Surviving the 8-10 month sleep progression

Does this sound familiar? Your 8, 9, or 10 month-old is suddenly resisting or taking shorter naps, waking more during the night, and is possibly extra fussy and cranky. Do you think you have reached this incredibly challenging stage with your baby? Did you just get over the 4 month sleep progression, and wonder how you’ll survive another one?!

You’ve probably heard this stage of wakefulness being called a sleep ‘regression’, but it’s in fact a time of massive brain development in your baby, which is why it’s actually a ‘progression’. Your baby is developing beautifully, and building complex brain circuits. Between birth and three years, their brain makes ONE MILLION CONNECTIONS PER SECOND! How amazing is that?! So, they’re never regressing.

It’s a normal stage of development

Knowing that it’s a normal and healthy part of development doesn’t help when you’re exhausted and frustrated, but what you really need to know is why it’s happening…

There is an unbelievable amount of development happening for your baby right now. They might be sitting up, crawling, scooting, or pulling themselves up. Or they’re at least trying to master one or more of these skills! They’re trying to absorb language, they’re teething, and they’re beginning to realise that you’re no longer there when you leave the room, so separation anxiety can also come into play. They may also be ready to drop that third nap late in the day.

Why would it cause them to wake more during the night?

The cot is a safe and familiar place to practice all of these wonderful skills, which makes it hard for them to turn off their little bodies when they’d normally be sleeping. They’re waking, not to taunt you, but because these skills scare and upset them. With these feelings of uneasiness or distress, it’s only natural that they would call out to their source of comfort and reassurance – you! You haven’t done anything wrong. They’re not manipulating you. They just need you.

They want to sleep as much as you want them to, but they’re struggling.

So, how can you help your baby (and you!) survive the 8-10 month sleep regression?

  1. Give them plenty of opportunity to practice these skills during the day. Lots of play time on the floor, instead of in the stroller or car seat.
  2. If you haven’t already, establish a bedtime routine, with a shorter version of it at nap time. Babies crave consistency and predictability.
  3. Create a calm sleep environment with minimal distractions or stimulation, and spend time winding down first before putting them to bed.
  4. Reassure your baby with lots of snuggles, and one-on-one time. Everything else can wait for now.
  5. Be patient, this regression lasts between 2-6 weeks.
  6. It’s understandably a time that you might want to introduce new sleep associations to help your baby to fall asleep, but know that your baby will get through this stage; any new habits formed may extend it.
  7. In saying all of that, you do what works for you, comforts your baby, and supports them in a way that makes them feel secure and loved in this confusing and exciting time.

This challenging and exhausting stage is commonly when parents resort to professional help, whether it’s through a sleep school or a sleep specialist who comes to their home. Don’t struggle alone, there is help out there.

Here are some more articles that you might find helpful in getting through the 8-10 month sleep progression: