his book in the garbage and read something that is more flexible, and that respects the fact that different babies have different emotional/nutritional needs that affect sleep, and thus different sleep patterns. I recommend Elizabeth Pantley's No-Cry Sleep Solution a lot, and Jay Gordon and Dr. Sears both have good sleep books as well.

Weissbluth recommends really harsh CIO methods and has a pretty mocking tone towards breastfeeding moms, IMO. He also says that babies who don't sleep well will never learn to sleep well, and that is just a load of crap. My daughter woke a lot for the first year and a half or so, then we got it down to just one or two wake-ups to nurse overnight, and then at 2, I nightweaned her. Now at three, she goes to sleep without a fuss and sleeps like a rock for 11-12 hours straight a night.

This is so well said, and I will wholeheartedly second it. My pedi recommended weissbluth for my firstborn (a preemie!), and I made it through about half before wanting to find him and slap him. Maybe it works for some people, but it didn't work for my family.

We stuck with dr sears and dr Gordon, night nursed practically all night till age 1, and my son is a champion sleeper these days. Daughter is 15 months and still a sucky sleeper, but with dr gordon's ideas, she's slowly getting better. Hang in there, the first year is tough!

I haven't read the book - but yeah, it's simply not true that if you don't get them doing it by this time they will never sleep. We used NCSS as well - it does take a bit of work, not a quick fix, but worth it - although TBH we didn't do it as contientiously as it recommends ;-) just picked out a few bits & applied them. Mind you, if that hadn't helped, would have gone back - but we just let things happen when they happened, didn't pay any attention to when things "should" happen, and now 19 month old usually sleeps 10-12 hours happily.

We did naps in the way you described until way past one year of age. If it works for you, don't change it! It seemed like all (well, most) of my friends had these miraculous sleepers who'd go down for two-hour-naps at the drop of a hat, then sleep through or only wake up once or twice in the night, but this was not our experience. My kid was up at least once every two hours until we nightweaned (round one) at 13 months of age.

Now, I used to care for other people's children back in the days and barring occasional periods of clap sleep due to meeting milestones or teething or illness, most of these babies and toddlers were much better sleepers than mine own, who was sleeping more like you described yours does... or sleeping like that on a good day. I used to think a baby's sleeping habits had quite a lot to do with the parent doing things right. After all, the children I cared for slept so well! Then I had my own baby and realised that I was so full of shit. So, yeah, kids differ.

Anyway, based on a sample size of the six children I've cared for: if your baby seems hungry when he wakes up, nurse him. A year of age is usually enough for nightweaning if you want to, although children are different and some take longer to grow past the need to nurse in the nighttime, especially if they're not particularly good daytime eaters. And 8-9 months seems to be a period of crap sleep for many in any case-- I remember 10-11 months were much better for us, for instance.

Here is what my 3 yr old was like @ 9 months: 2 naps a day about 90 minutes long. He had solid foods 3x a day and nursed 5 times a day. He was night weaned by 9 months old as well. He nursed every three hours from 7am -7pm and was in bed by 8pm. He slept from 8pm -7am. Now that he is 3 he sleeps from 8 until about 6/6:30am with no naps.

My second child is 9 months now and here is what his schedule is like: 2 naps a day about 60-90 minutes long. He was never a big napper and usually would only nap 20 minutes at a time throughout the day. When he hit 6 months we finally got 2 naps a day established. What I do is I put him down at a certain time and let him sleep for 90 minutes if he can (usually he sleeps for 60 but 90 is becoming more common). No more and no less. This helped us get into a good nighttime routine. I did baby led weaning with him and he has been eating regular food ( not purees) since 7 months old. He also gets 3 meals a day and nurses from 7am-7pm with a bed time of about 8:30 ( he falls asleep a little later than his brother). He was night weaned at 6 months old. Also, he gets up about 30 minutes after his brother.

Night weaning depends on the child really. Though, my pediatrician is of the opinion that night weaning should happen between 6-8 months of age. She's pretty easygoing though and as long as it works for us, she doesn't push us to do anything we don't want. Typically, if they are not waking up to nurse don't wake them and let them sleep.

The No Cry, Sleep Solution is an awesome book. I think it has some very good advice in there. It helped me get a good nap routine going once my oldest turned one and I am just beginning to use some of the techniques with my 9 month old. :)

I mean this in the nicest way possible, but I think you're overthinking this. First, some anecdata: I have two sons, a 4 yr old and a 2 yr old. My 4 yr old had to be held for the entirety of every single nap he took until he was around 16 months old. Around 16 months old, he was able to be put down no problem. We co-slept at night until he was around 18 months old with him waking to nurse as often as he needed. Around 18 months old, he showed signs of readiness for sleeping through the night and sleeping on his own, so we made the transition on his terms. By 2 1/2 he was ready to just hop into bed at nap and night time and go to sleep with no nursing or rocking. Since then, he is an easy, perfect sleeper. My 2 yr old took a very similar route, although he was always "put down-able" for naps. He's currently 2 and 4 months and goes to sleep at nap with about three minutes of rocking and goes to bed completely on his own at night. Unless he's sick or teething, he sleeps through.

I'm not saying your child will do the same thing as mine, but sleep habits at 9 months old have absolutely NO impact on sleep habits as an older child or an adult. The best thing you can do to make a baby a good sleeper is to make him feel safe and secure. If he starts to associate sleep with something stressful or scary, that's way more likely to cause a problem later in life than if he's not sleeping the amount of hours some random pediatrician or "expert" thinks he should.

I would do what works for your family. If the new nap schedule screws up his night sleep, I'd go back to letting him sleep when he seems tired. Although, you did say the nap schedule has helped his mood, so maybe you just need to reduce the total napping time. I'm pretty sure my kids were down to approximately 3 hours, never 4, by that age. They may even have already dropped to one nap.

If he needs to nurse in the night, I'd nurse him and continue co-sleeping so you get sleep as well. He could be going through a growth spurt or teething or just needing the security of knowing you're still there for him at night. I would never night wean a child before a year. I didn't technically night wean mine at all... they did it when they were ready.

A friend of mine hired a sleep specialist many years ago. The woman gave her a copy of The Happiest Baby on the Block and went on her way. I think that's rather a scam unless the child has a medical/physiological issue preventing sleep.

What you're describing sounds normal to me. "This too shall pass" and all that. :)

My son is only 8 months old, but in case you care, here is how he sleeps.

He has 2 naps a day in his crib. They are usually around the same times every day (11 or 11:30 am and 3:30 or 4 pm). The first one is usually 1-2 hours long (most often, it's about an hour and 20 minutes). The second one is usually about 30-40 minutes long, but on rare and joyous occasions it lasts an hour.

He sleeps in his crib at night. He goes down around 7:15 or 7:30 most nights, but if he's suuuuper tired I have occasionally put him down as early as 6:30 pm. We do a bedtime routine beforehand that lasts about 30-45 minutes (based on suggestions in The No-Cry Sleep Solution). He wakes up 2-4 times most nights. If he is teething hardcore (which is semi-often since he already has 5 teeth and I believe is about to pop the 6th soon) he sometimes wakes up way more than that, which sucks. :(

He does not like to nurse to sleep most of the time for naps and bedtime. I will nurse him, then rock him. Sometimes he will fall asleep rocking. If not, I put him down in the crib and he will sometimes fall asleep on his own. If he cries, I come back and either rock again or bounce him on an exercise ball. For night wakings, he will usually nurse back down. If he doesn't, I put him in the crib and he sometimes goes back to sleep on his own. If he cries, my husband goes in and bounces him.

Oh, and he is usually up for the day between 6:30 and 8:30 am.

Your baby sounds totally normal and possibly like an even better sleeper than my baby was at 9 months.

At 9 months, my son napped like your son. I could put him down and he'd sleep on his own for about 45 minutes, wake up grumpy, need to nurse, and then sleep for another 45minutes or an hour. He'd do this twice a day.

At night, he went to sleep around 7:30 and woke up generally every hour until 10:30, when he'd switch to every three hours until 6:30 when he'd be up for the day.

This continued on until around 11 months, when he naturally started sleeping more and now at 14 months, he takes 1-2 naps depending on what time he woke up for the day. A morning nap will only be 45 minutes, but an afternoon or a single nap will be nearly 2 hours. He goes to sleep around 7:00 and gets up every 4-5 hours (generally I only wake once while I'm asleep and he gets up right before I go to bed too) to nurse.

And I did absolutely nothing with his sleep. He has been gradually going longer without nursing at night on his own. If you aren't ready to nightwean, don't do it. It's not necessary.

Honestly, I'm not sure why you tried to change things up as it is-- sleeping from 9pm-7 am and waking up to nurse just once sounds pretty good to me.

As to naps, every baby is different. Some are never great nappers.

So...why was this a problem to begin with? I think I'm missing something...

Also, our kids are night owls. They never wanted to go down before 9 pm. Early bedtimes were not for them. The earliest either of them will sleep is 8 pm, if they are extra tired. Anything earlier and it's all tears.

This all sounds very normal and very typical for that age.

I lay down with my son until around 8 or 9 months for his naps because otherwise he'd only nap for 45 minutes and then not go back to sleep when I tried to nurse him. Around 9 months he went down to one nap per day and slept anywhere from 1.5-3 hours at once.

At night he woke up every hour (and sometimes every 45 minutes) from 4.5 months until around 10 months. At 10 months he started sleeping in 4 hour stretches. At 12 months he started sleeping through the night on his own (and by that I mean, often 12 hours straight, not 8ish like sleep training gets people).

Now at 15 months he's not STTN again (teething, separation anxiety), and naps once a day for 30-40 minutes.

It's all different variations of what's normal. If you are both getting enough total amount of sleep, then there isn't really an issue.

I think it is dependent on your kid and your needs. We don't sleep train before a year, that's what works for us. My first did not sleep more than two hours, around the clock. We night weaned at 15 months with minimal fuss. It would have been closer to 12 months but we were doing a bit of traveling, so I waited till that was done.

My second has been sleeping 8+ hrs since 3 weeks. She is also a huge baby, 9 lbs 12 oz at birth vs her sisters 6 lbs 10 oz, and term vs 34 weeks as well.

Realistic sleep expectations for a 9-month-old = don't have expectations.

My nearly 10-month-old's sleep schedule is something like this:

Sometime between 9am-11am: go down for morning nap for 30mins-1hour
Right around 4pm: afternoon nap. 1.5-2 hours long
8:30pm: bedtime. Sleeps until 11ish.
11pm: 1st night time nursing session. Sometimes there's a second. Sometimes a third, fourth, fifth, etc.
5:00-5:30: wake up time. Refuses to go back to sleep (shoot me), but will play on out bed for an hour.

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