The 8 Month Sleep Regression: Our 11 Top Tips For Survival

Cognitive and physical milestones are often to blame for 8 month sleep regression.
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So, you get past the six month sleep regression and your baby is sleeping well again.

Then comes the 8 month sleep regression and it's back to square one! Strangely enough, sleep regressions are actually a good sign, as they tend to accompany times of rapid physical and cognitive development.

The 8 month sleep regression can actually happen anytime between 8 and 10 months, as this is the time many babies learn to crawl, become more and more interested in verbal communication, and begin to suffer from separation anxiety.

It can be a bit of a frustrating, tiring phase for everyone involved, but we're here to help you find out how to survive the 8 month sleep regression with our baby sleep regression guide and 8 month sleep regression tips.

For more top tips check out our 8-month-old schedule ideas and suggestions to help a 9-month-old baby not crawling.

What Is An 8 Month Sleep Regression?

What are the most common 8 month sleep regression signs and what exactly is a regression?

Common in babies from four months to two years old, a sleep regression is characterized by sleepless nights and fitful naps in a baby who previously slept well.

The eight month sleep regression is the second of five commonly recognized sleep regression phases. All coincide with major leaps in a child's development. The first tends to happen at around four months. Then comes the 8 month sleep regression, followed by the 12, 18, and 24 month regressions. These phases are usually short (the 8 month sleep regressions often only lasts a few weeks) and babies settle back into their usual sleeping routines when they're over. Sleep training gains aren't lost every time a sleep regression hits, so don't feel discouraged when you hit a brick wall at around 8 months of age!

So what are the signs of 8 month sleep regression? Well, the main sign is a baby having more trouble falling and staying asleep than before. Was your baby sleeping through the night? Sleepless nights will make a comeback, babies going through sleep regression tend to wake up more during the night, and be harder to get back to sleep. They might start fighting naps and seem extra clingy and grumpy during the day.

Age isn't the best factor to go by when identifying whether your baby is going through a sleep regression or not. Not all babies have regressions at exactly 8 months old. For you, it could fall before or after they reach 8 months. The most common sleep regression is at 12 months old.

Sleep regression should be just a temporary setback in your baby's sleep habits, so don't despair if it seems like all your sleep training has been for nothing. Your baby may have thrown his sleep schedule out of the cot for now, but he'll be back in the swing of things once he passes this developmental stage.

The 8 month sleep regression coincides with developmental milestones such as crawling.

Why Does It Happen?

Many parents attribute sleep regressions to teething trouble, but there are many more factors to take into account.

Around this age, teething may indeed be a culprit as babies' top incisors tend to come in at around 8-10 months old. By now you're probably more than familiar with the signs of teething, so this should be easy to spot. Just have a look inside your baby's mouth for sore gums and teeth beginning to push through. A teething baby will also gnaw more on their toys and hands, dribble more than usual, and seem crankier in general.

Another common cause of 8 month sleep regression is anxiety. Separation anxiety tends to kick in at around 7-10 months old and is a sign of secure attachment. In babies with secure attachment to their primary caregivers, separation anxiety is a normal part of their social development. When babies are very young, they see themselves and their primary caregiver as one and the same. Only at about 7 months old do they begin to realize that they and their primary caregiver are separate entities. This realization is a major cognitive milestone and often leads to upset when the baby is separated from the caregiver. At this age, your baby still doesn't realize that when you leave you will come back. Every time you leave the room they might worry that you'll be gone for good. Your baby might therefore feel anxious about falling asleep in case you're gone when she wakes up.

Separation anxiety is distressing for both baby and you. It's horrible having your baby wake up screaming every night. Babies don't wake up screaming because they're having nightmares. Nightmares tend to start after the age of two, and night terrors tend to occur after 18 months of age. At 8 months, babies wake up screaming because they think you've disappeared, or because they're in pain because of something like teething.

You can help your baby get over her anxiety by making sure you never sneak out while she's not watching. If she isn't expecting you to leave but finds you have, she may decide her separation anxiety is well-founded. If you leave her with someone, explain to her that you are leaving and that you will come back. She might not understand everything, but it is good practice to do it anyway, and over time she will learn that separations are temporary and rarely permanent. You can also prepare your baby for longer separations such as daycare by having very brief outings without her so that she gets used to the idea of your returning after leaving. Pop down to put the rubbish out whilst she is with someone else or go for a very quick walk around the block. Make a big deal about coming back, with lots of cuddles.

At 8 months old your baby is learning several new skills, one of which might be crawling. The thrill of being able to move around independently can also keep babies up at night with all the excitement! One way to help your baby get a good night's sleep is to let them move about as much as they want during the day, providing ample opportunity for them to independently explore what they can do with their body. This way they will be less likely to feel frustrated by bedtime. A day spent strapped in a pram or car seat with no chance to crawl about may contribute to a difficult bedtime as your baby isn't tired enough to go to sleep!

With your 8-month-old baby getting more and more sociable and interested in interaction, it's no wonder he wants to stay up late and hang out with his parents downstairs! A typical 8 month old is babbling more than ever, although they might not be saying any intelligible words just yet. It may get difficult during 8 month sleep regression to get your baby to switch off for the night when the world of verbal communication is just beginning to open up for them.

Sleepless nights can be hard, but this phase shouldn't last long and will soon be a distant memory.

Top Tips For Surviving

So what are the best ways to beat 8 month sleep regression, and what are the most useful survival tips for 8 month sleep regression?

1. Stick to your bedtime routine. 8-month-old sleep regression is just a phase so it's best to stick to your baby's sleeping schedule and bedtime routine as much as you can, as the familiarity will be comforting to them, and may make the regression phase pass quicker.

2. You can still continue developing healthy sleep habits in your baby throughout the regression phase. If you've been sleep training up until now, you can continue with it. If your baby is suffering from separation anxiety, make sure you do go into them every time they cry. Show your face at the door or quickly give them a kiss and tuck them in again. Sleep training is all about getting a baby to fall asleep by themselves and self-soothe so that if they wake up in the night, they can fall back asleep without needing someone to comfort them. As long as your baby knows you are there, and that you will come when they cry for you, they should be able to get through the separation anxiety phase with the confidence that you will be there if they need you.

3. You could try adding some baby-safe lavender essential oil to your baby's bedtime bath to help relax them in time for bed. You could also use a baby-safe pillow spray to help them sleep longer through the night.

4. Try white noise to soothe your baby. Play a white noise video on Youtube or get a white noise baby sound machine and leave it by the crib to soothe your baby to sleep. Other sources of white noise include air purifiers and fans. In the womb, your baby will have been surrounded by soft background noise all through gestation, so they aren't used to silence.

5. Some babies may come to rely on white noise to get to sleep and this could get in the way of them learning to self-soothe. As their sleep regression tapers off, try cutting back on the white noise little by little, so that they don't end up needing it in order to fall asleep.

6. If you are relaxed about your baby's sleep, you could let them sleep in the same room as you during their sleep regression and separation anxiety. Babies who sleep with their caregivers have a much lower rate of sleep regression and may get over regressions and separation anxiety more quickly than those who are left to their own devices when they cry. However, getting your baby to sleep by themselves down the line might be a tougher task than if you start when they're a baby! Of course, all children and parents are different, so what works for one may not work for another. Every family should do whatever works best for them, and not feel judged for doing so.

7. If your baby seems unusually unsettled at night, or seems unwell, seek medical advice.

8. Try baby massage. Baby massage is a brilliant way to tune in to your baby in an intimate way. Your baby will love being gently massaged by you, and making it a regular bedtime activity might ease separation anxiety as well as improve the quality of their sleep.

9. Make sure you double up on the time you spend cuddling and playing with your baby during the day. Your baby might be a lot more clingy and whiny during this phase due to her anxiety about being separated from you. Being extra attentive to her during this time might make the anxiety phase resolve itself more quickly.

10. At 8 months, infants need 12-16 hours of sleep a day. If yours is awake a lot during the night you can always make up for it with daytime naps. If your baby is resisting naps too, just let them sleep a bit longer when they do go down for their nap. At this age, infants tend to nap for up to 4 hours.

11. If your baby wakes in the night but isn't crying, try waiting to see if she'll settle herself back to sleep before going in to see her.

If you found this baby sleep regression article helpful, then why not take a look at our sample 10-month-old schedules or our look at the 12 month sleep regression?

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