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Sleep regression is a tough pill to swallow for all parents. The second your baby is born, you look forward to the days when your child will let you sleep. It can be disheartening when your child regresses and begins waking up again at night.
But there’s hope. It doesn’t last forever. Here’s some information you may need to get through the tough months of sleep regression and come out smiling on the other side, no matter how long it may last for you and your baby.
About Sleep Regression
Babies go through sleep regression in phases. Chances are, if you’ve made it to 8 months of age, you’ve experienced sleep regression at least once already. That doesn’t make it easier, and each time they go through it, it can be totally different than the last.
But hopefully this time, you’re not completely in the dark.
It can be frustrating when a baby that was sleeping so well suddenly has trouble, but it is normal. It happens for two to four weeks at a time, and you can identify it in several ways. Your baby may have trouble going down for the night, or they may start waking up and fussing in the middle of the night again.
Causes of sleep regression
There are several reasons why your baby may have difficulty sleeping all of a sudden. Here are a few things that may cause your struggles:
- Growth spurts that cause extra hunger
- Developmental milestones
- New routines like starting a new day care
- Illnesses like colds or ear infections
How long it lasts
It really depends on your child and what’s going on, but it can last anywhere from two to four weeks. You need to allow your child to get used to their new routine or milestone, or recover from their illness.
Getting through it without too much fuss will involve your patience, comfort, and consistency. Stick to your new routine until you’ve gotten through it together.
Signs of sleep regression
There are some signs of sleep regression that can clue you in that your child may begin to go through this phase. They include:
- Trouble falling asleep at bedtime
- Frequent waking at night
- Resisting naps
- Increased fussiness
Managing sleep regression
You can take comfort in the fact that these things don’t last too long. However, in the meantime, you can use these tips to help manage your baby’s sleep regression:
- Watch for cues that your baby is sleepy, like yawning, fussiness, or rubbing eyes. Getting your baby to bed before they are overtired can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep longer.
- Keep the bedtime routine consistent with dinner, bath, reading, singing, and rocking. It can ensure your child understands sleep cues, too.
- Make sure your baby gets enough sleep during the day to avoid an overtired baby at night.
- Give your child a few minutes to calm down if they start crying in the middle of the night. Don’t immediately run to their side. Some will self-soothe and sleep regression won’t be a big deal for anyone. If they don’t, check on them. Rub their back or tummy and quietly reassure them, then leave. Avoid picking them up, feeding, or rocking because this could cause regular waking for attention. Repeat the reassuring words as needed.
- You may want to consider sleep training for children older than 6 months old. Especially if you found a technique that worked well the first time, you can try it again during this time to see if it soothes the sleep regression any.
- If a life change or separation anxiety seems to have your baby stressed, give them some extra attention during the day and before bedtime so that they will feel more secure on their own at night.
Preventing sleep regression
There’s no proven way to prevent sleep regression. It’s a normal part of growing, and it’s important to find tips that will help you get through it. You can follow a bedtime routine, comfort your child, and make sure they’re getting enough sleep to make it easier on everyone.
Calling the doctor
Sleep regression isn’t anything to worry about. It will end on its own, but if you have concerns about your baby’s sleep or the reason why they may be having problems sleeping, you can always call the doctor.
If you’ve been trying a sleep training method for two weeks or more and your baby still isn’t sleeping well, call the doctor to get some advice. It could have something to do with persistent nightmares rather than sleep regression.
If it’s an illness causing the sleep regression, make sure you call the doctor if their fever is higher than 101.5 or they have other concerning symptoms like earaches, swollen glands, or something else that doesn’t seem normal.
8 Month Sleep Regression
The 8 month sleep regression happens for several reasons, but it won’t happen to every baby. If your baby is 8 months old and not experiencing any issues, you’re one of the lucky ones. The rest of us are over here pumping coffee through our veins and turning green with envy.
Sleep regression at 8 months is common. There are plenty of issues that can cause a break in sleep habits, but you’ll be able to identify sleep regression and set it apart from these other reasons by paying attention to when it happens and how long it lasts.
Length of 8 month sleep regression
Most of the time, these sleep regressions last anywhere from two to four weeks, but they could last up to six. If it resolves itself more quickly than that, your baby was likely bothered by other temporary factors like an illness or teething.
Most 8 month sleep regression happens because of a developmental leap or a change in nap schedules that has affected their amount of sleep overall. Because 8 month olds are developing a lot around this age, it’s very likely they’ll experience this regression.
8 month old developments
Currently, your baby is learning to scoot, crawl, or pull up on things. You’ve been feverishly baby proofing and, no doubt, hollering the word “no” a lot. Their language skills are also developing rapidly, meaning they’re understanding more than just you yelling “no” at them.
Mental developments like this can cause sleep disturbances because your baby’s mind is constantly busy. They’re trying new skills and exploring more of the world around them, which keeps them stimulated for longer.
Your 8 month old is also staying awake during the day for longer periods of time, which can cause a shift in nap schedules. They may have just dropped a third nap or adjusted their two-nap schedule, which can throw their night time sleep off just a bit.
What to do about it
While you can’t prevent a regression in sleep or make your baby get through this phase faster, you can still help them get back to sleep and stay asleep so you can get some much needed rest, too.
These weeks will likely feel like forever, but it really is temporary. Don’t change your routine during this time, or it may make it worse. You can fall back on whatever sleep training method you used to get them to sleep through the night a few months ago.
If rocking them to sleep at night was successful for you, go back to doing that. Some babies fall asleep easier on their own in their crib while others will respond well to soothing words or belly rubs. Whatever worked in the past is what you should try first.
It’s also acceptable to allow brief periods of crying to see if they’ll self sooth, because they’re old enough now to do so. If they don’t, you can sooth them without picking them up. Some babies are even soothed by a parent being in the room with them. No touching or talking needed.
If letting your baby cry it out worked before, you can do this again, but keep in mind it may take them a bit longer to settle down than it did before. You may still need to offer comfort and support more than usual.
It can feel frustrating to revert to these methods you haven’t used in so long, but remember it won’t last forever. Cherish these extra times you get to spend alone with your baby, because they’ll be gone before you know it.
8 month old sleep needs
At 8 months old, your baby needs about 12 to 15 hours of sleep every day. This looks different for every baby, but it usually amounts to 10 or 11 hours of sleep at night, with or without feedings, and 2 to 4 hours during the day.
While in the middle of a sleep regression, you may find that your baby doesn’t sleep this much, and it may mean you try to encourage longer or more frequent naps. You may also need to adjust bedtime so you’re not putting them to bed overtired.
9 Month Sleep Regression
The reasons for 9 month old sleep regression are much the same as 8 months. Your child is going through a lot of developmental milestones like improving gross motor skills needed for crawling and pulling up.
As your child gets better at these things, they may be practicing them during naps or at bedtime rather than going to sleep. In fact, they may be doing a lot of getting themselves into places they can’t get out of on their own.
Your baby may also be starting to understand the differences between two objects and begin to categorize them. Dolls, blocks, and cars all look different. As their brain recognizes these differences, they’ll be stimulated by them, even while they should be sleeping.
As your child begins to explore the world around them and become more independent, it may cause some separation anxiety issues when they wake up in the night and find you gone.
9 month sleep regression causes
Physical development has a lot to do with the 9 month sleep regression. They’re crawling, sitting, pulling up, and perhaps even beginning to walk if they’re motivated. They’re much more active than they used to be with their bodies and their minds.
Rather than sleeping at night, they may be practicing their new skills in bed. Even if they’re not moving around much, they may be too stimulated to fall right to sleep at night, which can disrupt their sleep schedule.
It’s important to help them practice these skills as much as possible during the day. It will tire them out and give you comfort to know they can go from a standing to a lying position by themselves rather than crying for you to come to them in the middle of the night.
Expiration of the world around them gives your baby the ability to recognize more objects these days. The problem with this is that they don’t understand object permanence, which means once they can’t see it anymore, they think it doesn’t exist.
This leads to big time separation anxiety. You can help them through it by playing peek-a-boo. They’ll learn that just because they can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there. It will also help them cope with their feelings of abandonment when you leave the room temporarily.
At first, leave the room for only a second or two, then gradually increase the time you’re gone until they can handle you being away for as long as you need. Practice saying things like, “I’ll be back in a minute” or “I’ll see you later” so they recognize how leaving and returning works.
10 Month Sleep Regression
Because sleep regression happens sporadically and at different times for everyone, it’s hard to define an exact month. While your friend’s baby might have gone through sleep regression months ago, yours may just be starting now.
It’s not likely that your child will go through an 8, 9, and 10 month sleep regression. So if they’re just now starting to struggle, that’s normal. The 10 month sleep regression will last from 2 to 4 weeks, or maybe a little longer. Again, remember that it’s temporary.
Causes of the 10 month sleep regression
Don’t beat yourself up if you feel like your child was sleeping so well for months and now all of a sudden you’re up multiple times a night. It’s nothing you’ve done wrong. There are plenty of reasons why it happens.
Much like at 8 and 9 months of age, your child is now beginning to explore a lot more. They’re learning to crawl, pull up, and maybe even take a few steps on their own. That means they’re constantly moving.
They’re learning more about language, understanding more of what you say, and recognizing that the objects in their world differ from each other in many ways. That means their mind is constantly busy, too.
With all of this exploration, naps may not be very interesting anymore, and they’d rather stay up at night with you than go to bed. This could lead to some separation anxiety, which may interrupt their sleep or have them waking and wondering where you went.
How to deal with it
Stick to your routine. Help them wind down at bedtime rather than letting them be active or stimulating them further. Give them a bath and read some books as a quiet, relaxing activity. Try to encourage self soothing by putting them to bed awake.
It’s important not to implement any new or strange habits during this time, but it may be necessary to double check that there are no other underlying issues, like illness, that could be making the problem worse.
You can comfort your baby in the middle of the night if needed, but give them a chance to self soothe first, because they should know how to do so by now. If you do respond to their cries, you can comfort them without picking them up. Try rubbing their back or talking in a quiet, soothing tone to let them know you’re there.
10 month sleep needs
At 10 months old, your child needs roughly 12 to 15 hours of sleep per day. Not much as changed from their 8 month old sleep needs. They’ll be sleeping about 10 or 11 hours at night and 2 to 4 hours during the day.
Every child is different, but you can identify a sleep regression simply by calculating the number of hours they normally sleep and how many they’re sleeping now that they’re struggling with settling down.
Sleep regression happens at several different ages, and normally corresponds with a developmental milestone that has your child stimulated more than usual. These phases are hard to get through at any age, but they’re especially common at 8, 9, or 10 months old.
While it’s frustrating and exhausting, it’s important to remember that it won’t last forever. Stay calm and patient so your child doesn’t sense your frustration. Knowing why it happens and how you can help them deal with it will help you both get through it without too much stress.