The 12-month sleep regression explained

Just as you think you have this sleeping thing down to a fine art – after all, your 11-month-old is finally sleeping through the night – he suddenly decides that 3am is a fantastic time to play, or refuses to having his second nap during the day. Welcome to the 12-month sleep regression.

ALSO SEE: The four-month sleep regression explained

What’s happening?

Infant and child sleep consultant Kelly Martin, of, shares that as much as you don’t want to admit it, your baby is growing up and is heading towards toddlerhood. “They become 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 these compounds into the 12-month sleep regression.”

Nicole Johnson, lead baby sleep consultant and founder of The Baby Sleep Site, adds that a 10-month-old will generally be awake for three to four hours between sleeps. Ten- to 11-month-olds have around 11 to 12 hours of sleep a night, with two- to three-hour naps in total (around 13.5 hours of sleep a day).

Nicole says at around 11 months old, babies seems to go through a nap regression. “It starts to appear that your 11-month-old is trying to transition to one nap. They either start skipping one nap entirely or taking two 45-minute naps.”

Around this age, your baby becomes more independent and aware of his surroundings, and generally walks between 11 and 14 months – all of which will make him tired and and cranky if he doesn’t get enough sleep.

ALSO SEE: 4 tips to make naps happen for your little one

Kelly’s top tips:

Don’t drop a nap

It may seem simple to drop that second nap when sleep regression hits. After all, he may already be refusing to have that afternoon nap, and waking up early from his naps or in the middle of the night. “Don’t do it,” warns Kelly. “Most babies aren’t ready to drop to one nap until between 15 to 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!”

Be consistent

Sleep regressions can last between one and six weeks, and can be particularly tiresome (excuse the pun) if your baby doesn’t sleep well to start with. “You need to be consistent and patient (yes, this is very hard at 3am) with your sleep training approach,” says Kelly. “If you start doing something different each time they wake up in an attempt to get them back to sleep quicker, the regression will last longer and they will bring a stronger resistance to the table than the last time.” She adds that babies are pretty smart, and quickly learn that if they keep pushing until they get their way. A consistent approach may be more exhausting for you at the time, but will be of benefit in the long run.

Kelly adds that parents often ask if their baby is normal. “Absolutely 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, some babies just feel it more strongly. Being consistent, persistent and patient will go a long way on getting his sleep back to ‘normal’ quickly. Soon, the 12-month sleep regression will be a distant memory.”

Sleep regression explained:

According to sleep experts, a sleep regression is a time period (that can last between one to six weeks), when your baby or toddler, who has been sleeping well, suddenly starts waking at night, skips naps, or wakes early from a nap for no apparent reason.

ALSO SEE: How to spot the signs of a growth spurt

Growth spurt alert

Your baby will experience about 10 growth spurts during the course of his first year: These are usually around the first week to 10 days, 14 days, eight weeks, 12 weeks, four months, six months, 8.5 months, 10.5 months and 12.5 months. These tend to last around a week. Your baby will be hungrier during the growth spurt, so she may wake more at night for a feed. Not to be confused with sleep regression, there is an overlap as the growth spurt may coincide with sleep regression. Research shows how a growth spurt can impact a sleep regression and vice versa.

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