The 8-Month Sleep Regression: What It Is and How to Handle It
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Have you been noticing sleep changes in your 8-month-old? You are not alone! This is about the time that exciting developments (laughing, babbling, mimicking your sounds, etc) can start to interfere with ZZZs. Enter: The 8-month sleep regression. Read on for my tips on how to handle this expected sleep hiccup.
What is the 8-month sleep regression in babies?
When your baby is 8 to 10 months old, you may notice that a baby who was previously a great sleeper suddenly starts to wake up, once, twice…even three times a night! They cry for attention, need a cuddle, and may hate to be put back to bed. This is known as the 8-month sleep regression (or sometimes called the 9-month sleep regression), and it usually tags along with some big developmental changes or physical changes.
What does the 8-month sleep regression look like?
At 8 months old, your baby may begin having a hard time sleeping through the night, they may take longer to get back to sleep, and suddenly shun naps. Your baby may also kick up the fussiness and crying.
What causes the 8-month sleep regression?
Sleep regressions can be triggered by something external that’s bugging your little one, like a cold, turning the clock forward and backward for daylight saving time, teething, or hunger. Developmental milestones can also be a big trigger for the 8-month sleep regression. Here are some more details about potential sleep-regression triggers:
Greater mobility. The 8-month sleep regression is often caused by your child’s budding abilities. At this age, babies are learning the joy of constant accomplishments! They’re beginning to crawl, walk, and explore…and they are full of the giddy excitement of spurting from place to place, pulling on this, grabbing and touching that, finding new things to put in their mouths. Most fun of all…they may be pulling to stand, which for your tot, is a fantastic and wild ride. For your little one, it’s like trying to master riding a 5-foot unicycle! It’s so exciting when you are up there, but so hard to keep your balance…especially with Baby’s very heavy head trying to remain upright!
Hunger. While your baby is now chowing down on lots of different foods, it’s important to remember that breastmilk and/or baby formula still makes up about 67% of your baby’s calories. Make sure your baby is not missing milk during the day, because if they are, they’ll wind up awake hungry all night long.
Teething. The 8-month sleep regression is often caused by teething. So, if your baby is chewing and drooling a ton and has red gums, you’ll begin to see new choppers poking through soon. In the meantime, you may have to endure some teething-related nighttime wakeups.
Temperament. The 8-month sleep regression can also be linked to your lovebug’s personality. Compared to tots with a laidback or cautious temperament, little ones who are very social or have a passionate temperament might may wake more at night. Social babies especially delight in their “conversations” with you that they wake up thinking, “Hey, Mom let’s play again!”…even if it’s 3am. (Find out your baby’s temperament here!)
How long does the 8-month sleep regression last?
The 8-month sleep regression may last a few days…or it could stretch on for a few weeks—even months—if it’s not handled correctly.
How much sleep do babies need at 8 months?
Most 8-month-old babies sleep 12 to 16 hours a day. And that includes a stretch of 9 to 12 hours of ZZZs at night. Babies this age are likely still taking two naps a day to get the remainder of their sleep.
What’s the best way to handle the 8-month sleep regression?
There are several strategies for expertly handling the 8-month sleep regression. Here are my top tips:
Use white noise for all nights and naps. White noise is like a soothing teddy bear…in audio form. A high-quality, rumbly white noise can help distract babies from internal discomforts (like throbbing gums) and mask outside disturbances (like passing trucks and barking dogs). Just keep in mind that not all white noise is created equal! High-pitched white noise can be harsh, hissy, whiney, and just as annoying to babies as sirens and alarms. Low-pitched sounds that are consistent, droning, and hypnotic—like the sounds used in SNOObie, SNOObear, SNOO—are perfect for lulling babies to sleep.
Top off feedings with extra fats. If you think your baby’s hungry tummy is the reason for wake-ups, add some extra fat during your evening feeds. Serving up a healthy fat like avocado or mixing a smidge of olive oil into your baby’s dinner are great ways to keep babies fuller longer. At the same time, make sure your baby is getting enough milk or formula throughout the day, too.
Tackle teething pain. Swollen gums aren’t terribly painful, but they can throb more when your child lays down, which is annoying enough to wake a baby from light sleep. If you suspect that teething is stealing your baby’s ZZZs, dip a corner of a rough washcloth into apple juice and place it in the freezer. Once the sweetened washcloth is frozen, hand it over to your baby to gnaw on and relieve the pain. If the pain is more than a frozen washcloth can soothe, speak to your pediatrician about possibly using ibuprofen. (Learn more about easing teething pain.)
Stash extra pacifiers in Baby’s crib. For babies who use pacifiers, tossing a few extras in the crib makes it easy for little ones to get the comfort they want when they need it. Sucking’s power to calm babies is quite extraordinary! Pacifiers can lower heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels.
Darken Baby’s room. Make sure your little one’s room is dark. Light streaming in from outside or under the door can easily disrupt sleep.
Try a night light. Conversely, some children sleep better with a night light. You see, when babies (and toddlers) wake up, it’s more comforting to see their familiar room…not an endless abyss!
Change up your baby’s bedtime. If your baby fights falling asleep for 30 to 60 minutes, you may need to move their bedtime earlier or later. Try pushing your bub’s bedtime routine 15 minutes earlier every two to three nights if they have trouble waking in the morning, they easily doze in the stroller, and /or they’re extra cranky during the day you may need to move their bedtime earlier. Try moving your baby’s bedtime later if they show no signs of sleepiness at bedtime, wake in the middle of the night or very early the next day, refreshed and ready to go.
Consider sleep training. If all else fails, you may have to try sleep training your baby. But don’t worry! Sleep training does not have to mean “cry it out.” Instead, try the gentler techniques I outline in my how to sleep train your baby guide.
For more help with baby sleep, check out…
- Is The 3- to 4-Month Sleep Regression Avoidable?
- What to Do When Your Baby Won't Sleep in a Bassinet
- 9-month Sleep Regression Tips and Tricks
- How to Handle Your Baby’s Night Wakings
- Why Your Baby Cries in Their Sleep
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.