Eight months is a busy and exciting age for parents and babies alike. Your little one is probably mobile for the first time, or well on her way. She’s understanding more and more about her surroundings and is absorbing language like a sponge. Having an eight-month-old is just fun, and the majority of kids are sleeping through the night at this age. So it seems especially unfair that eight months is another age when sleep regression often strikes.
The large amount of growth and development at eight months is precisely why many—but not all—babies encounter sleep problems at this age. The eight-month sleep regression can be a challenge, but it’s normal and temporary. Read on to learn more about the 8-month sleep regression and gather advice to support your child through it.
What is Sleep Regression?
When young children who were previously sleeping well suddenly experience sleep issues, it’s usually defined as sleep regression. Your baby may have been sleeping through the night for weeks and now he’s waking multiple times a night. Or perhaps he has trouble settling down for nap or bedtime. Maybe he’s gone from two-hour naps to only napping for thirty minutes. All of these are signs that sleep regression may be taking place.
Sleep regression tends to occur around specific ages, which we discuss in more detail in our comprehensive guide to sleep regression. That’s because sleep regression tends to be caused by changes in sleep patterns and developmental milestones that occur around certain ages. These developments are positive and are a signal that your child is growing, but they can also wreak havoc on your baby’s sleep.
Sleep regression is temporary and tends to last anywhere between two and six weeks, though every child is different. While it’s helpful to remember that sleep regression is normal and won’t last forever, it doesn’t mean that sleep regression is easy to get through. Sleep is important for the health of both parents and children, and sleep deprivation can lead to trouble with cognition and mood regulation. It’s vital to take care of your family during a time of sleep regression, and keep an eye on your own mental health. Get rest when you can, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
The 8-month Sleep Regression
Eight months is a time of wonderful, exciting changes for young people and their parents. Babies are starting to be mobile, with a lot of kids starting to scooter, crawl, pull up, or even cruise around this age. They also focus on their fine motor skills and may be more interested in toys than ever before. And while your baby likely won’t say his first word for a few more months, he’s absorbing language and learning to categorize and identify.
In short, eight-month-olds are more stimulated than ever before, and that can lead to issues with sleep. It’s similar to how an adult might have trouble falling asleep after a busy day at work. Children around this age may simply have trouble settling down after crawling around and exploring all day. Or they’re more interested in practicing their new skills than in sleeping, so you may find your baby pulling up to stand in her crib when she’s supposed to be napping.
Separation anxiety can also come into play when it comes to sleep trouble around eight months. Babies develop object permanence at this age, meaning they understand that you exist even if they can’t see you. Your child may become upset when you leave the room at nap or bedtime and has learned that if he cries, you may come back.
Eight months is also a time when many babies drop their third nap, if they had one. It can take some time for your child to get used to two naps, and you might have an overtired little one at bedtime for a couple of weeks.
The eight-month sleep regression is fairly common, but doesn’t seem to impact as many kids as the four-month sleep regression. The timing is therefore less consistent than the four-month regression, and can occur anywhere from 8 to 10 months. Like other periods of sleep regression, the eight-month regression might last anywhere between two and six weeks, though there’s great variation. If you sense that your child’s sleep issues are more serious or you find yourself struggling greatly, it’s a good idea to reach out to your pediatrician.
How to Help Your Baby through the 8-month Sleep Regression
The eight-month sleep regression can be difficult for both children and their parents. After all, your baby may have been sleeping through the night for a while, and you might have been on a somewhat predictable schedule. Below are tips to help you and your baby make it through the eight-month sleep regression as easily as possible.
- Provide Time to Practice Skills: As soon as your child begins to learn how to crawl, pull up, or place blocks in a bucket, she’s going to want to practise these skills all the time. Make sure that your child will have plenty of time during the day to play and run about. Try to minimize the time your baby is in a stroller or car seat so she doesn’t have a lot of pent up energy when it’s time to sleep. Doing so will lower the likelihood that she feels the urge to play in the middle of the night or after twenty minutes of napping.
- Create a Calm Environment: While you want your little one to be stimulated during playtime, creating a calm sleep environment will help your baby settle down for bed or naptime. A dimly lit room with a white noise machine will convince your child that it’s time to sleep. It’s also a good idea to build in a transition from playtime to bedtime. If you take your baby directly from cruising around the living room to his crib, he’ll likely protest and be unable to settle down. Spend some time calming your baby before it’s time to say goodnight. Snuggle up with some books or sing lullabies to help your child move into sleep mode.
- Stick to a Routine: If you haven’t already established a bedtime routine with your baby, now is a great time to do so. Young children thrive when they know what to expect, and it helps them feel secure. Create your own version of a routine that may include activities like a bath, new diaper, pajamas, books and a lullaby before lovingly placing your child in her crib. A shorter version can be used at naptime. A routine like this is also a great way to help your baby settle down to sleep, especially if you’re moving from a fun activity into naptime. Sleep regression may be a time when your child protests going to sleep, which can disrupt your schedule, but try to stick with it as much as possible.
- Reassure your Baby: If your child experiences separation anxiety, you’ll want to spend some extra time with him before it’s time to sleep. Consider starting the bedtime routine earlier so you have more one-on-one time. Ignore the dishes until after he goes to sleep so you can play together before bed. The extra time together will help your baby feel loved and secure so it’s less of a shock when you leave the room at bed or naptime. If your baby protests after you leave the room, you may consider waiting a few minutes and then going back in for a quick kiss and reassurance before leaving again. While you want to encourage your baby to fall asleep on his own, reassuring him that you’re nearby may help him settle down to sleep.
- Encourage Independent Sleep: Sleep regression is a period when many parents, understandably, fall back on sleeping crutches like breastfeeding or rocking to get their babies to sleep. The downside is that your child will rely on you to fall asleep, so you’ll need it every time she wakes up in the night. She may initially fall asleep more easily, but sleep crutches tend to prolong sleep regression. While each family is different, you can prefer some kind of sleep training to help your child learn—or re-learn—how to fall asleep independently. Establishing this skill will help your little one get good quality sleep in the long-term.
Eight months is a fun age, but all of the developments that occur around this time can contribute to sleep regression. It can be helpful to understand exactly why your child is having trouble sleeping, which is why we outlined the changes that contribute to the eight-month sleep regression. We’ve also provided tips for how to help your baby through this phase and establish good sleep habits for the long-term.
The eight-month sleep regression hits many parents hard because they’re typically used to getting a full night’s sleep around this age. Your baby will likely be cranky, too, because of a lack of sleep. Sleep is important for your baby’s development and your own well-being, so do your best to get rest whenever you can, even if that means putting off some obligations or asking for help. And remember that like most events in early childhood, the eight-month sleep regression is temporary, and you’ll be back to your normal routine before you know it.
Additional Sleepation Resources
Check out these other helpful Sleepation resources related to baby sleep: