Why is my 8 month old crying uncontrollably at night?

Aug 7, 2023

Things were finally calming down. The baby was sleeping through the night, on the right sleep schedule for an 8-month-old, settling independently at bedtime and sleeping through the night. Then, after just a few days and a new tooth, they are now crying uncontrollably at bedtime and waking frequently crying for you too.

So why is your 8-month-old crying uncontrollably at night? Let’s start with some context for their age, then explain what I see in my private sleep consulting practice with babies at this age and how we work together to fix it.

Typically, developmental milestones for babies at around eight months of age can be divided into several categories: physical, cognitive, communication, and social/emotional.

What are the developmental milestones for an 8-month-old?

Physical Development:

  • May be able to sit without support.
  • Begins to crawl or may even start pulling themselves up to stand.
  • May develop finer motor control, such as using a pincer grasp (thumb and first finger) to pick up small objects.
  • Has more control while rolling over or moving from sitting to crawling position.

Cognitive Development:

  • Shows curiosity about objects and attempts to grab things that are out of reach.
  • Begins to understand object permanence, meaning they understand that things continue to exist even when they can’t be seen.
  • May engage in simple problem-solving, such as trying different ways to reach a toy.

Communication Development:

  • Begins to say “mama” and “dada” nonspecifically (not necessarily referring to mother and father).
  • Uses voice to express joy and displeasure; tries to imitate sounds.
  • Understands the meaning of “no.”
  • Begins to respond to their own name.

Social and Emotional Development:

  • May show stranger anxiety and become clingy with familiar adults.
  • Enjoys playing games such as peek-a-boo.
  • Shows preference for certain people and toys.
  • May display frustration if they cannot reach an object or do what they want.

As you can see, with so many changes, the reason for the crying could be related to a developmental leap they are experiencing, which is common for this age and can lead to the 8-month sleep regression you are experiencing. *Remember, every child is unique and may not fit perfectly into these milestones. 

What are the Signs of the 8-month sleep regression?

  1. Increased Night Waking: If your baby has been sleeping through the night but suddenly begins waking up frequently, this could be a sign of sleep regression.
  2. Difficulty Falling Asleep: If your baby is having difficulty falling asleep, even when they’re clearly tired, this could be another indication.
  3. Shortened Naps or Skipping Naps: Babies going through sleep regression may start having shorter naps than usual or even skip naps entirely.
  4. Increased Fussiness: As a result of feeling overtired, your baby might seem generally fussier.
  5. Changes in Appetite: Some babies may eat less due to being overtired, while others may eat more as they seek comfort.
  6. More Clinginess: Your baby might become more attached to you and seek more comfort and contact than usual, which can result from feeling insecure or unsettled because of their disrupted sleep.
  7. Changes in Motor Skills and Development: Around eight months of age, babies are often mastering new skills such as crawling, standing or even beginning to walk. These exciting milestones can often disrupt their sleep.

Remember, these signs can also indicate other things like illness, teething, or changes in the environment. It’s always important to talk to your pediatrician if you’re concerned about your baby’s sleep or behavior.

Ready to Hire a Baby Sleep Coach? We specialize in empowering families to achieve peaceful nights and well-rested days for your little ones. With the nation’s most diverse & experienced team of sleep coaches, we are dedicated to providing you with personalized solutions for infants and toddlers tailored to fit your unique family dynamics. Book your complimentary call today with a Pediatric Sleep Coach on our team and we will work our magic to give you the gift of sleep today!

Learn more about our Sleep Coaching Services here, including Private Baby & Toddler Sleep Coaching or our Sleep Steps Self-Paced Program with Coaching.