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Sleep and Separation Anxiety Unraveled: Decoding the 8-10 Month Sleep Regression

Picture this: your once sleep-through-the-night champion is suddenly waking up multiple times during the night, refusing to go back to sleep, and throwing your sleep routine off track. Or maybe you have a baby who never really slept consistently, and now they are waking even more than you thought humanly possible. Sound familiar? Welcome to the infamous 8-10 month sleep regression! The good news is, you're not alone. Many parents experience this common sleep hiccup around the 8-10 month mark. But fear not, tired parents, because we've got some tips to help you survive and conquer the 8-10 month sleep regression.


So what causes the 8-10 month sleep regression?


Like with previous sleep regressions, it's all about development. At this age, your baby is going through some exciting changes. They're becoming more mobile, learning new skills, and their little minds are like sponges, soaking up information. All these new experiences can make it harder for them to settle down and sleep peacefully.


One of the biggest factors affecting their sleep right now is Separation anxiety.


I remember going through this so clearly when my eldest was 9 months old. She would follow me every where I went saying “mama, mama, mama” unless I was physically holding her in my arms. At night time, I would put her in her crib and if she was asleep she would promptly wake up. And there was NO chance of that kid going into her bed drowsy. It was really, really hard. And I was really, really tired.


What I wish I knew was that separation anxiety is caused from the development of object and person permanence.


This means your baby now gets that when a person or object is out of view, they do not cease to exist. Your baby once thought that you were an extension of themselves, basically another limb. They now recognize that you can come and go, and this can be very scary for them. Since bedtime is the biggest point of separation in their day, this can lead to some epic bedtime battles.

The good news is that separation anxiety is something that you can work on during the day, which will lead to calmer bedtimes and less wake ups.


In addition to prioritizing naps, preventing overtiredness, and considering sleep coaching to help your baby fall asleep in their crib space, try these tips to help handle this phase like a pro:


Take It Slow


Start with baby steps. Gradually introduce short separations to build your baby's confidence. Let them spend some time with trusted caregivers or family members and gradually increase the duration. It's all about baby steps, folks!


Stick to the Plan


Routines are your BFF. Stick to a predictable schedule for meals, naps, and playtime. Having a routine gives your baby a sense of security and helps them cope with those tricky transitions.


Quick Goodbyes, Big Love


Keep any goodbyes short and sweet. Show your love and give a big smooch, but don't linger. Dragging it out can make things tougher.


Comfort Object


Introduce a special comfort item, like a cozy blankie or their favorite toy. This little buddy can be their sidekick when you're not around, providing that extra dose of comfort and familiarity.


Peek-a-Boo Fun


Play a game of peek-a-boo to show your baby that disappearing acts can be fun. It helps them understand that you'll always come back. Lift the flap books are a great tool too!


Independent Playtime


Encourage some solo playtime to help your baby spread their wings. Start by hanging out nearby, and gradually increase the distance. Let them explore and entertain themselves while you cheer them on from a distance. You can even leave the room for short amounts of time (1 or 2 minutes) and reassure them verbally or sing to them if they begin to fuss.


Keep Your Zen On


Stay cool, calm, and consistent in your reactions. Your baby picks up on your vibes, so show them that separations are no biggie.


Rally Your Support Crew


Don't go it alone! Reach out to other parents or friends who have been through this phase. Sharing experiences and tips can be a game-changer. You got this!


By following these chill tips and creating a loving and supportive environment, you'll help your little one conquer separation anxiety like a champ. The 24/7 responsiveness of being a parent can be tiring at the best of times. But know that by responding consistently to your baby, you are showing them that they can rely on you, and this trust will set the foundation for all their relationships to come.

If you need support helping your baby feel safer in their sleep space and want to know how I can help them fall asleep in their sleep space without ignoring them or any cry it out, book a free 15 minute consultation today.


a baby trying to fall asleep at bedtime

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