Just like that, my son is 9 months old and just like that, his good sleep habits have started to fade, temporarily. Over the course of just the last couple weeks, my son has made HUGE changes in his development. He is much more mobile, adventurous, and intelligent and it shows in so many ways. You can actually watch him figure things out, or contemplate a toy’s function. It’s truly incredible.
As for our sleeping habits, my son has been a great sleeper from the beginning. From day one, he slept better than I would have expected. His bedtime is at 7pm and he will sleep until 7am with only 1 nighttime feeding and/or diaper change around 4am. That’s been the norm for us for a couple of months now and I haven’t complained once. In my opinion, that’s an awesome schedule and it all fell into place fairly naturally. The biggest piece of advice I have ever given anyone about getting your baby to sleep is, routine! Routine, routine, routine. I read that in so many books while I was pregnant and it is absolutely true. We never had to “sleep train” our son, there was never a specific method used, we just always stuck to the exact same routine each night. In my opinion, it simply clicked for him. He knows when its bedtime vs. nap-time, and he goes down without a fight. During the day, naps can be hit or miss on the time and duration but again, no fussing, he just got it.
In the last couple weeks there have been more sleep changes for my son that I want to say in his whole life up until this point. He never went through much of a 4 month sleep regression, so this is really my first experience and honestly, I think it’s really fascinating. When it comes to baby related changes that can be frustrating, or exhausting, or both, I really believe it’s your mindset that makes the biggest difference. If you let it frustrate you, then you can expect to feel overwhelmed or worn out. What I choose to do, is understand, to the best of my ability, why certain things are happening and it really shifts the way I feel. It doesn’t have to be sleep related either. If I notice any change in my son’s behavior I always try to dig a little deeper to understand the reason before letting myself get caught up in how it’s affecting me. I feel that if a change is affecting me, there’s a good chance it’s affecting him as well and the more I understand, the better we can both handle the situation.
This 9 month sleep regression isn’t because my son is on a sleeping strike all of a sudden. He isn’t forgetting all of the good habits he learned up to this point, and he will go back to sleeping like a champ, eventually. The thing is, he is learning! His brain is working in overdrive to master the new skills he has learned physically and intellectually. He can understand language now and he can categorize things. He’s beginning to understand that a dog is a dog regardless of how it looks, and a bird is not a dog. He can pull himself up now using furniture and taller toys and he is constantly testing the limits of what he can reach and grab. He can see and hear the world around him with more and more understanding each and every day. To me, that is fascinating, amazing, mind-blowing, and exciting! Sleep is disrupted because he can’t always turn off that little brain of his. It’s harder for him to stop playing, unwind, and take a nap in the middle of the day. At night, he wants to learn, practice, and have fun using these new skills of his. To me, that is so cute and heartwarming… and even affirming!
How can I be frustrated by his difficulty napping and disrupted night-time sleep? I can’t! The developments causing these hiccups are all the things that I am excited to witness and that I encourage. So, for the next however many weeks, I will be a little more tired than usual and my house will probably be a little less organized, and I couldn’t be any happier about it. My son is thriving and because I choose to focus on the reasons behind his sleep regression, I am so thankful that he is developing and that I get to witness each new leap.