Around 10 to 12 months, many babies will have some form of regression in sleep, which can come in the form of fighting naps, resisting bedtime, or general fussiness regarding slumber. The 11-month sleep regression may not always appear in every child. However, it's wise to read up on the idea so you're knowledgeable if it occurs.
Setbacks in sleep can be enormously frustrating. You've nailed the bedtime routine and evenings have become smooth sailing, and you think you're home free when out of nowhere your infant has a regression. Hold tight, there are remedies and tips for navigating these tricky waters.
In this article, we'll explore the frustrations parents face when struggling to settle their night monsters and some tips to help. Survive the dreaded 11-month rest regression with research from the experts.
What Is a Sleep Regression?
Sleep regressions may seem like a mysterious occurrence, but there is hard science behind this phenomenon. Setbacks in sleep are due to the immense changes happening inside your little one's body as they rapidly grow and change.
Witnessing these regressions is indicative of healthy progression and growth in your child. When you're struggling to get them to snooze, try to keep in mind this is ultimately a good sign in the long run.
Why 11-Month-Olds Experience Sleep Regression?
Regressions in sleep often occur from the ages of 10 to 12 months, as children typically endure growth spurts around this time when their body goes through massive developmental bursts. These explosions in growth need nutrients to occur correctly, so they can often be draining for our children, causing them to become fussy, cranky, and, even though they may be tired, they generally become more complicated when it comes to rest.
You may have noticed your tyke having a sleep regression around four months or somewhere around six months, and as your baby develops and evolves into a larger toddler, they will hit these bursts from time-to-time to accommodate these changes. It's not uncommon to see them a little bit before or around their first birthday.
Additionally, as babies age, they tend to realize that sleeping doesn't involve eating, playing, or socializing. Sleeping basically isn't as much fun. With their recently acquired skills, like babbling and mobility, they'd prefer to put these to use than dream the night away.
Do All Kids This Age Have Sleep Problems?
Each child is different and will grow and change at their own pace, so it's essential to keep this in mind as they advance. If you're expecting a growth spurt and don't notice one, that's okay; as long as they're healthy, they are likely evolving just fine.
However, as some children age, they endure these slumber regressions to fuel their development. Your family may get lucky and not experience any drastic changes, but some do, and this disparity in children is expected, as they are each unique.
Learn More: Baby Sleep Facts for Parents
What Are the Signs of Sleep Regression?
Signs of a sleep regression are often exhibited in ways of extreme fussiness upon being put down for bed or naptime. It's often their second nap in the afternoon after they've been stimulated during the day and would prefer to stay awake with their caretaker.
They'll often fight it so strongly that parents frequently give up trying, believing their child to not be tired thus allowing them to skip their afternoon snooze or nap with them as a way to soothe them to rest. So if you're struggling, you're not alone.
Additionally, your tyke may wake up earlier in the morning with an abundance of energy, yearning to escape their crib. Their behavior can be attributed to wanting to explore the world and put to use their newly gained mobility.
What Are the Main Reasons Why 11-Month-Olds Won't Sleep?
Being that this is an 11-month-old's last month in infancy, you're likely getting a glimpse into what your tot will grow into when they reach their toddler years. Their increase in mobility and independence will often trump any desire to rest, being that they'd rather spend their time exploring their new world and experimenting with toys and touch.
With a baby's uptick in curiosity, they may be holding onto things or even standing on their own for a few moments at a time. While most munchkins don't start walking until at least 13 months or well after, they'll likely appreciate being given a little rolling shopping cart or baby stroller to help them get around the house.
Additionally, while exhausting for parents to chase them around, this will wear them out and drain their energy, allowing them to go down for a nap easier when the time comes.
How Long Can This Issue Last?
Most sleep regressions don't last longer than three to six weeks, though it may feel like forever. During this time there are a few different tricks and remedies you can try, which we'll detail below to help mitigate this difficult period. Slumber regressions aren't fun for anyone however necessary for your little one's growth.
If their regression is resolved before the three-week marker, it may not be a real sleep regression. Challenging slumber behavior can emerge in an infant for a variety of reasons. Some common ones include illness, growth, or a simple change in routine.
If your child is teething, they might be a little extra fussy throughout the day and at naptime, but it shouldn’t cause too much of an issue in terms of sleep. Research has shown that teething shouldn’t cause enough pain to disrupt sleep.
Either way, whether a shorter temporary issue or a genuine and sustained rest regression, they present challenges for most parents. Below we'll detail how to manage these difficult times.
Is Prevention Possible?
In short, no, if your child is healthy and growing at a typical pace, prevention is not possible. While frustrating, this is a positive indication. You have a child exhibiting typical signs of advancement, and they are developing as they should.
All that can be done is to simply mitigate the “damage,” if you will, and try to focus on keeping a regular routine, steering clear of any significant deviations so that your munchkin can be as comfortable as possible when these periods hit.
Managing Sleep Regression in 11-Month-Olds
Navigating a regression can be a lot of trial and error; however, it's almost inevitable, as each child displays a variety of different symptoms and behaviors. Due to this, it's critical to be well versed in what causes regressions and how to manage them, allowing you to feel as in control as possible so you're equipped when the time comes.
Create a Positive Sleeping Environment
It's crucial to provide a comfortable environment for your babe so they can feel secure and relaxed enough to fall asleep. Not only is it important to enforce a bedtime routine so they associate certain activity with bedtime but once inside their bedroom (or yours if you're co-sleeping), things like black-out curtains or white noise or sound machines can help your tyke to close their eyes.
Break Negative Sleep Associations
It can be easy to fall into the habit of feeding your newborn to sleep, as this often induces a bit of a “food coma.” Nursing can make it easy for babies to drift off; however, associating food with rest can be a difficult routine to break.
If you're stuck in the habit of nursing or feeding your tot back to a dream state when they wake in the middle of the night, they can become dependent on this routine, leaving you obligated to get up as well each time they do. To break this habit, try out an eat, play, sleep schedule to break up sleeping and eating a bit and breaking that association. If you do feed them before bed, try rousing them a bit before putting them down.
Practice Sleeping Skills With Your Child
Sleep training can sound harsh to some parents, and to others it's a perfect routine. There is a wide spectrum of slumber training practices that can be modified to accommodate any parenting style, from extremely gentle to more harsh methods.
Want to know more? Check out our complete guide to gentle sleep train here.
Try to Maintain Nap and Sleep Schedules
Keeping a regular schedule and nighttime routine can make a tremendous difference when navigating rest regressions. When a munchkin knows what to expect, and even associates specific activities with bedtime, they're far more likely to go to bed less fussy. We're not saying it will make everything a breeze, but it could make a significant impact in behavior.
Need help? Read more about bedtime routines for babies here.
Reschedule Bedtime and Wake Up Time if Necessary
If your tot is waking up early due to a setback in sleep, adjusting their bedtime accordingly is entirely acceptable. As they age, they'll inevitably change and grow, and with that comes necessary shifts in how they go about their routine.
Waking up early can be a drag for parents hoping to get some extra zzz's; however, going to bed late and waking up early still can be doubly draining. Try having the whole family start their bedtime routine a bit earlier in the evening to gain some more slumber.
Consider Night Weaning
When your infant is tiny, they need to be fed every few hours because they process food so quickly, so when they're young, you'll likely get used to nursing or feeding them throughout the night. However, becoming dependent on this is easy and can be a drawback when it comes to sleeping habits.
If your infant wakes up in the middle of the night and is dependent on feeding to get back to sleep, this means less rest for the both of you. You can curb this habit by dream feeding them after they fall asleep and before you go to bed (be sure to use the proper techniques) or squeezing more calories in during the day.
Additionally, if they're still waking up at two in the morning, try changing their diaper before feeding them so they start to let go of their association or rest with food.
Encourage Daytime Skill Practice
It's a great idea to give your newborn as many chances as possible to be active during the day. This will help to hone mobility and dexterity in their limbs and hands, and with this fresh skill, they'll likely become enormously curious regarding what they can now do on their own.
Let your tot play with safe household items and baby toys, as it will stimulate their brain and body. Doing this will help not only their development but also tire them out, allowing them to go down easier when bedtime rolls around.
Watch for Sleep Cues
“Wake windows” are the periods of time between when your baby wakes up and when they go down for a nap or for the night. If you've ever tried to go to bed when you're overtired or not tired enough, you'll notice that it’s more difficult to fall asleep.
Keep an eye out for your newborn’s sleepy cues to recognize this wake window and get them to bed when they're more likely to settle. Behavior like rubbing their eyes, fussiness, increased cuddliness, impatience, a look of disinterest, and tantrums are all indications your tot is ready to hit the sack.
Stay Calm When Facing Challenges
I know, this is easier said than done. However, kids are highly intuitive and more sensitive to others around them than you may think. Kiddos pick up on emotions and behavior constantly—think of them as little sponges.
If you're stressed, they will probably internalize some of that anxiety as well. Additionally, if you're frustrated or wound up late at night, these emotions could transfer to your child, preventing them from relaxing and closing their eyes. If possible, try to take a breather or be mindful of your emotions while putting your munchkin down to snooze.
Try to Be Flexible
We realize we just told you to stick to a regular schedule. However, adopting a flexible mindset can help to go with the flow during times of frustration. There will probably be nights that you'll be awake for hours on end trying to get your tot to doze; however, finding it inside you to accept these realities will allow for smoother sailing.
Spend Some Time Outside
Getting some vitamin D does a body good in more ways than one. Fresh air is not only healthy for your body but it encourages creativity and active play. Additionally, basking in the sunshine is good for mental health as well and allows us to feel more accomplished rather than staying cooped up inside when we lay our head down for slumber.
Keeping a regular routine may be the biggest piece of advice we can give. Ask any parent, and most will tell you keeping a routine with your tot can make an enormous difference in their demeanor, behavior, and general attitude towards life and rest.
Ask Friends and Relatives for Help
It may feel like surrender to reach out, but asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it shows remarkable self-awareness to realize you need an extra pair of hands. Calling up a trusted friend or relative should ease your stress, and they'll likely be happy to be included.
Is Nap Regression Related to Sleep Regression?
Yes, nap regression is related to slumber setback. As your child grows up, they'll need fewer or shorter naps throughout the day. However, adjusting to this can be a challenging transition as you figure out where the sweet spot is regarding how much rest they need.
It's not uncommon for babies to need an adjustment in their nap schedule at this time in their lives. If your tot takes a shorter or one less nap during the day, they may need an earlier bedtime as a result, so don't be afraid to adjust their schedule liberally and as you see fit. They're growing and developing at a quick pace, and as this occurs, the changes they endure will inevitably have to be accommodated.
Right when you've nailed a sleep routine down, your tyke's slumber patterns can throw you a curveball. Remember these setbacks will pass because before you know it, your midnight monster could be snoozing through the night all on their own, and you might even find yourself longing for those midnight cuddles.
Luckily, setbacks in rest are not forever, and being able to accept the inevitable can help ease your frustration and let you enjoy the beauty of raising your little one.