Why Your Baby Wakes Up More at 9 Months

Your baby has finally been giving you some stretches of sleep. You feel refreshed, like you can do anything! Until that day when… oh no… he wakes up a few hours after you put him down. Again!!

Parents can worry when their baby shifts around age 9 months because we often think of sleep and feeding in a linear way. So when our baby wakes up throughout the night again it can feel backwards. It can feel like the progress made has been lost and that something HAS TO be wrong! It’s ok, nothing is wrong.

Your baby wakes up throughout the night for the first few years of age for many reasons. Some are important, some seem like they shouldn’t matter so much, and others are just annoying at times.

I will always maintain that we don’t actually NEED to know why our baby wakes up and wants to nurse back to sleep. There are thousands of reasons why. If we meet their needs as they come, and make sure ours are met too, they will grow and become wonderful adults.

Consider these 3 things around 9 months of age:

1. As long as you are feeding in a supply and demand system, you can meet the demands no matter how and when they come. This means that you feed when baby wants and not on a schedule. This is the only way to maintain a full-term milk supply. When we purposefully reduce demand (weaning, night weaning, sleep training, stretching feeds) we may also be purposefully reducing our milk supply.

2. Requests for milk will change for many reasons. Mostly as a response to regulating milk supply which dips and increases all the time. Your baby’s needs for different types of milk, different components within milk, and even different quantities of milk will change all the time. When your baby needs more of something – more calorie rich or fatty, protein, quantity, etc. – they will change their demand to give your body information. The way they feed, the frequency and duration of feeds, and even the on-and-off behaviour that might come in between all send signals and messages to your body. Your body then translates these signals into what type of milk your baby gets. Amazing!

3. Around 8 to 10 months there is a huge transitional shift in their identity. Babies see themselves first as a continuation of mom’s body. Around this time they begin to realise they are actually separate beings. The developmental stage of object permanence comes in, and they have a stronger need to be closer to you and more frequently. It may become a very frightening world if they’re feeling this distance and don’t have access to their mother. Nursing helps them reduce the stress of the situation. Also, this is when separation anxiety sets in. As stress levels increase, your infants’ need for outside regulation of stress increases as well. Breastmilk and the act of breastfeeding has been perfectly designed to meet this need as quickly and intimately as possible.

Your baby is fine! No need to worry.

This new night waking that many experience at 4, 9, 12, and 18 months addresses and satisfies these needs well. It’s the normal process. It can feel so wrong when many business owners of sleep industry products and services create their market by convincing everyone that this normal behaviour is not okay. Some even propose it’s harmful. Of course we would worry with these kinds of messages. Of course we would do anything in our power to change it so we can have healthy babies!
As an Infant Sleep Educator, I assure you that meeting your baby’s needs – as your baby shows them to you – is an impactful way to meet your baby’s true needs.


Ashley Pickett, IBCLC


Ashley Pickett is a private practice lactation consultant, doula, and parent educator living and working in Oakville, Ontario. She helps families reach their parenting goals while meeting their babies’ needs.


4 thoughts on “Why Your Baby Wakes Up More at 9 Months

  1. Ann says:

    Thank you, I needed to read this. My 9 month old has hit a sleep regression and also the separation anxiety stage. We are up multiple times every night, it’s exhausting. We have seemed to finally gotten into a routine with naps during the day. But staying asleep at night is a struggle. I keep reading articles about how this isn’t healthy and a change needs to be made, babies shouldn’t be rocked or nursed to sleep. CIO is not something I will do, nor would I be able to as I also have a 4 yr old.

  2. Stephanie West says:

    Oh man. I agree with this article but something much worse than waking up 3 hours after bedtime happened at 9 1/2 months and has been happening she is now 10 months ❤.
    Anyway, at 9 1/2 months one night, I put her to bed as usual, (nurse/soothed to sleep, then laid down). Then boom 40 minutes later she’s up screaming (which she does when she wakes up in her crib). Ok no biggie, I go back spend the time it takes putting back to sleep. She wakes up again shortly after (like 10 minutes short). This happens all night long that’s IF I can even lay down without her waking right up. Imagine, 30 plus minutes of effort just to have her back up within 0 to 10 minutes. Over. And. Over. again. By the third or so night I realize this is my life now and. I continue to fight. Through my nights like this for about a week up and down, falling asleep in the glider, pacing 1/2 mile all night long before I give in and just go lay down with her in my own bed. (My mild cerebral palsy makes it hard to get comfy, but that doesn’t matter when you’re glued laying down nursing a baby). Even in bed with me she woke up 3 to 4 times to where I had to get up and soothe her. I can’t do CIO. And the night feedings are probably here to stay since she has been too preoccupied since she 2 months old, to eat during the day. I don’t mind nursing her at night and she eats solids in the day, but can’t handle anymore 40 minute naps and anymore 40 minute intruders at night. I just can’t.

  3. Amy says:

    Hello! Thanks for your post. I’m a breastfeeding mom of a 9.5 month baby boy. I stopped nursing him to sleep at about the 4 month mark because I was finding he was waking if I did this. However, I’ve continued to nurse on demand throughout the night (& day). Lately he is wanting to nurse to sleep again. But he takes anywhere from 1-4 hours to fall asleep and stay asleep. Last night, I was up with him until after 12:30. We are no a co-sleeping family. Additionally- his average naps are 20-30 minutes but he wakes up very upset and I feel like I have to nurse to calm him down. I sit in his room with him for the entire nap to try to support him- but I only touch him if he stands up. A good nap for him is an hour to an hour and a half to not have him overtired. Why do you think he wants to nurse to sleep again? Any suggestions on how I can get longer naps and him to go down faster at night?

    Thanks so much!

  4. Millie says:

    I have a 10 month old baby boy. He is taking bottles of formula during the day but I BF him back to sleep at night twice a night. He has also started taking only 30 minute naps twice a day. He falls asleep on his own but seems as though he cannot resettle. Will this waking at night and short naps change or should I sleep train? I have a daughter too and CIO is not an option.

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