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8 to 12 months

PLAYING: The power of sleep

The power of sleep

As well as recharging your baby’s batteries for tomorrow’s playtime, sleep can help their brain, body, and even vocabulary develop.  

5 mins to read Jan 4, 2022

There are few sights more heart-warming than that of your blissfully sleeping baby. Whether it’s a nap after a busy, active morning, or night-time sleep after their regular bedtime routine, this is their chance to rest their body and mind. 

The link between sleep and speech 

Sleep is so much more than downtime for babies. It plays a positive and critical role in your baby’s brain development and physical growth. 

What you may find surprising is that recent research has linked early sleep patterns with vocabulary development when babies are older. The number of naps your baby takes in the daytime now, say experts, may have a positive impact on the number of words they speak and understand when they are older.н

How much sleep is enough?

All babies are unique, but at eight to 10 months, your baby will probably sleep for between nine and 12 hours a night. Unlike when they were  first born, your baby may be sleeping through the night now, which means you feel more rested too. With all the activity your little one enjoys in the daytime, as well as the new skills they’re learning every day, it’s no surprise they’re ready for a good night’s sleep.

At this age, your baby needs around 15 to 16 hours of total sleep each day, including daytime naps and night-time sleep. Your baby will likely be napping two  times during the day, for varying amounts of time. Some babies will nap for 30 minutes and others for up to two hours. You may meet with some resistance from your baby at nap time. It may be that your baby simply does not want to be away from you, rather than that they aren’t tired.

Routine, routine, routine 

Babies have been shown to sleep longer when there is an established bedtime routine. Perhaps the routine in your house starts at 7pm and includes a bath, a story or lullaby, and a kiss goodnight. Whatever you have become used to doing should be part of each night’s pre-sleep pattern. 

Your baby is probably so familiar with their bedtime routine by now that they choose the story or lullaby they prefer! Just as you did when they were younger, avoid giving them a bottle in their crib. By putting your baby down in their crib when  they are drowsy but still awake, you have helped them learn how to fall asleep on his own. (Want more calming bedtime routine ideas? See 13 tips for sweet dreams.) All of these habits help your little one sleep through the night.

Most babies are able to roll over by this age—so even though you may put your little one in their crib on their back, you may find them lying on their stomach in the morning. They can decide if they want to sleep on their back or tummy now.

Many babies will sleep through the night, but some may still wake several times. If they do wake in the night, it’s unlikely to be for a feeding at this age, so check other reasons first.  Research indicates that breastfed and formula-fed babies wake about the same number of times each night. 

Sleep problems and solutions

  • Separation anxiety If you are noticing some reluctance by your baby to be away from you, they  may be starting to experience separation anxiety. One way to help is with a ‘transitional object’, such as a toy or piece of fabric, which can be safely left in his crib, until after they fall asleep. This can help them settle when they are away from you and can be one more step toward independence for them. Choose a soft, washable toy without sharp ends or small parts that could come loose (such as buttons) and check that it’s made from flame resistant/retardant fabrics.  
  • Inadequate sleep Lack of routine could be the reason for your baby not getting enough sleep. Late bedtimes, a television in your baby’s room, and not having a bedtime routine are all associated with shorter sleep times, according to recent research. 
  • Nightmares At eight to 10 months, your baby may start to have nightmares. These occur during dream—rapid eye movement (REM)—sleep and your baby may wake up crying and upset. Go in and comfort them, give them cuddles, and reassure them that you’re there and they’re safe.


Recognizing reasons for waking up

If your baby has been sleeping through the night and starts to wake up occasionally, don’t immediately offer a feeding. Instead, run through possible reasons for their waking up in your mind. After checking the obvious need for a diaper change, or being too hot/cold, ask yourself the following questions:

 Are they teething?

  1. Do they have a cold? Or have they just had vaccinations?
  2. Has their usual bedtime routine changed?
  3. Is something different tonight? Are you on vacation, or have you just moved to a new house?
  4. Have they had a bad dream?

If you suspect teething is the culprit, try using a cold washcloth on their gums to soothe them. If you think they woke up due to one of these other reasons, soothe and reassure them. Always consult your healthcare provider if your baby is showing any signs of illness.



  • Hirshkowitz M, Whiton K, Albert SM et al. National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Sleep Health 2015; 1(1):40-43.

  • Horvath K, Plunkett K. Frequent daytime naps predict vocabulary growth in early childhood. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 2016; 57(9):1008-17.

  • Tham EK, Schneider N, Broekman BF. Infant sleep and its relation with cognition and growth: a narrative review. Nat Sci Sleep 2017; 9:135-49.


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