Has your 1-year-old been sleeping through the night recently? If not, your toddler is likely experiencing a sleep regression. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! This is a common occurrence at this age.
A child’s sleep schedule usually changes when they turn one year old. This is called the 12-month sleep regression. It can seem like this change to your child’s sleeping habits comes out of nowhere. Even with consistent sleep training, toddlers can experience sudden changes to their sleeping habits that make them irritable, fussy, and unable to get enough baby sleep.
What is Sleep Regression?
Sleep regression is a period of time when your child’s sleep patterns change and they have difficulty sleeping. These are predictable changes and disruptions to a child’s sleeping habits who was previously sleeping well.
This can happen for a number of reasons, including teething, sickness, or developmental milestones. Sleep regressions usually last for a few weeks, but can occasionally last for longer periods of time.
What Causes a 12-Month Sleep Regression?
At 12 months old, most babies have already developed or learned new skills including speaking a few words clearly, being able to follow simple commands and instructions, refined fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, and rapid brain development.
Sleep disruptions and regressions are a huge part of a toddler’s sleep journey. Most babies experience them as they grow older. Most sleep regressions happen after your child’s first birthday, but some babies experience them before their first birthday.
There are a few potential causes for a 12-month sleep regression that could affect your little one’s sleep.
Overstimulation and Restlessness
Overstimulation and restlessness can be a real problem when it comes to nighttime sleep. A toddler’s world has been opened up, and they are now taking in more information than ever before. This can lead to overstimulation and restlessness, which affects how long they sleep at night.
Parents should take extra care during this phase of development because children need at least 11 hours of sleep every night but may not be ready for a 12-hour schedule yet.
You should start by making sure your child gets enough naps during the day as well as a good bedtime routine that includes reading books or singing lullabies before putting them down for the night.
The cause of a 12-month sleep regression is usually separation anxiety. At this age, your baby is learning to be more independent and may start showing signs of separation anxiety.
This can lead to your baby waking up at night and not being able to fall back asleep because they are aware that you are there with them.
Your baby might also wake up repeatedly, needing your attention so that they feel safe enough to go back to sleep.
If you think that this is happening in your household, try giving yourself some extra time in the morning by getting up 15 minutes earlier than usual (but still going through the same routine as normal) and then trying to put him down for his nap slightly earlier than usual so he gets used to sleeping in his crib while it’s still dark out
Growth and Developmental Milestones
Growth spurts are an important part of a baby’s life but they can also cause changes to her usual total sleep times. You may notice your baby is showing signs of becoming more independent.
They may be learning new skills such as learning how to crawl, stand, and walk. This can cause them to spend more time in the crib as they explore new ways to move around the room.
In addition to these physical milestones, your baby is also working on emotional development. At 12 months old, children begin to understand how their actions affect other people around them—and they might even realize that you don’t always have time for them!
The most common cause of a 12-month sleep regression is teething. When your child starts to get teeth, they may experience:
- Discomfort in their mouth
- Drooling and increased salivation
- Fever and diarrhea (occasionally)
- Fussiness due to the pain associated with teething can make it difficult for them to fall asleep or stay asleep at night.
In addition, teething may cause:
- Loss of appetite (that’s why so many babies seem hungrier during their first year than at any other point in their lives)
- Rashes on the face or neck
Sleep training is not easy, but it’s an important part of your child’s development. It lays the sleep foundation where little children thrive, develop healthy sleep habits at a young age, and fall asleep independently. There are several methods from the let it cry method, the ferber method or the camping out method of sleep training.
Independent sleep habits can help your children deal with sleep problems that usually arise at this point in their lives.
If you’re feeling frustrated and despairing, take comfort in knowing that most parents go through a sleep regression at some point during the first year.
It may seem like a one-off event (and many parents describe it as such), but it’s actually just a phase—a phase that inevitably passes when you learn how to read your baby’s cues and respond appropriately.
Most parents assume that sleep training is more than just putting your baby down at night and hoping she’ll fall asleep on her own. And they’re right.
Rather, it is a journey that takes time and patience as you learn about your baby’s sleep habits and bed on schedule so she can get the restful baby sleep she needs for optimal health and happiness—including yours!
What Are the Signs That a 1-Year-Old Child Is Experiencing Sleep Regression?
Sleep regressions usually occur around 12 months but can happen earlier or later.
They also tend to last for a week or two, but your child may go through several in a year.
Here are some of the signs that your child is experiencing a regression:
- Spends more awake times at night than usual
- Frequent night wakings or waking frequently in between naps
- Wakes up early and wants to play or eat throughout the day instead of napping
- Has trouble falling asleep at night or staying asleep throughout the entire night
- Your child suddenly starts waking up in the middle of the night, when they previously slept through.
- Shorter naps or start skipping them altogether.
- Down to one nap a day and usually doesn’t take a second nap.
- Cranky and irritable during awake times, especially during the late afternoon and evening hours (the so-called “witching hour”).
- Wakes up earlier than usual.
If you notice any of these changes in your child’s sleep habits, it’s likely that they are experiencing sleep regression. Luckily, it is usually a temporary phase that lasts for a week or two before those night wakings are gone and your child’s sleep patterns return to normal.
How to Deal With 1-Year-Old Sleep Regressions
If your toddler is experiencing sleep regressions, there are a few things you can do to help.
Review your sleep expectations
Your child may be ready for a big-kid bed, ready to drop the pacifier or be in need of more sleep than you’re used to getting. So if your little one has started taking short naps again after a period of longer ones, that could be normal.
Or maybe he’s just tired because it’s nap time at his preschool and he needs an extra day off from his busy schedule!
Whatever the reason might be for this regression, don’t worry too much about it—your child will probably outgrow it on their own without much intervention needed from you.
Be prepared for temporary setbacks
When you’re expecting a regression, it’s easy to get discouraged. You feel like your child has been doing so well, and then suddenly they start waking up again at night or taking a long time to fall asleep.
But regressions can be helpful—they help children work through the things that caused them stress in the first place. They also give parents an opportunity to reinforce good sleep habits with their children. If your child has regressed, don’t worry; this too shall pass!
Consistency is key when dealing with toddler sleep regression and is also a proven way to develop a good sleeper. If you are inconsistent in your treatment methods, it affects sleep outcomes and your child will not know what to expect from you and will be unable to understand why certain things aren’t allowed at certain times of the day.
This may lead to frustration on both sides, making the child sleep regression and ability to self-soothe even more difficult to handle.
It will also make it more likely for your child’s regression period to last longer than it needs or could if you were consistent from the beginning.
Don’t give up
You’ve worked hard to establish a good sleep routine, and now that your toddler has regressed all that progress is in jeopardy. Don’t give up, though! It’s easy to fall back into bad habits when you’re trying to help your toddler through a regression.
But if you can stick with the good habits you’ve established, you’ll be able to get back on track much more quickly than if you let them go completely.
Don’t let yourself or your child slip into bad habits like letting him sleep in your bed every night or feeding him at night (neither of which will help him get any better).
And don’t be afraid—try new things: perhaps reading stories together or having quiet time before bed might help lull her back into slumberland.
Regressions can be frustrating, but they won’t last forever
When dealing with regression, it’s important to remember that this is only temporary. This phase will pass. Your baby is not trying to make your life harder or get back at you; they just need some extra help adjusting to their new sleep environment.
It’s also important to keep in mind that regressions do not mean that your child has suddenly gone backward in development.
If they are regressing, it means they’re having trouble adjusting to the changes in their life right now (like starting preschool) and the stress of this adjustment may cause temporary setbacks in other areas of their well-being too (like sleep). But these setbacks won’t last forever!
So, if your baby is taking one nap such as one long midday nap instead of multiple naps during the day, don’t worry.
How Long Is the 12-Month Sleep Regression?
The 12-month sleep regression is a period of time when your baby’s sleep patterns change and they start to wake up more during the night. This can be a difficult time for parents, as their babies may not be sleeping as much as they used to.
The good news is that the 12-month sleep regression typically only lasts for a few weeks. So if you’re dealing with a sleep-deprived baby, know that this phase won’t last forever.
How Do I Fix My 1-Year-Old Sleep Regression?
If your child is suddenly waking up more often at night or taking shorter naps or only taking one nap a day, they may be experiencing a baby’s sleep regression. Though it can be frustrating, know that this is completely normal and usually only lasts for a few weeks.
To help your little one (and you!) get through this sleep regression phase, here are a few tips:
- Establish consistent bedtime routines and stick to them. A consistent routine will help your child get better sleep and signal to her that it’s time to wind down for the night.
- Make sure their sleeping environment is comfortable and conducive to sleep (dark, quiet, etc.). This minimizes the effects of sleep problems, prevents sleep deprivation, and encourages longer night sleep.
- Limit screen time before bed. The bright lights from screens can make it harder for children to fall asleep. This is due to electronic light stimulating the brain and can disrupt sleep.
- Try not to let your child get over tired during the day. If they’re napping well, try not to push bedtime too late. Offer your child two naps: a morning nap and an afternoon nap during the day.
- Make your child’s daytime active by providing engaging and fun activities during the day.
With a little patience and some extra effort, you should be able to help your child through their 12-month sleep regression.
At What Time Should a 1-Year-Old Go to Bed?
Most experts recommend that kids between the ages of one and three years old go to bed between six and eight in the evening. However, some parents find that their children are ready for bed earlier or later than this.
If your child is consistently tired during the day or seems cranky in the evening, it may be a sign that he or she is ready for bed earlier than usual. On the other hand, if your child is wide awake and playful late into the night, it may be a sign that he or she needs to stay up a bit later.
Ultimately, the best way to determine what time your child should go to bed is to experiment and see what works best for him or her.
Start by putting your child to bed at a reasonable time and see how he or she does. If your child seems tired and cranky the next day, try setting an earlier bedtime.
If your child seems wide awake and full of energy the next day, try putting him or her to bed later the next night.
With a little trial and error, you should be able to find the perfect bedtime for your child.
Take Away on 1 Year Old Sleep Regression
The 12-month sleep regression is a common challenge that parents of toddlers face. However, with patience and perseverance, you can help your child get back on track to a good night’s sleep.
If you’re experiencing difficulties during this 12-month sleep regression phase or if you notice other sleep regressions, please talk to your child’s doctor or a sleep consultant for up-to-date sleep tips and advice.
This article was written by: Gian MIller – Full-Time Writer, Baby Whisperer & Dad of 3.
Gian spends a lot of his time writing. A self-proclaimed baby whisperer, Gian has been through it all with his own children and is passionate about sharing his hard-won wisdom with other parents. When he’s not writing or changing diapers, you can find him playing the guitar or watching baseball (or preferably both at the same time).