The 8-Month Sleep Regression Explained

Aug 19, 2023

Every parent cherishes those quiet nights when their baby sleeps soundly, offering a much-needed respite. Just when you think you’ve gotten the hang of your baby’s sleep schedule, the 8-month old sleep regression makes an unexpected appearance, leaving you puzzled and sleep-deprived.

If you’re reading this, chances are you are grappling with abrupt changes and sleep regressions in your baby’s sleep patterns. From seemingly endless crying bouts to erratic sleep schedules — the 8-month old sleep regression can be nothing short of overwhelming. As your eyes grow heavy from lack of sleep and frustration mounts, you’re not alone in wondering, “Why now? What changed?”

To regain peaceful nights, you need to understand why sleep is disrupted and learn how to manage it. The purpose of this blog is to bring clarity to the dreaded phenomenon known as the 8-month sleep regression and steer you towards peaceful nights once again.

The 8-Month Sleep Regression Explained

As babies grow and develop, they go through several sleep regressions. These regressions are a normal part of infant development but can be challenging for parents. The 8-month sleep regression is particularly notorious, often characterized by frequent night wakings, shorter naps, and general fussiness. But what exactly triggers this disruption?

  1. Developmental Milestones: At around 8 months, babies experience a plethora of cognitive and physical milestones. They may start crawling, pulling themselves up, and becoming more aware of the world around them. This cognitive and physical burst of development can overstimulate them, making it harder for them to switch off and sleep.
  2. Separation Anxiety: Around this age, many babies begin to understand object permanence – the idea that things (including parents) still exist even when they can’t see them. This realization can lead to separation anxiety, where the baby becomes distressed when away from primary caregivers. Naturally, this affects sleep, as they might cry out for the comforting presence of a parent.
  3. Changes in Sleep Architecture: As babies grow, their sleep patterns evolve. They may transition from multiple naps to fewer, longer periods of sleep. This shift can disrupt their established sleep routine, leading to periods of wakefulness at night.

Navigating the 8-Month Sleep Regression

Understanding the reasons behind the 8-month sleep regression is only half the battle. Here are strategies to help you and your baby navigate this challenging phase:

  1. Establish a Routine: Babies thrive on predictability. Try to keep a consistent sleep schedule to ensure you don’t have an overtired baby at bedtime, even if your baby wakes up frequently during the night. Pay close attention to  your baby’s wake windows to ensure they are getting the appropriate amount of sleep. A fixed bedtime, accompanied by calming activities like reading or singing, can signal to your baby that it’s time to wind down.
  2. Offer Comfort, but Foster Independence: It’s natural to want to comfort your baby when they’re upset, especially during the night. While it’s okay to soothe them, it’s equally important to encourage self-soothing techniques. This could include quietly talking to your baby or introducing a comfort object like their pacifier when they wake up.
  3. Safe Environment for Exploration: Since physical development is a major trigger for this sleep regression, ensure your baby has a safe environment to practice their new skills during the day. Fostering activities to improve motor skills by day means  they’re less likely to practice these skills (like crawling or standing) when they should be sleeping.
  4. Stay Calm and Consistent: It’s crucial to remember that this phase is temporary. While it’s challenging, try to remain calm and patient. Your baby picks up on your emotions, so staying relaxed can help soothe their anxieties.

 8-Month-Old Sleep Schedule 

At 8 months old, babies have specific total and daytime nap needs. If parents want a baby to sleep through the night, from, on average, 7 pm to between 6 & 7 am, they need to follow a  8 month old sleep schedule that will help foster this pattern. The AASM states that babies need 12-16 hours of total sleep between 4 months old and 12 months old for optimal sleep needs and balance in the day and overnight. Below is 8 month sample sleep schedule to help establish a bedtime routine for your baby that will foster peaceful sleep.

  • If you want a wake up between 6 & 7 am – you start with nap #1, happening always at 10 am.
  • The nap should not last longer than 2 hours.
  • The second nap is 3+ hours after waking, again, not lasting longer than 2 hours or a TOTAL of 3 hours.
  • This waking should always be at 4:00 pm when they wake and eat.
  • Bedtime would be at 7:00 pm – down for the night.

Babies thrive best with this schedule, and their body needs it. A misaligned schedule can cause trouble settling multiple night wakings and early morning wakings when things are out of balance.  Pay attention to sleepy cues and awake windows to help your baby fall asleep easily and stay asleep all night.

Finding Further Assistance from a Baby Sleep Coach

For many parents, the techniques mentioned above can make a significant difference. However, each baby is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. If you find yourself overwhelmed with the 8 month sleep regression, remember that seeking professional guidance can be invaluable.

Our self-paced Sleep Steps coaching program is tailor-made for such scenarios. Designed with both parents and babies in mind, it offers a holistic approach to sleep challenges, ensuring that you’re equipped with the tools and knowledge to navigate not just the 8-month regression but any sleep-related hurdles that come your way.

Parenthood is a journey filled with peaks and valleys. The 8-month sleep regression, as daunting as it might seem, is just a brief phase in this beautiful journey. With understanding, patience, and the right support, you can overcome this challenge and enjoy restful nights once again.

Don’t let sleepless nights take a toll on your well-being or your relationship with your baby. Explore our Sleep Steps coaching program today and pave the way for serene, restorative nights for both you and your little one. Sleep is within reach; let us guide you there. Unsure of the best program for you? Book a complimentary call.