Is Your baby in a sleep regression?
You've made it through the early months of sleepless nights and maybe even established some semblance of a sleep routine for your baby or twins! However, just when you thought you were in the clear, the dreaded 8-month sleep regression strikes. But fear not, this too shall pass. In this blog post, we'll explore what the 8-month sleep regression is, why it happens, and most importantly, how you can manage to get your good sleeper back.
What is the 8-Month Sleep Regression?
The 8-month sleep regression is a common phase that many babies go through. I vividly remember all 3 of my children going through this regression. It typically occurs around the 8th month of life and can last for several weeks. Sometimes babies are experiencing it earlier at 7-months old or later at 9-months old.
During this regression, your baby's sleep patterns may change, and they may experience more frequent night awakenings, shorter naps, or have difficulty falling asleep. Sigh.
Why Does a Sleep Regression Happen?
Several factors contribute to the 8-month sleep regression:
Developmental Milestones: At 8 months, babies often reach significant developmental milestones, such as crawling, standing, or even taking their first steps. These new skills can excite and stimulate them, making it challenging to settle down for sleep. They may want to practice their new skills in their crib and completely skip a nap (face to palm)
Separation Anxiety: Around this age, babies may develop separation anxiety, becoming more attached to their primary caregivers. Object permanence has set in and your baby knows that you exist even when they cannot see you. They may wake up in the night seeking comfort and reassurance. Continue to project confidence at sleep times with a nice, cheery voice while staying consistent with their typical sleep routine.
Teething: Teething can be a source of discomfort and pain for some babies, which can disrupt their sleep patterns. Teething is suspected to cause inflammation pain for 1-2 days prior to eruption. Keep a close eye on your baby and their mood throughout the day. If they seem okay, that’s great! Cortisol levels drop before bedtime, though, so check with your pediatrician about giving a dose of ibuprofen, for example.
Nap Transition is Necessary: We often see babies transition from 3-2 naps anywhere from 6-9 months range. If your baby is experiencing early morning wakings or short naps, it is entirely possible that it’s time to make the switch to two clocked-naps throughout the day.
Tips for Managing Your Baby’s Sleep Regression
Consistent Bedtime Routine: Stick to a soothing bedtime routine that helps signal to your baby that it's time to sleep. Check out this post for ideas on creating a consistent bedtime routine for your baby or twins.
Daytime Naps: Ensure your baby gets enough daytime sleep to prevent overtiredness. Short naps during the day can lead to more frequent night awakenings. Similarly, you’ll want to make sure that they are not getting TOO much daytime sleep either as that could be effecting their night sleep.
Coping with Separation Anxiety: Separation anxiety happens because you are your child’s main source of security and comfort. Playing games like “peek-a-boo” during the day reinforces the understanding of object permanence and the idea that when you leave you always come back. Focus on your reunion after work or after nap time. Give baby a great big smile and warm cuddle. Also, keep your “good-byes” short. Prolonging your departure can give your baby the idea there is something to fear.
Teething Relief: If teething is a concern, provide appropriate teething toys or remedies recommended by your pediatrician to alleviate discomfort.
Avoid Sleep Props: Try to avoid creating sleep associations that your baby will rely on, such as rocking or feeding them to sleep. Encourage self-soothing skills and lay baby down fully awake for all sleep periods.
Adjust Sleep Environment: Ensure the sleep environment is conducive to rest. A dark, cool room with a comfortable & safe crib can help your baby sleep better.
Stay Consistent: Consistency is key. Stick to your established sleep routines and strategies, even during the regression. Babies thrive on predictability.
Consider Sleep Training with the help from Tweet Dreamzz: If sleep troubles persist, please reach out to us for help and schedule a free discovery call! 8 months is a great time to begin teaching your child independent sleep skills that will allow these regressions to pass without notice of much disruption.
How to Avoid Sleep Regressions
Avoiding or minimizing sleep regressions for your baby is possible. By following independent routines, your baby or toddler can breeze past them much quicker as they don’t rely on outside factors to put them back to sleep. Keep a tight hold on an independent bedtime routine to help your baby through their sleep regression faster.
Example of an independent bedtime routine for your baby:
Feed in a well-lit area about 30-45 minutes before lights out.
Complete your baby’s hygiene routine like taking a bath or a warm washcloth followed by lotion.
Get baby dressed for bed with a clean diaper, pajamas and a sleep sack.
Read a story or sing a song.
Give baby a kiss or cuddle and lay them in their crib awake.
Turn out the lights and leave the room.
The 8-month sleep regression can be a challenging time for you and your baby, but it is a phase that will eventually pass. By understanding the reasons behind it and implementing these management strategies, you can help ease the transition and get your baby back on track to restful nights and peaceful naps. Remember, every baby is unique, so be patient, flexible, and don't hesitate to seek professional advice if needed. You've got this!
Stellina Ferri is the author of this article. Stellina is a certified pediatric sleep consultant and mom of three.
She supports families through the journey of better sleep as a consultant with Tweet Dreamzz Sleep Consulting. She lives in the Boston, MA area with her family.
Find out what solutions she has for you by Booking a free call!