Almost every child will experience a sleep regression at some point during the first few years of their life. One of the first main ones being the 8 month sleep regression. So...
- Has your baby decided sleep is for the weak after months of solid sleeping?
- Does your delightful little angel now resist naps times and nighttime sleep?
- Are you slowly going mad from sleep deprivation?
If you answered YES to one or more of the above questions… Then you’re in the right place!
So, what is a true 8 month sleep regression? What are the signs you need to look out for? And most importantly… HOW CAN WE SURVIVE IT?!!
(Psst: I’ve included 9 TOP TIPS later in the post that will be your LIFESAVERS!)
What is the 8 month sleep regression?
As with all regressions, an 8 month sleep regression is only a temporary blip in your baby's sleep habits that normally only lasts a few weeks. In truth, it can happen anytime between 7 and 9 months.
An 8 month sleep regression will typically coincide with changes in your baby’s development both physically and emotionally too.
Is my baby really going through an 8 month sleep regression?
If your baby has reached that blissful stage of mostly sleeping through the night with maybe a couple of wakings at the most and then suddenly their sleep habits change around the 7 - 9 month stage, then your little one is more than likely going through an 8 month sleep regression.
You can identify your little one’s 8 month old sleep regression usually from when it disrupts your baby’s normal sleep cycle and by what is going on in your baby’s development.
A true 8 month sleep regression is a temporary disruption to your baby’s normal sleep patterns and lasts on average 3-4 weeks. If it goes on for longer then you may have to consider some sleep training to get back on track.
Teething at this age can cause disruption to your baby’s sleep schedule although this is not truly an 8 month sleep regression, but rather a temporary disruption that should only last a few nights.
If your baby starts to have trouble falling asleep then consider what is going on in their development.
Signs your baby is going through the 8 month sleep regression
- Struggles to fall asleep at bedtime
- Stops sleeping through the night
- Wakes frequently at night and struggles to get back to sleep
- Resists nap times or sleep longer during the day and less at night
- Is more fussy and cranky during the day
4 Main Causes of the 8 month sleep regression
The most common reasons for your 8 month old going through a sleep regression will be due to them reaching certain developmental milestones, going through a daytime nap transition or experiencing separation anxiety. Here's why!
1. Reaching developmental milestones
From between 7- 9 months of age your baby will be learning to crawl and maybe pulling themselves to stand and generally becoming more mobile.
They will also be understanding more and more of what you have to say and their little brains will be working overtime to process all this new cognitive and physical development which in turn can cause sleep disruption.
Your little one can easily become overstimulated by all the new things that they are learning and processing. All this busy brain development can lead to them becoming overtired and having difficulty in settling to sleep.
2. Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety can occur at any age after 8 months of age but is another common reason for your baby’s sleep patterns being disrupted. At around this age many babies will become very aware when you are leaving them and become resistant to settling at night or being left at nap time.
I will be explaining more about this later in the article… Keep reading to learn more!
3. Nap transitioning
At this age, your baby will be able to stay awake for longer periods of time and may need less sleep during the day. Most 8 months old babies sleep between 12-16 hours in a 24 hour period. The bulk of this sleep will take place at night and the balance in 2-3 day time naps.
However, transitioning from the 3 naps stage to 2 naps a day can trigger an 8 month sleep regression as you try to balance the correct amount of day time sleep to nighttime sleep.
Your little one may easily become overtired during this phase and overtiredness often leads to difficulty in settling to sleep and can result in more nighttime waking.
4. Major changes in routine or location
Going on holiday, moving house or going to stay with a friend or relative overnight can also trigger an 8 month sleep regression.
Sleeping in a different room if they have not been used to doing so will become more apparent to an 8 month old as they are more aware of their surroundings by this age.
The trick with this is to keep your routine as consistent as possible to help your baby sleep anywhere! And before travelling, get your baby used to sleeping in different parts of the house from day 1.
Be prepared that, if your little one has been unwell, they may develop a liking for more night time contact which may trigger an 8 month sleep regression.
Managing Separation Anxiety
It is quite natural for your 8 month old to experience separation anxiety and for it to impact on you being able to leave them to settle at nap times and bedtime.
There are, however, things you can do to help them cope with this new emotion and to fall asleep.
- Teach them to get used to spending time alone. Leaving your baby to play alone for short periods of time in a safe place like a playpen or crib will gradually teach them to get used to being OK without you present.
- Let them spend time away from you with a trusted friend or close relative. By spending time away from you with people that you trust will get your little one used to not being with you at all times.
- Use a white noise machine and or night light. Using a white noise machine when your 8 month old is napping or being put to bed will comfort them and may help them settle and not be so susceptible to waking.
- Let them sleep with a favourite toy. By this age your little one may have a soft toy that they particularly like and this may help them settle if you put the toy in the crib with them when they have to sleep.
- Keep night time interaction short and low key. Try not to pick your baby up when they cry, rather pat them and resettle them in the crib.
- Stick to consistent sleep routines. When you are putting them down for a nap use familiar words and do things in the same order each time for a nap so that they know what to expect.
- Stick to a regular bedtime routine. Click here to jump to my Bedtime Routine article. Trust me it will be your nighttime routine bible for your little one!
9 Tips to get through the 8 month sleep regression
Getting through sleep regressions is always tough and I think the 8 month sleep regression is probably one of the hardest. (sorry...)
All parents of infants in the first year are tired and just when you think you are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, your 8 month old decides that they do not want to nap, go to bed and are waking more at night! UGH.
BUT knowing how to cope with this blip in your baby’s schedule is a LIFESAVER and although there is no magic cure...
There are definitely some things you can do to make this time easier and always remember that this is just a phase!
1. Have a healthy and regular bedtime routine
You probably know by now that I am a stickler for the regular bedtime routine. If you have not done so already, establishing a consistent bedtime routine will help your baby settle to sleep. They will recognize the daily cues in the routine and be more prepared for sleep.
I have a wealth of advice and tips about how to hack the bedtime routine in another article, so be sure to head over for more information! How To Hack The Bedtime Routine!
2. Know how much sleep your 8 month old needs
The average 8 month old needs 12-16 hours of sleep in any 24 hour period with 9-12 hours taken at night and the rest in 2-3 naps during the day.
3. Allow your baby plenty of time to practice new skills
If your baby is starting to crawl and pull themselves to stand, it is important to give them plenty of opportunity to practice these new skills.
They will no longer want to be left in a baby activity centre for long periods of time. They will want to be off and exploring and honing their new found mobility!
If you don't your baby might have too much energy when they go to bed which will add to the 8 month sleep regression.
4. Spend lots of quality one on one time with your baby
Spending time with your baby playing closely one on one will often help with separation anxiety. Having a cosy quiet hour together at the end of the day without distractions can help them settle more easily.
5. Make sure your little one is having age appropriate naps
One of the main causes of an 8 month sleep regression is nap transition.
If your baby is showing signs of not wanting to go down for the late morning nap or the afternoon nap then it is time to switch to 2 naps. Drop the late morning nap and stick with a mid-morning nap and an afternoon nap.
Remember: Neither of these naps should last more than 2 hours each.
6. Make sure you baby is having enough to eat
Ensure your baby is getting enough formula or breast milk during the day. You might also add higher fat foods, such as avocado, to the last solid meal to exclude hunger being the trigger for increased night time waking.
All that new mobility can make them hungry!
7. Stick to established sleep routines for naps and bedtime
Sticking to your established sleep routines will help during an 8 month sleep regression as they are cues your baby has become used to that indicate naptime or bedtime is on the way.
ALSO... Don’t be tempted to pick your baby up more or go back to rocking them to sleep if you have not been doing this before. If you do... You run the risk of establishing habits that will be hard to undo once the sleep regression is over!
Check out my Why Do Babies Fight Sleep article for more top baby sleeping tips!
8. Watch for sleep cues
As your baby is developing physically, cognitively and emotionally as well as adjusting to a new nap routine, they will easily become overtired. Watch for sleep cues and act accordingly ESPECIALLY for day time naps. Avoiding over tiredness will help with sleep issues at bedtime.
Now, I know what you're thinking... "But you just told me to keep them busy trying new skills!" and yes... You're right.
BUT there's a balance! With a 8 month sleep regression it may take a bit of 'trial and error' to find the right balance between expelling extra energy, learning new skills and allowing more time to sleep.
Each child is different and you just need to keep an eye out for any signs that baby is tired to know when to get them down for a nap.
9. Create a healthy sleep environment
Ensuring your baby's bedroom is conducive to sleep and that they are comfortable is also VITAL to helping get through an 8 month sleep regression.
Make sure there is not too much light, that the room is at the right temperature, they are in an appropriate sleeping bag and it might help to use a white noise machine to keep a consistent gentle background noise.
Some babies may like some light in their room, in which case I would definitely use a soft nightlight. (Here's my favourite!)
Dream Egg White Noise Machine
What is it? Sleek multi option white noise machine
Why do I recommend it? This a versatile white noise machine with 24 options that will definitely help your little one settle to sleep. It has a soft warm light that will help babies fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.
As tough as it might be for a short while, once you have made the transition from 3 naps to 2, don't be tempted to go back.
If you are in need of some product inspiration, be sure to head over to my Parenting Toolbox! It is packed full of baby and toddler items hand picked by ME to ensure you and your baby are getting nothing but the VERY BEST!
How will I know when the 8 month sleep regression is over?
You will know that your little one’s 8 month sleep regression is over when they have settled back into a healthy night time sleep and 2 daily naps.
It may seem like it will never end... But I PROMISE you it will!
Ideally, your daily routine should look something like this with your little one not waking more than once at night:
- 7am - Wake Up and Milk
- 8am - Breakfast
- 8.30am - Play Time!
- 9.30am - Morning Nap
- 11am - Wake Up and Milk
- 12pm - Lunch Time!
- 12.45pm - Play or Family Outing
- 2pm - Afternoon Nap
- 3.30pm - Wake Up, Milk and Snack
- 4pm - Play Time
- 5pm - Tea Time!
- 5.30pm - Bathtime
- 6pm - Read a Book
- 7pm - Milk and Bedtime!
How can You care for Yourself during an 8 Month sleep regression?
Sleep regressions are tough for your baby and equally as tough on you as the parent.
An 8 month sleep regression can be very disheartening for parents who have worked hard to establish healthy sleep habits in their little one... but keep in mind that this is just a temporary phase.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are finding it tough to be consistent with sleep routines and nap times, just hang in there knowing that this is a passing phase.
Just remember to try and take a break if you can, by letting a close family member or friend look after your baby occasionally.
If you can, share the load at night by taking turns with your partner to deal with any nighttime waking.
If you are feeling very tired, then put your little one somewhere safe, such as a playpen or crib, and make yourself a cup of tea and have a 5 minute breather.
Here are some of the most common 8 month sleep regression questions that I have been asked over the years and as they didn't quite fit anywhere else, here they are!
Can you do sleep training when your baby is going through an 8 Month sleep regression?
I would NOT recommend changing your sleep routines during an 8 month sleep regression unless the regression transfers into a permanent change in sleeping habits.
If you baby has been sleeping well and taking regular naps BEFORE the regression, then chances are that they will come out of the 8 month sleep regression after a few weeks and revert back to their normal sleep routine.
This will especially be the case if you have already taught you little one to self-settle and have a regular and healthy bedtime and nap routine. If these things were not in place there is every chance your baby was not sleeping well in the first place.
Should your baby not naturally fall back into sleeping well after 4-5 weeks then you may need to consider sleep training to get them back on track.
Teaching your little one to self-settle and sticking to a regular bedtime routine from an early age, will help when dealing with sleep regressions later on.
How to handle minor sleep regressions that come with teething
Your baby may be experiencing a minor 8 month sleep regression due to teething. This interruption to their normal sleep pattern should last no longer than 8 days in total.
There is a very good chance that your baby’s sleep will be disrupted when they are teething.
Again, remember that this is temporary. Your little one will be experiencing discomfort so easing their pain will definitely help during this time. Be sure to check out my Teething post for all things teething related! This includes teething symptoms, natural remedies and everything in between! It's basically a teething bible...!
OH! And if you're looking for natural teething toys, then I've compiled my favourites in my Parenting Toolbox: Best Natural Teething Toys!
Anyway... Back on track now! It is important to stick to your regular bedtime routines and keep night time encounters low key even when your little one is teething.
I am afraid that dealing with a teething baby is an inevitable part of parenting, so just hang in there until it passes. You've got this!
When should parents talk to a doctor about the 8 month sleep regression?
There are some occasions when you may feel the need to seek medical advice in connection with your baby experiencing a change in their normal sleep patterns; especially if the 8 month sleep regression is associated with any of the following:
- Lack of growth
- Difficulty breathing or snoring when sleeping
- Any major change in eating habits
- Change is bowel movements or frequency of urination.
You know your baby better than anyone else so if you are concerned that your baby’s sleep issues are more than just a regression have a chat with your medical practitioner or pediatrician.
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