The 8-month sleep regression is a hot topic in the world of baby sleep! Almost every parent who experiences it is left wondering what in the world is going on!
Luckily, not all babies experience a negative impact to their sleep at this age. So, if you're reading this with a baby younger that 7-10 months, don't freak out! This isn't a definite glimpse into your future!
But, in the case that your child does go through it or is currently going through it, we have your back!
Let's talk about it!
When does this happen?
Somewhere between 7-10 months old, your baby will most likely begin showing signs of this regression.
I know you’ve been up Googling about it and worried that there’s something you did to throw your child’s sleep off track but rest assured! This is totally normal and quite common!
In fact, your child isn’t exactly “regressing”. They are becoming more aware of the world and developing in so many ways
What does the 8-month sleep regression look like?
There are a few examples to talk about here:
1.) Your baby who has been assisted to sleep by rocking, feeding, using a pacifier, etc. has suddenly been giving you a hard time at bedtime. It started off with just a night or two. You assumed it was a fluke. But, it’s been a few days or longer and it feels like this struggle is here to stay.
2.) Your baby who has been able to put themselves to sleep on their own for a while now is resisting bedtime. They may be taking forever to fall asleep or crying once you put them down or shortly after.
3.) Your baby, who has never been a good sleeper, has gone from being up every 2-3 hours to being up every 45 minutes. This, understandably, is sending you into a frenzy of “WTF is going on’s”.
What’s happening and what you can do:
The most common cause of this regression is development! Which is a good thing!
Your baby is learning new skills and disrupting their sleep all at once. How bittersweet!
Here’s how this typically goes:
Baby begins to test out something new. It’s usually linked to crawling or some form of becoming mobile. Up until this point, your baby has never been able to get themselves around. So, when they discover this new ability to move about the house and go after the dog at their leisure, it’s no wonder that they’re excited!
They want to practice! They don’t have time to sleep! Their brain is obsessed with this new skill and it’s about the only thing they want to do.
How you can help:
Give them time, space, and encouragement to practice during their awake times. The more you can practice, the better! When it’s time for nap or bedtime, implement a wind down period so that they aren’t going from crawling around the house to their bed too abruptly. This can cause some upset.
Around this age, most babies are dropping from 3 to 2 naps. They have a need for more awake time and without it, they may have difficulty falling asleep. The appropriate amount of awake time is important to build up the necessary amount of sleep pressure to fall asleep and stay asleep. As babies get older, they need less and less sleep.
How you can help:
Stretch their wake windows. Keep a wake window chart handy and make sure that your baby is matching up with their age-appropriate wake times. When you need to stretch their window, consider how your baby handles their current wake window. If they seem fussy by the time nap or bedtime rolls around but you know they need to stretch, do so gradually by adding 5-10 minutes every few days. If you think your baby will handle the additional time well, you can add by 15-30 minutes.
If you're feeling stuck in between 3 and 2 naps, try my 3 to 2 nap schedule:
Notice that you'll have to cap naps at 1-1.5 hours. Keep in mind that this schedule is meant to be only transitional and temporary. We don't have to permanently cap every nap at 1 hour if baby wants to sleep longer. This is meant to try for a few more weeks when baby is not ready to move the 2 naps but is still having a hard time on 3 naps.
An important concept for your child to develop is object permanence. If you’ve never heard of it (you aren’t alone), this means that they are starting to understand that when they don’t see something it still exists. When Mom walks away into another room, they know she still exists, but she isn’t near them. This is an alarming feeling since they haven’t quite wrapped their heads around the idea that she does come back.
Bedtime and naptime are usually the parts of the day that take the biggest hit when it comes to separation anxiety. They are hyper aware of what’s happening, and they may have an issue with the idea that they’re going to be separate from you for the next several hours.
How you can help:
Check out my blog on separation anxiety! I go over various strategies that you can try to help your child cope with separation anxiety.
Sleep props are becoming an issue
There are many times that babies can sleep just fine through the night being heavily assisted to sleep at bedtime! But, majority of the time, I see those same babies showing a struggle with sleep around 8 months.
Why would this be? Well, they are really starting to understand their world more and how everything works. They are heavily conditioned to NEED their sleep props to get to sleep or fall back asleep.
How you can help:
Teach them how to initiate sleep on their own! Slowly scale back the sleep props that they’re currently needing. Help them develop their own strategy so that being in their crib awake or even in light sleep isn’t totally stressful for them once they realize they can’t get back to sleep.
Do you need help with your little one? We are here for you! If you’d like to schedule your free evaluation call or check out the packages we offer for this age group, click here!