Everyone knows that their little one won't sleep a lot during the first weeks - but the biggest new-parent misconception is that once the baby passes the first weeks, sleep gradually but consistently improves.
In fact, lots of people expect sleep to just get better and better until their baby is sleeping an 8-hour stretch at 4 months every night, with no issues after the newborn stage is over.
The reality is that this isn't the case for many—if not most— parents. You're more likely to find that baby sleep is a bit of a roller coaster, with successful nights and sleepless nights coming almost randomly and in equal measure!
But don't worry - we're here to help! If your 8 month old is having trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night without wake ups, it might be time to put them onto a new sleep schedule.
In this article, we'll go over the sleep needs of an 8 month old baby, an example of a sleep schedule for this age, what sleep regressions are, and some useful tips for getting your little one to sleep with some more consistency.
Every parent wants their baby to sleep well, but many just don't know how to help them get there - if you want to know how, just read on!
In this article:
8-month old baby sleep needs
At 8 months old, your baby will need less sleep than it did in the newborn phase, but still much more than an adult or even a young child does.
However, the exact figure of total sleep in a day varies from baby to baby - and that's completely fine! Every child is unique, and a 'normal' amount of sleep will therefore be different for each one.
With that said, having a guideline for how much your 8 month old baby should be sleeping can be useful for when it comes to crafting the perfect sleep schedule for them.
For instance, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) states that babies sleep for between 12 and 16 hours a day at this age, while Stanford Children's Health recommends 14 hours of sleep with around 11 hours at nighttime and 3 hours split across naps during the day.
How to establish a sleep schedule for a 8-month old
If you're in the process of developing your baby's sleep schedule, you may want to record the times of day when you notice your baby doing things like sleeping and playing, as well as when they eat.
By doing this, you can identify patterns in their behaviour and plan a schedule around these already established habits. Once you've created an initial schedule, you might want to continue monitoring every couple of months to see whether your plan needs any tweaks.
If you want to encourage a sleep schedule you've set, you should try to make sure that every nap takes place in the same area and at the same time each day to help your baby understand when it's time to snooze.
You can plan for the morning routine first as babies often struggle to nap when they're overtired - you can then start to work on stretching the time between sleeping hours until you've found the perfect spot where the whole schedule comes together.
8-month old sleep schedule
Above you can check out an example of what a sleep schedule for an 8 month old can look like - bear in mind that it's completely normal for yours to look a little different to this as every baby is different.
8-month sleep regression
Unfortunately, no matter how well your baby has been sleeping in nights gone by, there's a good chance that you'll have to deal with the 8 month sleep regression, a period of inconsistent sleep that results in sleep issues more frequent night time wake ups, fighting sleep, and sleeping more during the day.
This is temporary, with most sleep regressions only lasting a few weeks at most, but can be tricky to deal with and a real disruption to your plans (and your sleep!).
The 8 month sleep regression typically comes on due to reaching a major developmental milestone such as starting to walk, and may also be brought on by problems like teething and separation anxiety.
The important thing is to stay as consistent as you can with your schedule - your baby will remember it when they start to settle down again, and your hard work won't be for nothing! If you want to know more tips for handling the 8 month sleep regression, check out our blog on the topic filled with advice and solutions on how to help your baby fall asleep without fuss again.
Tips for getting 8-month old on a sleep schedule
Now that we've gone over how much sleep your 8 month old needs (as well as the sleep regression that could be getting in the way of it), let's get into some tips about how to get your baby sleeping on a schedule that works for them and your whole family!
Keep your routine consistent
We said it before in this blog post, but we can't emphasise it enough - keep your sleep routine as consistent as you can. By doing this, you're helping your little one understand when it's time to sleep, so when they're put to bed they won't be fighting sleep or feeling restless.
Even if they have tricky nights - like every baby does - they'll still remember that certain times mean it's time to fall asleep, and that's a great foundation to set for any sleep training or new challenges in the future.
Nested Bean Zen Sack
If you find that your baby has trouble sleeping through the night and needs a little extra comfort when you aren't around to cuddle them, you can try our Nested Bean Zen Sack!
Gently weighted to mimic your soothing touch, this wearable blanket can help your baby learn to self soothe through nighttime wake ups, and feel secure enough to fall asleep even when they aren't laying in your arms.
Put baby to bed drowsy
You wouldn't want to be laying in bed when you're wide awake, and your baby is no different - so try to organise their schedule so that you're only putting them to bed drowsy, rather than lively.
You can achieve this by keeping an eye on sleep cues such as yawning, stretching and blinking, and put them to bed when they start to show these behaviours. Additionally, you don't want to put your baby to bed when they're already asleep if you can help it.
This is because you want to avoid creating negative sleep associations that mean they struggle to fall asleep without you around, and you don't want them to wake up confused and cranky about why they're in bed without you there!
This tip can also apply if you're wanting to sleep train your baby with a method that meshes well with this approach. For instance, a baby who is being sleep trained with the Ferber method might find it easier to self soothe and fall asleep when they're drowsy.
Don't hang around at night
If your baby is struggling with separation anxiety, they might become upset when you put them to bed and try to leave the room, but don't stick around for too long as this will only worsen the situation over time and make them more dependent on you to feel secure.
Instead, try to stick to whatever your bedtime routine consists of - a warm bath and a short bedtime story, for example - and just give them a quick kiss and cuddle goodnight before you leave. Eventually they'll understand that you'll be back again to cuddle them in the morning when they wake up!
Soothe teething pains
If your baby is having trouble with sleeping on the schedule you've set, it could be because an issue like teething pain is keeping them up and they have no way of telling you!
If you've noticed symptoms of teething like red gums, a flushed cheek, a mild temperature, or dribbling and chewing more than usual, you could try some at home remedies like putting a teething ring in the refrigerator or rubbing their gums with a clean finger. If this doesn't seem to help, you may want to contact your pediatrician for more advice.
Create a calm sleeping environment
Just like you might struggle to get to sleep in an overstimulating environment, your baby's sleep can be interrupted by living in a busy city or a noisy apartment building. If this is the case for your family, you can try changing up the room your baby sleeps in to be a calmer, quieter space.
For instance, you can use blackout blinds to block out light from street lamps and buildings during nighttime sleep and daylight during naps, and a baby safe white noise machine to drown out any loud sounds that could be keeping them from going to sleep.
Follow the eat, wake, sleep cycle
The eat, wake, sleep cycle is pretty much exactly what it sounds like it is! You feed your baby as soon as they wake up, keep them awake and active until it's time for bedtime or their next nap, then put them to sleep.
By doing this, your baby can take a larger feed, and is therefore less likely to wake up hungry when you want them to sleep. It also prevents you from creating a negative sleep association that leads them to become reliant on a feed and a cuddle from you or another caregiver before they can feel secure enough to go to asleep.
Printable 8-month old Sleep Schedule
Here is a printable sleep schedule that you can use as a jumping off point for your own sleep schedule if you want to - just remember that it's fine if your sleep schedule looks different to this one.
Other Sleep Resources
FAQ: Common questions about 8-month-old sleep schedule
How long should an 8-month old nap?
At 8 months old, your baby will need about 14 hours of sleep per day, with 3 or 4 hours of this consisting of naps throughout the day. Generally speaking, these naps should be between half an hour and two hours - whatever suits your baby and your schedule best! For instance, you might have two naps that are each 90 minutes long, or three naps that are an hour long each - it's all up to you and what works best for your baby.
Will an 8-month old sleep through the night?
Potentially, but it really depends on the baby! While an 8 month old should be able to sleep for a long stretch through the night, a study revealed that only two thirds of babies had reached the milestone of regularly sleeping through the night at 6 months, so it's not unusual for your little one to be struggling with it only a couple months later! If you're still struggling to help your 8 month old sleep, you can try creating a schedule for them based on the tips in this blog, or start sleep training if you haven't already.
What can you do to help an 8 month old with separation anxiety fall asleep?
Separation anxiety is a natural feeling for your baby to develop around the 6-8 month mark, and you can actually see it as a sign of how strong your bond has become! However, they'll need to learn that they're safe and secure even when you aren't around, and to do this you need to stay consistent with their routines and sleep schedule. That way, they'll start to understand that when you put them to bed at night, you'll be back in the morning when they wake up - this is especially valuable when you start to leave them with other people more often, and when they start to go to a daycare or kindergarten in the future.
What time should an 8-month old go to bed?
There isn't really a single answer here! It depends on the schedule you've set for them and your own family schedule - you likely wouldn't want to put your baby to bed early if your partner gets back from work at 6 or 7, for example. The important thing is that your baby gets the right amount of sleep - whether that means waking at 6:30 and falling asleep at 7:45, or waking at 8:00 and falling asleep at 9:00! The actual time that they fall asleep and wake up is less important, so don't sweat it if your little one goes to bed a little later than your friend's baby!.
What is the 8 month sleep regression?
The 8 month sleep regression is a period of irregular sleep patterns and sleep habits that happens for a few weeks after a period of consistent sleep. Sleep regressions are usually caused by reaching a developmental milestone like learning to walk or another issue like teething pains or separation anxiety. You might find during a sleep regression that your baby is fighting sleep, sleeping more during the day, fussing after being put to bed, and experiencing more night time wake ups. Though it's only temporary, the 8 month sleep regression can be a tricky time for sleep deprived babies and parents alike, But don't worry - with sleep aids like a calm bedroom environment, a well planned sleep schedule, and sleepwear like the Zen Sack, you've got this!
How long should an 8 month old go between naps?
An 8 month old will typically need between 2 and 3 naps per day, with between 2 and 3 hours of awake time between each of the naps. If they don't have enough awake time, they might be too energetic to doze off when you put them to sleep - on the other hand, an overtired baby might be cranky and have a hard time falling asleep too! By striking the right balance of awake time and nap time, you're giving your baby the best chance of falling asleep at the times on your schedule when you'd like them to.