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Read some of our great articles on a range of parenting topics from sleeping to teething. We publish new blog posts regularly and feature a number of baby sleep experts and their top tips

Understanding How Your Baby Sleeps (From 12-18 Months)

Understanding How Your Baby Sleeps (From 12-18 Months)

Learn all about your toddler’s sleep patterns and how to encourage good rest!

Here you will read all about;

  • Getting the right balance between daytime and night time sleep
  • How to stick to your sleep routine
  • Troubleshooting sleep problems

Your little one had grown and changed so much in the last year. From a helpless baby who can’t move much, to a robust toddler who’s getting around all on his own, there has been an incredible amount of development in those 12 short months.

Your child looks and seems far more independent than they were just a short time ago - but they still have the needs of a baby in many ways. Sleep is one of the most important needs that he still has and you will need to make sure that he gets all the sleep he still needs at this crucial age.

How Much Sleep Does My Toddler Need?

Between 12 and 18 months, he will need about 13 or 14 hours of sleep per day. This breaks down to around 11 hours at night and the rest as naps during the day.

During the early part of this six-month period, he will probably still need two naps a day but towards the end of this time, you can start making the transition to just one nap per day of about one and a half to two hours.

How Will I Know When to Reduce Naps to One Per Day?

  • Your little one will give you some signs that he is ready to reduce his naps from two a day to one.
  • He may sleep very well during the morning
  • He may be more fuss and grumpy when you try to put him down for his afternoon nap and resists going to sleep
  • He may wake up earlier than usual from naps

How Can I Make The Transition From Two Naps to One?

The most important thing to consider at this point is what will suit both you and your toddler. If you have things you usually do in the morning, for example baby singing classes, meeting up with friends and so on, a nap just after lunch might be the best option for your new routine. Keeping busy and active in the mornings will also help your little one sleep, as little muscles will be tired. Some babies will make the transition quite quickly, while others will take longer. See what works best for your little one. If your little one is a very early riser, a pre-lunch nap might work better.

Don’t be worried if, on some days, your baby still wants a couple of naps. This might be due to a growth spurt or perhaps they might be feeling a little under the weather.

Understanding my baby's sleep at 12-18 months

Night Time Sleep

Even when changing daytime sleep habits, you should try to make sure that your baby has some really good quality sleep at night and this means sticking to your usual night time sleep routine. If your bedtime routine has been a little erratic up until now, try to make sure that you stick to it as much as possible and make it a special time between you and your baby. It helps your little one feel safe and secure. As he is more mobile, he may need some time to work off excess energy before bed, so maybe have some fun and game, in the garden or park if the weather’s good. Then after supper, it’s time to relax, reduce stimulation and wind down.

Try to avoid using the television, computers or tablets in the evening, as this may stimulate your baby so that he’s too wired to sleep. It also uses blue light, which stimulates the brain to be more awake.

Problems With Sleep at 12-18 Months

The major reason your little one might find it difficult to wind down and get to sleep at this age is all those new skills he’s learning. Crawling, cruising and walking are all new skills that your baby wants to practice and show off and this may carry on to the time when he’s supposed to getting ready for bed.

Sometimes if your baby wakes in the night, he may want to get up and walk around in the cot. Make sure the mattress base is now at its lowest setting, as that the cot is clear of any toys, cushions or bumpers that might be used to climb on.

Your little one may also start to wake earlier in the morning; don’t be tempted to change his usual bedtime though, as this may backfire and result in a disturbed sleep during the night. Which leads onto the next point.

Why is My Toddler Waking Up During the Night?

Sometimes even the best sleeper starts to have some problems with their sleep. There are several reasons why this might be the case;

  • Teething
  • Illness especially if they have a cold and their nose is blocked
  • A change in the weather causing them to be too hot or cold
  • When the clocks change
  • A vacation
  • Sleeping too much, or too little in the day
  • The sun rising earlier as spring and summer approaches – invest in good blackout curtains or blinds
  • A change in family circumstances, for example a house move, a new baby sibling, someone coming to stay

Most of these will resolve themselves and sleep patterns will revert to normal. However, one event may be more difficult to resolve. As they approach two years, some children start to have nightmares. It’s not known why this happens at this time, but you may find that a previously contented toddler suddenly has terrifying dreams and wake screaming or appears unsettled in the morning. Try to offer extra comfort if this seems to be the case

Further Reading:

Toddler Nap Problems and Their Solutions
Baby Sleep Patterns Between 3-6 Months
A Month by Month Guide to Sleep Regression

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