What Exactly Is 8 Month Sleep Regression in Babies?
Through all the sleep training and all the constant struggles of sleep training your baby, if your baby is roughly 8 months old, you might think you’re out of the woods by this point (If you were successful up to this point). I know I certainly did, but boy was I wrong! Sleep regression is a normal part of each and every baby’s life, and many parents will be weary at the thought of having to deal with more sleep issues. The truth of the matter is, it will eventually happen regardless if you want it to or not. There is no sleep regression that occurs at a specific month, but rather a range of months. Many people call it 8-month-old sleep regression, but it can really occur anytime between 6 to 10 months and is usually associated with your baby’s development. After around six months, you should be seeing improvements to their overall sleep and patterns. However, they can often be short-lasting and it might seem like you’re taking several steps back every so often. Research has shown that in comparison, babies who are nine-months-old usually wake up much more often throughout the night compared to six-month-olds. Sleep regression is an unexpected and concerning problem because it interrupts whatever potential balance that you created. What’s 8-month-old sleep regression in babies? Signs of 8-month-old sleep regression are as follows:
How Long Does Sleep Regression Last at This Time?
The average time frame is about four weeks, but it’s possible for it to range from 3 to 6 weeks. This is why sleep training in children can differentiate so much. Some of them will be have it down pat, while others will still be struggling and waking up throughout the night. In the event that your child does experience six weeks of regression, then that can be such a nightmare because you’re losing sleep each and every day because of these regressions.
By preparing mentally and physically for the eight month sleep regression, you’ll be able to understand why babies experience it, how to prepare for, what to do about it when you do have to deal with it, and the best way how you can get through the frustrating and tireless experience.
What Causes 8 Month Sleep Regression in Babies?
You’ll be able to better understand why your baby is experiencing sleep regression at this time and be better equipped to deal with it by understanding what causes it.
Your Baby’s Mental Development
When your baby is around the nine-month-old mark, they’ll begin a brand-new phase of being curious, excited, and engrossed with the new and developing environment around them. Then, your baby will start to suddenly recognize people, animals, feelings, and other various objects. This point is always one of the most wonderful parts of a baby’s life cycle. Your baby will also start to understand what object permanence entails. What this means is that your baby will start to slowly understand that objects will exist and continue to exist, even if they can’t be perceived in any form of our senses. Essentially, for example, they’ll learn that their favorite toy will still be near their crib, even if they’re in a completely different room. However, with all these new changes, your baby will also start to experience separation anxiety at around this age.
Your baby will also start to understand about various certain reactions from you the parent. This is when they’ll start using this to their advantage. They’ll actually be able to realize that if they scream and make noises, it will most likely end up with you or your SO rushing to their aid. In the event that this does happen and you realize that your baby doesn’t seem to need anything from you, then they are simply testing things out and wondering how you’re going to respond to their cries. Even though this can be very stressful, the most important aspect of dealing with this entire situation is by reacting in a proper way once it does occur. Through many sleepless nights, I was eventually able to learn this was the case. The trick when dealing with this problem is that you need to ensure that you are using some of the sleep training methods as discussed here. You want to make sure that when your child does wake up, that you don’t rush to them every single time, because then they will simply use it to their advantage to play games with you. This will serve no useful purpose to anyone really, and will just end up with everyone in your household being more irritated and getting less sleep.
Your Baby’s Physical Milestones
There are so many physical changes that are currently going on in your baby’s body at eight months old. Your baby will very likely experience sleep regression due to the fact that sleep regression is typically associated with babies and learning new skills or achieving other milestones in life such as simply growing to a new height. This makes sense, because I realize now that my daughter started experiencing sleep regression at around eight months old. This is right around when she started to learn how to crawl. Each time your little one learns a new skill, sleep regression is entirely possible to follow. From 8 to 10 months old your baby is developing rapidly and is being quite the curious little one. Their brain and body are developing and they’re learning new things each and every day. Maybe your baby at this time is also meeting new babies/children and possibly experiencing social anxiety. Maybe they are communicating with you much more than they used to, and maybe they’re already eating solid foods now. The list goes on and on, because all these are new experiences for your little one and it can be often overwhelming for them.
Sometimes, your baby will even wake up as early as three in the morning – just so they can be curious. Your little one wants to practice all of their new activities that they learned, so they’ll be likely to be overtired much more quickly because of so much going on. This will make your baby much less willing to cooperate with you at bedtime and will cause their naps to be shorter and allow for an increased chance of night awakenings. If your baby does not self-soothe, then expect them to be awake fairly often throughout the night. Self-soothing is your baby’s best way to help themselves calm down and get back to sleep. Because they are so energized and are learning so much, their brains are very busy now. Self-soothing allows them to dial things back a bit and get some sleep. A baby who does not know how to self-soothe at this age might be reluctant when you start to begin training them. Maybe you realize that you spend so much time rocking them to sleep, when this could be them telling you in their own way that maybe you should try rocking them less and let them sleep on their own. You might be over bearing and potentially be making your baby anxious and/or reluctant to fall sleep. Finding a balance of getting your baby drowsy, and letting them get to sleep on their own is how you’ll be able to maximize your sleep and theirs.
Transitioning Their Naps
When your baby is around eight months old, it’s important that you realize that you might need to adjust their nap schedule. This includes the time that they go to sleep, as well as the length of the nap. Initially, my daughter was actually against napping and didn’t seem to want to get to sleep during her normal naptime. At this time, not only will your baby’s nap schedule need adjustments, but their sleep requirements will begin to change at this time as well. Your baby will still need about 14 hours a sleep throughout the day, the times that they sleep and the amounts that they need will change. Eventually, your baby will start to need more sleep during the night instead of the day. Essentially, you’ll be taking some daytime sleep and adding it to their nighttime sleep. Be ready for these changes, because they’ll happen in the worst possible timeframe, and be when you least expect them. Try to find a balance and transition as gently and best you can. If you’re sure that your baby is overtired, you need to make changes to the hours that they sleep. Remember, once they start giving you a tough time sleeping out of the blue, you know that it’s sleep regression. However, also try to remember, this is entirely normal.
Coping with 8-Month-Old Sleep Regression
With all the developmental changes that your baby is currently experiencing, you might be wondering, “How exactly am I supposed to deal with all this? How can I help my little one get through this stage as quickly as possible?” Below are 5 different ways you can cope with and handle their sleep regression.
Is your baby’s sleeping environment as ideal as you can make it? Are there any changes you can make that could improve your baby’s quality or length of sleep? During the day, is the room bright enough? During the night, is a dark enough? Is it a comfortable temperature? Are there any sudden noises that can occur throughout the night that could be waking my baby up? Have you tried white noise? There are so many different ways you can improve your baby’s sleep environment. One is ensuring that the surrounding area is appropriately lit. I highly recommend blackout curtains to help with blocking out light. This could be all the difference your baby needs to get that extra hour of sleep. I highly recommend a white noise machine if you don’t already have one. If you find that they’re napping mostly in their carrier or stroller, then now might be the perfect time to start considering why they aren’t sleeping more at home.
Younger and smaller babies typically take around three naps each day, and maybe one late one in the afternoon. However, once children are about eight months old, it’s time to make some changes to their naps. It’s suggested that parents drop their third nap and instead, get them to bed earlier. An overtired baby will almost always wake up in the night. It’s recommended for babies from 8 to 10 months old, that they should go to sleep about 3 to 4 hours after their last nap. I know trying to schedule a nap throughout everyone’s busy day can be quite the undertaking, but if you manage to do so, you’ll be saving your baby and yourself some much-needed sleep. Try to look for signs of your baby’s sleepiness after roughly 5 PM and adjust their bedtime accordingly to what you notice.
A sleeping bag is a great option for dealing with sleep regression. A lot of the time, when they do experience these regressions, it’s mostly due to them practicing their new skills that they learn such as rolling, crawling, etc. during the night. Maybe they want to play with their hands and explore their crib in detail. A sleeping bag will most likely not prevent every type of awakening, but it’ll certainly make it much more difficult for your little one to get up during the night due to them trying to stand or crawl. I highly recommend the sleeping bag here. I gave it to my daughter at around eight months old, and this helped give her some relief during the night. It also helped me get some sleep too. Once she was accustomed to the sleeping bag, she actually slept much more and had less awakenings. This made everyone in my house much happier! She seemed to be well rested and generally not sleepy either, which is a big plus.
While teething can be a go-to excuse for your baby waking up, it’s not always the case. If you see signs that your little one is waking up on a regular basis, such as for a week straight, this can usually indicate another potential issue that they might be having. If you suspect teething, or any other problem that you can’t seem to figure out, now is the time to speak to a doctor or pediatrician for their professional opinion.
This helpful video demonstrates how much your baby can benefit from a simple baby massage. If done right after a bath or before bed, this will help them be tired and can give them the extra bit of sleep that they need to sleep through the night.
Sometimes, Time Is the Best Solution
I know many parents might not want to hear this in regards to their baby’s sleep regression and tireless nights, but this is simply always a possibility. Babies go through different phases, and every single baby goes through their own unique period of life. They are learning and using every minute they have to hone in on their new world around them. They do this with very high energy and interest. If you have the opportunity, I really suggest that you go to a nice, quiet, and secluded area outside, preferably when it’s warm out, and let your baby practice all the newly found skills that they learned here. Try to engage them and help them explore as much as they can. By helping your baby be active during the day, you’ll be letting them expend all their limited energy that they want to and hopefully get back to sleeping.
The nasty part about sleep regression and these phases is that babies will most likely go through them several times before they reach two years old. I simply had to give up and accept that my daughter was going to be cranky some nights. I realized that there wasn’t much I could do because she was going through something that I couldn’t help her get through. This includes teething, or other things that are simply nature running Her course. However, I could try to still support my daughter in each and every little way possible, regardless.
No parent wants to experience the nightmares associated with sleep regression. The worst part is that how it can seemingly appear out of nowhere, even after your baby had a long streak of restful nights. Remember, get as much support as you can, try to be flexible with their times/naps and sleeping schedules, and try to create good habits and avoid bad ones. Above everything else, stay on schedule and don’t let up, even though that’s way easier said than done. Just be as consistent as you can. By doing your best to try to adjust to their newfound energy and lifestyle, you’ll will be giving them all of the options they need to hopefully get through sleep regression in a relatively quick time frame.