With your baby now at roughly 8 months, you may have thought you would never have to deal with sleep regression again, I certainly did. 8-month sleep regression can occur at any time between 6 to 10 months and usually it is linked to the rapid development of your baby at this age. After 6 months, things usually get better but the improvement can be temporary and towards the end of the first year, you may find yourself back at step one. According to research, babies at around 9 months of age tend to wake up more often during the night compared to those at 6 months. This problem can come unexpectedly for any parent as most of them expect their babies to sleep better as they become older. What is 8 month sleep regression? How do you tell if 8-month sleep regression has started with your baby?
The fussy period usually lasts roughly 4 weeks but it is common for them to go for even 3 to 6 weeks. This is why you will hear about nine or ten-month-olds taking short naps or waking up in the middle of the night if not both. 6 weeks can feel like an eternity to a parent with an infant undergoing sleep regression, especially when you are not getting any sleep because of it. The 8-month sleep regression does not permanently affect how your baby sleeps in the same way 4-month sleep regression does.
Preparing for 8-month sleep regression can help you understand why it is happening, what to do about it, and how to get through it with your baby.
The causes of 8-month sleep regression are discussed further below to give you a better understanding of what is going on with your baby.
There is a lot going on with your baby at 8 months. Sleep regressions are generally associated with your baby experiencing a growth spurt or learning a new skill. My son started crawling at 8 months which was also around the time when he went through his sleep regression. At around 8 to 10 months, your little one is rapidly becoming more active, pulling up on furniture, learning to crawl, and developing sign language or gross motor skills. The baby could also be expanding his or her social environment with outings and playgroups, experiencing social anxiety, increasing their communication abilities, eating more solids, and teething. This is a lot for your little one to handle because all these things require practice, energy, and time.
At times, your baby may decide to practice at 3 a.m. instead of sleeping. All the activity can wear him or her out faster causing them to become overtired more quickly. This makes your baby cranky at bedtime and prone to shortened naps and night waking. It is hard for your baby to learn to shut down the brain especially if he or she does not have any self-soothing skills. Such a baby requiring more help sleeping may start fighting back your efforts to soothe him or her. Your baby may feel stimulated instead and try showing you their new moves since you are present. If you find yourself spending more time rocking your baby to sleep then this could be your baby telling you he or she is ready to be going to sleep on their own. Your presence is possibly keeping your baby from falling asleep as much as you may think you are helping. In my case, I would find that 20 minutes of trying to rock my son to sleep would turn into 60 minutes without any success.
When your baby gets to the 9-month mark, he or she will go through a phase of trying to do all kinds of new things. He or she will also start recognizing that specific people, animals, sensations, and objects belong together in categories and groups. This will affect all your baby’s senses and during this leap, he or she will start understanding the idea of object permanence. This means your baby will start understanding that an object is still there even if it is out of sight and this also means he or she will start experiencing separation anxiety.
Additionally, the baby will also realize that his or her actions can bring about a reaction from the parent and this is when they will start waking up screaming in the middle of the night. If your baby does not need anything then chances are he or she is testing the waters to see how you respond. How you react can determine whether this will be a new habit for your baby. I had to learn this the hard way after consistently running to my son’s rescue whenever he would cry in the middle of the night. When your child wakes up numerous times during the night this can lead to disconnected nighttime sleep, which is not as restorative for your baby and can lead to chronic overtiredness.
At 8 months, you need to start dropping the catnap or late afternoon nap from your baby’s schedule. I knew my son was ready to drop it when he started fighting it regularly for about 2 weeks. Your baby’s sleep requirements will also start changing; he or she will still need roughly 14 hours of sleep every day, but the sleep distribution will be different. Your baby will start needing more sleep during the night (approximately 11-12 hours) while their daytime sleep hours will reduce from 3 to 4 hours daily to 2-3 hours. You need to be ready to make these alterations so that when your child goes on a nap strike, he or she will not be too tired. If your baby becomes overtired, you will have a sleep regression nightmare on your hands whereby he or she will give you a hard time with naps going to sleep not to mention early morning wakeups and night waking. Remember this is all normal!!
There are various factors in play during sleep regression at 8 to 10 months but the main theme all through the causes regression include your little one becoming overtired. What can you do to help your baby go through this stage and to help you cope?
Now that he or she is more interested in everything going on around it is crucial that you keep the baby’s sleep area very quiet and dark to facilitate sleep. You can use a white noise machine and blackout curtains to help with this. If you find the baby still taking most naps in the baby carrier or stroller then it might be time to start prioritizing sleeping at home in the cot or crib.
Smaller babies usually take 3 daily naps and cap it off with a catnap late in the afternoon but once the child reaches 8 months, you need to drop the third nap as mentioned earlier. You will have to move bedtime earlier to prevent the baby from going to bed when overtired almost guaranteeing nighttime waking. For your 8-10-month-old, the recommended awake time between bedtime and his or her last nap should be no more than 3 to 4 hours. It can be tricky getting a nap schedule just right so that your baby isn’t sleeping too late closer to bedtime. Observe for the baby’s signs of tiredness from 5 p.m. and set the bedtime schedule accordingly.
This is the perfect time for your baby to start using a sleeping bag once the sleep regression strikes. Sleep disruptions occur at this stage when your little one tries to practice newfound mobility skills during the night. This could be anything from getting hands or legs stuck between the bars to standing up in the cot. A sleeping bag might not prevent this but it can make it a bit harder for your active little champ to get up.
I purchased a baby sleeping bag for my son when he was 6 months but didn’t end up using it until he was in his 8 month sleep regression phase. Nowadays he sleeps in a play yard that has netting but at the time he was in this fancy wooden crib with bars that he would always get his legs caught in at weird angles. Once I got him this nifty little sleeping bag pictured left here, he actually got up a lot less. He seemed more content and comfortable in his bed!
You can easily blame teething for your 8-month old baby’s sleep regression but this is not always the case. Usually, sleep disruptions that go on for more than several days can indicate a hidden issue. If you think teething is the problem, then go ahead speak to a doctor for a professional opinion. ( Note: My pediatrician told me that Orajel teething balm has been linked to several cases of heart failure in babies ! Very scary so please do not use it! )
As you can see there are many benefits to baby massage in regards to relaxing your baby either right after bathtime and right before bedtime, or if your little one wakes up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep. This is a special treat and something nice for your baby.
I cannot stress this enough. Your baby is not a sleepy little newborn anymore, they are buzzing with energy and they need an outlet. If the weather permits I recommend going out to a park, spreading out a blanket and let your baby practice their crawling skills, tummy time or rolling from his stomach to his back, and then back to his stomach again. Engage with your baby and encourage them to use their body and explore their senses. Doing this for your baby during the day will make sure he or she does not take advantage of nighttime to practice instead of sleeping.
Unfortunately, your baby goes can through this developmental phase 3 times before they reach 2 years old, once so help him or her through it as much as possible. I had to ride it out and during this time, I realized that even though I was not able to eliminate my baby boy’s discomfort, I could be his support system.
Sleep regressions are a frustrating and exhausting part of having a baby but we all go through it with. So meanwhile, just remember to stay flexible, be patient, and careful not to accidentally create a new sleep crutch (or even bring back an old one). As difficult as it can be to stay consistent at times, remember that it is the best thing for everybody and it helps sleep regression pass more in a timely manner.
I hope this answered your question “What is 8 month sleep regression” Please let me know how you are dealing with your child’s sleep regression in the comments below!