Welcome to the 9-week milestone with your little one! As a new parent, you’re probably used to being asked, “Is your baby a good sleeper?” or even “Is he/she a good baby?” implying that a baby’s ‘goodness’ is somehow linked to their ability to sleep well. These questions can lead to self-doubt and may have you wondering if your baby is the only one who still isn’t sleeping well at 9 weeks. While there is not a widely recognized sleep regression at this age, it doesn’t mean nights will be peaceful. No matter what age your little one is, whether your baby is sleeping well, or still working on it has no bearing on their inherent goodness or your success as a parent.
As you near the end of the fourth trimester, your baby is transitioning from the sleepy, fussy newborn stage into a phase filled with giggles, drooling, babbling, and wiggles. This transition is a crucial developmental period for your baby, marked by both exciting milestones and inevitable challenges.
In this article, we will explore the intricate relationship between feeding, digestion, and sleep at 9 weeks old, and offer guidance on managing reverse cycling and dreamfeeding. Additionally, we will provide a sample sleep schedule for a 9-week-old baby and discuss the significance of creating a consistent sleep environment and routine.
As your baby approaches the 9-week mark, you’ll notice they are becoming more alert and responsive to the world around them. Here are some key developmental milestones your baby may be reaching at 9 weeks:
In the next sections, we will delve deeper into the relationship between feeding, digestion, and sleep, providing guidance and offering tips for establishing sustainable sleep routines.
Feeding, digestion, and sleep are inexorably linked. Whether you’re breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or some combination of the two, your little one will be able to sleep for longer stretches at night if their daytime food intake is managed intentionally. Additionally, by 9 weeks, colic may start to decline, and your little one may even outgrow this by about 3-4 months of age.
In the last 9 weeks, your little one has steadily been adjusting to life outside the womb. They’re finding their groove with feeding and digesting. However, if things are still tough in that department, it might be time to seek support from your pediatrician or healthcare team to rule out any potential sensitivities that could be causing digestive distress and disrupting your little one’s sleep.
By 9 weeks old, you’re likely starting to solidify your little one’s feeding routine. If you’re experiencing issues with your breastmilk supply, or your little one seems to be struggling to get enough feeds in during the day, now is a great time to seek support with that through your pediatrician or an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) to rule out any potential barriers to feeding such as oral ties.
By now, your little one should be able to go for a stretch of about 3 hours overnight without a feed. If you’re finding that your little one is taking the majority of their feeds throughout the night, and not as interested in feeding during the day, they may be in a feeding pattern known as reverse cycling. This feeding pattern can lead to some very fragmented nights, and then have a knock-on effect in the day as the baby is not as hungry during the day since they spent all night feeding.
Managing Reverse Cycling
Dream feeding refers to the practice of feeding a (mostly) sleeping infant as a way to correlate your baby’s longest stretch of sleep with your own bedtime—giving you a chance for a 5-6 hour block of sleep.
How to Dreamfeed
Benefits and Considerations
By now, day/night confusion should be behind you, and you may be starting to see some longer stretches of sleep at night. However, your 9-week-old baby’s sleep patterns are still evolving, and every day can look a little different.
While it’s still too early to follow a strict sleep schedule, your little one may sleep anywhere from 11-19 hours in a 24-hour period. They may be getting 5-6 hours of that sleep during the day split between 4-5 naps, and the rest at night (though not consecutively, as night feeds are still necessary at this age). Your little one may be able to stay awake for 45-90 minutes between sleep periods. Naps will still be a bit unpredictable, and range in duration anywhere between 10 minutes and 2 hours.
It’s important to take into consideration your little one’s mood and use the suggested sleep duration hours above as a general indicator of whether your baby is getting enough sleep rather than a strict quota. A little one who is generally happy and able to make it to their next nap without getting overtired is likely getting enough sleep.
At 2 months of age, newborn sleep is still erratic, and late bedtimes of 9-10pm are normal. In the coming weeks your little one’s circadian rhythm will be circulating enough melatonin for an earlier and more regular bedtime to emerge. Additionally, their sleep cycles will start to resemble those of adults and they will spend less time in REM sleep. This maturation of sleep around 3-4 months of age is what’s commonly referred to as the 4-month sleep regression. It’s not as black and white as the flipping of a switch, but rather a gradual process. By about 6 months, your little one’s sleep patterns should be predictable enough to consider formal sleep training if that’s something you’re considering.
As your baby starts to become more aware of the world around them, they will also become more aware of their sleeping environment. As they get closer to 3 months, they will start to form some strong sleep associations with how they get to sleep and where they sleep.
Be patient with yourself and your baby as you navigate this stage. It’s a time of learning and adjustment for both of you.
As tempting as it is to compare your child’s sleep habits to those of your friends’ babies to the babies of parents from an online group chat, or even to your baby’s older sibling(s), remember that each baby truly does come into the world with their own unique constellation. A baby’s ability to sleep for longer stretches is influenced by various factors, including their temperament, environment, and developmental timeline.
If you have any concerns about your baby’s sleep habits, feeding, development, or any other aspect of their health, don’t hesitate to consult your pediatrician.
For more information on sleep regressions at other ages, check out this blog on sleep regressions here.
The Batelle Sleep Program is a great option to help you achieve better sleep for your whole family. We’ve helped over 5,000 families get the sleep they need, and we’d love to help you too!