The 8 Month Old Sleep Regression: Top Tips for Survival

by | Mar 29, 2024 | Blog, Famous Developmental Milestones, Famous Sleep Regressions, Podcast, Sleep Challenges | 0 comments

BONUS MATERIAL: Download my FREE sleep chart HERE that has ALL my suggested wake windows, sleep totals, and nap totals for babies ages 0 until age 5! You’ll know if your little one is getting enough sleep, as well as what their sleep needs will be next month and next year!

There is a well-known sleep regression that happens in the 8-10 month range – and it’s not fun!

In this blog post, I’ll discuss what causes this 8-10 month sleep regression, the main signs this regression has arrived, as well as my top sleep tips for navigating this phase.

Common Causes of the 8 Month Old Sleep Regression

While the exact cause of this 8 month old regression isn’t fully understood, several factors likely contribute to it. 

8 month old sleep regression

Developmental Milestones

By this age, babies often experience huge developmental and cognitive changes.

These milestones include gross motor skills such as learning to crawl, stand, or even walk. When a baby goes through a developmental milestone, it’s very normal for him to feel especially excited and want to practice this new skill ALL the time…including when it’s time for him to sleep!  

There is TONS brain development that happens during this time.  

As a result, these physical milestones can cause a temporary blip to your baby’s sleep routine.  

The 3-2 Nap Transition

Many babies move from three naps to two naps by 8 months of age, which can contribute to the 8 month sleep regression.  

This is because this nap transition, like all other nap transitions, requires adjustments to their daily schedule. And these adjustments can lead to overtiredness, which is a WELL known culprit of:

It’s not fun!

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety, which typically occurs around 8-10 months of age, also contributes to this 8-10 month sleep regression. This is because babies at this stage typically develop a stronger attachment to their parents and become more aware of their surroundings.

As a result, your baby might suddenly be upset when separated from you, even for short periods.  So if you find yourself taking your baby with you to the bathroom, it’s normal!  

Because babies can be clingier and fussier when they experience separation anxiety, you might suddenly find it harder to settle your baby during bedtime and nap time.  

Teething

Teething can sometimes contribute to the 8-month sleep regression because of the discomfort and pain it causes babies.  

And it goes without saying that when babies are uncomfortable, fussy, and irritable from teething pain, it’s much more difficult for them to fall asleep and stay asleep.  

Common Signs of the 8 Month Old Sleep Regression

Here are the most common signs that your baby is experiencing the 8-10 month sleep regression:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Practicing their new skill in the crib during sleep time
  • An increase in middle of the night wakings
  • Increased fussiness and irritability 

8 month old sleep regression

How Long Does the 8 Month Sleep Regression Last?

The duration of the 8-month sleep regression can vary for each baby, ranging from a few days to a couple of weeks. Every baby is different.

That being said, the answer to this question usually comes down to a) the baby’s temperament; and b) the baby’s sleep habits BEFORE the regression hit.

The impact of your baby’s temperament on sleep regressions

Whether your baby is easy-going or more needy will often determine how well they manage through this 8-10 month regression.

Babies with more adaptable and easygoing temperaments tend to weather these “storms” more easily, with relatively fewer disruptions to their sleep patterns. This is because these babies are usually more adaptable to changes in routines.

On the other hand, babies with more sensitive or strong-willed temperaments are usually more impacted by these sleep regressions.  On a normal day, their heightened sensitivities can make it harder to learn to self-soothe and settle back to sleep during night wakings. During this regression, these high-needs babies tend to feel more overwhelmed when experiencing a developmental milestone, increasing the likelihood that these changes will cause sleep disruptions.

The impact of your baby’s sleep habits on sleep regressions

Generally speaking, babies who are normally great sleepers are not usually impacted hugely by the 8-10 month sleep regression.  This is because great sleepers usually have strong independent sleep skills, which allow them to manage these sleep challenges more smoothly.  

For example, say you have an 8-month old who is a consistently good sleeper.  And let’s say this baby is suddenly learning how to crawl.  Chances are that you might experience SOME extra resistance at bedtime or the odd night waking here and there.  

But he is still likely to navigate through this sleep challenge just fine.  

Now, let’s say your baby isn’t a great sleeper at the best of times. And let’s say THIS baby is suddenly learning how to crawl. It’s likely going to take him MUCH longer to adjust to these changes because he doesn’t have the strong sleep skills to help him weather this storm.

*As an aside, it’s easy to assume that your baby’s poor sleep is caused solely by the 8-10 month regression.  But before you make that assumption, ask yourself what your baby’s sleep was like BEFORE they experienced this regression.  Your baby may have some underlying sleep challenges that existed before the regression hit which were simply *worsened* by the regression.  

**If this is the case and the 8-10 month regression caused your baby’s sleep to go from bad to work, check out my free masterclass here.  In this class, I teach you how to introduce healthy sleep habits and get your baby sleeping consistently through the night so you can feel like a functioning human!**

Free sleep masterclass for sleep training

How Do You Solve Your Baby’s 8 month sleep regression?

1) Give your baby lots of time to practice their new skills

When your baby learns a new gross motor skill, they’re often SO excited that they want to practice this new skill ALL the time- including when it’s time to sleep.  Give your baby ample opportunity to use their newfound skills so that the novelty wears off as quickly as possible, making it less exciting to practice in their crib.

2) Follow your baby’s wake windows

Respecting your baby’s wake windows is crucial during the 8-month sleep regression because it ensures that your baby is: 

  • getting the appropriate amount of daytime sleep; and 
  • not up for too long throughout the day.  

Otherwise, your baby will become overtired, which can directly impact their ability to settle and sleep well at night. 

During the 8-month sleep regression, when it becomes more difficult for babies to fall asleep and stay asleep, respecting their wake windows becomes even MORE important.  Otherwise, an overtired baby is more likely to fight bedtime, sleep more restlessly, wake more frequently at night, and sleep for shorter periods.  

**If you feel lost, confused and overwhelmed try to figure out the right schedule for your baby, download my free sleep chart with ALL of my suggested wake windows, nap totals and sleep totals for babies ages 0-5!**

Free sleep chart for nap sleep training

3) Don’t rush to drop the third nap until your baby is ready

While some babies may naturally transition to two naps around this age, others may still require that third nap to meet their sleep needs for a bit longer.  Rushing to drop the third nap during the 8-month sleep regression can backfire because it can lead to increased overtiredness and exacerbate sleep disturbances if he’s not ready. 

See, being on a 2 nap schedule means your baby needs longer wake windows between his naps.  If he’s not ready for these longer wake windows and becomes overtired on this schedule, it becomes harder for him to settle and sleep well at night.  And from there, this can create a vicious cycle of poor daytime napping and disrupted nighttime sleep.

It’s not fun.

So unless your baby can pull off wake windows that are at least 2 hours 45 minutes-3 hours long AND will give you two solid naps on this schedule, keep that third nap for a bit longer.  

4) Explore sleep training methods

Sleep training your baby can be especially helpful during the 8-month sleep regression because it provides him with the tools and sleep skills to self-soothe and settle back to sleep independently.  

When your baby knows how to fall asleep (and stay asleep) by themselves, it MAJORLY reduces the impact of these sleep disruptions.  And it reduces the need for YOU to have to intervene during any nightwakings.  Sleep training your baby allows for both you AND your baby to enjoy more restful sleep.  

If your little one cannot fall asleep on their own and it’s creating sleep problems for the both of you, now is the PERFECT time to change that!

*I want to emphasize that sleep training does NOT only refer to cry-it-out approaches.  There are many other options you can use to teach your baby how to sleep independently that allow for varying degrees of support and intervention throughout the process (I discuss these options in my free masterclass).   If cry-it-out isn’t an approach you’re comfortable with, you don’t have to do it! 

5) Don’t assume the problem is always caused by teething

Contrary to popular belief, teething is not the cause of every baby sleep problem, including this regression.  If you can feel a tooth popping through, it might cause some temporary discomfort.  But thankfully, that period doesn’t usually last longer than 24 hours (check out this interesting study on teething in babies for more information).

6) Offer your baby additional comfort, as needed

If your baby is having trouble settling at bedtime, feel free to offer him some extra hands-on support.  This might mean you re-enter his room after putting him down and pick him up to help him de-escalate.  When he’s calm, place him back into his crib awake, and continue.

Be careful not to introduce any new habits you don’t want sticking around for the long run.  For example, if your baby normally falls asleep independently, you might consider holding them a bit longer during their bedtime routine to ensure they’re settled and calm.  But if you begin rocking them all the way to sleep, this will likely turn into new sleep associations and cause sleep disruptions down the road.  

A Quick Word about my Free Facebook Community Group

Come join my FREE Facebook community group where you can get your sleep questions answered by experts, get access to free sleep tips and regular Q&As, and where you can connect with other sleep-loving parents of little ones! Can’t wait to personally connect with you there 🙂

Additional Resources

Baby Sleep Regression Ages- What you Need to Know
Will Giving my Baby Formula help Him Sleep Longer?
Baby Sleep Cues and the Truth about What They Mean
When Can my Baby Sleep Through the Night Without a Feed?
Pacifiers- The Good, the Bad and When to Use Them

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