Just when you think you have managed to get your baby on a consistent sleep schedule, you're hit with a sleep regression and everything hits the fan. These "magical" moments of inexplicably lost sleep usually appear when a child is 4 months, 8 months, 12 months, 18 months, and 2 years old, with us parents learning how to survive sleep-deprivation along the way. By the time your kid's a toddler, you'll probably wonder when this sleep-free train will end, so how long does the 12-month sleep regression last? Thankfully, the answer isn't 12 months.
Before diving into how long any particular sleep regression lasts, it's important to first understand exactly what a sleep regression is. While most parents, by the time their child turns 1 year old, will have dealt with a sleep regression or two, for those who don't know and according to The Baby Sleep Site, a sleep regression is, "a period of time (anywhere from 1 – 4 weeks) when a baby or toddler who has been sleeping well suddenly starts waking at night, and/or skipping naps (or waking early from naps) for no apparent reason." While there are numerous reasons for the various sleep regressions, the 12-month sleep regression is usually has a lot to do with naps.
According to The Baby Sleep Site, most parents will find that their baby "suddenly starts refusing his or her second nap, and tries to get by with just one nap" as a result. The same site reminds parents that most toddlers aren't ready to transition to one nap until they're around 15 months old, so even though it might seem like a 1 year old is ready for one nap a day, it's best to wait the regression out and stick to the two-naps-per-day sleep schedule.
Experts at The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) agree, and further warn readers that parents shouldn't rush to drop naps too quickly. Eventually, and according to the AASM, a sleep regression will pass and babies at this particular stage still need 11-14 hours of sleep per day. Kim West, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW-C) and founder of The Sleep Lady, attributes both the necessary hours of sleep your 1 year old needs, and the 12-month sleep regression, to the so-called "pre-toddler period," saying, "your baby is realizing that there are sequences to the way things are done. He may be fascinated by stacking cups or blocks. Your baby may also start walking, which is another huge developmental milestone."
West goes on to assure parents that with any sleep regression, whether it's the 4-month or the 12-month, it's likely to last between two and six weeks. She continues on her site, The Sleep Lady, saying:
Please understand that some babies may experience sleep problems for a longer period, but the majority of babies will average out to about four weeks of sleep challenges.
The Baby Sleep Site suggests parents cope with the 12-month sleep regression by maintaining predetermined and consistent sleep schedules as regressions are never permanent. The site goes on to suggest parents "offer comfort as needed, but avoid making new (or reinstating old) bad habits."
Yes, sleep regressions at any age and developmental stage can be nothing short of exhausting, but keep in mind that they're just a stressful for your baby as they are for you. Most experts agree that if you stick to a schedule, this too shall pass and the entire family will be back to semi-normal sleeping habits before too long.