How much should an 8-month-old sleep?
An 8-month-old schedule for sleep should consist of about 13 to 14 hours of sleep a day. This is typically broken up into an overnight stretch and two naps a day. Most babies of this age sleep between one and two hours each nap, but every child is different, and some may sleep for as little as 20 minutes or take one long three-hour nap instead of two shorter ones. An 8-month-old who naps twice a day will usually have a morning and an afternoon nap.
While your child should be doing the bulk of their sleeping during the overnight hours, this doesn't mean it will be consistent, solid sleeping without waking. It's still very normal for 8-month-olds to wake at night. It may be for just a few minutes before they self-soothe back to sleep, or it may be for a night breastfeeding session.
What do I do if my 8-month-old won't sleep through the night?
If your 8-month-old won't sleep through the night, it can be frustrating and increase your risk of experiencing other side effects from lack of sleep such as difficulty concentrating, depression, and changes in your intimate relationship with your partner. And while there's no magic bullet when it comes to infant sleep, there are some things you can do to give you and your baby the best chance for a restful night's sleep.
One of the most common reasons an 8-month-old won't sleep is because many babies go through a sleep regression at this time. Somewhere between 8 and 10 months old, most infants will start waking up frequently at night or suddenly change their nap schedule — or refuse them altogether. This is because there is a lot happening developmentally at this age. These babies are learning to talk and move around; some might even be getting ready to walk. All of this requires a lot of brain development, which can impact the length and quality of sleep.
Your baby may also start waking more frequently at this time due to a growth spurt, teething, separation anxiety, or even digestive discomfort from starting to experiment with solid foods. Your baby's system is very sensitive, and it doesn't take much for something to throw things off. When it does, sleep is usually the first thing impacted.
Another possibility is if you start taking a new medication, such as for allergies. Many medicines transfer into breast milk and then to the baby, and some can cause adverse effects like frequent wakings. Always make sure to check with your doctor before taking any medications, including over-the-counter ones, to ensure they're safe while breastfeeding.
If your child wakes during the night, give them a few minutes to see if they fall back asleep on their own. If they continue to cry, make sure everything’s all right, then reassure them that you’re there by patting them gently on the back for a few moments. You should then return to your room to discourage them from staying awake to gain more attention. This needs to be done consistently to teach your baby when it’s time for sleeping.