baby sleep

Headshot of a cheerful baby girl learning to stand in the crib, in an article about the 8 month slee...
Oscar Wong/Moment/Getty Images

The 8-10 Month Sleep Regression: Expert Advice To Get You Through It

Wait, another one?!

Originally Published: 

If you’re here, you probably have a baby that was sleeping like an 8-month-old (or a 9-month-old, or maybe a 10-month-old) and now, suddenly, out of nowhere, your baby is sleeping like a newborn again (or at least it feels that way). Is this the 8 month sleep regression you’ve heard so much about? They’re up every hour, all night long. Or, maybe they’re fighting every nap like it’s the meanest thing you’ve ever done to them. Or, maybe they’re clinging to your neck for dear life as you try to put them down in the crib. First, we are so sorry. Sleep regressions stink. These times when your sweet baby’s sleep seems to suddenly back-pedal (or totally nose-dive) are just brutal. You were just finding a groove! You felt so capable! But, take a deep breath. It’s going to be OK. We’ve tapped in the very best pediatric sleep experts to help explain what the 8 month sleep regression is — hint, if it happens, it can hit anytime between 7 and 10 months of age — what causes it, how long it lasts, how to survive it and, most of all, how to correct any baby sleep issues that linger longer than they should.

What is the 8 month sleep regression?

Sleep disruptions are not a common part of baby development, especially in the first year of life, which is jam-packed with developmental milestones. But, the idea — one which Alexis Dubief, baby sleep expert and author of Precious Little Sleep, attributes to the popular Wonder Weeks app and book — that every baby will have a fussy periods and sleep regressions at set, particular times is not rooted in good science. “The concept of sleep regression hasn’t been established within the scientific pediatric sleep community,” agrees Dr. Elizabeth Super, an associate professor of pediatrics and clinical pediatric sleep physician at Oregon Health & Science University. However, if your baby is struggling with sleep around 8 - 10 months of age, there are a few possible reasons. Depending on the ‘why,’ your baby’s sleep regression should either pass quickly on its own, or be fixable with a few nap time and bedtime adjustments.

Signs of the 8, 9 or 10 month sleep regression

According to Dubief and Super, a few things that parents often notice when they feel like their baby is in a sleep regression include:

  • Your 8-month-old is fighting sleep, either at bedtime, nap times, or both
  • They’re a bit more clingy, fussy or cranky than usual
  • They’re waking up in the night after previously sleeping through the night, or waking more than usual (sometimes as much as every hour or every 90 minutes)
  • Earlier morning wake ups

Causes of baby sleep regression around 8-10 months of age

Paulo Sousa / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

Around 8 months is “when ‘drowsy but awake’ tends to fail on you,” explains Dubief. “You think, I did sleep train, I rocked them ‘til they're drowsy. But, anytime your child can only navigate a nighttime arousal with an activity that is very much wrapped up in the bedtime routine, you probably have an issue.” This kind of issue is what Super refers to as a “maladaptive sleep association,” meaning that your child needs your help to fall asleep rather than having the ability to fall sleep without help. Other reasons your 8-, 9-, or 10-month-old baby might be having trouble sleeping suddenly, according to Dubief, Canapari and Super, may include:

  • Dropping a nap. Usually at around 8, 9, and 10 months old, babies are going down from three naps a day to two naps a day, and needing a little more awake time between sleeps. “In the first year, your child is constantly needing less sleep,” Dubief explains. “The schedule's constantly changing, the amount of time they need to be awake so they can sleep successfully is constantly expanding.
  • Working on a new gross motor skill, like pulling to standing or even — for a few early bloomers — walking. “Babies are often starting to pull to standing in the crib at 9 months and they go, oh, I'm awake. I can pull up and stand,” Super explains, and this can disrupt sleep for a few days as Baby adjusts to this new, exciting skill.
  • The development of separation anxiety. “There is a little blip developmentally at 9 months when parents go, gosh, I can't even take a shower without my baby losing it,” Super explains. “So that may be what's happening at bedtime, where you were able to leave the room easily and now can't, or in the middle of the night they need a little bit more reassurance.”

How long does the 8 - 10 month sleep regression last?

Any true sleep regression should only last a few days — certainly not weeks or months. “For most parents, if your kid is having a couple of bad nights to sleep, try not to worry about it,” says Dr. Craig Canapari, pediatrician and director of the Yale Pediatric Sleep Center. “But if it's pushing into 5, 6, 7 days, I don’t think it’s a terrible idea to have your pediatrician check out your kid. There's nothing wrong with finding out that everything is normal.” Your family’s health care provider should also be able to help you go over your 8-month-old’s sleep schedule and consider nap duration, night sleep duration and so on, as well as ruling out any medical issues that might be impacting their mood or sleep schedule. “We don't want parents to kind of suffer alone,” says Super. “Usually, we can pinpoint things, improve things, and help troubleshoot.”

Tips for managing the 8- to 10-month sleep regression in your baby

Maskot/Maskot/Getty Images

Your strategy for managing an 8, 9 or 10 month (or yes, sometimes 7 month) sleep regression will depend somewhat on what you believe is causing the sleep disruption. If baby is working on a skill — like pulling to standing or even walking — you may simply need to wait it out, says Dubief. Allow a few days of bad sleep and then, once they master the skill, the regression should pass.

Consider dropping the third nap

“At 9 months, some babies are going from three naps to two,” Super says. “I often tell parents keep a very simple baby sleep log. If you are the type of person that that’s helpful for and not a chore, it can be really nice,” Super says, explaining that a baby sleep log may help you notice those patterns and feel more confident in dropping a nap.

Introduce an attachment object, like a lovey or stuffed animal

If you suspect that the regression you’re experiencing is rooted in some separation fears, it might be time to let your baby sleep with a beloved stuffed animal or lovey. “At 9 months, I really like to talk about introducing an attachment object,” Super suggests. “We know that it's safe, from a suffocation perspective, to have a small object in the crib [at this age] and it can really help with some of that separation anxiety.”

Consider sleep training

If you’ve been successfully nursing or rocking your baby to sleep until now, our experts say that’s fine. However, at some point, parents doing the work of soothing their babies to sleep — as opposed to giving the baby space to learn to soothe themselves — can become a “maladaptive sleep association,” and become problematic in terms of night wakings in particular. “If you're going to stop doing a thing — rocking, bouncing, feeding, nursing, co-sleeping, whatever it is — halfway is the worst thing for you and your child,” Dubief explains. If you decide that you want to address a sleep regression by correcting sneaky sleep associations and teaching independent sleep, Dubief says parents must “commit to change. Trust your child and know they are capable of learning new things.”

If and when you do commit to some type of sleep training — whether you choose the Ferber method of graduated extinction or ‘full extinction’, AKA cry-it-out — Dubief says parents should see “dramatic and unambiguous improvement across three nights. That is my bottom line on it.” And if you don't see improvement in three nights? “We go back into hypothesis-generation mode, and maybe talk to your pediatrician to rule out any medical complications.”

The bottom line: Hang in there, and try to take care of yourself, too

AleksandarNakic/E+/Getty Images

When baby sleep goes off the rails, even just for a few days, it can be truly harrowing. You’re exhausted, your baby is cranky because they’re also exhausted, and both of you are likely still needing to get up in the morning and go about your day. It’s so hard. Seek support from friends and family — other parents will understand exactly what you’re going through. “Try not to go down those rabbit holes in the middle of the night,” Super says, adding that it’s easier said than done. “Try to keep up with the healthy sleep habits, and provide a structure for your baby and they will achieve healthy sleep.”

“Have compassion for yourself as a parent,” adds Canapari. “There’s no actual perfect parent strategy in a lot of these situations. You’ve got to give yourself a little bit of grace.”

Studies cited:

C. de Weerth, P. van Geert (2011) Emotional instability as an indicator of strictly timed infantile developmental transitions. British Journal of Developmental Psychology,


Dr. Elizabeth Super, an associate professor of pediatrics and clinical pediatric sleep physician at Oregon Health & Science University

Dr. Craig Canapari, pediatrician and director of the Yale Pediatric Sleep Center

Alexis Dubief, baby sleep expert and author of Precious Little Sleep

This article was originally published on