Wondering why your 1 year old won’t sleep all of a sudden? Learn the 12-month sleep regression signs to watch out for and how to fix them.
It was as if my 12 month old was replaced by a different baby entirely. All of a sudden, he started hating his crib. Any time I’d put him down to sleep, he’d wake right back up. The sleep schedule we’d relied on all these months all but unraveled.
He’d cry for 45 minutes before finally settling down for the night. He refused daytime naps, even though he was yawning, rubbing his eyes, and clearly exhausted. And despite sleep training at 6 months old, it seemed like he was now back to his newborn days of frequent wake-ups.
I had to wonder whether he was showing signs of the 12 month old sleep regression.
12-month sleep regression signs
If your child hasn’t been sleeping well either, rest assured that he might be going through a regression typical of this age. You may not have made many changes—if any—with his sleep routine and still come across sleep problems.
That said, what are a few ways to tell whether he’s going through a sleep regression at 12 months? And what can you do to help him get through it and go back to healthy sleep habits? Take a look at these telltale signs:
1. Challenging naps
At 12 months, your child is likely taking two daily naps, but all of a sudden, putting him down may have become more challenging than ever. You can’t remember the last time you struggled with nap times—usually, you’d simply put him down and know he’d fall straight to sleep.
These days, you may be running into challenging situations like:
- Missed naps. He might be skipping a morning nap, only to be overtired for the afternoon nap. Or he took the first nap but skipped the second, which affected his bedtime.
- Short naps. Even if he does take a nap, they’re far shorter than they used to be. Whereas he would take a 1.5-hour nap in the morning, he now barely sleeps for 30 minutes.
- Boycotting naps. Sometimes, even getting him to settle down for a nap takes forever. The nap transition is a nightmare because he can easily spend an hour crying or fussing before finally falling asleep.
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2. Developmental milestones
Standing, pulling up, crawling, walking, and even talking are some of the major developmental leaps your child might be learning and practicing.
She might be using her “sleep” time to practice these new skills. For instance, she may have learned to pull herself up on the crib, but cries for your help because she doesn’t know how to get down.
She might also be more eager to spend more time playing. Perhaps she spends more time focusing on a shape-sorting puzzle or cruising along the furniture. With so much to learn, it’s understandable that she’d rather not stop playing and discovering just to take a nap or start the bedtime routine.
With molars and swollen gums typical around this age, teething pain can cause a disruption in falling—and staying—asleep. If you suspect your child isn’t able to sleep well because of teething, consider ways to keep him comfortable.
For instance, you might offer frozen or cold food, give him a cold washcloth to chew on, and of course, provide plenty of teething toys to ease the urge to chew.
4. Separation anxiety
At 12 months old, it’s normal for your child to feel anxious when she’s apart from you. Still, as common as it may be, separation anxiety can lead to disrupted sleep, especially if she calls out for you throughout the night. You might feel stressed because of her heightened clinginess as well.
One way to ease her emotions is to spend plenty of time snuggling or playing with her throughout the day. This helps “fill her bucket” so that she feels better equipped to face sleep time alone.
You can also practice object permanence like playing peek-a-boo. With consistency, she learns that just because something (or someone) is gone, that doesn’t mean they won’t come back. And you might want to give her an attachment object like a favorite stuffed animal, small blanket, or lovey for comfort.
5. Protesting bedtime routines
Nothing in your routine may have changed, but all of a sudden, your 12 month old is crying every step of the way.
Maybe the fussiness starts at bath time when she wants nothing to do with getting in the tub. You’re practically wrestling her into diapers and pajamas. She can’t sit still while you try to read a book, and won’t finish her last cup of milk.
And to think that your regular bedtime routine had once been relaxing and calm. Meanwhile, you can’t understand the sudden change in behavior leading up to sleep.
6. Frequent night wakings
Even if your 12 month old has no trouble falling asleep, she may struggle with staying asleep throughout the night. Whereas you could once put her down at 7pm and get her up 12 hours later, she now wakes up multiple times crying or even playing in the crib.
Nothing’s worse than the dreaded cry from the next room, not to mention that it might happen again… and again. You’d gotten used to your full eight-hour sleep every night, only for it to be punctured by frequent night waking reminiscent of the newborn days.
How do you know when you’re going through a sleep regression? These 12-month sleep regression signs can be good indicators.
Challenging naps, from short to skipped ones, are telltale signs that a sleep regression is happening. Developmental milestones like talking and walking can lead to disrupted sleep patterns. Teething can affect how well your child sleeps, and separation can make it difficult for him to be apart from you.
He might protest your bedtime routines and refuse favorite activities like reading books and drinking milk. And finally, frequent night wakings can be clear signs that you’re in the thick of the 12-month sleep regression. This is especially true if you’ve had few, if any, life changes recently.
No, your baby hasn’t been replaced by another one—it’s simply the 12-month sleep regression signs that will soon pass!
Get more tips:
- How to Deal with the 12-15 Month Sleep Regression
- Top 6 Tips to Get Through the Toddler Sleep Regression
- 1 Year Old Nap Schedule Examples
- How to Quickly Get Through the 12 Month Old Sleep Regression
- 15 Examples of a 1 Year Old Eating Schedule (From Real Moms)
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