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Sleep for a 9-month old

Sleep is one of the biggest issues for these little people. Right now, I am looking at the clock reading 9:03 PM and my girls are still up bouncing in their bunks. Some nights, they can giggle til 10 PM. Other nights, they are out cold by 8 PM. Some nights, they go to bed without needing a visit from mama or daddy. Other nights, my husband or I race up those stairs at the speed of light, trying to exude some godly presence like the house will cave in if they don't go to bed.

It all starts when they're little. It's often a rough ride, and there are so many paths to take. Diana would love to hear what worked for you and what didn't:

My baby girl just had her 9-month well-baby check up and the doctor asked me if she was sleeping through the night. I said no and he recommended that I try letting her cry it out a little bit to teach her to self soothe. I've tried this before, when she was around 5 months old and it was awful for me and her. She would cry so hard that she would start choking and I felt like a terrible mom. I've read some accounts from other parents that after sticking it out and letting the baby cry, theirs learned to sleep better in about 3 days to a week. Ours didn't seem like she was learning anything new about sleeping after a week (did I stop too soon?). I am very uncomfortable with letting her cry it out, for any length of time. Am I spoiling her? Am I teaching her bad sleeping habits?

This is our first baby and I have no real idea of how things naturally progress. Are there any parents out there that have babies that learned to sleep by themselves without using the crying out method? What age did yours finally start sleeping through the night without any help?

Cry it out? Baby Whispering? What worked for you?


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Our gal started to sleep through the night at about 9 months, but we know plenty who started later and others who started earlier.

For us, part of the timing had to do with my having been nursing on demand. After about 6 months I was pretty clear that she was waking up because she liked nursing, liked the quiet mama time, rather than that she needed to eat at 2am.

We took a kind of middle path - it wasn't cry it out, but it wasn't nurse whenever. At about 7 months we set up a schedule in which my husband soothed the girl to sleep when she woke up before 2 am. After 2 am, I would get up and nurse her. This worked well to limit night waking to once a night (usually after 2). At 9 months, one night she woke before 2 and then not again after. We decided this was a sign that she was ready to sleep through the night, and my husband handled all night waking for a week. She didn't complain too much, and since then we've all been sleeping much more continuously through the night.

I recognize that not all husbands/non-nursing partners (or their early wake up schedules) will accomotate the intensive father/partner participation, but it worked well for us. Good luck!

ha! i have one who's about to turn two who wakes at least twice in the night, and one who is almost three months who will wake once, if at all. i didn't treat them differently or change anything- it's just the way they are.

i am totally okay with getting up with both or either of our girls in the night, for however long it takes (and my husband is, too).

i think this is the key with sleeping "issues"- if it's okay with you, then it's okay. i don't think that you are spoiling or hurting your little ones by giving them a little extra love if they need it in the night.

that said, if you are feeling resentful and grouchy about night wakings, then it's probably time to figure something out.

good luck :)

I'm so there with you. My guy is 11 months old and still not sleeping through the night -- except that he does every once in a great while, you know, just to remind me that he could if he wanted to. Like you, I'm not comfortable with the cry-it-out option and I've only really done it once, after being up with him for two hours one night: nursing, rocking, singing, rocking, walking - nothing worked. He slept through the night some at around six months and then quit. He's in daycare so he's been sick a lot and he's teething like mad right now, so there are all kinds of reasons why sleep would be a problem. I'm starting to phase out the late-night nursing and that seems to be helping -- some nights.

Posters here turned me on to Ask Moxie (moxie.blogs.com I think)and she has a theory that some babies can sooth themselves by crying and others just get themselves more worked up and for those babies, letting them cry it out may create bad associations with going to sleep. That makes sense to me. I just keep reminding myself that this won't go on forever.

Don't buy into the hype! Babies don't come out of cookie cutter molds. Every child is different! If you try something for a week and it doesn't appear to be working then you need to try something different.

DEFINITELY check out the Ask Moxie site. There are tons and tons of great posts about sleep issues specifically. Have you ever heard of sleep regressions? http://moxie.blogs.com/askmoxie/2006/02/qa_what_are_sle.html I hadn't before I fell into that site and since then I have been very much comforted by the fact that sleep regressions happen, are completely normal, and tend to follow a pattern. The 37 week one (around 9 months) is probably one of the worst so hang in there!

I would also HIGHLY recommend the book "The Wonder Weeks". It is sometimes hard to get (I had to order mine through a 3rd party seller on Amazon because Amazon itself said it would take 2 months to deliver). But it is very helpful and insightful.

My little girl is a couple weeks shy of the 9 month mark and she is going through a difficult sleep period as well. But I take comfort just knowing that LOTS of parents out there are going through the same thing, that it will pass, and that someday she will sleep through the night.

It is completely normal for many babies to wake up several times a night through their first year. I have one of those kids that ramps up if you let her cry so CIO would never be an option for us (and I don't feel right about it anyway).

There is a ton of good advice out there. Follow it or not but the MOST important thing is to trust and follow your instincts! You are the mom and no one can know your child better than you. If it doesn't feel right then don't stick with it!

Good luck!

Here is a book you should read, Healthy sleep habits, happy child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D.

This pediatrician agrees that making children cry in not the way to help them learn to sleep. This book provides valuable insight for infants all the way through the toddler years. Our toddler was going through a funk with his sleep cycles and this book helped him a ton.

Hang in there!! You are doing a wonderful job :)

my baby is now 11 months and his night generally looks like this: sleep from 8pm -3am, quick nurse, and then back to sleep until 7am. Around 9 and 10 months, however, we were in sleep HELL. He woke up every hour, sometimes every half an hour, and it was REALLY hard to soothe him back to sleep. I was pulling my hair out. And I was stressed becasue everyone was telling me that he should be sleeping through the night. I was this close to letting him cry it out, but then his sleep habits just changed. We do nothing differently. Same night time routine, same sleep arrangement, same everything. I really think that there are just periods where developmental milestones interfere with sleep. In our case, the bad sleep coincided with the time when he was starting to crawl and pull up to standing. I wish i had more of a fix-it-now solution for you -- I just thought it might help to what our experience has been.

Yikes! Every family has a different style of sleep parenting, but go with your instincts. The time that kids are night nursing or just waking in the night for comfort is such a short blip in time. It is normal for all people to wake during the night, adults just tend to forget that they were awake. New brain activities, crawling, new teeth, etc. increase night-waking at 9 months. While many folks with kids at 9 months who are not sleeping through the night think that their baby has a sleep problem, it is actually not until kids are between two and three years that a kid regularly sleeps through the night. Americans have set an unrealistic standard for newborn/infant sleep. We expect babies to conform to our adult world, but they are kids. Night waking is not an abnormality but a temporary disturbance. It decreases as teeth come in and the immune system matures. It helps if you don't count how many times you're awake at night and you keep your eyes away from the clock in the middle of the night.

Nothing in particular worked for us except time, but I do want to recommend this particular post of Moxie's about CIO - why it seems to work for some and not for others


Frankly, I used to think that people who urged me to "let the baby cry" and who said their babies "fussed" for a few minutes and then went to sleep were flat-out lying. Because that scenario never happened when we tried it. But Moxie's explanation makes a ton of sense, and now I realize that these "cry it out" advocates were people who had the type of baby she describes in the post above. I didn't. But reading her explanation was possible the most helpful thing I've ever read as a parent.

For what it's worth, mine didn't sleep through the night till they were two.

Hang in there! My daughter is about 19 months and the only thing that really changed her sleep issues was getting her healthy (ear infections!) and time. At 18 months it was like a lightbulb went on and she just started sleeping through the night! OK, well she sleeps from 8 pm to about 5 or 6 and then a quick nurse and she sleeps until about 7. I was completely distraught up to that point trying to figure out what we could do differently. It was like her brain just needed to reach a certain maturity or needed to calm down from all that she was learning. I did have some luck with the Sleep Lady's system (Good Night, Sleep Tight) in reducing the night nursing. At 9 months she was waking anywhere from every 2 hours to every 45 minutes ALL NIGHT LONG. Believe me, no one was enjoying that! Hang in there and trust yourself!

We were lucky, our daughter slept through the night very early. Our problem was in getting her to fall asleep by herself. I was at my wit's end around 11 months and ready to give CIO a try, even though I didn't really want to, as soon as we returned from a vacation. But after we got home from that trip, we re-tried one thing: I would put Sophie to bed but tell her I would not come back in; if she needed something, her dad would come. That solved it for us. She wasn't as interested in hanging out with her dad, and once she realized I was serious about not coming back she learned how to go to sleep alone. You might try something similar if you have a partner who is willing to get up in the night. That way the baby gets comforting if needed and knows she's not alone, but doesn't get mama. There may be some crying but at least you don't feel like your abandonning her completely since your partner is there.

It is normal for babies, and all people, to wake up periodically throughout the night; the trick is for babies to learn how to fall back asleep w/o needing to nurse (assuming they don't nutritionally need it) or have other comforting. I think it's easier to learn if the child is used to falling asleep on her own when she first goes to bed. I second "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child."

Finally, a word of support for re-trying things that have not worked in the past. We've certainly found that timing is a big part of it and that the same strategy that did not work once can sometimes be successful a few months later. Good luck!

I was categorically opposed to "cry-it-out" approaches when my babies were very little, and totally dependent on nursing for sustenance. As they got older, though, and began transitioning to solid foods & greater independence, I noticed that: (1) their crying was a little less likely to jangle every one of my nerves; and (2) they were already capable of creating some drama on purpose. So I grew comfortable with letting them cry a little longer, a little more often, before responding to them at night. This worked pretty well, and I went by instinct instead of using a set schedule or letting the crying escalate to choking. The bottom line is that if you try this again, your experience at nine months may be very different than your experience at five months.

I feel for you too...sleep has been such a huge issue at our house...until very recently...yahoo! Our little guy woke up every 1-2 hours all night long until he was 9-10 months old when we finally gave up and just brought him in to bed with us for a few months. Co-sleeping was never part of our strategy, but we hit the point where we were both feeling like zombies everyday, and no one was happy. Cry-it-out never felt right to us...

Anders is 2 1/2 now, and over the last several months we've really hit our stride with him--he happily goes to bed every night, and actually seems to look forward to putting his head down on the pillow. He still wakes up a few times a week, but usually is happy with one of us walking him back to bed and tucking him in again, or if it's after 4am he climbs into bed with us for a few hours.

We tried a lot of things over the last 2 years, with mixed success at different ages (keep trying different things--what didnt work 2 months ago might work well now). But one thing that we definitely noticed was that once he hit the 12-18 month mark, we could talk to him about the notion of going to bed alone, and staying in his bed all night and you could see that he was really understanding what we were saying (even though he didnt like it!)

So as she gets older you can talk to her more, communicate your expectations, tell her what she can expect from you, and she'll start to catch on more. In the meantime, be patient! Trust your instinct--if CIO doesnt feel right, dont do it.

I always disregarded what the ped told me about sleeping through the night. I think it's more of a parenting issue. I'll echo what the others said, if you and your hubby are OK with the situation, then don't let what others think you "should" do make you do certain things.

My first was a horrible sleeper. He liked to nurse periodically all night long and did that as long as he slept near me (which was a quite a long time). We tried CIO for a few nights when he was around a year old and he poooped his diaper every time. It was too traumatic on us & him. So we went with what felt right to us and just kept him in our bed or did whatever else we needed to to get him to sleep. Yes, it was work, but it worked for us (and was a better alternative than CIO). I don't mean to scare you, but I think he was about 2 when he finally slept through the whole night w/o wanting to nurse. He's nearly 4 now and still likes one of us to lay down with him.

My daughter (our second child) was different. She was a good sleeper pretty much from the get go. We've never even thought about doing CIO with her b/c she's pretty quick to get to sleep and you can even walk out of the room and she'll drift off by herself (VERY opposite of my son).

I think kids are each a bit unique in their sleeping habits. And I think some reach that developmental milestone of sleeping through at different times.

Personally, I don't consider it spoiling if you respond to your child's desire for comfort and soothing at night.

If you do want to make changes, there is a book called "The No Cry Sleep Solution" which offers some recommendations.

Thank you so much for all the advice and words of support. You have no idea what kind of comfort your words are to first time moms like me. Sometimes it takes most of the pressure off when you hear from other moms that its okay.

It's so awesome that a lot of you guys mentioned the ask moxie blog because I've read it before this post posted and what she said totally made sense to me. I don't think Mayumi can release tension by crying, her crying escalates if you ignore her so I don't think CIO is right for her.

I think I will try not nursing as much and having my husband try to come in once in awhile to soothe her.

Thanks again for all the great advice!

I'm a first time mom too, so take it with a grain of salt. I was exhausted with waking up once or twice a night and nursing for sometimes half and hour to an hour and then getting up at 5:30 for a 9 hour day at work. So, I asked a few professionals (doula, ped., lots of other moms) for advice. They all said give CIO a chance (He was 9 months- this was only a month ago). I wouldn't have tried it before 7 months. I took the monitor out of my room and started laying him down awake. I almost died the first couple of nights...he would cry for over an hour and then fall asleep, only to wake up 2-3 hours later and do the same. Then one more time with gusto. Then, he started falling asleep faster...30 mins, 20 mins, 10 mins, 3 mins and now he doesn't wake us up if he wakes up; he goes back to sleep all by himself. We were also able to stop swaddling him. As I said, this was a month ago. He now sleeps from 7pm to 6 am most of the time and I nurse him in the morning.

this brings back so many memories of the not too distant past. my son was a big night-nurser. we coslept for over a year. he didn't actually start reliably sleeping through the night until he was about 16-17 months. after i was so miserable from not sleeping for a year, we started "phasing out" the cosleeping. we started by putting him to bed in his crib after i nursed him to sleep for several months then brought him in to our room when he woke up in the middle of the night. then at about 13 months i would bring him in to nurse when he woke up, then my husband would take him back to his crib. it didn't take very long for the little man to figure out that when dad took him back to his crib, it was time to sleep. the last wake up time to go was the 5AM-er (seems to be common!) i finally stopped going in when he woke up at that time. it took a couple of days. lastly, i just stopped nursing him to sleep about a month ago and it was a breeze. i was absolutely shocked. our "phase it out method" really worked for us and our son didn't have one breakdown. sure there were a few nights were he cried/yelled for five minutes but only a few. i'm not cut out for the CIO method either. the good news is we have a very well adjusted son who has no separation anxiety and is now a great sleeper. if you don't have the fisher price aquarium, go get one right now. it is my MVT (most valuable toy). my son definitely used that to help himself get back to sleep. we'd turn it on when we put him back in his crib in the middle of the night and now we turn it on when we put him down. its signals bed time. every now and then, i still hear him turn it on around 3AM :). hang in there - this will all be worth it. you're going to have a very well adjusted child!

With my first, there was no "out" in the "cry it out." The few times we tried it she would cry without letting up. I believed at the time that some of it was because I worked fulltime and she missed me. As she got older and nursed less she slept more. When we night weaned her at about 20 months(which was hard, but only took a few nights of holding a sobbing child--good times!)she started to sleep longer stretches. Now's she's 3.5 and she still doesn't sleep completely through every single night, but it doesn't strike me as strange.

Now I have an 11 month old and it's about the same. She was easier to get down as a tiny baby (I could put her down drowsy or even awake), but now it's about the same as the first for this age (I work at home now so my theory about it all being about working OTH fulltime was probably just mama guilt, not reality). She's just now starting solids and she's nursing a little less and I've noticed she's sleeping a little longer and only nurses twice a night now.

For me, this all feels normal and I'm not dying from lack of sleep so I'm just going with it. Sure it would be great to have a kid that happily went down every night and slept 12 hours straight. But I know very few kids like this so I don't feel like we're doing anything wrong.

In my opinion the "cry it out" method is horrific and quick frankly evil. Sure it may make your life as a parent easier, but it basically trains your child into falling asleep alone with the belief their parent has abandoned them. Oh sure, there are methods that include checking in on their child frequently. But anything where the child cries so hard they vomit or almost vomit or choke is so obviously wrong. How can any parent listen to this type of crying and not respond? It is the job of the parent to help a child learn to fall asleep. Who says it has to be on their own? Who says it has to be by 10 months or 2 years? Please, I implore you to NOT use this method. It is dangerous to your child's welfare and mental wellbeing!!!

It does differ from baby to baby, but the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth really worked for us. We started it at 4 months and honestly within a week she was sleeping through the night! The book is all about the natural sleep cycles of babies and how to work with what their bodies naturally want to do at certain stages.

I hope this helps!!

The cry it out method was not for my children. Although I didn't try it, I just didn't feel right about it. I don't think there is a right age to begin sleeping through the night...each child has different needs.

I found the "No Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley to be helpful in getting my children to sleep longer stretches. She does not have a specific method, but instead dozens of different solutions based on your specific circumstance.

Good luck and follow your gut. You know your child best:)

the book that made me feel somewhat confident about sleep & little ones is called "Sleepless in America" by mary Sheedy Kurcinka. Read it! It gave me the answer to a question that I asked at my first daughter's 9 month checkup that led to a very unpleasant discussion with the doctor. Apparently it is common for children 9-11 months old or so to wake in the middle of the night and want to play (they are so excited about the new things they are learning to do that they want to practice all the time). Every child is so different but so is every parent.
I have found that it is helpful to let my children cry before they sleep, it helps them get out some stress & wind down a little. But I never let them cry alone & never ever let my baby (9 months) cry without being held. I have worked really really hard to develop different things that are soothing & conducive to sleep (rocking, singing, reading, rubbing, etc) but in most cases it is a matter of just getting the child to decide to let go & fall asleep. Sometimes my older daughter (3 yrs) needs a little sternness to understand that it really is bedtime but the more upset I get about it the worse it gets...so I have to maintain a bored tone of voice & repeat "no more talking, its time to sleep".
BTW, the 3 yr old still wakes in the night due to growing pains...and the 9 month old still nurses in the night. I have adjusted my previous late bedtime so that I can get enough rest despite the time I'm awake.

the book that made me feel somewhat confident about sleep & little ones is called "Sleepless in America" by mary Sheedy Kurcinka. Read it! It gave me the answer to a question that I asked at my first daughter's 9 month checkup that led to a very unpleasant discussion with the doctor. Apparently it is common for children 9-11 months old or so to wake in the middle of the night and want to play (they are so excited about the new things they are learning to do that they want to practice all the time). Every child is so different but so is every parent.
I have found that it is helpful to let my children cry before they sleep, it helps them get out some stress & wind down a little. But I never let them cry alone & never ever let my baby (9 months) cry without being held. I have worked really really hard to develop different things that are soothing & conducive to sleep (rocking, singing, reading, rubbing, etc) but in most cases it is a matter of just getting the child to decide to let go & fall asleep. Sometimes my older daughter (3 yrs) needs a little sternness to understand that it really is bedtime but the more upset I get about it the worse it gets...so I have to maintain a bored tone of voice & repeat "no more talking, its time to sleep".
BTW, the 3 yr old still wakes in the night due to growing pains...and the 9 month old still nurses in the night. I have adjusted my previous late bedtime so that I can get enough rest despite the time I'm awake.

I highly recommend The No-Cry Sleep Solution as referenced above.

CIO was never an option for us.

We had some really horrific sleep issues around 9 months, when we were transitioning from co-sleeping to a crib. (The crib was next to our bed). It was taking upwards of 45 minutes to an hour of rocking to get Melina to sleep (and then she would wake up again 40 minutes later). We were very tired and frustrated, and we never saw each other in the evenings because someone was always with the baby. I was very much opposed to letting the baby cry at all, but we tried everything (I have an entire library of sleep books). Eventually we settled on a modified "Sleep Lady" approach (Good Night, Sleep Tight). It did involve some crying, but we were in the same room with the baby, singing to her, so I didn't feel like we were abandoning her. After about five days of successively less and less crying, she was going to sleep without protesting, and gradually slept better and better. (She's two now and still wakes up occasionally, though it's getting better).

This can be a really, really hard issue to deal with. There can be a lot of guilt around whichever method you choose (particularly if you read a whole gamut of sleep books with different perspectives. There's lots of guilt associated with CIO, but also there can be guilt for "coddling" your child). It can be hard on your relationship with your partner, especially if they want to take a different approach; it can be hard on you. I would recommend taking the sleep books with a HUGE grain of salt. Try different things (but try them for several days at a time, because if you keep changing your method, nothing will work). Do what feels right... I've always heard that nighttime wakening peaks at 9 months, so it should be all downhill from here!

I wrote a long essay about this (and a summary of the sleep books) on my blog at http://tinyurl.com/2ssqow, if you're interested. Good luck!!

I feel for you; sleep deprivation for mama and baby is the worst. I highly recommend Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. His tone sometimes bothered me but the information is invaluable. The author explains the importance of sleep and how physiological development affects sleep patterns. I echo the other mamas' advice to not be prescriptive but find a consistent approach that suits your baby's temperament as well as your own. We incorporated consistent soothing techniques and regular naptimes and bedtime by 5 months so that by the time our boy's physiological development caught up at about 11 months, we had a system in place that he responded to wonderfully. Now at 14 months he still occasionally struggles with naps but is a rock star sleeper at night (when the parents need it most!). Good luck and remember one day we'll be struggling to get our teenagers out of bed!

And what all moms already know, here's a handy NY times article:

NYTimes.com: For Getting Baby to Sleep, Sticking to a Plan Is What Counts

HEALTH | December 12, 2006
For Getting Baby to Sleep, Sticking to a Plan Is What Counts
Experts have a soothing new message: just about all the techniques for getting babies to fall asleep work if used consistently.


I used the cry it out method with my child. She was 4 months old when I started, and it actually took her about a month for her to realize that when she goes in her crib to try to put herself to sleep. The most she ever cried in the meantime was about 25 minutes. Sure, it's was extreamly hard for me to hear her cry...but it was soo much better than getting up every 2 hours to rock her back to sleep again. The very first night I tried it...she slept through the whole night.

I actually read in one of thee many books I've read that babies younger than 4 months aren't capable of putting themselves to sleep. My son has slept great, naps and nighttime, since he was 2 months old. Now he is almost 10 months old, and within the past week, he has started screaming when I put him in the bed. Separation anxiety anyone? He just cried off and on for about 45 minutes before finally going to sleep. He sits up on his own, so after I lay him down, he cries, sits up, and screams even more. I think there is definitely something to the physical developmental issues a 9-10 month old baby faces as well as separation anxiety. It's killing me to let him cry, but not sleeping isn't really an option either. Most theories seem to say it's a 3 night deal, so we'll see. It's hard because he's always slept so great up until now. I'm upping bedtimes for naps and night to allow for the extra time it takes him to go to sleep now.

I really do not understd hw d doctor or anybdy else for that matter suggest to let d baby keep crying. She/he is crying becoz she needs her mom for a reason and that she is helpless. She is totally dependent on somebdy else. I cn nvr imagine leaving my kid alone to keep crying. Its a matter of a few years or may b few months for a few lucky ones. Hw can they teach to b selfish. Plz b at your babies side always and let her knw u r der and der is nothg to worry abt. Its ur prime duty to take of ur kid. Moms r gr8 becoz of d sacrifises dey make.

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