The 8 Month Sleep Regression: What It Is And How To Handle It
How To Handle the 8 Month Old Sleep Regression Like an Expert!
As a new parent, it can seem like there’s a new potential sleep regression around every corner. Once you know what to expect during this phase - and why - you’ll find that there’s nothing to fear about this possible bump in the road.
What is it?
The “8 month sleep regression” typically occurs between 7 to 10 months and is also known as the “9 month regression.” It’s a temporary phase that is often characterized by difficulty sleeping and increased night waking (with awakenings often lasting for long periods).
You may find that your typical bedtime routines no longer produce the same results. For example, a baby who is usually rocked and held to sleep may no longer fall asleep after just 5-10 minutes of rocking. Or a baby that typically falls asleep on their own, without help, will suddenly protest when they’re put down awake in their crib.
Why does it happen?
There are a few factors that cause these changes, including:
1. Growing out of the 3-nap wake windows
By 7 months old, many babies will start to need more awake time in between sleep periods in order to feel tired enough to sleep. This leads to babies resisting and skipping the third nap of the day (despite our best efforts!) which causes them to go to bed in an overtired state. Even babies that have fully transitioned to two naps can find it difficult to stay awake for longer periods at first.
Over tiredness in turn can contribute to more difficulty falling asleep at bedtime and disrupted sleep throughout the night. Not ideal for a good night’s sleep!
2. Separation anxiety
Separation anxiety is a healthy part of development. However, it can make it harder for a baby to go to sleep without their parent nearby. Whether a child stays at home full time with a parent, or goes to a caregiver outside of the home, it is typical and appropriate to go through periods of separation anxiety. In particular, it’s quite common for children in this age group to experience anxiety when parting from their parent - especially at bedtime.
3. Greater mobility
It’s incredibly exciting to see one’s baby start to become more mobile, whether they’re sitting up on their own or pulling up to stand. However, these achievements can also mean that a baby is less content to fall asleep peacefully in their crib. It can be much more exciting to try out their new skills at bedtime as well as the middle of the night!
Teething is also very common at this age, which can unfortunately lead to varying degrees of discomfort. It’s easy to understand that it may be harder for a baby to sleep when they’re in pain from an emerging tooth.
What can we do to best manage this phase?
Keep in mind that regardless of which of these factors are impacting your child’s sleep - they are all temporary situations. Your baby will soon settle into a 2-nap schedule, get past this bout of separation anxiety, become used to their newfound mobility and cut those troublesome teeth.
It’s understandable that we may need to offer additional comfort if our child has trouble sleeping during this time. However, we want to be aware that developing new lasting habits can often negatively impact sleep once the phase is over.
In order to minimize sleep loss during this regression we recommend: strengthening (and/or maintaining) independent sleeping skills as much as possible as well as following an age appropriate sleep schedule.
Huckleberry can help!
Use the Huckleberry SweetSpot® to ensure that your baby’s wake windows are optimal as they get ready to transition from three naps to two. Minimizing over tiredness can help make bedtime easier and reduce night-wakings.
If you find yourself wanting a more personalized plan to handle this stage you can become a Huckleberry Premium member for a full sleep analysis and customized week-by-week plan to get over this sleep hump. We’re happy to help make regressions easier on all families, and get your baby sleeping through the night.
It should be noted that If you’ve been experiencing sleep disruptions long before this developmental stage, there may be other underlying sleep issues that need to be addressed. Whichever the case our pediatric sleep experts will be able to help you.