If your baby stops sleeping well in the 5-8 month age range, it is likely due to one of these 11 reasons. Solve your baby’s sleep problems.
I get asked for help solving sleep problems far more than any other topic. Sleep is a concern for you and sleep problems creep up frequently throughout baby’s first year.
The 5-8 month old age range can be particularly troublesome. You have just come out of the 4 month sleep regression and quickly head into a 6 month sleep regression. Soon after that, you get an 8 month sleep regression.
Along with the regressions, there are many changes happening in your baby’s life that can cause short naps.
Whenever your little one stops sleeping well, you want to identify why. You can’t get baby back to sleeping for naps and night without addressing why it isn’t happening.
Here are the top ten most common reasons a 5-8 month old has stopped sleeping well.
- 1-Your Child is Hungry
- 2-Your Child is Teething
- 3-Your Child is Sick
- 4-Your Child Needs to Drop the Third Nap and Go to Two Naps a Day
- 5-Your Child is Curious
- 6-There Have Been Changes or Disruptions to Daily Life
- 7-Waketime (Playtime) Length is Not Correct
- 8-Your Child Needs More Stimulation (or Maybe Less!)
- 9-Your Child is Working on a New Skill
- 10-Your Child Needs a Larger Diaper at Night
- 11-Your Baby is Having a Sleep Regression
- Related Posts
- Reader Questions
1-Your Child is Hungry
What might look like a six-month sleep regression might really just be hunger. Infant sleep will always be disrupted if baby is hungry.
The first thing to check when a baby is not sleeping well anymore is the possibility of hunger.
Is your child having a growth spurt?
Does your baby need to start having solid foods added to the day?
Is your milk supply where baby needs it?
Do you need to to increase the amount of formula at each feeding?
Always consider the hunger possibility first. If baby is hungry and you don’t address it, nothing can fix the poor sleep.
If your child has sudden night waking between 5-8 months of age, be sure it isn’t because of hunger. Your child might be ready for solids, or for an increase in the amount of solids in a day.
For more information on growth spurts and hunger, see:
- Baby Whisperer: Growth Spurts
- Babywise Instructs Parents to Feed Baby When Hungry
- Baby Growth Spurts: Everything You Need To Know
- Is Baby’s Night Waking from Hunger?
- Hunger Cues: How To Know if Baby Is Hungry
2-Your Child is Teething
Once you are sure it isn’t hunger, the next thing to check is teething.
This is especially true in the 5-8 month range. Teething pains can happen long before teeth come in. The most painful part is before the tooth erupts, not after.
If it is teething, your child will have swollen gums.
If I suspect teething, I do a test. I give my child Ibuprofen before a nap. If the child sleeps well that nap, I have a safe assumption that it was indeed teething pains that were waking the baby.
Your baby will probably also be irritable during awake time if there is teething pain going on. Your baby will seem clingy and discontented.
Daytime irritability usually is present if this is the reason for waking.
Here are some posts on teething to help your little one:
3-Your Child is Sick
If it is not a hunger issue and there are no signs of teeth, then the next consideration is sickness, especially an ear infection.
Babies can have a hard time sleeping with something as simple as a common cold (and who can blame them!), so it might be a cold.
Ear infections commonly cause sleep problems as well, and anytime a great sleeper suddenly starts waking in the night, I wonder about ear infections.
For help with sickness, see these posts:
4-Your Child Needs to Drop the Third Nap and Go to Two Naps a Day
Your next step is to evaluate the need for a third nap. Your baby might be ready to drop the third nap.
If your child has a fourth nap, it is time to drop it by 5 months old.
If your child takes a full nap for the third nap, try working it back to a catnap. If your baby already catnaps, try dropping the third nap.
The average age for babies go to two naps a day right around 8 months old. That being said, there are babies who go to two naps at 6 months and some at 10 months. The six-month mark is the time to start watching for signs baby is ready for 2 naps a day.
If your baby isn’t sleeping well anymore, isn’t hungry, isn’t teething, and isn’t sick, consider the possibility that your baby might be ready to go to two naps a day.
Keep in mind that the hours of sleep needed at this age doesn’t usually change when a nap is dropped; you just rearrange the sleep.
For help with this nap dropping process, see these posts:
- Dropping the 3rd Nap (evening) Gradually
- The Impact of Dropping the 3rd Nap
- Dropping Naps: A Quick Reference
- Everything You Need to Know About Dropping Naps
5-Your Child is Curious
Babies change the type of sleep we are in approximately every 45 minutes while they are sleeping. At this change, they basically come out of sleep. The hope and goal is that baby will drift back into sleep at this point.
A 5-8 month old baby is typically a lot more curious than younger babies, or at least more aware of the happenings in the world around them.
As your child transitions from RSP and ASP sleep, something wakes him.
This means that you shutting a door somewhere in the house at the 45 minute mark can be enough to rouse baby to be fully awake.
A barking dog, a sibling laughing, a loud truck driving by, the sun rising…any sort of noise or stimulus can make baby curious and push to full alertness rather than transitioning back into sleep. Distractions can really disrupt sleep.
This sleep pattern continues all night. Your baby might wake in the night and hear a noise and get curious. You then think you need to do a night feed, when really baby was just curious.
Waking from noise is when white noise becomes SO very valuable. It helps block out the sounds and disturbances in the home so baby just transitions into the next sleep cycle. Some people worry about using white noise because they think it might start a bad sleep habit, but it is something that really helps have healthy sleep.
See these posts for more on that:
Along with curiosity can come separation anxiety. Developmentally, infants start to comprehend object permanence. When you are not there, your baby knows you still exist. This is a huge part of the six month old sleep regression.
6-There Have Been Changes or Disruptions to Daily Life
Has there been a disruption to baby’s sleep routine? Is the bedtime routine off?
Did you recently move? Has something changed in your day? Did you recently take a vacation? Did the time change happen recently?
Did you drop a nap? Move baby’s room? Did you lengthen baby’s waketime length recently?
Or have you simply been taking advantage of your baby’s ability to be awake longer and also be more flexible?
Disruptions can definitely lead to poor sleep. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever have disruptions. What it means is to monitor disruptions and how well your individual baby can handle them.
- How To Go Out With Your Baby Without Disruption
- How To Expertly Manage Disruptions to Your Baby Routine
- Let Your Schedule Serve You, You Don’t Serve Your Schedule
- 5 Ways Season Changes Disrupt Your Child’s Sleep
7-Waketime (Playtime) Length is Not Correct
Is your baby up the correct length of time for your baby’s sleep needs?
If your baby is up too long, your baby won’t sleep well. If your baby isn’t up long enough, your baby won’t sleep well.
If your baby was sleeping well and now isn’t, then the chances are that baby needs to be awake longer, not a shorter time. For more on this topic, see:
8-Your Child Needs More Stimulation (or Maybe Less!)
If your 8 month old stopped napping, it might be a stimulation issue.
At this age range, stimulation levels often become an issue because stimulation levels need to increase.
We spend so much time being careful in those early months to not overstimulate that we sometimes under-stimulate as baby gets older.
You might need to add in some more physical activity for your baby. You might need to change up the toy options to more age-appropriate selections. You might need to talk more, sing more, or go on walks.
If you have upped stimulation levels, consider that you may have gone too far and need to pull back some. For more on this, see:
9-Your Child is Working on a New Skill
If your baby is learning to roll over, sit up, scoot, crawl, stand up, or even talk, there is an excellent chance your baby will practice those skills in the bed.
This might happen before a nap, leading to baby being overly tired.
This is why it is important to practice new skills during playtime. Tummy time, playing on the floor, working on crawling, talking to baby…these are all helpful. Then baby practices on the floor rather than in the crib.
This might happen mid-nap as baby switches sleep cycles and remembers the fun skill she is working on and pushes herself to full alertness. She is trying to reach a developmental milestone.
You want baby’s development to stay on track, so figure out how you can get baby to sleep for longer periods of time but still over time they should get to practice.
Sleep disruptions when working on a new motor skill is so common that I have a post dedicated to it. See:
10-Your Child Needs a Larger Diaper at Night
If we are talking night sleep disruption, then be sure to consider diaper size.
Infant sleep can always be disrupted by a diaper that is too wet or if baby has leaked through the diaper.
I always put my babies in larger diapers at night than she wore during the day. This helped prevent her from waking during the night because she had leaked through. I don’t want the period of sleep at night to be disrupted by something like a diaper. A larger diaper can give you longer stretches of sleep at night.
11-Your Baby is Having a Sleep Regression
The above ideas are all things you can easily work on with your little one. If none of these help solve nap time or night wakings, you might simply be having a regression.
There isn’t a real 7 month sleep regression, but there is a 6-month sleep regression. If you find your 8 month old not napping well, there is also an 8 month sleep regression.
A 6-month-old baby can also have nightmares, so any age 6-months or later might be facing night mares at night.
All is not lost. There are things you can do. Read about what to do during any month regression here: Sleep Regression: Causes, Ages, and What to Do
If your b aby is having a 6-month-old sleep regression or an 8-month-old sleep regression, you will probably notice some fussiness. Sleeping with a white noise machine can help baby sleep better.
These are the most common reasons for poor sleep in this age range. If your 5 month old stopped sleeping or you have an 8 month old not sleeping (or anything in between), work through this list to solve your sleep problems. As you do, you can get back on your sleep schedule and increase your sleep time duration. Your baby can be back to great sleeping habits soon!
Need Help!! Sara is almost 6 months and we have been doing BW since she was born however the last week or so her napping and nighttime sleep feels like a newborn.
Her schedule the last few weeks: BF/eat 630, 1030, 230, 630 with babyfood offered after each feeding. then at 7p bath and singing/praying then bed.
She would wake up once or twice in the night wanting her pacifier but would go back to sleep. The last week she has woke up multiple times in the night.
I tried CIO sleep training last night and she cried for 2 hours–I would check on her every 10-15 in without her knowing but I do not know what to do.
We got 6 mo shots today and the pediatrician says all her recent behavior is due to teething! What do you think? Any recommendations about teething (he said motrin every 6 hours).
Also, she has gotten where she wants to be held all the time and continually entertained. She uses to do some independent play too and did well but the last week or so feels like we are starting all over.
Any advice or suggestions is welcomed…. thank you for your site. Stacy 🙂
Babywise Mom said…
Stacy, There are several possibilities. One is major growth spurt at 6 months. There is also a six-month sleep regression at this age. Teething is definitely possible. It is also possible the paci is interfering with life.
You are speaking my language today!!! 🙂 I’m one of those 6-month moms that about to pull my hair out.
I’m so confused about what’s going on. She slept perfectly from the age of 8 weeks until 6 months, but then began waking early. Around the 5 o’clock hour (wake-up had always been 7).
The night before last she woke at 4:15 and last night she woke at 2:30. I let her cry last night for 45 minutes with no success. I fed her and she slept again until 6:15. I am so hesitant with night feeding her b/c I don’t want to establish a pattern that we have never had before, and I’m afraid of her “clock” getting stuck where I don’t want it to. But, if she’s waking to hunger, then I want to tend to that, of course.
This has been going on for three weeks or more now. I thought it might be a growth spurt, but could that still be the case?
Another thought…I’m still breast feeding and her weight gain hasn’t been great in my opinion. (Only gaining a couple of ounces in a month.) She’s on solids and is doing great with that. All this makes me wonder if she is really not getting all the calories she needs from my milk.
I can’t believe I dare do this, but would you try implementing the late night feed again in hopes it will carry her through the night?
We’re experiencing nap issues as well, so let me give you a sample of our napping today. 1st nap- 1 hour. 2nd nap- 45 min. 3rd nap- 45 min. I put her down for another 30 min. for a 4th nap b/c it was still so early in the day. I really don’t think she’s getting too much daytime sleep that would affect her nights, even though they aren’t long stretches, do you??? Sorry for my rambling!
Babywise Mom said…
Hi Heather, A growth spurt will last as long as it needs to. Frequent feeding will be needed to get through it. Once your baby gets all of the extra food she needs, it will end.
Keep in mind that it might not be so much a spurt as an increase. Increasing daily calories will help that. I would consult with her doctor about weight gain. My daughter started out on the smaller end of the scale and has pretty much stayed there her whole life. Her doctor has never been concerned with her rate of weight gain.
If it were me, I would add more calories in the form of solids rather than adding a late night feeding. OR I would go down to a 3 hour schedule.
Do consider teething since nights and days are both having disruption. I don’t think she is getting too much sleep. I think I would work down to 3 naps a day and cut out that 4th unless she is too cranky to stay awake. Sleep begets sleep, so better naps should translate into better nights. Good luck!
My 6 month old has been waking a lot at night recently, which is unusual since he’s been sleeping great through the night since 2 months of age.
My guess is that it could be teething, it could be the fact that he recently started solids and I think that affects his digestive track, and we’re also getting ready to move 5 states away, so he could possibly feel the stress and change going on. It could also be the 6-month sleep regression.
I saw your suggestions for how to handle troublesome naptimes, which is helpful, but my question is what do I do when he wakes up at night? It’s happening 5-6 times a night and I want to be able to comfort him without creating a bad habit.
Baum Shelter said…
I feel your pain, Kim. I have a six month old that is waking up several times in the night as well. Thankfully, she isn’t crying and doesn’t seem to need comfort. But she’ll typically wake up at 4:30, talk to herself and play for a while, then settle back down. Wake up at 5:30, settle back down, and wake up again around 6:15 and stay awake until I get her at 7:00.
She doesn’t appear to be hungry at all because of the lack of crying. Her morning and afternoon naps have also decreased from 2 hours to 1 1/2. She still takes a 30-minutes evening catnap because she’s a major crank if she doesn’t. We visited the doctor and he said that she looks great and that there’s no signs of teething. Any thoughts?
Babywise Mom said…
Kim, It is hard when you have so many possible contributing factors; I think it sounds like any one of those can be the issue.
If it is teething, you wouldn’t want to just leave him in bed alone. If you are okay with Tylenol, I would give that to him before bed and try giving it to him at night when he wakes if it has been long enough (I would get the proper dosage prepared before you went to sleep to prevent you from giving him the wrong dosage in your sleepy state).
If he is waking from feeling stress, I don’t know that leaving him alone is the answer either.
Baum Shelter, You situation sounds pretty much like what is described in the book as basically an awareness of surroundings.
Rachel Stellaaa said…
My six month old started waking up anywhere from 1-3 hours earlier than usual in the morning and is usually waking up crying.
This happened suddenly one morning and has occurred pretty much every day for the last few weeks.
I have tried nursing him more during the day and giving him a dream feed at night (which was previously dropped) but this doesn’t seem to help. I have even given him Tylenol before thinking maybe he was in pain, but to change.
I started solids about 2 weeks ago and it hasn’t made any difference. I have even tried blocking out the sun even more in his room. I know it might be the six-month sleep regression. ANY THOUGHTS?
Babywise Mom said…
Rachel, Have you tried the third nap dropping or shortening? Also, if it coincided with starting solids, I would consider a food allergy, constipation, intolerance, etc.
I would also try to figure out what is going on when he wakes, though it doesn’t seem he is waking at the same time.
If you started solids in hopes of helping this situation and get more sleep hours at night, know that it usually takes some time before they are eating enough to really impact their calorie needs.
Rachel Stellaaa said…
It actually began before I started giving solids, and changing the length of his last nap and extra food during the day hasn’t seemed to help. I guess I’ll just have to go with the flow… and I’ll let you know if I ever figure out what’s going on!
This post originally appeared on this blog October 2016 and May 2008
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