Have an 11 month old waking up at night? A sleep regression is a likely culprit for these 11 month old sleep problems. Here’s what you need to know and do.
It’s the worst feeling, when you think this would be better by this point. Except even at 11 months, your baby is still not sleeping through the night. Instead, he wakes up—often multiple times—for a feeding, and has a hard time settling back down.
Even if he can fall asleep on her own, he still wakes every few hours. You end up bringing him to bed with you in the early morning, just so you can both get some sleep.
You know you need to stop middle of the night feedings, especially since he’s almost a year old. But you haven’t phased them out because feeding has been the only thing that works. If you don’t, he freaks out and gets so worked up that getting him back to sleep turns into a two-hour event.
How to solve 11 month old sleep problems
At almost a year after welcoming your baby home, it’s easy to just be so over it. So over the sleep deprivation, tired of not knowing what to do, and frustrated that you’re still in the same place after all this time.
First off, big hugs mama! It’s one thing to be sleep-deprived in the newborn stage, but another when you’ve been this exhausted for nearly a year. Any hope of “it’ll get better” fades with every passing day. You know you need to do something… but what?
Many parents have written to me for advice on what to do about avoiding their 11 month old sleep problems. And after tons of emails and success stories, I’ve learned that it boils down to these four major reasons.
You see, having a plan starts with knowing why your baby is waking up at night, even if all of a sudden. Take a look at these reasons and, more important, how to get your 11 month old to sleep.
1. Ditch unsustainable sleep aids
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You and I still rely on sleep aids to fall asleep, from keeping the room dark to even sleeping with a fan on. Your baby also relies on sleep aids but, unlike you and me, the ones he uses are unsustainable. They’re habits that he can’t do for himself, which means he needs you to do it for him.
If the only thing that lets him fall asleep is you rocking him in your arms, then there’s no way he can put himself to sleep when he wakes up in the middle of the night.
Cut sleep aids that require you to wake up in order to work, like pacifiers, swaddles, rocking, or feeding.
Instead, encourage your baby to soothe herself to sleep on his own, without your help. You can also encourage sleep aids that don’t need you: darkening curtains (these are the ones we used), white noise, or even lullabies on repeat.
If you’re struggling with putting your baby to sleep, you can teach him to self soothe and sleep on his own. Whether you’ve tried to teach him to self soothe in the past or are just now considering it, take a look at the 5 key mistakes to avoid. Download this amazing resource below—at no cost to you.
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2. Wean your 11 month old from night feedings
By now, you’ve likely figured that your baby can go the whole night without waking up to eat, so what gives? Why does she still wake up seemingly famished for a nursing session or bottle? She can’t be hungry, right? She’s probably just waking up out of habit?
Yes, by this time, most babies can sleep through the whole night without needing to eat*. But here’s the thing: if your baby has grown used to the habit of eating in the middle of the night, she just might be hungry… in the middle of the night.
As I say in my book, How to Teach Your Baby to Self Soothe:
“When your baby was a newborn, he needed to wake up throughout the night because his stomach was still tiny—frequent feedings made sure he wasn’t going hungry. But now that he’s older, he may be ready to wean from night feedings and take in his calories during the day, reserving the night exclusively for sleep.”
So, while your baby may be physically ready and able to take in all her calories during the day like you and I do, she might still get hungry at night.
Gradually wean her off of night feedings and increasing her milk intake the following day. For instance, reduce her nightly feed by two minutes, or half an ounce. Then the following morning, increase her milk intake by the same amount.
That way, she’s getting the same amount within a 24-hour period, but learning to take it during the day instead of at night.
3. Put your 11 month old down awake
Do you still hold, pat, rock, nurse, or lie down with your baby until he’s fast asleep? Doing so can be an easy and surefire way to get him to finally sleep, of course. But ask yourself this: What happens when he wakes up in the middle of the night?
If he only knows to fall asleep with you helping him do so, he isn’t able to master this skill on his own, especially in the middle of the night.
This goes for putting him down drowsy as well. You may have heard, especially in the newborn stage, to put him down drowsy but awake so he has a chance to fall asleep on her own.
But by 11 months, he should be able to make himself drowsy and fall asleep completely on his own. Yup, even when he’s wide awake.
Ditch your old routine of rocking, nursing, or otherwise getting your baby to a drowsy or even sleepy state. Instead, put him down awake, so he has a chance to make himself drowsy and eventually sleep.
You might even do the bedtime feeding session at the beginning of the routine so he doesn’t fall asleep while he eats. Perhaps you stop rocking him to sleep, or at least, keep it minimal, to make sure he stays awake.
Of course, you can still help by keeping the room dark and sticking to subdued evening activities. But don’t deny him the chance to learn to fall asleep on his own. Instead, give him the benefit of the doubt that he can absolutely do this.
4. Avoid sending mixed messages
Whenever someone asks why their babies and toddlers aren’t sleeping through the night despite trying everything, it’s often because of the inconsistency in their method.
Because we’ve all had those sleepless nights when, in a fit of pure delirium, we relent and let them sleep in our beds. Or the times when we say we’re going to cut all bottles, only to give in when they won’t stop crying.
But all that does is send mixed messages to your baby. One night he can’t have the pacifier, while the next he’s allowed to use it. Or perhaps you sit by the crib until he falls asleep, but the next night leave the room while he’s still awake.
He needs clear expectations.
Decide what you want, especially in the long-term, and stick to it for at least several days or weeks. For instance, either co-sleep for the long-term, or make sure all sleep takes place in the crib. Briefly check in every few minutes, or sit with him until she falls asleep.
The more consistent you are with your method, the better chance he’ll have of adapting and learning new habits.
No doubt, sleep deprivation for nearly a year is no joke. Neither is your 11 month old not sleeping through the night any more, or suddenly refusing sleep.
He won’t sleep through the night, randomly waking up at various times. Maybe he’ll only sleep if you hold him—and only for a mere two-hour stretch at that. Perhaps you’ve even lost count of how many times he wakes up, too delirious to remember.
Thankfully, you now know the four most common reasons you’re seeing 11 month old sleep problems. And, more important, what you can do to avoid further sleep regression. Start by making sure your baby isn’t actually hungry by feeding more during the day and less at night.
Then, put him down awake so he learns how to make himself drowsy and eventually fall asleep on his own. Eliminate unsustainable sleep aids that require you in order for them to work, like reinserting pacifiers or rocking her to sleep.
And finally, stay consistent with whatever methods and sleep aids you do decide to use. If co-sleeping is your jam, then make sure you’re open to doing so for the long-term. Similarly, if you decide to sleep train, commit to the process for several days to see results.
Try these changes mama, and hopefully you and your baby will get your sleep soon—and maybe even before he turns a year old.
Get more tips on solving your 11 month old sleep problems:
- What You Need to Know About the 11 Month Sleep Regression
- “At What Age…?” Baby Development Milestones You Don’t Always Hear About
- 1 Year Old Sleep Schedule: Examples that Actually Work
- The Best Baby Sleep Books You Should Be Reading
- The Biggest Reason Your Baby Will Not Sleep (Even After All This Time)
5 Mistakes That Keep Your Baby from Self Soothing
If you’re struggling with putting your baby to sleep, you can teach him to sleep on his own. Whether you’ve tried to teach him to self soothe in the past or are just now considering it, take a look at the 5 key mistakes to avoid. Join my newsletter and download this amazing resource below—at no cost to you: