By nine months old, hopefully you and your baby have made it through the dreaded true sleep regression that went down at eight months. (Shudder.) If you're still navigating the transition, our thoughts and strongest coffees are with you. Stay strong, consistent in your routines and provide extra snuggles to your baby when they need it, because they're going through a lot of changes.
But if you've made it to the other side of sleep at nine months old, here's what to expect.
How much sleep does a nine-month-old baby need?
Although you've officially reached the nine months in/nine months out milestone, meaning that the newborn days are long behind you, your baby still needs a lot of sleep. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, babies under one should get 12-16 hours of sleep per 24 hours. Many babies around this age tend to get closer to 13-14 hours of sleep, but all babies are different, so you may have a baby who is on the higher range for sleep, or one who requires less sleep. (Lucky you, right?)
The big sleep milestone at nine months old is that your baby might be officially ready to switch to a two-a-day nap schedule, instead of three or even four smaller naps.
Related: Baby Feeding Guides & Schedules
"Your baby might be ready for two naps if they are showing strong and consistent signs that they are ready for this transition," explains Rachel Mitchell, a certified pediatric and maternal sleep consultant and founder of My Sweet Sleeper.
Some of these signs include:
- Rejecting the third nap outright for 10-14 consecutive days
- Fulfilling their sleep needs in their first two naps, causing the last nap to be too late,
- Sudden night wakings or early risings
If you notice these signs in your baby, you can start transitioning them to a more structured two-a-day nap schedule, which consists of a morning nap and an afternoon nap. This may take some time for your baby to fully adjust and as your baby nears this transition, bedtime will also need to change.
"Bedtime will likely shift a bit earlier, ideally between 7 to 8 p.m. at the latest," says Mitchell
That's a lot to take in, but don't worry—Mitchell also has a sample sleep schedule to help guide you through making that transition, including when to time nap times and bedtime.
9-month-old baby sleep schedule
Wake windows for a nine month old
The total sleep needs and wake windows of a nine-month-old baby is about the same as an eight-month-old, explains Mitchell. That boils down to about 10-12 hours a night and 3-4 hours per day (not usually consecutive, of course.)
Wake windows—the period of time your baby should be awake between naps and before bedtime—can still be pretty variable at this age too. Mitchell notes that some babies will only be able to tolerate shorter wake times, such as 2.5 hours, while others may be able to go for longer periods of time, up to 3.5 hours.
Try to pay attention to your baby's own sleep cues and signs that they are tired in order to figure out what your baby's optimal wake window is. And be sure to aim to have the longest wake window of the day (ideally, no more than 3.5 hours), be right before bedtime.
Related: 9-month-old baby milestones
Sleep tips for babies
If you dealt with sleep regressions last month, this month should be all about catching up on lost sleep for you and continuing those sleep habits and routines that you set into place. (We told you it would pay off!)
By this month, your baby should be able to go back to sleep at night without eating, so keep that in mind if there are any wake-ups. Most babies by this age are capable of sleeping through the night, so here are some additional tips for sleep with a nine-month-old:
- Mix it up during the day. Making sure your baby is stimulated adequately during the day with appropriate amounts of activity. And if you find yourself both in a rut, consider mixing up your daytime routines. For instance, you could try taking a walk outside together or taking a baby music class together.
- Assess your sleep environment. Your baby will respond to cues in their sleep environment, so if you're still struggling with sleep, take a look around. Is the place you're trying to put your baby to sleep a calming environment? Are there bright lights around? Is it noisy? If there are any changes that you could make to make the sleep environment more calming, take them and see if it makes a difference.
- Don't force it. Although many babies will be past the eight-month-old sleep regression and moving into a two-a-day nap schedule, some babies won't be there just yet. So don't force it! Follow your baby's cues and let them lead the way for you when it comes to sleep.
- Try sleep training. Once your baby is past the sleep regression of eight months, you can implement more sleep training techniques. Just be sure you don't try to implement any major changes during a regression, says Mitchell.
A version of this story was published September 8, 2021. It has been updated.