Although this sleep regression is commonly narrowed down to the 8-10 month age bracket, the time between 6-12 months can be a bit of a minefield when it comes to sleep.
This is an age for HUGE physical and social development. Think about all the physical milestones your baby goes through in this short period of time. By around 6 months most babies will be rolling or just about to. From there they learn to sit, crawl, stand and by 12 months some babies will also be taking their first steps.
Each time they learn one of these new skills, they’ll be so pleased with themselves that they’ll want to practice ALL THE TIME, including nap time and even in the middle of the night.
It’s not just these big milestones either. They are also honing their fine motor skills which may be less obvious. Perfecting their pincer grip and learning how to manipulate objects, this takes a lot of concentration and brainpower.
Allow them plenty of time to practice their new skills during play time. This helps build muscle memory and means they are less likely to want to practice when they’re meant to be sleeping.
Around 7 months your little one starts to understand object permanence. This means they begin to realise that even though they can no longer see an object, it still exists. This is where separation anxiety tends to kick in around sleep time. When you leave the room, they know they are missing out on household activities, so they will either want you to come back into the room to be with them or they’ll resist sleep in order to keep playing.
Playing peek-a-boo is a great game to teach your baby that when you disappear from sight you will always reappear. Introducing a comfort toy can also help with easing some of that anxiety.
Now that they are on the move, they will also be needing more nourishment to sustain them. If your baby isn’t quite established on solids yet they may be getting hungry, and a hungry baby won’t sleep. From about 8 months you can start offering solids before milk to encourage them to eat more food. And be sure they are having good quality home-made foods packed with all the good stuff and that all their meals are high in carbohydrates like whole grains and root vegetables.
Keep an eye on your routine. Even though your baby may be resisting sleep, pushing out their wake windows might not be the answer. This can end up with an overtired baby or will just throw the entire day off track which can then impact night sleep.
During these stages of sleep disruptions, it’s usually best to stick to your normal routine. The consistency and familiarity will be comforting for your little one and they will start to settle back into their routine given a little time. Once they are on two naps a day, their nap routine really doesn’t need to change until 14-18 months, at which point they’ll be ready to transition to one nap.
Lastly, check the basics are still in place. Have you started to become complacent about making the room dark or using white noise? Now that they are older and more switched on to what’s going on around them, blocking out any external distractions is so important to help them settle. Keep them dressed in a sleeping bag for all sleeps even though they are more mobile. Their sleeping bag is a positive sleep cue, keeps them warm and will restrict some of their movement so they can focus on sleep. Keep them active but still respect their need for sleep. Don’t stretch out their sleep times to tire them out as this will likely backfire as they become more overtired and aim to be home as often as possible for their midday nap so they have that opportunity for great restorative sleep.
Get in touch if you'd like some help navigating through any regressions in your little one's sleep.