How to deal with the ‘8 month sleep regression’

The journey of parenthood is filled with many delightful surprises, and understanding your baby’s sleep patterns can be both a joy and a challenge. Just when you feel you’ve become an expert at understanding their sleep patterns, usually right around the 8 month mark, something shifts. Suddenly, bedtime becomes a struggle. Sound familiar? Welcome to the dreaded 8 month sleep regression.

Let’s get one thing straight first of all. The term “regression” may not be the best description for what’s happening with your baby’s sleep at this stage. At 8 months, your baby’s sleep needs are indeed shifting, but that doesn’t mean they’re deteriorating. Your baby is progressing and moving forward, not backward.

If the night sleep takes a hit during this period, it doesn’t mean your child has ‘regressed’ in any way.

And here’s the thing: it’s completely normal. All parents will go through this exact phase and come out the other side. It’s a temporary hiccup, a small bump in the road of parenthood that may leave you feeling a bit frazzled and tired. Indeed, the most composed parents can feel a bit out of sorts at this stage, but there’s no need for concern. Trust me on this – it will pass.

In this article, we’ll walk you through what’s happening and why, and share some tried-and-true strategies to help you navigate this phase with grace and understanding. So grab a cup of tea, take a deep breath, and know that you’ve got this. We’re here to support you every step of the way!

What is 8 month Sleep Regression?

The 8 month sleep regression refers to a temporary disruption in an infant’s sleep patterns around the age of 8 months. At 8 months old your baby might experience a temporary shake-up in their bedtime routine. Suddenly, those well-established patterns might hit a speed bump. You might find your once-stellar sleeper struggling to snooze through the night or having a tough time catching those regular daytime naps.

8 month sleep regression is often linked to the whirlwind of developmental changes happening at this stage. Your baby becomes a little explorer, more mobile, more curious, and, of course, more prone to separation anxiety. 

All this excitement can throw a twist into their sleep habits. But worry not! It’s just a phase, and understanding the reasons behind it can set you on the right path to manage and sail through this period together. 

The Cause of Sleep Regression at 8 Months

The Nap Transition

Your baby’s daily sleep routine is evolving. Recently, your child will have been best suited to three naps per day, amounting to around 3 and a half hours, with wakeful periods of 2-3 hours in between.

In the next couple of months, your baby will shift to two naps per day of approximately 90 minutes each, with 3-hour wakeful periods between sleeps.

Making this change takes time, patience, and understanding. Some days your baby will need more sleep, other days less. It’s a dynamic process where you must take each day as it comes.

The Over-Tiredness Factor

One major reason for any deterioration in night sleep is that babies may not be getting enough sleep in the daytime, or their wakeful periods are too long. Paradoxically, over-tiredness can result in disturbed night sleep.

As your child becomes more alert and possibly starts practising crawling and standing, excitement might seem to override sleep needs. It’s a time to keep one eye on your child and one eye on the time because waiting for sleepy signs from your baby may mean you’re waiting too long!

Your child is developing

So as we’ve seen, sleep regression at 8 months is caused by ongoing brain development, growth, and learning of new physical skills that your young ones are mastering. At this stage, they’re making big strides in their cognitive and physical abilities such as crawling, sitting up, and testing out standing with support. All this newfound energy can create excitement that makes it harder for them to settle down for sleep.

Adding to the mix is separation anxiety, which tends to ramp up around this time. This can lead to more frequent wake-ups during the middle of the night as your baby seeks comfort from you. 

When you put these changes together, the physical developmental milestones and the emotional shifts, you get the recipe for the 8 month sleep regression. It’s a phase that challenges many parents, but remember, it’s temporary. With the right approach, we can help your baby navigate it.

How to Manage 8 month Sleep Regression

Offer Comfort and Support

In this phase of heightened sensitivity, it becomes absolutely crucial to offer your baby the comfort and reassurance they seek. Responding promptly to their cries and employing gentle soothing techniques can go a long way in creating a secure and nurturing environment. 

Remember, your presence and comfort play a vital role in helping your little one navigate the challenges of the 8 month sleep regression. So, wrap them in your warmth and patience, and let them know that you’re right there to provide the support they need.

Implement Wake Windows

Let’s talk about adjusting your baby’s awake times during the day,  it’s like creating a sleep-friendly schedule! Making sure they’re not overly tired or overstimulated when bedtime rolls around is key. 

Managing your baby’s wake windows is a delicate and essential part of ensuring a healthy sleep routine. Wake windows refer to the periods when your baby is awake and alert between naps, and they require careful observation and adjustment. I’ve found that paying close attention to these windows helps in preventing over-tiredness, which can lead to disturbed night sleep. As your baby grows, these windows will gradually lengthen, and you’ll need to adapt to these changing needs. 

It’s a balance between observing your child’s cues and keeping an eye on the clock, as waiting too long for signs of sleepiness may mean you’ve missed the optimal time for a nap. In my experience, understanding and managing wake windows with flexibility and awareness can make the transition through different sleep stages smoother and more harmonious for both baby and parent.

Consider Sleep Training

Considering a sleep nanny to sleep train your baby when dealing with 8 month sleep regression can make a real difference. Our certified consultants from Sleep Nanny Academy offer expertise and tailored solutions for your baby’s sleep challenges. Their guidance provides reassurance during this tough phase, helping establish a consistent sleep routine for healthy development. 

With their professional insights, you can navigate the 8 month regression more smoothly, leading to better sleep for your baby and your household.

How Long Does 8 month Sleep Regression Last?

Sleep regression at 8 months usually lasts about 2 to 6 weeks. Fortunately, by the time your little one hits around 10 months or older, they should be waving goodbye to the regression phase. It’s a phase that comes and goes, and just knowing that it’s temporary can offer some comfort during those restless nights.

Can the 8 month Sleep Regression Start Early?

It’s not uncommon for your baby to start the 8 month sleep progression early. While it’s typically associated with the 8 month mark, every baby’s development timeline is unique. 

Some infants might show signs of regression a few weeks before or after the 8 month point. So, if you notice changes in sleep patterns and behaviours, don’t be surprised if it’s the 8 month sleep regression paying an early visit.

How Many Naps Should an 8-month-old Have?

At the age of 8 months, it’s advisable for your baby to take around 2 to 3 naps daily, reflecting a natural shift in their sleep pattern. This stage of development sees a delicate balance in sleep needs, with your little one ideally accumulating about 14 hours of sleep in a day. Approximately 11 to 12 hours of this sleep should be at night, and the remaining 2 to 3 hours are distributed during daytime naps. 

Adjusting to this new rhythm might require careful observation and patience as your baby transitions from more frequent naps to fewer but longer rest periods. Understanding and adapting to this change is key in promoting a healthy sleep routine, fostering overall well-being, and supporting your child’s continuous growth and development.

Tackling the 8 month Sleep Regression

As you navigate the 8 month sleep regression alongside your growing baby, think of it as conquering a small parenting challenge together. You’ve absorbed insights on how to tackle this phase and maintain a sense of patience throughout. This stage underscores your little one’s development, and your unwavering support is your most valuable tool.

Remember, beyond these strategies and your nurtured bond, seeking guidance from a sleep specialist can provide valuable insights tailored to your unique situation. As you progress, you’ll reflect on this time with a sense of achievement, having powered through and emerged with an even stronger connection.

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