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12 Month Sleep Regression

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Cara Dumaplin

baby standing at crib during 12 month sleep regression

Your baby’s first birthday has arrived! She is learning so much, moving all over the place, and getting into everything! During all of this physical, mental, social, and emotional growth, sleep can become a little tricky. This is sometimes called the 12 month sleep regression. I want to help!

What is a sleep regression?

When a baby’s brain is going through huge developmental changes, sleep can be impacted. Here's what I want you to know: Sleep regressions are a sign of developmental progressions.⁣ Your baby’s brain is working hard! 

Can I talk you through my approach to sleep regressions?

What is your baby learning at 12 months?

Your baby is learning so much at this age. He is likely becoming more mobile, following simple commands (“Give it to Daddy!”) and saying a few words. He is increasingly aware of the world around him, developing a deeper understanding of language and has a higher interest in play. Your baby might begin to think: "This world is so exciting, why would I want to sleep?"

Expectations can also change around this age. As you celebrate your sweet baby turning 1, you may find yourself thinking of your little one as a young toddler rather than an older baby. This can come with big transitions: some babies transition to a different room at daycare or in the church nursery, other babies are switching from bottles to cups, some families choose to stop nursing, and many parents begin to wonder when it’s time to move to one nap. These are HUGE changes, and these changes can also add to new sleep struggles. This struggle is referred to as the 12 month sleep regression.

What can you do?

Be intentional about practicing new skills.

Encourage lots of floor-time so your little one can crawl, pull up, walk along furniture, and just play. The more you practice during the day, the less exciting those activities seem when it’s time to sleep.

Pay attention to changing sleep needs.

Most are not quite ready to drop down to one nap right at 12 months, but many will try to trick you into thinking it's time for that transition. Instead, plan to maintain two naps! You may need to adjust your nap lengths to have time for full wake windows. If you need help with schedules, this blog is here to help.

Daycare parents, I understand that you may not have much control over when the 2 to 1 nap transition occurs. Some daycares do transition as early as 11-12 months. This is very early for many babies, but trust that your daycare can handle it. If keeping your baby on 2 naps when at home works best, do it! Allowing 2 naps temporarily may be the best decision for your little one. If you have more questions, check out this blog on Daycare and Baby Sleep.

Plan for active awake time. 

Most 12 month olds will need about 3.5-4 hours of awake time prior to bedtime. Wake your little one by 3:00-4:00 pm to maintain a 7:00-8:00 pm bedtime.

Understand how your baby thinks.

Object permanence is developing further which can often lead to increased separation anxiety. Keep practicing and playing games like Peek-a-Boo to help your baby continue to explore this concept.

Be mindful of big transitions.

Some transitions are necessary or inevitable at this age. We can’t control those! But with transitions that are in our control, pay attention to how you time those! For example: if your baby is taking her first steps and working on her cruising, we may want to wait a few more weeks before trying to transition to a sippy cup.

Stay consistent.

Don’t start new habits or patterns that you don’t want to maintain. This regression may be tough for several days, but the more consistent you are, the more quickly it will pass.

Have a plan.

If your nights or naps are rough beyond just a few days, I have a class for you that is safe during the regression. The ABCs of Sleep will give you a step-by-step plan to restful nights and solid naps through all regressions. Not ready to invest in a class? I’ve created a free resource with strategies to implement today that includes 5 Daytime Tips for Better Nights (and Naps!)



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