Understanding the 8 Month Sleep Regression
Updated Mar 13th 2023 | 8 min read
Updated Mar 13th 2023 | 8 min read
Personality plays a huge part in your baby's temperament which is a big factor in determining which sleep training approach will work best for them!
Written By Mandy Treeby Chief Baby Sleep Consultant
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By 8 months two thirds of babies sleep six to eight hours through the night. If your baby is in this statistic, you may think you’re set for good sleep from here on out.
But for many parents, after months of sleep struggles, just as things are starting to look up, one night, your baby wakes at 4am. Then the next night. Then again… Uh-oh: your baby is experiencing a sleep regression.
This can be frustrating, yes, but sleep regressions can be managed once you understand why your baby is waking up so suddenly. Here we do just that: answer questions like “What is the 8-month sleep regression?” “How do I stop the 8-month sleep regression?” and “How can sleep coaching help with sleep regressions?”
A regular sleep schedule is every parent’s dream – and by the way that is an achievable dream thanks to the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ app.
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The term “8-month sleep regression” is a bit misleading because this sleep regression can appear later, around 9-months – and is even sometimes called the 9-month sleep regression.
There are in fact many regressions, which we explain more below. In general, though, any sleep regression is when your baby’s typical sleep pattern is suddenly disrupted: they’ve been sleeping for prolonged periods and then, suddenly, they’re waking up at a random time night after night.
Rest assured these are completely normal – and, in fact, very positive, even if they do lead to some sleepless nights for you.
All sleep regressions coincide with your baby’s developmental leaps. For example, the 4-month sleep regression occurs around the time your baby is improving their motor skills. In the case of the 8-month sleep regression, your baby’s sleep regression coincides with the following developmental progressions:
Like crawling, most babies are learning how to use their vocal cords at this age. This is very exciting to them, and they may want to babble instead of sleeping, which can lead to sleep regressions.
Most babies start teething at around six months, so by eight months, they may have several teeth poking through those gums, which can be uncomfortable and disrupt sleep. Also, teething can be more painful when your baby is lying down, like when they’re in their crib.
Oh! Another very exciting development for your baby is when they learn to crawl. Finally, they can explore on their own – and may want to do just that instead of sleeping. And, really, can we blame them?
Along the same lines, your baby’s unique personality is developing now, too, which is also very exciting to them – and this is especially true if your little one is particularly social or curious. Exploring and chatting are much more fun than sleeping!
Separation anxiety is a developmental stage that usually begins at around eight or nine months. While this may sound scary, it’s a sign your baby is developing well because it shows they’re learning object permanence.
Object permanence means that your baby understands something or someone, namely: you, exists even when out of sight. Before this point, you were a little “out of sight, out of mind” for your baby. As they develop object permanence, though, they know you’re somewhere else, doing something else. This can make them miss you and, thus, separation anxiety that can interfere with sleep: they wake up, realize you’re gone, and cry out for you.
Note: If none of the causes mentioned above seem right or you suspect something else, talk to your baby’s doctor about other potential causes, including illness, sleep apnea, or constipation.
The signs of the 8-month sleep regression resemble those of other sleep regressions:
All these symptoms disrupt and diminish your baby’s sleep schedule. Below we’ll suggest ways to cope with the 8-month sleep regression.
As frustrating as the 8-month sleep regressions are, the good news is that it’s temporarily. While the time frame varies from baby to baby, typically sleep regressions last a few days to six weeks.
Sleep regressions can, however, be shorter if you’ve already established a strong sleep schedule. The Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ can help here, too: 1-click sleep tracking updates your baby’s sleep schedule as they grow to ensure they’re getting the rest they need for their age.
Sleep regressions coincide with major developmental milestones, which means sleep regressions can reoccur periodically until your baby is 2 years old.
The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that eight-month-old children sleep a total of 12-16 hours in a 24-hour period. This is split between 10-11 hours at night and 2-4 hours of nap time each day.
But remember that every child is different and that it’s more important to watch your baby’s sleepy cues more than the clock. The Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ explains the fundamentals of sleep in greater detail.
If your baby is waking at night, you are, too, which means you want to solve a sleep regression quickly. To help you overcome the 8-month sleep regression, or any other sleep regression, we’ve compiled these tips on coping with sleep regressions:
Bedtime routines are the cornerstone of helping your baby sleep well. The consistent, soothing routine does two things: one, it calms your baby after an exciting day; and two, the repetitive nature – you do the same thing every night before bed – begins to cue your baby that routine = sleep time. This in turn creates a habit of falling asleep after the routine, which is how sleep coaching teaches your baby to fall asleep.
The Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ can help you set up your own bedtime routine and helps you establish a sleep schedule in tune with your baby’s natural rhythms. Some popular bedtime routines include bath time, stories, lullabies, and, of course, cuddles!
One way to cope with sleep regressions is to wait a moment to see if your baby self-soothes back to sleep. The ability to self-soothing is a learned skill and babies need the time and space to learn this important skill.
When given space, babies can often put themselves back to sleep if they briefly wake up. With that in mind, if you hear your baby cry out at night, wait a minute or two and give them a chance to try and self-soothe. Going into their room could only wake them up more, or escalate the situation.
If your baby is still awake after more than what you consider reasonable, then go check in on them with the lights low and speaking in a low voice, try to shush them back to sleep with minimal intervention.
We mention this above, but it’s worth repeating: if you check on your baby at night, keep the lights dim and speak in a soft, soothing voice to avoid waking them further.
Though separation anxiety is normal, you can alleviate it by spending time away from your baby during the day – you can make this fun by playing “I’ll be right back”.
To do this, place your baby in a safe space, say “I’ll be right back” and step out of sight for a minute or two, then return and say, “I’m back!”
This shows your baby that all is well if you leave and that, yes, you will always return. You can increase your baby’s “alone endurance” by steadily increasing the amount of time you step away.
It’s also important not to over indulge their new found want to be with you. If you handle bedtime and nighwakings using a sleep training approach they are familiar with, the regression will pass more quickly. For help or support with sleep training, check out the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers app.
Teething can be extremely painful but can also be alleviated to a degree.
Some babies find comfort in using teething rings or chewing on a cold washcloth, but you can also consider using over-the-counter pain medications such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen when deemed appropriate.
Speak to your pediatrician or doctor if you are unsure of what medication to give your baby or of the recommended dosage.
If you’ve been sleep training, or sleep trained in the past, a little review of your method can help your baby overcome the 8-month sleep regression. Simply begin using the method of your preference (or that you have been using) and remain consistent.
If you haven’t started sleep training, it’s never too late – simply download the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™. Developed with pediatric sleep experts, this easy-to-use, affordable app guides you through the entire sleep coaching process, personalizing your baby’s sleep schedule and sleep training method based on your input.
If you tried the solutions listed for two weeks and don’t see any improvements, you may want to consult your child's pediatrician. This is especially true if any changes in your baby's eating habits or urination or bowel movements.
A lack of sleep is trying for you and your baby, but it's important to focus on your baby's new skills. Your little one is gaining an understanding of the world and becoming busy. Seeing them crawling and babbling is the sweetest thing, even if it does mean a little less sleep sometimes.
Just remember: your baby's sleep regression is temporary, and you will both get through this sleepless phase. Before you know it, your baby will be sleeping soundly through the night again, and so will you!
And for answers to this or any other sleep question, or to start sleep training your little one, download the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™. It’s a total gamechanger – 1-click sleep tracking, mini-articles about baby sleep, and an exclusive algorithm that customizes sleep training methods for your unique little one – and all amazing.
Typically, the 8-month sleep regression doesn’t last more than a couple of weeks for parents who are able to consistently reinforce healthy sleep habits.
Sign’s that your baby is experiencing the 8 or 9-month sleep regression include suddenly waking more often at night, being extra clingy or fussy and not wanting to fall asleep at bedtime.
Getting through the 8-month sleep regression is all about being consistent:
Your 8-month old baby is progressing at a staggering rate, crawling, talking, and learning. These developments can impact sleep and trigger the 8-month sleep regression.
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.