When your baby is eight months old, getting closer and closer to their first birthday, it can be amazing to watch them grow and develop. And then, there are times when it feels like they’re somehow going backwards. For example, if your baby is going through a period where they either aren’t sleeping through the night, or are refusing to go down in the first place, it may be an eight-month sleep regression. Eight-month-olds typically sleep for 12 to 15 total hours per day (between naps and sleeping at night), and if your baby isn’t getting enough shut-eye, you may notice that they may be a little crankier than usual. And no one wants that. Here’s what to know about an eight-month sleep regression, including what exhausted parents can do to ease their little one back into a regular sleep schedule.
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What is sleep regression?
Generally speaking, sleep regression involves periods of time (usually between two and six weeks), when a baby or toddler who had previously been sleeping on a (semi) regular schedule goes rogue. This could involve waking up frequently during the night (and having difficulty getting them back to sleep), as well as taking much shorter naps than usual, or flat-out refusing to nap. In other words, it’s extremely frustrating for exhausted parents who thought that they’d finally get back on some type of normal sleep schedule themselves.
Starting in the 1940s, the idea of babies experiencing sleep regression has been studied by those working in developmental psychology. But after 70+ years, although scientists know that sleep regression does happen, they still don’t know why or precisely when it happens, the New York Times reports. And despite the lack of hard data pointing to a precise sleep regression timeline, there is no shortage of books and websites that present specific “stages” of sleep regression as established milestones experienced by most (if not all) infants.
On the one hand, this can be really helpful for parents who are experiencing these stages with their own child — reassuring them that their child’s sleep regression is not unusual. But on the other hand, it can also give parents something else to worry about, in terms of whether their child is developing “normally” or not. Ultimately, parents should understand that sleep regression and development looks different in every baby, so if yours isn’t following the timeline precisely (or at all), it’s usually not cause for concern. And as always, ask your pediatrician if you have any questions about this.
What happens during a baby’s 8-month sleep regression?
If it seems like you’ve just gone through this exact situation with your baby, there’s a good chance you did with their four-month sleep regression. After that, many babies go through another period of sleep regression between six and eight months. At this point, your baby is going through some pretty significant cognitive and physical changes, which may impact how and when they’re sleeping.
Per Healthline, the signs of an eight-month sleep regression are similar to the ones your baby experienced during their previous regression period, and may include:
- Waking up more frequently at night and taking longer to get back to sleep.
- Extreme fussiness.
- Taking shorter naps.
- Fighting sleep.
What does an 8-month old sleep schedule look like?
Part of recognizing the signs of sleep regression is knowing what a typical 8-month-old sleep schedule should look like. First off, each baby is different, so try not to freak out if your kiddo is an hour or two off from the recommended hours of sleep. Within a day, it’s common for 8-month-olds to get about 14 hours of rest. It’s considered normal for your baby to rest between nine to 12 hours at night and take three to four-hour naps throughout the day.
If you’re looking for a sleep schedule template to help regulate and measure your baby’s sleep pattern, What to Expect mapped out a sleep schedule for your wild child.
- 7:00 a.m. Awake
- 9:30 a.m. Nap
- 11:30 a.m. Awake
- 2:00 p.m. Nap
- 3:30 p.m. Awake
- 7:00 p.m. Bedtime routine
- 7:30 p.m. Bedtime
What to do during a baby’s 8-month sleep regression?
First, do a quick temperature check to make sure your baby doesn’t have a fever — something that can also impact their sleep schedule. If it’s higher than normal, contact your pediatrician. If that’s not the case, your baby is not teething, and your baby isn’t sticking to their usual sleeping schedule, they might be going through an eight-month sleep regression.
- Stick to a bedtime routine and sleep schedule, including for naps. It may be tempting to keep them awake all day in the hopes that they’ll sleep through the night, but that’s not always the case and can be counterintuitive. A well rested baby will sleep more.
- When it’s time for bed, make sure the baby’s belly is full and their diaper is dry.
- Expose your baby to daylight during their awake periods during the day to help them establish a better sleep-wake pattern.
- Make sure your baby falls asleep in their bed as often as possible (instead of in a swing, or while being held, or in the car).
After a few nights of late-night crying, it may feel as though your baby will never get back on a regular sleep schedule again, but that’s not the case. It may take a few weeks to get there, but this eight-month sleep regression phase too shall pass.
How to help an 8-month-old baby sleep through the night?
Babies love to move, and when they’re eight months, it’s basically their passion. When it comes to getting your baby to sleep soundly throughout the night, engaging your child in different activities during the day is key. Here are several exercises you can try with your nugget.
- Have a dance party. Babies learn to boogie way before they learn to walk. So, turn on some music and show your baby some moves. If they copy you, that’s a bonus point. Or play some tunes that encourage movement like, “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.” They may not follow along but, again, they can copy you.
- Have noisy time. At eight months, your baby is probably the loudest thing in the house. Take advantage of this and encourage your baby to yell and screech for a little bit. In the same way crying tires a baby out, so can those joyful shrieks.