Kim West is dedicated to providing tired parents with excellent sleep advice and coaching. She is the author of GOOD NIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT: The Sleep Lady’s Gentle Guide to Helping Your Child Go to Sleep; Stay Asleep and Wake Up Happy, the Good Night, Sleep Tight Workbook, and 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies.
From rooming in to sleep coaching to crying it out, managing your infant’s sleep can be tiresome and exhausting. Do you know what is normal for your 8-month-old when it comes to sleep? Kim West, Bundoo’s Sleep Expert, explains how to handle sleep issues around this age.
Bundoo: What’s “normal” at 8 months, or is there even such a thing? Should babies be sleeping through the night, or is it typical for babies to still be waking up during the night and crying for you?
Kim West: Many healthy, full-term babies need one full feeding at night if they are sleeping a full 11-12 hours. Know that there is a difference between a complete, full feeding and comfort nursing back to sleep. If your baby is waking several times during the night to nurse back to sleep and feeding well during the day, then it’s likely that your baby is sucking to sleep rather than getting a full feeding. Review your baby’s feeding schedule with your doctor. Here’s a sample schedule.
If you decide to sleep coach, always start at bedtime after a great day of naps — anyway you can get them. This includes using a bouncy chair, swing, rock ‘n play, or even the stroller or car. You can start nap coaching after your first night sleep coaching.
Teaching a baby to fall back to sleep on his or her own is a major event. What’s your favorite technique parents can use to help their babies go back to sleep when they wake up in the night?
I recommend that parents use a sleep coaching method that does not involve a lot of crying. To minimize tears, start sleep coaching at bedtime after a good day of naps, focusing on nighttime sleep.
Many parents get frustrated and want to start sleep coaching mid-night. Don’t do it! Instead, start at bedtime — the easiest time to learn to fall asleep — and remain consistent in your responses through the night until it’s time to wake up.
When it comes to “crying it out,” there are lots of strong opinions about it. What’s your opinion on crying it out? Is there a right way to do it, or should parents avoid it completely?
Whatever sleep coaching method you choose, make sure that you can follow through with consistency. Sleep coaching is all about finding the right match for your family and your baby’s temperament. Personally, I always start gradually, which tends to be gentler.
If you’re already using cry it out and it’s not working, take a few days (or a week) to re-group, and then move to a more gradual sleep coaching method.
If you’re not sure your sleep coaching method is working, I recommend that you monitor your progress this way: if there is no reduction in crying and the length of time it takes your baby to go to sleep in three nights, then stop and re-evaluate.
Before you re-start sleep coaching, be sure to rule out any potential medical conditions that may be interfering with your child’s sleep. If the doctor gives the green light again, start again with a gentler method.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, August 2019