Experiencing 11 month old sleep problems? Here’s what to do when your baby is waking up at night and going through a sleep regression.
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 his 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 the frequent 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 your baby’s first year, it’s easy to just be so over these sleep patterns. You’re sleep deprived, 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’re still having night wakings 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 strategies.
You see, having a plan starts with knowing why your baby is waking up at night, whether he had never been a good sleeper or if this is coming as a surprise. Take a look at these recommendations 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 sleeping with a fan on. Your baby also relies on sleep aids but, unlike you and me, the ones he uses could be 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 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 associations that require you to wake up in order to be effective, like pacifiers, swaddles, rocking, or feeding.
Instead, encourage him to soothe himself 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.
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2. Wean 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 out of hunger for a nursing session or bottle?
An infant this age can likely 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.
So, while she may be physically ready and able to take in all her calories during the daytime 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.
Learn how to wean nighttime feedings.
3. Put your baby 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 during his nighttime sleep?
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 at 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 on his own. Yup, even when he’s wide awake.
Ditch your old sleep routine of rocking, nursing, or otherwise getting him to a 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.
Learn the biggest reason your baby will not sleep.
4. Avoid sending mixed messages
When parents ask why their babies aren’t sleeping well despite trying everything, it’s often because of inconsistency.
Because we’ve all had those sleepless nights when, in a fit of pure delirium, we relent to their fussiness 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 she can’t have the pacifier, while the next she’s allowed to use it. Or you sit by the crib until she falls asleep, but the next night leave the room while she’s still awake.
She 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 her until she falls asleep.
The more consistent you are with your method, the better chance she’ll have of adapting and learning healthy sleep habits.
Learn how to get through the toddler sleep regression.
No doubt, 11 month old sleep problems are no joke.
Your baby won’t sleep through the night, randomly waking up at various times. He’ll only sleep if you hold him—and for a mere two-hour stretch at that. You’ve even lost count of how many times he wakes up, too delirious to remember.
Thankfully, you now know the four ways to stop these 11 month old sleep problems and change his behavior. And, more importantly, what you can do to avoid further sleep regression.
Start by making sure he isn’t actually hungry by feeding more during the day and less at night. Put him down awake so he learns how to make himself drowsy and fall asleep on his own. Eliminate unsustainable sleep aids that need you in order for them to work, like reinserting pacifiers or rocking him 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)
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Sarah V says
When I start going through this new process, what if she starts to cry when I put her down and she’s awake for a while but not falling asleep? Do I simply let her cry and not respond ? Or when she wakes in the night to cry? Let her cry?
Nina Garcia says
Hi Sarah! If she cries, I would definitely respond, but only briefly to check and make sure she’s okay and to reassure her that you’re still here. Let her be for about 5 minutes, then check in briefly again. If she’s still crying in 10 minutes, check in again, and repeat if she’s still crying in 15 minutes (and every 15 minutes thereafter).