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Help! My 10-12 Month Old Won't Sleep!

general infant trou Mar 26, 2024

As parents, witnessing the development and growth of our babies is a rewarding experience. However, it can also bring about challenges, especially when it comes to sleep. Many parents notice a shift in their baby's sleep patterns between the ages of 10 and 13 months, particularly concerning naps. 

Our most comment comments...

"Ugh!  Naps are all of a sudden so hard.  He naps fine for the first nap, but completely skips the second nap and is absolutely overtired by bedtime."

"Naps are all over the place.  They are so short and nights are unpredictable."

Understanding Sleep Cycles: Wondering why these are happening?  it's essential to understand the basics of sleep cycles. Babies, like adults, go through different stages of sleep, from light to deep sleep. Initially, babies have more REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which is lighter and more easily disrupted. As they grow, the structure of their sleep changes, with more time spent in non-REM, deeper stages of sleep.  This also means their sleep changes change drastically!  Length and amount of sleep is different for a 5 month old than a 10 month old.  And even more so, the sleep needs between a 10 month old and a 13 month old can be nearly 50% less nap time.

In addition to these sleep needs, the 10-13 month mark, babies experience significant developmental milestones, both physically and cognitively. They're learning to crawl, stand, or even walk, and their brains are absorbing vast amounts of information. These advancements can disrupt their sleep patterns, leading to shorter naps or nap resistance.

The 10-13 Month Transition: The most impacting event that causes the most disruption is the nap transition.  During this age range, many babies begin transitioning from two naps to one. This shift is not instantaneous and can result in erratic sleep patterns. The transition is influenced by the maturation of the circadian rhythm, the body's internal clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. As this rhythm becomes more defined, babies start consolidating their sleep at night, which can naturally lead to a decrease in daytime sleep needs.  In other words, there's no "transitional state" between the 1 and 2 naps, but there is a HUGE difference in the wake windows between those ages.

So...what exactly is the NUMBER ONE CAUSE OF THESE FIGHTS AT NAP TIME?  Drumroll please...

It's because your child is preparing to transition from 2 to 1 nap, but they aren't ACTUALLY ready to drop to 1 nap completely.

Short Naps and Nap Resistance: Short naps and fighting the second nap can be symptomatic of this developmental transition. Babies might resist the second nap because they aren't as tired, thanks to the longer or more consolidated nighttime sleep. Alternatively, they might be too stimulated from their new skills and experiences to settle down. This resistance is a normal part of their development and indicates readiness to move towards a single nap schedule.

Tips for Managing This Transition:

  1. Observe and Adapt: Pay attention to your baby's sleep cues. If they are consistently resisting the second nap or if the first nap is getting longer and more restorative, it might be time to begin the transition to one nap.  Now, this is where things get tricky.  We don't necessarily recommend dropping the nap cold turkey, but start by capping your naps by 15 mins, or even potentially moving bedtime out slightly later for a small amount of time.
  2. Gradual Adjustments: Gradually push the morning nap later in small increments to help your baby extend their awake time and consolidate their naps.
  3. Consistent Bedtime Routine: Maintain a consistent bedtime routine to help your baby understand when it's time to wind down for sleep.
  4. Encourage Active Play: Ensure your baby has plenty of opportunities for active play during awake times. This physical activity can help them sleep better when it's time to nap.
  5. Create a Conducive Sleep Environment: A quiet, dark, and comfortable sleeping environment can help encourage longer naps.

The transition from two naps to one is a significant milestone in your baby's development and can lead to changes in their sleep patterns, including shorter naps and nap resistance. Understanding the science behind these changes can help parents navigate this period more effectively. Remember, every baby is unique, and it's essential to adapt to your child's individual needs. With patience and observation, you can help your baby smoothly transition to this new stage of their sleep journey.

By recognizing the signs and understanding the reasons behind these nap changes, parents can provide the support and structure their babies need to adjust successfully to their evolving sleep patterns.

Not sure where to start?  Don't worry!  Nap transitions and sleep cycles are OUR specialty.  From nap lengthening to getting the holy grail of sleep through the night, we're here to chat.  

Start by scheduling a free chat with us to talk about your sleep goals!  CLICK HERE

Want to learn more about our approach?
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