12 month sleep regression - whats going on?
Sleep regressions, do they ever end?
What is a sleep regression?
A sleep regression is a a phase, usually 2-6 weeks where your baby or toddler who was sleeping great suddenly starts waking a lot, refusing naps, and possibly struggling to settle for no reason.
Clients often tell us they can't pinpoint any reason why their baby or toddlers sleep has changed, but when we chat further, we see there has usually been a big physical developmental leap. Examples include rolling over, crawling, sitting, standing, walking, running, climbing...
Combined with separation anxiety, new foods, dropping bottles, and language development, sleep often falls apart when these new skills emerge.
What is the 12 month sleep regression and why is it so big?
Your little baby, as much as you don’t want to admit it is growing up and becoming a little toddler.
They become so much more aware of the world and their role in it and need to explore it each and every day.
There is so much happening in their little growing brains as they begin to take their first steps and are starting to communicate their wants and needs (rather insistently too!), all of this compounds into the 12 month sleep regression.
The symptoms of this regression often include nap refusal or your baby going back to short 45 minute cat naps.
This can lead parents to believe that their new toddler is getting ready to transition to one nap a day, but trust me they aren't. Most children drop to one nap closer to 15-18 months.
The 12 month sleep regression becomes a huge problem when we do drop to one nap too early. This leads to increased sleep debt, which then starts to lead to broken night sleep, early wake ups, and further nap refusal! Talk about a terrible cycle!
Here are my top 3 tips for surviving:
Don’t drop to 1 nap
So often when the 12 month sleep regression hits, typically anywhere from 11 months on wards it shows itself as nap refusal – usually the second nap and parents believe this is a sign that they are ready to drop to 1 nap.
Don’t do it!
Most babies are not ready to drop to 1 nap until between 15-18 months of age. Push through the nap refusal by continuing to put your baby down at the same time of day for the same length of time, if they rest – that’s great, if they go to sleep – total bonus! Which lead me to our next point.
Consistency- It wont last forever
Sleep regressions typically last between 2-6 weeks (this stands for the 12 month sleep regression too) and are usually felt more heavily if your child has previously/is a poor sleeper.
You need to be consistent and patient (yes, this is very hard at 3am) with your sleep training approach. If you start doing something different each time they wake up in an attempt to get them back to sleep quicker, it will last longer and they will bring a stronger resistance to the table as last time you gave in, for example, took them to your bed to sleep after 2 hours.
Babies, toddlers more so in particular, are much smarter than they are given credit at times and know if they push and don’t get a consistent response, will keep pushing until they get what they want.
So, in short, if they haven’t previously been rocked to sleep, had milk overnight for a long time or slept in your bed up until this point, now is not the time to start. Lastly is something we question, is my baby normal?
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Your baby is normal
Absolutely 110% yes, your baby is normal and will get through it and go back to their previously great healthy sleep habits. Every baby goes through these regressions, just some babies feel it more strongly.
Be consistent, persistent and patient and you will go a long way on getting back to “normal” quickly, and the 12 month sleep regression will be a distant memory!