Babies will always surprise you. You’ve spent months now getting them to where they are sleeping semi-regularly and then out of the blue your baby changes everything. What gives? The phenomenon that you are experiencing is known as 12 month sleep regression and while it is completely normal it can come as something of a shock to you. So why is your 12 month old experiencing sleep regression and what can you do? Today we will discuss this and give you some tips to help you get through these interesting times. If you are ready, let’s get started!
Does Sleep regression always occur at 12 months?
Not necessarily. It all depends on your baby. While it is commonly known as ‘1 year sleep regression’ the time when it occurs will vary. Some babies will throw away their sleeping patterns between 8 to 10 months of age, while it might be up to a year and a half for others. There are a few little tidbits to keep in mind, however:
- Duration – While it will feel like it is taking forever, this ‘one year old sleep regression’ period is actually quite brief in the scope of things, lasting only 1 to 6 weeks. So hang in there, you can tough this out!
- It’s not guaranteed to occur – While it is common, there is no guarantee that your baby is going to go through this. Every child is different and so if this is something that you haven’t seen yet then you might be lucky!
- It’s a good thing – Generally when your baby switches up their sleep patterns like this it is an indication that they are trying and testing out their motor skills. Your baby might be getting ready to walk, for instance. They might be improving their dexterity with their blocks. Watch them and see, as changes are afoot!
Why does one year sleep regression occur?
This new behavior that seems to be wrecking your baby’s day-naps can occur for a number of reasons. Some causes of the one year old sleep regression are as follows:
- Sleep requirements have changed – Your baby might simply require less sleep at this time. Sleep needs change as your baby grows and you might need to reorganize the nap schedule (eventually… give it time first). This is perfectly normal, of course, and as we have mentioned before it should go away within a month or a month and a half. .
- Learning to walk and talk – Your baby has improved cognitive and motor function and they are eager to use it. This is one of the ways that one year sleep regression may be considered a fortunate occurrence (rather than the death of your hope of ever sleeping again).
- A desire to explore – If baby is fighting those naps tooth and nail then it could simply be a desire to explore. They are noticing their surroundings more now and everything is new! Keep enforcing their nap periods and if nothing changes after 6 weeks then you might need to modify their sleep schedule. That said, in all likelihood they will respond to firmness and calm down in due time.
Are there other things that I can do?
Yes! There are definitely some strategies that you can employ to help combat this
” You will want to be consistent about their schedule at this time.”
rebellion and transition your little one back to more predictable sleep patterns. Here are some tips to help:
- Defend the current naptimes – Your baby won’t like it and they are likely to give you a hard time about it, but you will want to be consistent about their schedule at this time. Nap times are still nap times and deviating from the schedule can cost you later. You CAN offer a little extra comfort in the form of cuddling or hugs. Your baby will be tired and stressed so the extra attention can help to keep your little one on their set schedule.
- Don’t cheat with sleep aids – If you have sleep tricks that were phased out long ago you will want to resist the urge to employ them again. Leave that musical projector in its box. No rocking baby to sleep (unless you have been doing this already. If it’s something you haven’t done in awhile then don’t start it again or your baby will expect it long after the 6 weeks.). This is very important as you don’t want your child to start relying on sleep aids again. Preserve your baby’s progress!
- Encourage play – More interactive play times can help to tire out your little one and make it that much easier when you put your cranky angel down for a nap. As they are developing better motor skills and cognition, helping them along with more aggressive playtimes and the gentle encouragement to speak is the optimal way to take advantage of the sleep regression period.
- Take turns with chores – If you are raising your child with the help of your mate or another loved one then it is a good idea during this period to make a swift division of the work at home. Your baby is going to be waking up late at night and it is going to be very, very difficult for one person to handle the burden. If you are fortunate enough to have some assistance then take advantage of it, this is a job better shouldered by two!
Some final words
Today we have taken a little time to discuss the 12 month sleep regression phenomenon. As we’ve said, there is no guarantee that you will see this, but if you do then we hope that you will view it for what it is. Your child has reached a mental and physical milestone and while it is hard to appreciate this when you are drinking coffee like water, just keep reminding yourself that IT IS A GOOD THING. Hang in there, you’ve got this!