Getting a good night’s sleep is hard enough for any parent with a baby, but the sleep regression at eight months is killer. By eight months old, your baby most likely has established a good sleeping routine, has been sleeping great for months… and then BAM, he/she suddenly decides to shake up your world by NOT napping, NOT sleeping as well as he/she used to, fighting sleep. It’s rough!
It’s very common for sleep regression to occur at 4 months, 8 months, and 18 months old. These often occur in conjunction with developmental leaps. (Didn’t you notice that your baby made some major strides in development at 4-5 months and he/she was super fussy? That’s how it was with my baby.)
At 8 months, your baby’s probably going some mental or developmental leap, plus he/she is teething. For most babies at this age, they already have one or two bottom teeth, but soon the top teeth will be popping up. All of these changes can lead to one cranky baby.
What is sleep regression?
Sleep regression in babies is when a baby who was sleeping well suddenly changes his/her habits. Your baby will start to wake up several times in the night (whereas before, they may have sleep through the night). Your child may start waking up very early in the morning. Your baby who used to take long naps might start to only have cat naps or very short naps. Sometimes, your baby fights napping all together.
At 8 months, my baby who was a great sleeper, great self-soother started to scream every time we tried to put him down for a nap. When he would nap, he’d only sleep for maybe 20 minutes at a time and then be super cranky. He’d wake up every times in the night, whereas previously he’d only wake up once. Then he’d wake up at 3am and be awake for the day. It was very exhausting for us!
The 8 Month Sleep Regression
The 8 month sleep regression can occur anytime between 8 to 10 months. At this time, there’s a lot of brain activity and change. Your baby’s brain development is going through rapid changes. Your child may be learning to crawl, pulling up, making more language connections (with “mama” and “dada” sounds). Often, many moms find that sleep regressions occur when your baby is on the verge of a milestone.
So it’s good news… you’ll just be very tired during this stage of baby development.
So what’s an exhausted parent to do when their baby is going through a sleep regression? Here are some tips that may help you cope.
Change your sleep schedule. If your baby is waking up extra early in the morning, you may want to go to bed earlier so you can catch extra zzz’s. Go to bed at the same time as your baby, even if this means you’re in bed by 8pm. This way you’re more alert in the wee hours of the morning when the baby needs you. Also, take naps whenever your baby is napping. Sleep regressions are super exhausting, so you should get all the sleep you can get.
Give your baby extra feedings. During sleep regressions, your baby is going through major developmental changes and possibly growth spurts. He/she may need more to eat to help him/her sleep more soundly during naps and at night. A full tummy always helps babies sleep better.
Keep your routine the same – Try keeping your daily routine the same. Try putting your baby down for naps at the same time you used to. And make sure your baby has a calm, soothing nursery atmosphere. You may want to use a white noise machine to help him/her sleep.
Resist giving in to your baby. Although it’s tempting to always let your baby sleep in your arms, especially if he/she won’t self-soothe like he/she used to, you don’t want to start any bad habits that will be hard to break later.
If your baby needs a few more minutes of cuddling before you set him/her down in the crib, it’s okay to do that. Just be careful about not always nursing him/her to sleep, or always holding him/her to sleep. This can cause bad habits later on.
If you were doing sleep training, like cry it out, continue to practice that.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Sleep regressions are really hard and exhausting, so ask for your help if you need it. Maybe your best friend or mom can come over during the day, so you can catch an extra nap. Ask your partner to take shifts with you. Try to take care of your emotional and mental health during this hard period.
How long will the 8 month sleep regression last?
Fortunately, sleep regressions will go away in 1-2 months, no more than six weeks. It won’t be long before your baby who was sleeping well will go back to sleeping great. Just hang in there until then.