If you are the proud parent of an 8 month old baby, you have likely just figured out what they were looking for. You have them going down for bedtime, sleeping soundly through the night, and then, BOOM! All of a sudden, something is amiss. Perhaps their naps have gotten shorter. There are new wakings in the night, or bedtime has become a battle each and every night causing you much anxiety and uncertainty about how their sleep is going to go.
Today I’m going to talk more about the eight month old nap schedule, which may be a contributing factor to why things are off at bedtime and in the overnight hours now. An eight month old baby needs anywhere between 12 and 16 hours of sleep in a 24 hour day according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. As a result, they are typically sleeping between 11 and 12 hours through the night and three hours during the day for naps. By this age, your baby should be able to stay awake between sleeps for three hours. A sample schedule for a baby that is eight months old would typically look like one of the three following days.
If your child is on a bit of a different timed day, meaning they prefer an eight to eight type of day, that’s fine. You simply just adjust things by an hour to still align to the right naps, the right total sleep needs, and the right bedtime. If your alignment is off, it’s going to cause short naps, trouble settling at bedtime, and disruption in the overnight hours. Make sure that they’re not overtired, which actually causes a child to become much more hyper, much more alert, and much harder to settle at various points throughout the day and overnight.
If your timing is good. Your awake windows are proper, and the number of naps is aligned to support their needs, the next thing you want to look at is their ability to settle independently. You need to make sure that your child has the skill set
to fall asleep without support or comfort.
You should not be going in to replace the pacifier or rocking them to sleep multiple times overnight, because then you’ve just become the prop or mechanism that they perceive they need to go to sleep, when in actuality they just want it. Oftentimes, at eight months old, if there is a sleep regression it’s because something has happened where the baby now prefers that new way of going down. I often see it with vacations or illness. All of a sudden something that seems so innocent has turned into this new habit or expectation around sleep. If a child is sleeping in a daycare situation, for example, they may not have set schedules.
In that case, you want to look at whether a child is somewhere between two and three naps and how it shakes out. For example:
There’s no right or wrong answer as to the number of naps your child should take, but there is a true comparison when you look at the total amount of sleep they need in the day and where they’re getting it. If your child’s only sleeping an hour throughout the whole day, they’re going to be overtired for bedtime, overtired in the overnight, and struggling to settle. You may also see things like early morning wakings creep in, and no mom or dad wants to get up at 4am for the day.
If you’re struggling to figure out what your schedule should be, how your child could sleep better, or what is happening in your home overall, we are always happy to offer free preliminary sleep evaluations and support you in your journey to sleep.