So you’ve planned their first birthday party, started looking nostalgically at their newborn outfits, and breathed a sigh of relief because sleepless nights with your soon-to-be-toddler are a thing of the past.
Then – boom! – from one day to the next, bedtime becomes a battle.
The 12 month sleep regression has reared its ugly head.
But it’s also normal, and (as much as you might not believe us right now) it will pass.
Here’s what’s going on, and what you can do to help.
In this article 📝
- Is there a 12 month sleep regression?
- What causes the 12 month sleep regression?
- How do you break the 12 month sleep regression?
- How long does the 12 month sleep regression last?
Is there a 12 month sleep regression?
The 12 month sleep regression is absolutely real.
Most parents notice a blip in their kid’s sleep at about this age – even if that means 11 months, or 13, rather than at exactly a year.
But just to make things even more interesting, sleep regressions can also show up looking like:
- Fighting to stay awake at naptime.
- Staying awake for a long time in the middle of the night.
- Waking up very early in the morning.
What causes the 12 month sleep regression?
If there is a “reason” for the one year sleep regression, it’s probably all the new things that your little one is learning at this age.
All babies are different, but they tend to grasp big concepts like cause and effect (if I hit the ball, it rolls away!) or object permanence (if Mama covers my toy with a cloth, it’s still there!) at the same age.
When babies make one of these “mental leaps,” it turns their world upside down. And while this new chapter is really exciting, it can also have an effect on their sleep schedule.
At one year old, there are usually two main things behind the sleep regression.
One is a physical milestone: learning to walk.
The other is a mental one: learning that they’re their own person, but they still depend on you.
Their world is getting bigger and more exciting by the day, but the more that happens, the more they might need you to be there for reassurance when it gets a bit too much.
It’s no surprise to hear that the 12 month sleep regression and separation anxiety often go hand in hand.
How do you break the 12 month sleep regression?
Sadly, there’s really no way to fix a sleep regression, especially if there’s an element of separation anxiety at play.
Often, the best thing you can do is ride it out and try not to introduce any habits that will make it harder to get your baby back into their “normal” sleep routine later.
Here are some tips that might help:
Use up their energy
Burning off your little one’s energy might get them ready for a good night’s sleep – especially if you can get out in the fresh air and sunshine to reinforce their natural day/night rhythm.
Stick to the routine
Keep doing what you’ve always done at bedtime (even if it means tucking them in 20 times instead of once).
If you can, it’s great to build a relaxing bedtime or pre-naptime routine that makes your little one feel safe and secure.
Keep naptimes the same
When the 12 month sleep regression hits, some parents assume that their baby is sleeping worse at night because they’re sleeping too much during the day.
The truth is, most one-year-olds still need two naps.
Changing their nap schedule might even make it harder to fall asleep at night – either because their bedtime has been pushed back, or because they’re (ironically) so overtired that they can’t drop off at all.
Be there, but be boring
Whether your little one is anxious to sleep alone, or they’d much rather be exploring, you might find it easiest to sit with them while they’re drifting off.
The only thing is, they’ll probably be trying their best to get your attention.
If you can keep your voice low and calm, and avoid eye contact, they should get the message that it’s not time to play with mama right now.
Call in reinforcements
If you can, ask someone else to take a turn putting your baby to sleep.
Or, if that doesn’t work for you, get someone to watch them during the day while you take some time to recover.
Sleep regressions are tough for everybody, and it’s totally okay to ask for help.
How long does the 12 month sleep regression last?
Hang in there, mama.
The good news is that sleep regressions usually resolve themselves in about one to four weeks.
Getting out of a sleep regression often feels like a much slower transition than getting into it, but it really won’t last forever.
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