What is a Sleep Regression?
Table of Contents
Sleep Regressions are expected disruptions in sleep for a baby or toddler that was formerly sleeping well. It is when your infant resists falling asleep, begins waking more during the night, or struggles naps out of the blue.
Sleep regressions occur at expected times since they're related to developmental milestones. As your baby improves in one area (such as walking or talking), it is normal for one more facet of growth to temporarily regress.
Because they coincide with developmental landmarks, sleep regressions may happen at 6 weeks, 4 months, 6-7 months, 8-10 months, 12 months, 18 months, and two years old. Most children experience a couple of sleep regressions within their first 2 years. It is unusual for a child to experience all of these.
The good thing is that sleep regressions are temporary. And your 12-month-old should go back to sleeping well in 1-2 weeks.
So, if your little one was sleeping well, but is suddenly waking up at night, struggling bedtime or naps, and is fussier than usual- she could be going through the 12-month sleep regression (or the one-year-old sleeping regression.”)
What's unique about the 12-month sleep regression?
So now that you know growth milestones can lead to sleep temporarily regress, it is no wonder that your 12-month-old won't sleep! Many infants take their first steps at this age, talking several words obviously, following simple commands, and progressing their fine motor skills. A lot is going on in your little one's mind and body!
Also, separation anxiety may peak at 12 months old. It is a normal development phase but can be very stressful if your child becomes clingier or yells whenever you put her down or leave the space.
Separation anxiety frequently surfaces at sleep times. If your infant was formerly fine falling asleep on her own, she might now cry when put in her crib awake.
Greater awareness of the world can make it particularly tough for your 12-month-old to wind down and fall asleep for naps. She will fight to fall asleep because she would instead be playing!
Also, nap patterns can change around your child's first birthday. Many 12-month-olds start combating the day nap, causing their parents to think it is time to switch to a single nap. However, this often leads to more crankiness, over-tiredness, and worsened sleep since your baby is not ready for a single nap.
Signs of the 12 months sleep regression.
- Fighting naps or short naps
- Waking more at night
- Resisting bedtime
- More fussy, restless, or clingy
- Hungrier than normal
12 Month Sleep Regression Survival Tips
Tip #1: Know What you could expect from your baby's sleep
The first step in fixing your child's sleep problems is to understand what you can realistically expect. Having a good idea of your own 12-month-old toddler's sleep helps you know just what you're working toward.
Naps & Awake Times
- Your baby needs 2-3 full hours of napping every day.
- This is usually divided between two naps. It is usually too early to fall to a single nap.
- Awake times of 2.5–4 hours during the day work best at this age.
Bedtime should lie between 6:30-8 pm.
This is the “normal” range for bedtime, though try to keep your kid's bedtime within a 15-minute range every evening. (Tight bedtimes lead to the best night's sleep.)
Many 12-month-olds need 11-12 hours of sleep at night. (Some can get by with 10 hours night-time sleep if they nap 3 hours daily and moods are stable.)
- Your 1-year-old can sleep through the night without feeding!
- If you are concerned about your child's growth or weight gain, please double-check this with your child's doctor.
Total sleep in 24 hours
Tip #2: Maintain daytime active
Most 12-month-olds are active little souls! They are busy scooting around the furniture or walking and require tons of time every day to practice new skills. So, ensure that your baby has ample time during the day to move around and burn off physical energy.
Plan a baby-proofed play area in your living room to keep your baby busy. You may even place him at a jumper or action center, so he is aroused and busy while you do housework or catch up on emails.
Time spent outside is vital to helping our little ones take in fresh stimulation and burn off energy. Include a visit to the park or playtime at the yard every day. A stroll around the area can help prevent pent-up energy preventing your baby from settling to sleep. On bad weather ti, es, arrange a play date or sign up to get a baby swim course.
Being active throughout the day will stop your 12-month infant from being awake hours in the night wanting to practice his new skills!
Tip #3: Do not make big changes to your sleep routine
The 12-month sleep regression isn't the time to transition to a single nap or switch into a toddler bed. Regressions are cases of restlessness and disrupted sleep. The more you're able to stick to your infant's typical sleep pattern, the better she will bounce back following this regression passes.
Specifically, stay informed about your relaxing bedtime routine and consistent bedtime every day. If a small one typically falls asleep on her own, continue to encourage this regularly. You'll be able to sit silently in a chair in her room if separation distress makes her cry when you leave her room.
Keep your baby on 2 naps per day, with awake occasions ranging from 2.5-4 hours. Sometimes day-care will transition infants to a nap at 12 weeks old. If your day-care insists on doing so, that is ok. Just be sure baby continues to take 2 naps when home with you. Earlier bedtimes may also be required on day-care days.
(Easier said than done with a 1-year-old fighting sleep) but try your hardest to prevent pulling baby into bed with you. Even though it can look like the one thing that works, it guarantees you will be co-sleeping long-term.
Rather than bed-sharing, keep your baby sleeping in her crib, and you camp out in her bedroom for a couple of days and ride this out sleep regression.
Children thrive with routine and consistency, especially during difficult times. Although your baby may fight his normal sleeping routines, doing the exact activities at the same time each day actually alleviates his restlessness because he knows exactly what is going to happen and that it is time for sleep. So, stay consistent!
Tip #4: Give Additional comfort
As babies and toddlers undergo developmental bursts, it is normal for them to seek their parents' closeness. Your 12-month-old is learning to be more independent and mobile but still requires a good deal of reassurance.
Separation anxiety is the practice of newfound liberty causing stress to your little one. Your infant is understanding more and more that she is another person from her parents. And there'll be times she desires more affection, comfort, and reassurance.
Your baby will also be fussy, over-tired, or clingy due to the disrupted sleep from this regression.
Give your baby additional cuddles, kisses, and one-third time throughout the day. Tell her how much you love her. Make a habit of sitting down together several times per day (for only 10 minutes each), playing a game, reading a book, or singing songs together.
Make sure the baby's bedtime routine is full of eye contact and hugs and free of distractions. This can help your child unwind enough to take falling asleep.
At 12 months old, you may safely present a stuffed animal or lovey. Giving them something to cuddle helps calm and comfort your baby at bedtime.
Tip #5: Feed your baby more often
There's frequently a growth spurt around your child's first birthday, making your little one hungrier than normal. This additional hunger can make him wake up early from a nap or more frequently at night.
Don't refuse a night-time feed if your baby awakens and looks truly hungry. Feed him, and be sure to concentrate on feeding more the next day.
Your 12-month-old should have solids or milk every 2-3 hours during the day in this regression. Perhaps you will need to increase the number of his feeds or provide a bite more frequently. Feeding sufficient to fuel his growth spurt can help stop his appetite from interrupting his sleep.
Tip #6: Hold off weaning for today
Going through several important milestones at the same time can be a recipe for a sleeping catastrophe! If you decided to wean off breastfeeding when your child turned one, but you are in the throes of this 12-month sleep regression, hold waiting a couple of weeks.
Since regressions coincide with a call for more closeness with the mother, trying to wean may be harder. Rather, use breastfeeding as a way to comfort your baby in this tiring and restless phase.
Tip #7: Find creative ways to get a Rest
There's no shame in admitting you are exhausted and frustrated and require a rest. Nobody wins awards for “toughing it out” through a sleeping regression.
Sleep deprivation and lack of me-time make most mothers grumpy and short-tempered. Carving out little blocks of time for rest and rejuvenation will get you through this rough patch without additional mother guilt as you yelled or snapped in your loved ones.
You don't need a regular babysitter to have a rest.
Instead, there are loads of creative ways of getting help:
- Do a swap with another mother. You each take turns accompanying the children for 2-3 hours daily. This is loads of time to get a mental break, a rest, or a lunch date with your very best friend, kid-free!
- See if your gym or YMCA includes a free day-care. You can do a workout regime, hang out in the steam room or rest in the car!
- You and your spouse take shifts. No point in you being tired and drained all of the time. You get one night of complete sleep wearing earplugs in the guest room. Tomorrow night, you are on shift, and your partner receives a break. Do this during the day, also. The trade-off 2-3-hour breaks to do anything you need on Saturday. On Sunday, it's Dad's turn!
- Find a teen in your area who will babysit (affordably) for a couple of hours.
- If naps are almost impossible, it is ok to allow the baby to nap in the stroller or car. Wear earplugs and listen to your favorite music while the infant snoozes on the go. Whatever encourages baby sleep simplest during this regression!
- Send a spontaneous invite to grandparents asking them to come to see. After a little small talk, hand over the baby to them and sneak off for a rest! Many grandparents are also happy to see the baby in the morning so that you can find an additional hour of sleep.
Tip #8: Stick to independent sleep habits
Most toddlers need additional comfort to relax and sleep through sleep regressions, but try to keep up with your baby's different sleep customs.
Make it a goal to maintain your 12-month-old sleeping in his crib, and do whatever you can to accomplish this! You might need to sit down in a seat (or sleep on the ground) in the baby's bedroom to get a few nights. Maintaining your baby's sleep environment and constant patterns will make it so much easier to get back on track when this regression passes.
Do your best to prevent feeding or rocking to sleep since this can make babies wake up more at night, having to be fed or rocked.
At 12 months, your baby can be likely to sleep 10-12 hours at night without feeding. What a terrific birthday present to give your whole family!
Tip #9: Smoothly tweak naps (with a warning)
At 12 months old, your little one still needs 2 intervals of silent rest every day. Ideally, this would be two sticks, but if your 12-month-old is fighting naps, it is ok to allow her to hang out in the crib awake during rest time.
If your toddler always refuses the day nap, shorten the morning rest to one hour. This helps her take another rest 3-4 hours later.
Around 12 months old, many infants need slightly longer awake times. This might be a reason your 12-month-old is fighting naps. Increase awake times to 3-4 hours and see if this helps your baby settle simpler.
A fantastic way to help your child catch up on lost sleep would be to move bedtime earlier. This is particularly useful if she is overtired from brief naps or waking a lot at night.
Is it a growth spurt, teething, or a regression interrupting my child's sleep?
Before deciding the 12-month sleep regression is the cause of all your problems, it is important to rule out other “usual suspects.” Other causes of sleep problems such as 12-month-olds are teething and growth spurts. Let us discuss them below.
12-month sleep regression
Many parents blame teething for months (or even months) of bad sleep. While it's true that teething can interrupt your child's sleep, this intriguing article clarifies that teething only affects sleep for a couple days.
If you can't feel or see a tooth bud in your infant's gums, the odds are that teething is not the issue.
Growth Spurts make infants hungrier for 2-3 days. Babies need more nutrition and calories during times of rapid expansion. So, it is normal for the little one to want to eat more during the day and night.
If your toddler has experienced a sudden appetite growth with no other indications of clinginess, fussiness, or restlessness- it may be a growth spurt. Increase the number of solid meals by one tablespoon each meal. Or give your baby a snack or milk more frequently during the day.
If your infant has been waking up hungry several times each night for several weeks, it is not a growth spurt. It's a habit. Concentrate on feeding your 12-month-old milk, a snack every 2-3 hours during the day. Then begin weaning off night-time feeds.
If your 12-month old's naps and night-time sleep have recently slowed from the blue- and neither added feedings nor pain relief seems to help – it is probably because of sleep regression.
This is especially true if many facets of your child's sleep are affected, like fighting naps and waking up more at night. In cases like this, following the suggestions from this guide will help your child sleep in addition to possible during this rough patch.
Keep in Mind, the 12-month-old sleep regression is a temporary period of clinginess, restlessness, and disturbed sleep. It reeks that it can coincide with your infant Turning one and the party that will ensue! However, a bit of flexibility, and after the 9 tips from this guide, will guarantee this rough patch does not completely ruin your child's sleep.
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