12-Month Sleep Regression

Happy first birthday! 🥳 Your gift is the 12-month sleep regression…just kidding! But in all seriousness, you did it! You kept a little human alive for one whole year! That is a serious accomplishment so give yourself a high five and grab a yummy snack before diving in to learn about the 12-month sleep regression. 

Something important I want you to remember about the 12-month sleep regression (and all sleep regressions) is that they aren’t truly regressions but rather progressions. While sleep does regress temporarily, your toddler (yes, they’re a toddler now!) is making huge permanent gains in other areas. So sit back with a giant cup of coffee, enjoy watching them hit some developmental milestones and use these tips to get sleep back on track!

How long will the regression last?

The good news is if your little one has a solid sleep foundation, was sleeping well before the regression AND you follow these tips, sleep regressions typically last less than two weeks. If your little one hasn’t yet mastered independent sleep or you brought back habits you don’t want to keep in the long term, you may need to use sleep coaching to help get sleep back on track.

What causes the 12-month sleep regression?

  1. Developmental milestones: Cruising or walking are big at this age! Your 1-year old is a lot more mobile and physically active now. Leap 8 also occurs around this age. During this leap your little one learns that steps can be carried out in different sequences to accomplish a goal.  
  2. FOMO: Fear of missing out! Your toddler is much more interested in the world around them than they used to be! Why bother sleeping when you can play!?
  3. Big transitions: Weaning the bottle? Weaning nursing? Switching from formula to milk? Dropping the pacifier? Starting daycare? Moving daycare rooms? 
  4. Teething: Your little one’s lateral upper incisors and molars may be coming in. This can cause some discomfort and disrupt sleep. Speak to your pediatrician about how to manage teething pain. 
  5. Separation anxiety: Separation anxiety spikes again around 12 months. Remember this is a normal part of development and a sign of healthy attachment. 

Surviving the 12-month sleep regression 

  1. Practice new skills: Your new little walker is fiercely interested in practicing this new skill. Let them roam free during awake times and avoid using devices that contain them like a jumper or even spending long periods in a stroller. The more they can practice during the day the less inclined they will be to practice during naps or in the middle of the night. (Yes, I’ve seen this happen many times.) 
  2. Make daytime active: Play, move, connect. Active play is important now that your 12-month old is more mobile. Outdoor activities with exposure to natural light also help regulate their circadian rhythms and support sleep. 
  3. Keep 2 naps: 12-months is a really common age to boycott naps, often the morning nap, but don’t make the 2 to 1 nap transition yet. Trust me, your little one isn’t ready yet and it likely result in even worse sleep!
  4. Be mindful of transitions: Don’t make too many big changes at once. If you kiddo is starting daycare maybe hold off on weaning the pacifier for a bit. Or wait a few weeks to wean the bedtime bottle. 
  5. Bedtime routine: A strong consistent bedtime routine is the backbone of a good night’s sleep for a toddler. Connecting with them and being present during the bedtime routine can ease separation anxiety and make bedtime much more enjoyable for all! 
  6. A goodnight ritual: A goodnight ritual is the last thing you do before leaving the room each night. Maybe it’s a simple phrase like “Goodnight, I love you so much” or you blow each other three kisses at the door or sing a certain song.
  7. Introduce a lovey: Now that your little is 12 months it’s safe for them to sleep with a lovey. Whether it’s a stuffed animal, cozy little blankie, or even your t-shirt giving your little one something to snuggle can help ease separation and gives them a tool to use to get themselves back to sleep after night wakings. That’s a win. 
  8. Consistency is KEY: Are you responding in a way that communicates to your child that it is time for sleep? Or are you starting habits that you don’t want to keep in the long term?
  9. Sleep training: If after a couple of weeks (or when you just can’t anymore) go back to your sleep training method. If you need help with sleep training, reach out. I’m here for ya!

Using these tips will undoubtedly help your family get through the 12-month sleep regression with your little one! Before you know it, they’ll be back to sleeping 11 hours seamlessly through the night! 

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