We have good news and bad news about your eight-month-old baby's sleep: first, the good news: Your baby is well on their way to better sleep. In fact, many babies learn to sleep through the night by six months of age.
But now, the bad news: Around eight months, many babies tend to experience what can be a pretty intense sleep regression. A sleep regression can be a difficult thing to go through with your baby, especially when you may have been celebrating them (finally!) sleeping through the night, but sleep regressions aren't actually a bad thing.
In fact, sleep regressions are a sign that your baby is developing and growing properly. That may be hard to remember at 2 a.m., but it's true!
We'll talk more about what's behind your eight-month-old's sleep regression, and how to navigate those sleep disruptions.
How much sleep does an 8-month-old baby need?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine notes that at 8 months old, your baby should be getting between 12-16 hours of sleep per 24 hours. Many babies around this age will be hovering closer to the 13-14 hour per day territory, and that's okay. Every baby is different and by now, you'll probably know if your baby is the type who requires more or less sleep.
The big news with an eight-month-old baby is that most likely, your baby will be going through a major sleep regression. In fact, Rachel Mitchell, a certified pediatric and maternal sleep consultant and founder of My Sweet Sleeper, explains that the eight-month-old sleep regression is considered a "true" sleep regression because it coincides with a progression and developmental leap.
Related: Baby Feeding Guides & Schedules
"You can thank teething for this, along with crawling and increased mobility, such as sitting up and rolling a lot," she notes.
Sleep regressions tend to occur alongside major developmental leaps—such as sitting up and crawling—in your baby, so while they do represent the positive fact that your baby is developing appropriately, those sudden wake-ups or unwillingness to go back to sleep may not feel so positive.
The best thing you can do to make it through a sleep regression with your baby, says Mitchell, is to maintain the sleep cues and routines that you have already set up—and to avoid making any sudden shifts to your schedule. "Try to stay as consistent as possible and don't make any major changes during this time," she suggests.
One way you can stay consistent is to stick to your baby's sleep and wake schedule. Mitchell recommends the following schedule to help guide you through the eight-month-old sleep regression.
8-month-old baby sleep schedule
Another important aspect to keep in mind about your eight-month-old baby's sleep is that while consistency and sticking to a routine is important, so is taking the time to realize that your baby is going to need different things from you at different stages.
And right now, at eight months old, your baby is going through enormous changes and may be quite physically uncomfortable from growth and teething. So it's okay (and necessary) to take extra care with your little one this month, even if that means some missed sleep for both of you.
"Though sleep regressions can be hard to navigate, you might need to be a bit more gentle in your approach and respond to wake-ups or any crying a bit sooner than normal," Mitchell says.
Related: 8-month-old baby milestones
Wake windows for an eight month old
According to Mitchell, an eight-month-old baby will be sleeping 10-12 hours at night and around 3-4 hours during the day. (Keep in mind that's not always consecutive, of course.)
Wake windows for an eight-month-old baby can be tricky, Mitchell explains. She notes that many babies' wake windows will get longer at this age—usually between 2.5 to 3.5 hours—but others will have shorter wake windows when they are going through a progression and accompanying regression.
Mitchell also says that many babies at this age might start moving towards adopting a two-a-day nap schedule instead of three or four shorter naps. However, you might want to hold off before you officially transition them.
"I typically recommend holding off until around 9 or 10 months of age, once it is clear that your baby is truly ready," she says. "There is no need to rush this transition if your baby is doing well with naps and night sleep."
Sleep tips for babies
Sleep at this stage might feel like something you have to elbow your way through, and if we're being honest with you: that's okay. Not every part of parenting is Instagram-worthy, and going through a sleep regression can be, well, terrible. Hey, we're honest about motherhood here. But we also promise that it will get better. Focus on taking care of yourself this month, maybe treat yourself to a fancy drink at Starbucks and stick to the safe sleep habits and bedtime routines you've already established. That will help both of you make it through this stage and focus on sleep strategies that will work.
Additionally, here are some other tips to keep in mind:
- Tame teething. Since teething tends to be one of the primary culprits behind the eight-month sleep regression, Mitchell recommends trying some strategies to tame the teething monster. "If you notice that your baby is having a hard time with teething and losing sleep, consider using safe teething devices like a cold chewing object," she suggests.
- Keep it safe. While teething can be a beast and might make you feel like desperate times call for desperate measures, be sure to know how to keep your baby safe with teething remedies too, Mitchell cautions. For instance, she does not recommend teething necklaces or numbing gels for safety reasons.
- Talk to a pediatrician. You don't have to tackle teething alone! If you are really struggling with sleep at this age, or feel like your child is having a lot of pain from teething, or just don't know what to do, reach out for help. "Speak with your child's pediatrician about other pain management tools and techniques," Mitchell advises.
A version of this story was published September 14, 2021. It has been updated.