31 answers

Cranky 9 Month Old--only in the Afternoon

My almost 9 month old has always been a happy baby--except for the time between his afternoon nap and bedtime, roughly about 4 hours. I know this is a common fussy time for a lot of babies, but the last few days it has gotten a lot worse. Even if I'm on the floor playing with him, he just crawls over to my lap and isn't happy until I'm holding him. Since I'm at work all day, I could use all the hugs I can get, but it's making it really hard to make dinner for my 3 year old and myself! Any suggestions for how to keep him entertained and happy? He might be getting teeth in as well as starting separation anxiety, and I know there's not much I can do about those, but I am willing to try other mommy tricks to keep him satisfied. Thanks!

What can I do next?

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Hi S.;

What I used to do is put my baby in a lightweight aluminum frame backpack so that I could cook and he would be close to me to entertain with songs and talk about what I was doing. I think dinnertime is the toughest time in any household with kids! Good Luck!

Hello S.,

My second guy was pretty cranky all the time. (He still is at age 3!) He was the happiest when he was on my back in the Ergo baby carrier. I wore it A LOT! He is still happy in there even though I can't carry him nearly as much.

Good luck, and try to remember "This too shall pass."

I used to put my cranky child in an Ergo carrier on my back to cook dinner. I like the back position for while I'm cooking becuase it keeps the baby away from the knife and the stove. It may be harder when there is a 3-year-old who doesn't get to do that, but maybe the 3-year-old can help with basic cooking prep?

Good luck, E.

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My son Niko (seven months) is really cranky on days he does not get enough sleep. Could your son be getting too short of an afternoon nap. It helps me significantly to use a sound machine so he sleeps longer.

1 mom found this helpful

He sounds tired to me? I think I recall that babies at this age like to sleep a LOT. Maybe if you put him down for another nap at around 1:00. check out the sleep requirements on line for babies this age. You might be surprised. He sounds a little overstimulated. My preschools is going through the same thing because his adjusting to the new "preschool" scheldule. Even at his age, they say they need about 14-16 hours of sleep. At 9 months I think it is even greater.

1 mom found this helpful

If he's teething, you can try Hyland's homeopathic teething tablets.

If he's just cranky/tired, you might want to try adjusting his nap schedule, so that he naps during the time you're making dinner.

If he's clingy/experiencing separation anxiety, you might try a sling.

Best of luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful

The same thing happens with my 10 month old from time to time. It's usually teething. As the day wears on, the babe can't handle the pain as well. I can understand! I'm the same way! So, I give her some teething tablets, or the sure-fire solution is to give her some frozen teething toy. We use the Munchkin Feeders:(http://www.amazon.com/Munchkin-Fresh-Food-Feeder-Pack/dp/...) with frozen carrots, peas or green beans in them. Works like a charm.

Put him in a backpack on your back while you cook and talk to him about what you're doing.

Since he just wants to be held, get an Ergo baby carrier and carry him around on your back. He'll get the comfort he needs right now while you'll have 2 hands free to make dinner and get other things done.

We used the excersaucer when my girl was 9 mos. I set it up in the kitchen and gave her some spatulas and plastic bowls so she could help me cook- and I used the crock pot a lot so that dinner prep was at a minimum during her cranky time. We also tried moving her afternoon nap a little later in the afternoon, but it didn't work for us- she slept her own scheduled nap time!

Girl, you need a baby carrier pronto! That will keep your little one close to mama and happy while you tend to your 3yo and get things done. I don't know how anyone survives 2 kids without one.

The new Beco Butterfly is awesome, the 4th Gen model doesn't suck either:

This was the exact schedule I had with my first two kids. I taught all day and my husband had the 4 year old and the baby! And then we had the hand off about 4:00 each day.
When I got home each day from school I would nurse for a good hour or so! My daughter loved that bonding time after missing me all day! Then I would lay her on the floor with my four year old or put her in a stationary walker and turn on the T.V. (yes the TV!!!!!) at that time it was Barney and then I would rush rush rush to make dinner for them. I made simple things like quesadillas with turkey inside or thin steaks
I always served baby carrots or bananas for some healthy choices.
and we always just drank water to make it easy.
Then I would bathe my 4 year old quickly!!
while the baby sat in a baby seat in the tub with him or next to the tub
Then for the rest of the evening I would hold the baby and nurse her. I would read to my 4 year old while She nursed or we would watch Rugrats for 30 minutes before he went to bed.
Finally they would fall asleep at 7:30 or 8:00 and I would clean up dinner, throw a load of wash in and then grade papers.
Hope this helps somewhat
Now I have a 14 yr old, a 10 yr old and a 5 yr old and I long for those simpler times that I then thought were so tough!!
Good Luck!!!

Why not sling him and carry him around at that time? In an Ergo Carrier you could wear him on your back and he'd feel close to you...or in a front carrier as well if you can maneuver around him in front. Or, what I used to do, is put him in a walker and let him tool around on the floor, if he'll put up with that. Just a thought.


OMG! I'm a teacher and my husband works nights, too! We have an 11 month old who did the same thing! It was teething! Get the teething tablets and a ton of different, fun toothbrushes! Put a tiny amount of baby orajel on the toothbrushes and let him go to town on them! The teething tablets are homeopathic. I just give him two a couple of times during the day if he seems more fussy (around 3-5pm)! Good luck! I feel your "single parenting" pain, too!

My son is also 9 months and is sorta the same way. And I agree with you since I work all day it's nice to snuggle with them. I give him love then put him in his jumpy. I bought one of those mesh food holders and give it to him with a banana in it or a peach, something that he can eat that is healthy and keeps him entertained. I also, personally have given my son one of those baby cookie biscuits. He doesn't have teeth yet, but it just melts in his mouth. It is messy so have a huge bib and lots of wipes. Some parents wouldn't give their baby this a 9 months but it worked for my 4 year old and now my baby.

This gives me enough time to make dinner for my family and eat. Once I'm done it's time to clean everyone up and start preparing everyone for bed.

Good luck!

My son went through almost the same when he was a little bit younger than your son and I was certain it was a separation anxiety reaction. When I would get home I would go in and change my shirt I was wearing all day and give it to him. He seemed content to hold onto my shirt with my smell and I was able to do things around the house. If that doesn't work...let him cry it won't hurt him. Another thing I noticed was that when my son was picked up from Daycare sometimes we would have to lay him down in his crib for a 1/2 an hour or so so he could rest (he wouldn't always fall asleep) but it was enough alone (downtime) to let him relax and recharge himself. Remember little ones can get really overwhelmed easily and they sometimes need alone time just like adults.

Have you thought about cooking dinners for the week on the weekend and freezing them so they could be reheated during the week? My mom would do that after she had to go back to work when my Twin Sister and I were younger.

Hope this helps.

It may be colic? We went through a period of this. Dr prescribed some drops to help his tummy. Or maybe hes too old for colic? I read too that colic may just be a crutch, and actuallt a glitch in development of tummies. makes sense to me!

i am dealing with the same thing with my 9 month old...so much so that on some days, my daughter adds her 15+ pounds to the end of my leg while i try to walk around the kitchen cooking. sometimes finger foods in the high chair work well. other times, i put her in the front pack so she can see what i'm doing. sometimes, honestly, she just has to sit on the floor and cry while i'm doing things. she's always been a very clingy baby, so i know that the crying isn't hurting her, she just wants me, and sometimes it's not possible. just remember...it's always a stage! he will grow out of it :).

I used to put my cranky child in an Ergo carrier on my back to cook dinner. I like the back position for while I'm cooking becuase it keeps the baby away from the knife and the stove. It may be harder when there is a 3-year-old who doesn't get to do that, but maybe the 3-year-old can help with basic cooking prep?

Good luck, E.

I am also a teacher and my 11 month old daughter is at a wonderful in-home daycare. At 9 months my daughter got really clingy for about 2+ weeks and freaked out when she saw her grandma or anyone besides me, my husband and her daycare lady. Then it just went away and she went back to her normal self. It was stranger/separation anxiety, but it went away. She still is very cautious around strangers, but is O.K. with everyone she knows. I always put my daughter in the highchair and give her finger foods while I make dinner. Another reason he may be clingy- teething or ear infection, but it would probably be all day.

sounds like colic. my daughter would fuss from midnight to 3 am and my son would fuss from 6pm to 9pm. their doctor gave me anti-acid drops and things were better. tummy time helped.

Looks like he needs some cuddle time. Have you thought about getting a sling or other wrap to hold baby close to you while you get your chores done?

What about putting him/her in the kitchen high chair with you with an activity, and letting them "help" you? I used to do that. I would say, are you going to help mama? and then give her something she couldnt hurt herself with, and tell her that she was helping me make dinner. It worked for a while, seems like at that age you have to change it up a bit now and then.

You're right...this period of time is called the "witching" hour, or hours as it sometimes is! We were very into attachment parenting and found that investing in a good baby carrier kills three birds with one stone: it provides the closeness that your baby craves, the movement sometimes calms them or even puts them to sleep, AND it allows for hands-free activities. I never quite got the hang of the baby-wrap (we had a Maya wrap), but we got a lot of mileage out of our backpack carrier. Plus, having them on your back is a lot safer when you're cooking or cutting. Baby wraps are good when you're vacuuming or just cleaning up. Good luck!

My 9 month old does the same thing if I don't give him a little nap around 5 or 5:30. My son wakes up from his nap around 3 and is usually in bed by 7:30, but most days will take a cat nap in the late afternoon. If he doesn't he is very cranky and just wants to be held.

There is no substitute for holding your baby as much as you can. But let's face it, none of us can pack them around on our backs 24 hours a day. And I'm not so sure we should. Your baby may well be responding to the schedule you have, meaning, he has it figured out when Mommy will be home and it should be play or cuddle time. For HIM. Babies are myopic and they have no concept of needs outside of their own. I would suggest, as much as is possible, scheduling some time right after you get home and have had a chance to put on comfortable clothes, just for your children. No phones, no computer, no laundry, no going through the mail....etc. Even if it's just 20 minutes, completely devoted to both of them. Then, talk to them about transitioning to the next task at hand. "Mommy needs to begin preparing for dinner now. Who wants to come along?" Try putting your 3 year old at the table, or on the floor, with crayons and paper and ask her to draw what she would like to have for dinner. Explain that might not be what you are having that night, but you can praise her and perhaps try it the another night. The trick is to try a task and keep her focused. You can be at the stove and talk about what color tomatoes or broccoli are. If it is completely silly, as kids that age can be........laugh and chuckle about it. Now, for the baby, bring him into the kitchen too. He may fuss at first, but put him in his high chair and give him something to snack on as you cook. Let him play with your measuring cups and spoons and as you need one, say, "May I have this please?" Let him see you use it. Rinse it, give it back to him and say "Thank you!" Give him his own plastic bowl and plastic spoon. Let him "cook" his own yogurt or crackers or Cheerios. He is a little young to assure he won't try to eating them, but before long, you can give him his own crayon and paper. I always had my children in the kitchen with me. That is where they learn HOT and DANGER and DON'T TOUCH. But, the kitchen is where all the good stuff comes from and really is the center of a family. You can give your baby a kiss for every dish you load in the dishwasher and make a game of it. My first baby is 21 now and she got really cranky at the same time every day. I figured out it was because she was ready for the cooking and the smells and it made her want to eat. When my son came along 10 years later, I already knew what I was doing. He's 12 now and wants to be a chef when he grows up.
If your baby is teething, he will just feel grumpy no matter what. I used frozen "Goose Bars". Poke just a tiny hole in one end so that as they chew or lick on it, they will get some of the flavor as it melts.
I hope this helps you!

you could try that time being his time to eat. finger foods in his high chair while you cook. that always worked for me. :) they feel like they are with you and your hands are free. :) hope this helps. :)

He has been missing you! Nobody takes your place. So,
WEAR your baby the way women all over the world do!
Wrap him onto your body and let him feel your warmth
and your skin. It will also be easier to do your cooking
and other household chores. Talk to him. Tell him
what you are doing. He will learn language. Let him
hold something related to what you are doing and say
the name, etc. You are a teacher. You know.

If he is beginning to cut teeth, give him one little tablet
of Chamomila 30 homeopathic remedy. It's cheap and natural.
He will also be less clingy with Chamomila 30. (You can
get Chamomila at Whole Foods.)

Grandma N.

When my kids were that age, they rode constantly in the backpack or in the sling. It wasn't the easiest way to cook dinner or clean the house or rake the leaves but it was possible.

Around that age or a little older, I also would give them kitchen tools to work with: spatulas, wooden spoons, bowls, finger foods or left-overs. It can work in the high chair or on the floor, depending on the layout of your kitchen. Also, my guys loved to play with ice cubes on their highchair trays.

The only other thing to do is wait. I promise he'll outgrow this stage -- and that happy afternoons will continue until he's about 12. Then comes puberty . . .

Hi S.;

What I used to do is put my baby in a lightweight aluminum frame backpack so that I could cook and he would be close to me to entertain with songs and talk about what I was doing. I think dinnertime is the toughest time in any household with kids! Good Luck!

I agree with Antoinette's response. Also helps to make sure he is well hydrated. Really helps to wake up from nap and have a drink of juice to perk up (as adults too! ;-) )

He might be getting teeth - my daughter's the same way, but only when she's really tired or teething. Definitely try an ergo baby carrier if you don't already have one. He's probably big enough that you can put him on your back and do whatever you need to around the house. My daughter just hangs out and sometimes falls asleep, but is so much more calm and relaxed. When her teeth are through, she only wants to be playing on the floor.

Good luck! He'll get through it and so will you :)

Hello S.,

My second guy was pretty cranky all the time. (He still is at age 3!) He was the happiest when he was on my back in the Ergo baby carrier. I wore it A LOT! He is still happy in there even though I can't carry him nearly as much.

Good luck, and try to remember "This too shall pass."

Hi S.,
Might not be much you can do. He just needs you and needs to be held. I wore my son in a sling or backpack and would cook dinner or do whatever else needed to be done with him attached to me. He was happy and I could get things done. How is the ten minute transition with your husband going? Babies can pick up on your stress.

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