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- During an 8-month sleep regression, infants may experience agitation before bed and difficulty falling or staying asleep.
- Teething, separation anxiety, overstimulation, and increased physical abilities may cause sleep regression.
- Manage an 8-month sleep regression by creating habits and an environment that are conducive to healthy infant sleep.
- While most sleep regressions are short-lived, speak with your child’s pediatrician if sleeping problems continue.
Starting around the 6-month mark, many babies take a major step forward in their sleep, spending more of the night asleep and in many cases, sleeping through the night. But at 8 months, some infants experience a new round of sleep difficulties that can seem to roll back their recent progress.
This bump in the road toward steady sleep is frequently called a sleep regression and, though normally short-lived, can cause frustration. Getting the facts about 8-month sleep regressions can help caregivers know what to expect and empower them to encourage healthy sleep habits for their baby.
How Does Infant Sleep Change Around Eight Months?
Babies go through significant changes in their sleep patterns during their first year of life. After the first few months, infants start having longer periods of sleep with more of that sleep happening during the night.
Experts recommend that 8-month-olds sleep for 12 to 16 total hours per day . This recommendation usually includes a few daytime naps, but many babies also start sleeping through the night at around 6 months .
That said, it is not uncommon for 8-month-olds to still wake up during the night. Sleep patterns vary considerably among babies , so at 8 months, many infants are still in the process of consolidating sleep periods and sleeping for longer stretches at night.
During an 8-month sleep regression, infants may experience difficulty falling asleep, more nighttime awakenings, heightened periods of fussiness or agitation around bedtime, or longer daytime naps with less nighttime sleep. However, not all babies experience an 8-month sleep regression. The sleep patterns of infants are far from uniform, which means that they do not unfold at the same pace for all babies
Changes to a baby’s sleep typically occur alongside wide-ranging elements of growth, learning, and development. During this time, 8-month-olds experience notable increases in their physical and cognitive abilities . Around this age, many infants have started teething and can roll over, sit up on their own, and crawl. Their environmental awareness continues to grow, and they may start having stronger emotional reactions and attachments.
What Causes an 8-Month Sleep Regression?
Numerous factors related to a child’s development can affect their sleep and contribute to an 8-month sleep regression. Some examples include:
- Teething that may lead to fussiness or awakenings
- Emotional development that can increase separation anxiety
- Greater environmental awareness that spurs overstimulation
- Increased physical abilities that may cause restlessness in bed
The multitude of developmental changes happening simultaneously makes it difficult to identify one single cause for an 8-month sleep regression. Every infant is different, and the causes of these sleeping problems may affect how long they last.
Tips for Handling an 8-Month Sleep Regression
The most important step in managing an 8-month sleep regression is creating habits and an environment that are conducive to healthy infant sleep. Even if strategies for better infant sleep do not immediately resolve a sleep regression, they can facilitate healthier sleep going forward .
- Stick with safe sleep practices: Make sure bedtime practices are in accordance with recommendations for safe infant sleep , including reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by keeping soft items out of the crib.
- Work toward a sleep schedule: Even though a routine can get disrupted by a sleep regression, try to standardize your baby’s sleep schedule, including naps, as much as possible.
- Have a consistent bedtime routine: Get your baby ready for bed in the same way every night so they get used to the process of preparing for sleep. A consistent routine has been shown to facilitate falling asleep and reduce the chances of nighttime awakenings . In the lead-up to bedtime, make sure your baby is well-fed and has had time to wind down in a comforting environment without excess stimulation.
- Have your baby fall asleep in bed: Rather than putting them in the crib when they are already asleep, put them in bed when drowsy so they can associate their bed with actually falling asleep.
- Reduce potential disturbances and distractions: Your child can sleep best if it is quiet and dark around them without things that could startle or distract them. White noise machines may help to drown out background noise.
- Harness the power of natural light: Exposure to natural light during daytime activities can help establish a sleep-wake pattern for your baby that more closely corresponds to the day-night cycle, making it more likely for them to sleep through the night.
Your 8-month-old may still have sleeping problems even after implementing these tips. If they wake up in the middle of the night, you may consider waiting for a couple of minutes to see if they can self-soothe and return to sleep. If not, you can try to
Coping With Teething-Related Sleep Regressions
If your baby is waking up from teething pain, different approaches may help bring relief , including:
- Using a cold, damp washcloth to soothe their gums
- Lightly massaging their gums with your fingers, after carefully washing your hands
- Allowing your baby to briefly use a chew toy meant for teething children
Managing Separation Anxiety
If your baby cries or becomes irritable when you move away from their bed, it may be because of separation anxiety, which often starts or intensifies at around 8 months .
Many children deal with this issue, and it is helpful for caregivers to comfort their child without rewarding their crying out. For this reason, it is best to avoid removing a baby from their crib when they are crying from separation anxiety.
- Implementing short stretches of separation during the day so that your baby is more used to nighttime separations
- Having a warm and standard goodbye ritual that leaves your baby feeling comforted before you move away from them
- Leaving something near their crib that they can see that reminds them of you
It may take time for your infant to get used to not having you by their side, but overcoming separation anxiety and learning to self-soothe can be a major step toward them sleeping soundly through the night.
When Should Caregivers Talk With a Doctor About Sleep Problems in 8-Month-Olds?
Most sleep regressions are short-lived, but if your baby’s sleeping problems go on for an extended period or seem to keep getting worse, you can raise the issue with your child’s pediatrician. Their doctor can give specific recommendations for issues like teething and separation anxiety.
In addition, you should contact a pediatrician if you detect other changes in your baby , including:
- Lack of weight gain or growth
- Decreased daily feedings
- Decreased urination or bowel movements
- Labored or abnormal breathing during sleep
Self-Care For Caregivers
It is important that caregivers have reasonable expectations for their baby’s sleep. As much as caregivers hope that their child will sleep through the night by 8 months, even a significant number of 12-month-olds still do not sleep for six or more hours in a row at night . This does not mean caregivers are doing anything wrong, and you should not get discouraged or blame yourself if your baby has an 8-month sleep regression.Beyond setting appropriate expectations, it is important for caregivers to think about and plan for how they can meet their own daily sleep needs. Quality sleep is vital to every person’s overall health, and caregivers can practice better self-care and child care when they are getting the right amount of rest.
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