One of my goals on this blog is to keep things real, and what’s real in our lives right now is that sleep regressions happen to every baby, and every parent experiences these regressions. We are currently in the 12 month sleep regression over here.
I never want someone to read this blog and think that our baby sleeps perfectly all the time. That just isn’t going to be the case for anyone. Yes, I wrote a book about Baby Sleep Solutions. And yes, that book and those ideas got our babies sleeping a full 12 hours by the time they were 4 months old. However, we still have hiccups in our schedules and random middle of the night wakings that we have to solve as well at times. It happens to everyone!
So, since we are currently in this regression with our son who is 14 months old, I want to talk about sleep regressions today, specifically the 12 month sleep regression.
First of all, sleep regressions don’t happen because of a baby’s age. If that were true, my 14 month old wouldn’t be in the 12 month old sleep regression, he would have had the 12 month old sleep regression when he was 12 months old!
The reason that sleep regressions are classified by age, is that babies go through developmental milestones around the same age. These milestones are what cause the sleep regressions to happen. Thus, it’s actually when the milestones happen that the sleep regressions happen.
The 12 month sleep regression happens due to 4 main things that happen around this age:
Babies learn to walk around this age. Any time a baby learns a new skill, their sleep can be disrupted. Their minds are so focused on the new skill that is being learned, that it’s all they can think about, and they are EXCITED to keep practicing.
So, even if your baby isn’t walking yet, they could be in a sleep regression because they are going to be walking soon and thinking about it or trying things out.
Notice that your baby is practicing his/her balance more lately? Maybe letting go and trying some unassisted standing or even taking a couple of steps? If their interest is peaked, it can cause their sleep to be disrupted.
The key here is to give them tons of practice before naps and bed so they get it out of their system. It doesn’t solve the sleep issues perfectly, but it will certainly help!
This is another big skill that babies are learning around this age. You might be noticing that your baby is using more sounds or just babbling more in general.
This developmental skill can also cause sleep to be disrupted. Their minds are working so hard.
Again, lots of practice will help. Have real conversations with your child. Let them respond, even in their baby babble.
1 year old molars come in at some point usually between 12-18 months, and they hurt! These are big teeth and can definitely cause some sleep regressions and disruptions.
When I notice a lot of extra drooling, grabbing at the mouth, etc. we give ibuprofen (at night only) and see if that helps with the issue. If so, we usually suspect some teeth. Molars can definitely cause some discomfort at night, so don’t be afraid to help your baby out a bit with approved medicine like ibuprofen.
Dropping to One Nap
Many babies are getting ready to switch to 1 nap around this time. From 12-15 months of age is the ideal time to switch to 1 nap.
If your baby is suddenly waking up or having a hard time getting to sleep, this could be the culprit and the reason for the sleep regression you are experiencing.
Careful not to drop a nap too soon, however. Make sure it’s none of the above issues first, before making a big schedule change like this.
Here’s some information on knowing HOW and WHEN to transition to one nap.
Our 12 Month Sleep Regression Experience
Here’s what’s happening for us…
William is 14 months old right now. About 4 weeks ago we were on vacation for 10 days. He did great while on vacation and took his naps. He went to bed relatively effortlessly, but he was waking up in the middle of the night and he was up FOREVER. A few hours. It was rough.
We chalked it up to being in a new place and he was nervous. But I also noticed a couple of other things going on:
- So yes first we were in a vacation home and I think he’d wake up nervous and just immediately call out for us.
- The second thing we noticed was he was starting to do independent standing practice for a few seconds here and there.
- He was STARVING. He was eating huge meals and he was devouring food in the middle of the night as well. Eventually, we’d just get him up and give him a plate of food to help him out.
So then we get home from vacation…the very next day, he decided to take his FIRST STEPS!
We knew then, that walking was definitely contributing to this sleep disruption.
He then took a break for about 2 weeks. He would occasionally stand on his own, but not too many steps were taken.
His sleep however, was still disrupted. At times he was having a really hard time getting to sleep. Usually we just say goodnight and are on our way. Now he was crying and needing extra hugs to settle him down.
He was also waking up in the middle of the night a couple of times.
On Valentine’s day, so exactly two weeks later, he decided he was now a walker. He just stood up and started walking- all evening he was doing laps around the kitchen island. It was amazing! Since then (it is now the 19th as I write this), he’s been walking 99.9% of the time.
His sleep disruption has calmed down a bit for sure. He’s falling asleep easily again. He’s still waking once a night, however. We give him a drink of water, get him back to bed and he’s usually good. But it’s still a wake up that wasn’t happening.
I am confident that he’ll get back to his normal sleeping habits soon if it’s just due to the new walking skills that he learned.
But here’s the other thing I’m worried about… Naps.
William is stuck on 2 naps until June. He’ll be 18 months old at that point. I can’t switch him to one nap because of his older sister’s school schedule. It just doesn’t work with a one nap schedule.
I think he’s ready to switch to one nap, but we are having to make due and I think it’s affecting his sleep at this point. His first nap is getting shorter and shorter which is a telltale sign it’s time to change. Add that to the night wakings and I know it’s time.
I’m crossing my fingers that we can get him to make it to June on this two nap schedule, and still get his nights back on track. If not, we’re going to have to really think outside the box with his schedule to fix things for him.
In any case, I know this sleep regression is temporary. I know it’s due to skills being learned, and probably some teething happening as well, as he only has 2 teeth right now, and he’s learning new sounds, and he’s needing a schedule change. There’s a lot going on in his world, so his sleep is bound to be impacted.
His new skills will settle in, his teeth will come in, and his naps will eventually get to be adjusted to his ideal schedule again. And this sleep regression is just that- a regression and a tiny set back.
I am so glad that we’ve taught him good sleep habits using the tactics I outline in my book. This sleep regression is a breeze with the right foundations in place, and he’ll bounce right back to the full 12 hour nights soon!
Oh and we also jumped ahead a bit and created an exciting reason for him to voluntarily have a sleep disruption- we took William out of his crib a couple of months ago. Yeah I know, it sounds crazy to do this young.
We had some crazy reasons you can read about in his last update, but because of this he is actually getting up and standing at his door when he wakes up. I am glad we transitioned him already though, and he’s really done fantastic with the change. Again, it will settle in and all will be back to normal soon!
Your child is in the 12 month sleep regression if they are suddenly waking in the middle of the night around this age, or having a hard time getting to sleep.
The regression happens due to skills being learned- walking and talking. It can also be due to getting the one year molars, or needing to drop to one nap. This regression can happen anytime these skills or factors are happening.