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Surviving The 8 Month Sleep Regression

8-month-sleep-regression
Sleep regressions often occur during milestones - such as learning to pull up.

Just when you thought you’d finally gotten over the sleep deprivation from the four month sleep regression (and all the leaps in between!), you’re now hit with another one! Traditionally called the ‘8 month sleep regression’ – I like to refer to it as the 8-10 month sleep regression, as it is very normal for babies to hit this as late as ten months. They are all so different!

What is a sleep regression?

OK, quick recap – because it’s been a few months since the last one! So, a sleep regression is when your baby’s sleeping pattern changes temporarily. Regressions are due to developmental changes and the impact these have on their brain. These typically occur around 4 months, 8 months, 12-15 months, 18 months and 24 months. These coincide with your baby gaining significant new skills like learning to crawl, sitting up, babbling and talking, walking etc. Sleep regressions can also sometimes occur when your baby needs to drop a nap. They may also happen around peak periods of separation anxiety and during big life changes like moving into a cot or a proper bed, or getting a new baby sibling.

Thriving through sleep regressions

Surviving The 8 Month Sleep Regression

So why is my baby having a sleep regression at 8-10 months?

At 8-10 months, there’s a combination of significant mental and physical developments occurring for your baby. All of these can cause restlessness, discomfort and difficulty settling/staying asleep. These include:

  • They’re learning to sit up, crawl, cruise around furniture.  By the 10 month mark, some babies may even be starting to walk (early, but it happens!).
  • They’re also going through leap 5 and 6. So now your baby understands the concept of object permanence – that when something leaves (including you), it’s gone. This can cause some issues with separation anxiety for your baby.
  • Teething may be causing your baby to become uncomfortable. At this age, many babies are starting to cut several teeth!

Check out my post on the 8 Month Sleep Regression for more on this!

8-month-sleep-regression_mamalinc

Signs of the 8 month sleep regression:

If you’re suddenly struggling with your baby’s sleep, and they’re around 8-10 months old, then there’s a good chance you could be in the thick of the 8 month sleep regression.

Some common signs that parents notice include:

  • Fighting naps
  • Frequent wake ups and difficulty resettling
  • Fussier than usual
  • Seeming restless
  • Wanting to feed more than usual
  • Shorter naps than normal – or longer naps, then disturbed night time sleep.
  • Overall seems grumpier
  • Upset when you leave the room at bedtime

Our babies are all SO different and they therefore experience new developments and changes differently as well. Not all babies will struggle with sleep regressions, while for others, sleep changes will be quite obvious and difficult.

The 8 month sleep regression and separation anxiety

While some babies do experience a bit of separation anxiety at 4-6 months, this is usually most evident from the 8-10 month mark, peaking again at 15-18 months. It occurs most obviously around this 8 month sleep regression because of leap 6 happening around the same time. This is the mental leap when our babies start to understand object permanence. They now understand that when an object is removed, it is gone. This is a huge mental development for our little ones, but unfortunately, it makes it harder for us to be away from them. Whether it’s daycare drop off, nipping to the shops without them, or just trying to leave the room at bedtime, you are likely to encounter some difficulty as your baby protests you leaving their side.

Unfortunately, this all occurs at the same time as baby’s sleep going all haywire again – so it’s a bit of a recipe for sleep deprivation, sorry parents! Thankfully, there are some things we can do to make it easier on our babies as we navigate this complex time together. I recommend a couple of games:

The Peekaboo Game

This is a classic. It helps our babies to process all their learning and understanding around object permanence. It helps them to realise that yes, you can leave but you will always come back. You’re not gone forever just because you have left the room!

Goodbye Game

This is a real favourite of mine. Tell baby you are leaving, but that you are going to be right back. Something like “hey bub, mama is just going for a second, I will be right back!”. Keep it positive and upbeat. Don’t linger – step away confidently and stay out of their view for around five seconds. Then, jump back in saying “Hey bub, I’m back!!”. Reinforce with lots of “good girl/good boy” etc. This will help your little one to recognise that you are not going for good, and it will help their separation anxiety to ease. As baby becomes more comfortable try extending the time you “hide” for.

How to get through the 8 month sleep regression

The most important thing I want you to know is – this isn’t forever. You and your baby will get through this! I know it’s hard when you’re dealing with sleep deprivation and sleep challenges, but this phase will indeed come to an end. As a guide, sleep regressions typically last around 2-4 weeks (but again, this can vary). The key is consistency. Stick to routine, but be willing to make changes for your little one’s needs as required. For example, if your baby is experiencing separation anxiety, they may need extra reassurance of your presence through this time.

A few things you can try to help your little one:

  • With your baby now understanding you’re gone, you may want to implement my parent presence technique where you slowly work your way out of the room during bedtime. Check out my blog here.
  • During the day, practice their new skills (e.g. learning to sit, crawl and pull themselves up). If they are getting stuck in a certain position (like standing up), show them how to get out of it.
  • If your baby is sitting up/standing and not able to get back down, show them a few times how to lay down in their cot. This also shows them that this is what we do for sleep time.
  • Lots of extra reassurance. Play the games I mentioned earlier to help them understand that you will always come back. Always reassure them when you leave that you are going to return. Do this in a positive, upbeat way.

If you’d like to learn more about parental presence, here’s my post on “Gentle Sleep Training: The Parental Presence Method

Parental-Stages Gentle Sleep Training

Need help getting your baby’s sleep back on track after the 8 month sleep regression? Set your baby up to thrive as they go through developmental milestones, regressions and sleep challenges with my Sleeping Basics Program. This program will help you create structure, conquer naps, get baby sleeping independently and solve any sleep issues that will arise.

It’s important to note that your baby’s sleep should be discussed with a healthcare provider to ensure safety and suitability for individual circumstances. This blog is general education only. For any personal based advice regarding you or your baby please seek advice from your own healthcare professional.

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