8-10 Month Sleep Regression
Your 8, 9, or 10 month old used to be a great sleeper. Now she’s waking up at night and screaming hysterically, between 1 and 6 times each night. Naps are a thing of the past. Welcome, my friend, to the 8-10 Month Sleep Regression. Pour yourself a strong cup of coffee, because, well, you’re in the throes of a sleep regression. Let’s dive in.
What is the 8-10 Month Sleep Regression?
A Sleep Regression is a period of time where your baby doesn’t sleep as well as he used to. The effects it can have on your life range from being slightly disruptive to a full blown nightmare.
The 8-10 month sleep regression is thought to be brought about by a burst of brain development in your little baby’s head. At this stage, she’s learning to speak, crawl, scoot, sit, stand and even start to walk. She’s learning how to mentally categorize things into groups- food, toys, people. Can you imagine the fireworks that are going on in her brain each day?! Do you know what has to go on inside her little brain to make all that happen? A lot. And a surge of brain activity automatically causes a lack of sleep. There’s a lot on her mind – your baby is wired.
Add to that the fact that she will likely practice her new milestones in her crib- she might sit and not know how to lay back down, or stand up while holding onto her crib and remain stuck there, screaming her poor little lungs out because she hasn’t yet figured out how to sit down. Or she may practice her new words over and over again (baa-baa. Baaaaaaa-ba! BAAA-BAAAA!) as those neurons fire off in her brain, pushing sleep away amidst all this excitement.
Separation anxiety, which starts to develop at this stage, may also play a part in the regression. At 8 months, babies start to understand object permanence- they know that you’re on the other side of the door when you leave the room (a 4 month old doesn’t understand that- she just thinks you disappeared out of her world). This can be the start of separation anxiety, when your baby cries as you leave the room.
At this age, babies also understand that their actions can have a direct effect on Mommy or Daddy. If I cry, for a long time, really loudly, will she come and nurse me? Let’s try!
There is a cognizant awareness that one action will produce a similar outcome every time- so be very calculated in your response!
How Long Does The Torture Last?
Sleep regressions usually last between 4-6 weeks. I know- that’s an awfully long time to be tired. I’m sorry, I really am. Sleep regressions are ROUGH!
What Can You Do To Help?
The best thing to do is be patient and wait. This regression only happens once and it will pass in due time. If that’s asking too much, try these tips:
- Make sure bedtime is early, as early as 6:00pm after you’ve dropped the 3rd nap.
- When you leave your baby’s room, make sure you have a happy face on. If you frown or look anxious at bedtime, your baby will start to associate sleep with feeling anxious. Keep bedtime light, happy and peaceful, even through this hard time. Don’t give off any negative vibes.
- Make sure your baby gets a lot of activity time when he’s awake- work those new skills, so he doesn’t’ want to practice them in his crib.
- Put your baby to sleep in a wearable sleep sack like the halo. This can stop her from standing in her crib so she won’t get stuck and hysterical.
- Be honest- is this really a sleep regression? If your baby never slept well and he’s 8 months old, this isn’t a sleep regression. It’s a baby who never learned independent sleep.
What You Shouldn’t Do
- Don’t create bad habits. The regression itself will last a few weeks. It will last for months if you create bad sleep habits like rocking to sleep or bed sharing.
- Don’t assume it’s always a sleep regression – check for ear infections, which can linger for months if untreated, or simply poor sleep habits.
All regressions pass after some time. If you guide your baby through her sleep regression without creating bad habits, you will have peaceful nights again in a few short weeks. If you start helping your baby to fall asleep during the regression, you’ll lengthen the regression by months and months, which is the very last thing you want to do, Mama. So stay strong and weather the storm. The moon will shine again soon.