Parenthood is an exciting and challenging time. From the onset, it is filled with mixed emotions, horror stories, and life lessons. Somehow, some people who have raised a baby once opt to do it again. It’s probably the meaning this milestone brings to them.
Romanticism aside, having a baby may also yield plenty of confusing times. This includes those moments when your child is going through developmental changes themselves. One such rollercoaster ride is sleep regression. It’s that phase when your little one abruptly shifts their sleeping pattern, causing frustration to parents who feel they’re back to square one.
This article will focus on 12-month sleep regression, which occurs when your baby is transitioning into toddlerhood. Sleep regression can also happen during their 4th, 8th, and 18th month. But if this is your first time to learn about this event, 12-month sleep regression is enough to introduce you to the concept.
Table of Contents
- What is a 12-Month Sleep Regression?
- How to Help Your Baby During this Time
What is a 12-Month Sleep Regression?
At 12 months, your baby may have started rolling, crawling, standing, walking, or climbing. They may have begun communicating to you their needs and wants. Any physical development may look simple to us adults, but it’s a leap on our little one’s end. Their neurons are firing up as they learn, explore, and discover the world, and become aware of their place in it.
The events during this transition can be factors for 12-month sleep regression. In this phase, you can expect the following symptoms to occur:
What used to be several daytime naps may drop to a couple. In regression, this change may be a blip in the cycle. Meaning, babies may return to their normal count.
But take note that your toddler-to-be may be going through a growth milestone that is causing them to be more active in the day. Toddlers napping less as they develop is a sort of established pattern. What matters here is the quality of the nap. Two to three hours distributed in two naps should be fine.
Multiple Night Wake-Ups
One other problem may be the persistence of sleep interruptions at night. It can be cries, yells, or whatever noises your baby can make at 12 months. It turns out this pattern can start at around nine months. What could be causing such episodes?
Some experts point to your baby’s newfound motor skills as a major reason. If they just began crawling or walking, they need more calories to burn. Frequent hunger pangs may wake them up at night to feed. At the same time, their brain may rouse and encourage them to practice the skills they’ve just learned.
While some babies increase their appetite, yours may be experiencing an appetite slump. Don’t worry. Around this time, tiny tots may eat less. You can give them a quarter cup of food from each food group. But don’t force-feed them. If they can’t clean up their plate right now, let them judge when they’re still hungry or already full.
Losing sleep at night and during daytime naps may affect the behavior of your 12-month-old. This can bring about a short temper or a tantrum. Babies at this age already show some eagerness to get what they want. And the disrupted sleeping pattern may add to their stress.
How to Help Your Baby During this Time
Sleep regressions are temporary. Knowing what to expect at each stage can help make the experience more bearable. Here are five tips for you to survive in the 12th month.
Make Sure Your Baby Has 13 to 15 Hours of Sleep
Your child may be taking fewer naps during this time. Additional daytime activities, such as learning how to walk, can make them sleepless. However, it is still not a cause for concern if your little one gets 2 to 3 hours of daytime naps every day. Don’t drop to one nap yet as it is still too early.
This range leaves you with 11 to 12 hours of sleep at night. Set the bedtime to fall within 6:30 to 8 p.m. You can choose any time in between the said hours, as long as they’re at 15-minute intervals (e.g., 6:45 p.m.).
If your baby naps for 3 hours and is less fussy, 10 hours each night should be enough for their growth. You can also skip nighttime feeding to prevent them from overeating.
Keep Them Active During the Day
With a new set of skills to try, 12-month-olds prefer moving around. They want to practice their new skills. And they have the energy to spend. Consider these factors when you start noticing that your baby is taking longer to settle down at night.
A safe and secure playroom would suffice for the daytime activities you’re planning for your baby. Putting your little tot on a jumper, bouncer, or swing may be enough to keep them busy. For a change, bring them outdoors to introduce new sources of stimulation and interest. Set a playdate indoors when the weather is bad.
Getting all that stored energy out should enable your child to fall asleep faster and, hopefully, better. Let them move around and practice their new skills, so they won’t have to do them by bedtime.
Avoid Overhauling the Bedtime Routine
During regression, your child’s sleeping routine is disrupted. The trick is to have them settle back into their usual pattern. It is too early to introduce major changes right now, such as transitioning them from the crib to the toddler bed. Switching down to one nap may also be too much.
Stick to the bedtime your baby used to have. Every evening, prepare them to sleep through a relaxing bedroom environment. However, try your best to put them to sleep in your bed. Encourage them to fall asleep on their own. If, during 12-month sleep regression separation anxiety begins or heightens, reassure them by sitting silently by the crib until it’s safe to scoot.
Also, keep the naps to at least two. If your baby is in daycare, they may have a nap schedule with their fellow babies. Complement this with a nap at home to reach the requirement.
Give Extra Cuddles and Kisses
As we said, your baby may be extra fussy and clingy at the moment as an effect of their disrupted sleep. You may need to keep bedtimes, nap times, and other routine activities pre-sleep regression consistent. But you also need to do a lot of hand-holding.
Your child may be growing and becoming aware that they are separate from their caretakers. But they may seek comfort, assurance, affection, closeness. Separation anxiety is normal. So you’ll have to be in tune with their emotions and thought processes at this point.
Spend time alone with them. Play with them, shower them with hugs and kisses, read a book to them. During bedtime, put them to sleep with a lot of eye contact. Keep distractions away from their sleeping space. You may include a stuffed toy for them to cuddle with to calm them down.
Feed Your Baby More
Increase the amount of nourishment you’re providing your little one with. Give them solids and milk every 2 to 3 hours. You may give them a snack in between to support the growth spurt they’re having. On top of this event, your baby is consuming more energy as they learn new skills, like walking.
It’s normal to find them hungrier than usual. It is probably hunger that causes them to wake up frequently at night and finish a nap early. Night feeding should be fine the first time it happens. But you should adjust the next day by feeding them more often during the daytime.
Giving them your support during this season entails an understanding of the changes they’re going through. Knowing the symptoms of sleep regression can help you prepare for the scenarios that often occur during this period.
Just remember to maintain consistency in your child’s daily routine. Do not introduce major changes, such as transitioning from crib to a toddler bed. Many things are already going on in your baby’s brain. Your best bet is to bring them back to their old routine.
Do you have other questions about sleep regression? Let us know in the comments section, and we’ll try to answer them with info from our research.
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