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Is There a Sleep Regression at 9 Weeks Old?

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.

Your Baby’s Development at 9 Weeks Old

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:

  • Social Interaction: Your baby may be smiling more, especially in response to your smiles and interactions. They may also start to coo and babble more, engaging in ‘conversations’ with you.
  • Motor Skills: Your baby is gaining more control over their movements. They may be able to lift their head and chest higher during tummy time and may start to push up on their arms. Some babies may even start to show early signs of rolling over, although this usually occurs a bit later. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends stopping swaddling once a baby exhibits signs of attempting to roll, which usually occurs at 3 to 4 months but may occur earlier. If your baby is showing signs of rolling or seems uncomfortable being swaddled, it may be time to start transitioning out of the swaddle.
  • Sensory Development: Your baby’s senses are continuing to develop. They may be more interested in looking at brightly colored objects and may start to follow moving objects with their eyes. They may also be more responsive to sounds and may turn their head toward the direction of a sound.
  • Sleep Patterns: Your baby’s sleep patterns may start to become more predictable, although there will still be variations. Most babies at this age still need to be fed during the night, but some may start to have a longer stretch of sleep at the beginning of the night.


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

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.

Digestive System Development

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.

Feeding Routine

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.

Reverse Cycling

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

  • Causes: Potential causes of reverse cycling include a busy or distracting environment during the day, or too many “snack” feeds during the day rather than full feeds.
  • Tips:
    • Create a calm and focused feeding environment during the day to minimize distractions.
    • Track your baby’s feeds during the day. For example, if you find that they’re feeding 14 times each day, but 7 of those feeds were less than 5 minutes on the breast, or they took in less than 2 ounces from a bottle, chances are they’re going to be hungry in the night.
    • If your baby is a “snacker” during the day, try to space out their feeds and only offer a feed every 2-3 hours to encourage them to take in more at each feed.

Dream Feeding

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

  • Timing: The best time to dream feed is usually around your own bedtime before you go to sleep for the night.
  • How To: Gently rouse your baby enough to feed without fully waking them.

Benefits and Considerations

  • Benefits: A longer stretch of sleep for both your baby and you. Additionally, dream feeds can give you assurance that your baby is not likely waking out of hunger if they wake within 2-3 hours of the dream feed, which gives you confidence in using other soothing strategies to help them settle back to sleep.
  • Considerations: If you find that your baby is too deeply asleep to take the dream feed, or they have a hard time going back to sleep after the dream feed, you may need to adjust the timing. Sometimes dream feeds just don’t work for some babies. Try it for a few nights, and if you find that it’s creating more problems than it’s solving, it’s ok to let it go.

Sleep at 9 Weeks Old

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.

9-Week-Old Sleep Schedule

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.

Sleep Maturation

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.

Tips for Maximizing Sleep at 9 Weeks Old

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.

  • Create a Safe Sleep-Friendly Environment: Make sure the room where your baby sleeps is conducive to sleep and follows the American Academy of Pediatrics’ safe sleep guidelines. This includes keeping the room at a comfortable temperature, using white noise to drown out any household or street noise, and keeping the room dark. A safe, sleep-friendly environment can help signal to your baby that it is time to sleep and can also help them stay asleep for longer periods.
  • Consistent Sleep Space: While it’s beneficial to have your baby sleep in a consistent sleep space, like their bassinet or crib, it’s also okay for them to have on-the-go naps when needed. Life is busy, and sometimes naps need to happen in the stroller, car seat, or carrier. The key is to aim for consistency as much as possible but also to be flexible and adaptable to your daily needs.
  • Supporting Transitions: Moving away from the swaddle can be a big hurdle for some families. It’s normal to have some rough nights as your baby gets used to having their arms free. Support them as much as they need during this transition without worrying too much about creating bad habits. With time and patience, they will adjust.
  • Laying the Foundation for Self-Soothing: At 9 weeks old, your baby is not yet capable of self-soothing, but you can start to lay the groundwork for this important skill by establishing a consistent bedtime routine and creating a sleep-friendly environment. After the bedtime routine, and after all needs have been addressed, place them down awake and give them some time to move and vocalize. After a few minutes, and before they get too upset, you can then help them get to sleep. Over time, this routine will help signal to your baby that it is time for sleep.
  • Consistent Responses to Wake-Ups: At 9 weeks old, your baby is still too young for formal sleep training, but you can start to establish sustainable sleep habits by having a consistent response sequence. If your primary response to any wake-up is a feed, you can inadvertently create a reverse feed cycling pattern. By utilizing other responses first, the feed becomes your backup. For example, if your baby wakes up and is fussing but not crying, you might wait a few minutes to see if they can settle back to sleep on their own. If your baby is crying and needs attention, you might respond with a consistent soothing routine, such as a brief cuddle and some gentle shushing before putting them back down. The key is to respond in a way that is comforting and supportive, while also being intentional and consistent. Remember, at this age, it’s still completely normal for your baby to need help falling back to sleep, and it’s okay to provide that help.


Be patient with yourself and your baby as you navigate this stage. It’s a time of learning and adjustment for both of you.

Final Thoughts

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.

This article was written by Batelle – team of sleep experts, lactation consultants, therapists, doulas, and early education specialists. Special thanks to Deanna.  

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