8 Month Old Won’t Sleep: 5 Reasons Why

Children are a joy but when 8-month-old babies won’t sleep, it is exhausting! As a sleep consultant for over 10 years, I have found there are 5 primary reasons 8-month-olds won’t sleep including a sleep regression, teething, hunger, separation anxiety, and schedule problems. Learn about each reason in more detail below!

8 Month Old Sleep Regression

8-month-old babies are learning at a very rapid pace. Your baby has likely gone from a newborn who basically eats, poops, and sleeps to being on the move, babbling, smiling, and laughing. All of this in a matter of a few months!

When babies learn new skills, they are often eager to practice these new skills even when they don’t mean to. You may wake up to a crying baby who’s rocking on their hands and knees trying to crawl even if they really want to sleep! Here are a few developmental milestones you’ll likely see around 8 months old that can impact sleep:

  • Crawling and possibly “cruising” (walking with assistance holding onto furniture)
  • Babbling and possibly stringing sounds together such as “mama” and “dada”
  • Object Permanence
  • Pointing at objects
  • More control over fine motor skills

Unfortunately, these developmental milestones are the primary cause of the 8 month old sleep regression. Although there are several sleep regressions, this is one of the worst. It’s because your baby is going through so many changes many of which we are outlining on this page. The good news is that it’s usually over within 3 to 6 weeks, on average. Some nights will be better than others and then, hopefully, your 8-month-old will go back to sleeping through the night.

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On top of learning so many new things, your baby is also probably teething. The few days right before a tooth cuts through the gums can lead to frequent night-waking as well as short naps. Usually, once the tooth cuts through, even if it’s not all the way through, your baby will start sleeping better, again.

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Even if your baby was sleeping 12 hours by 12 Weeks Old, some 8-month-old babies start waking up at night again from hunger. This is for several reasons:

First, your baby is moving a lot more which means they are burning more calories and speeding up their metabolism. This month is often when we add another solid meal into the daytime schedule.

Second, your baby is getting bigger and might be able to eat more at each sitting or take a bigger bottle. If you haven’t caught onto that just yet, your baby need more milk at night since they aren’t getting their maximum during the day.

And, finally, your baby may be too busy to eat during the day when they are on the move! Many babies this age are very distracted during the day so when they are resting at night sleeping, they start to feel hungry at night. This is one reason reverse cycling happens to some babies.

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8 Month Olds Won’t Sleep Because of Separation Anxiety

When a baby learns object permanence, it can also spark separation anxiety and a fear of strangers, unfortunately. Your baby now understands you could leave and never come back! That can be scary for babies. If your baby has separation anxiety, they might cry when you leave the room or want you to hold them a lot.

Although it never truly goes away, we see peaks of separation anxiety at various ages: 7-8 months old, 12 months, 18 months, and 2 years old. However, even when my son was in Kindergarten, he wished I would be with him! Take heart that the peak at 8 months will likely last just a few weeks and improve again. You should also know that leaving and coming back in short durations can help them learn faster that you always do in fact come back.

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8 Month Old Schedule Problems

Should your 8 month old take two naps or three naps? That is the important question in this month because it can be confusing. While some babies will still take three naps for a bit longer, many babies will drop their third nap at this age. That can make all of these other reasons your 8 month old won’t sleep even worse! Getting your 8 month old’s schedule right will give everyone a better night’s sleep.

When nap transitions happen, it can cause frequent waking at night due to overtiredness. With a third nap, they might have insomnia but without the nap, they are overtired and can’t sleep through the night. It can be a bumpy 3-week period or so. Most babies will take just two naps by 9 months old so it’s most likely time to ditch the third nap altogether. However, you may need to offer a third nap every 5 days or so just to ease the transition.

We hope you learned something about your 8 month old in today’s article though we’ve only scratched the surface. Make sure you also read the 15 Reasons Why Baby Wakes at Night. And, if you’re still struggling, you may want to consider doing some gentle sleep training.

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