12 Month Old Sleep Schedule
Navigating the world of sleep with your baby is new for both parents and their babies. Your baby is learning new things every day. She is learning all of the countless ways she can interact with the world around her. Who would want to stop learning all those wonderful things just to sleep? What your baby doesn’t know is that she needs sleep to keep learning and continue enjoying her play.
One year is the time when many babies start to throw temper tantrums at bedtime. Some babies just want to stay up and keep playing. Others have sleep anxiety. They are genuinely afraid of falling asleep, and it’s not necessarily because they are having nightmares. Whatever the reasons for your 12 month old sleep schedule troubles these tips will help you and baby navigate this new sleep world together.
1. Keep a regular bedtime routine.
Ask any sleep therapist and they will tell you keeping a sleep routine is key to sleeping well at any age. This means putting your baby to bed at the same time each night, getting pajamas on, reading a book, cuddling or anything else you can do to let your baby’s brain know that it is getting close to bedtime.
A good 12 month old sleep schedule tells your baby’s brain when to start producing melatonin, which is the chemical that helps them go to sleep. As long as it is calming, age-appropriate and stays the same, any routine will work. A common bedtime routine that has worked for hundreds of families is dinner, bath, story, cuddles and bed.
2. Try playing some white noise or quiet instrumental music.
White noise recreates the sounds of being in the womb. A white noise machine helps infants who are afraid or anxious fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Another great option is to quietly play calming instrumental music when you put your baby to bed. Motzart is the most commonly used instrumental music for a 12 month old sleep schedule.
3. No screens two hours before bed.
Televisions, tablets, computers and cell phones all have a light that keeps the brain active and can cause insomnia. Blue light prevents your baby’s brain from producing melatonin and may keep her brain active well past bedtime.
4. Try a warm bath.
There is a good reason so many parents give their young children a bath in lukewarm water every night before bed. It helps them relax enough to fall asleep. Countless studies have proven the benefits that a warm bath has for sleep. Your 12 month old sleep schedule is no different.
5. Only play with quiet toys one hour before bed.
Many toys for babies make noise. Some sing and talk, others dance and make loud clanking sounds. These toys will keep your baby’s brain active and is not good for your 12 month old sleep schedule. An hour before bed, only let your baby play with toys that are soft and quiet. A great tip is to have a ‘night, night box,’ which is a small box of toys you only bring out an hour before bed. Toys to include in the ‘night, night box’ include things like fabric books, finger puppets, soft blocks and stuffed animals.
6. Dim all the lights one hour before bed.
This tip is helpful to anyone having trouble falling asleep. Dim all the lights in the house an hour before bedtime. Turn off all overhead lights and just use one or two lamps. This strategy is often recommended by sleep specialists to patients dealing with insomnia, because it helps the brain produce melatonin.
7. Use a night light instead of the bedroom light.
Do not turn on the bedroom lights until morning. Turning a light on will signify to your baby that it is time to wake up. Keep a night light in the bedroom. Use the night light if you need to go into her room. Use the bedroom light to indicate when it is morning.
8. Keep a regular daytime schedule.
Babies need a lot of routine in their day. This doesn’t necessarily mean your baby needs to do everything exactly the same at the same time every day, but it does mean the basic things in her day should happen in the same order and at about the same time. Your baby should have breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks at about the same time. She should start and stop her nap about the same time, and she should start getting ready for bed about the same time each day.
Your baby’s life is full of everyday wonder and new and exciting things. That can get overwhelming. A regular daytime schedule can help your 12 month old sleep schedule by making her feel secure enough to fall asleep. It will also make it easier for you to put her to bed, because she will learn when it is getting closer to bedtime.
9. Keep toys in a separate room from where your baby sleeps.
Toys in the room your baby sleeps might distract her and make her excited to play. It’s better for her toys to be in a separate room. If you have an extra bedroom, consider turning it into a play room and keeping the bed in a separate room. If you don’t have an extra room, try keeping your baby’s toys in the living room. A consistent 12 month old sleep schedule may be hinder by a baby who is excited to play.
10. End the afternoon nap six hours before bedtime.
Try to end your baby’s afternoon nap at least six hours before bedtime. Your 12 month old sleep schedule needs to be consistent. If your baby’s afternoon nap goes too long, it may be hard for her to fall asleep at her normal bedtime.
11. Limit daytime sleep.
Most babies are ready to graduate from one morining nap and one afternoon nap to just an afternoon nap by 12 to 15 months. If your baby is showing signs that she is ready to graduate from her morning and afternoon nap to just an afternoon nap, push that new nap schedule. If your baby gets too much sleep during the day, she won’t sleep well at night.
12. Stay active.
A healthy 12 month old sleep schedule includes an active lifestyle. If you and your baby are active inside and outside during the day, she will be tired at night and will sleep better and longer. Consider making daily outdoor play a priority. If it’s too rainy or cold, take your baby to an indoor playground, children’s museum or library. Keep her brain and her body active. Her brain will thank you.
13. Limit television, cell phone, tablet and computer play.
Most people know that blue lights from screens keep our brains active close to bedtime, but very few know that this light can affect a baby all day. Professionals in infant care recommend avoiding all contact with screens including televisions, cell phones, tablets, video games and computers before the age of three. If you can’t completely avoid them, limit screen time to 20 minutes a day as far away from bedtime as possible. Your 12 month old sleep schedule is easier to keep with limited screen time.
14. Be patient.
Above all else, try to be patient. Your baby is brand new to sleeping through the night and will need practice. Don’t beat yourself up or feel like a failure if your baby isn’t sleeping through the night like your neighbors baby. Everyone is different, including babies. You are not alone. Lot’s of mommies and daddies are trying to sleep train their babies, too. You can do this!
15. Take a break.
Remember that nothing is so important that it is worth getting worked up and yelling. It’s okay to take a moment to breathe if your baby is screaming and won’t go to sleep. Take a deep breathe. Sit on the couch to compose yourself if you need to, and keep in mind that if your baby is not hurt, she may only be screaming because she wants to play.
16. Remember how you are feeling for the future.
No matter how hard or easy, someday you will find another parent who needs tips for their 12 month old sleep schedule. Remember the things you learn so you can pass them on to the next generation of parents.
Sleep training is sometimes challenging and can be downright frustrating at times, but it’s an important stepping stone that will reintroduce the fantastic world of sleep to you after all those months of waking up at night. It is a new challenge. If you forget all the other tips from this list, remember to keep a consistent daytime and bedtime routine. Your 12 month old sleep schedule will come with consistency and persistence.