Your Baby's Sleep 6-12 months
Separation anxiety and nightmares can interrupt. sleep Remain consistent with your positive routine along with any additional reassurance
At a Glance
Sleeping pattern is now becoming more regular, with a more consistent daytime/night time schedule.
- Night time feeds decrease and gradually stop being necessary for your baby to sleep through the night
- Naps are getting fewer, perhaps 1 to 2 naps during daytime by first birthday
- Night time sleep can reach between 10-12 hours when approaching 1 year
- ‘Self-soothing’ becomes easier, and your baby either already soothes himself to sleep or can find it easier to develop such a habit
- Babies this age sleep on average 14 hours per day, however there are individual differences, with some sleeping only 9 hours and others up to 18 hours in total
- Getting more and more aware of what is going on around her, and so bedtime routines will help signal the end of the day and time for sleep
- Stranger anxiety and separation anxiety can interfere with your baby’s sleep
- Your baby may experience nightmares or night terrors, needing comfort and support from you
Your Baby’s Story
Between six and twelve months of age, your baby’s sleep pattern will become more regular. Usually, a longer stretch of sleep during the night and naps taken one to four times a day, reducing to one or two naps towards twelve months. The average total hours of sleep per day at this age is 14, but of course babies vary in how much they sleep. In terms of night time sleep, some do 5-6 hours, others may do 8-12 hours as they approach their first birthday. What’s important is that your baby’s sleep pattern seems right for her, i.e. that she seems happy, healthy and rested. The same goes for napping during the day. If she sleeps when she’s tired and wakes up rested and happy, she is probably getting sufficient kip.
During this stage, it is getting easier for your baby to self-soothe when waking up during the night fussing and crying a little. Also, you may be able to give your baby a little more time to settle down on his own when going to sleep in the evening. You will know your baby best, and therefore know when he seems like he’s settling or when it’s time to pick him up. Positive experiences your baby has every day around sleep will create his bedtime routine and promote good sleep habits.
Between 9-12 months, your baby may experience stranger anxiety as well as separation anxiety. These are a normal part of children’s development, and can interfere with your baby’s sleep time. She may get very upset when you put her to bed and leave, and she may also suddenly start to feel more anxious when she wakes in the night and you’re not nearby. Sleep experts say that consistency remains important, and your baby is likely to start taking comfort in her familiar routine again soon. Of course, you may find that she needs you to provide more reassurance during times of separation anxiety. Your baby will tend to respond well to a positive and calming atmosphere around bedtime, and as much consistency as possible (both in routines and your response to her needs).
Nightmares and night terrors can also start occurring during this stage, disturbing sleep and bedtime routines. Your baby will need your comfort when this happens, and he will have his own individual preferences, e.g. he may want to be held or he may just want to have you near talking softly to him. Night terrors can be particularly frightening for you as a parent too.
As your baby is getting older, she will want to be with you and is starting to get a stronger will along with her increased awareness. This is when routines can really help, as she is used to sleep being part of her day at certain times, and to your approach around naptime. Naps are important, and an overly tired baby is often more irritable and may find it more difficult to fall asleep at night. She is also getting stronger and moving around more, so make sure her bed is safe as she may start standing in bed holding on to the rail.
What You can Do to Support and Encourage Your Baby's Sleep
During this stage, if you haven’t already developed a regular bedtime routine, you can start now. Make bedtime positive and enjoyable for both of you, and try to be fairly consistent with both timings and approach. You will know what your baby finds soothing, relaxing and comforting, and by including these in the bedtime routine every day you baby will feel safe and positive about knowing bedtime is approaching.
If you want to encourage self-soothing, there are various tips to try. Different things will work for different babies and different parents, so the most important thing is that what you try is what you want and what you believe is a good solution for you both. It’s common for new routines to take a few days to work.
- After your usual routine, put baby in bed sleepy but awake. If she starts crying, wait a few minutes outside and perhaps she settles. If she is finding it difficult, experts tend to recommend providing comfort without picking her up, talking softly, touching lightly and keeping the room dark or dim. Leave after a short time (unless of course she appears to be unwell). You can repeat your short visits several times to reassure your baby that she is safe.
- All babies wake up a few times during the night (in fact, we all do). When your baby no longer has night feeds, and you have ruled out pain, illness or need for nappy change, you can let him fuss and cry a little for a few minutes. He may be finding his way into a new sleep cycle, and may not actually be fully awake. Being picked up and talked to will wake him up, and if this happens consistently it will be what he expects every time he wakes in the night, and he will need you to soothe her back to sleep.
- If your baby wakes up very early in the morning and you would like a little bit more shut-eye, having some safe toys in bed can be useful. She may get used to playing by herself, or even slumber, for a little while longer. A favourite toy can also be good company for her before she calls you.
Remember that phases of separation anxiety can temporarily "throw” your routine and disturb your baby’s sleep. It’s a good idea to keep going with the routine, but provide the comfort and reassurance your baby needs when she’s feeling anxious. If your baby has a favourite soft animal or similar, this provides a feeling of security when you’re not around, and can help calm him and help him sleep.