Phew - you made it through your baby's first year! No doubt it has been a year full of trials, tribulations, and triumphs. Raising an infant is no easy task - and it's certainly been a time of growth and learning for both of you. Many parents do start feeling like the fog is finally lifting around their baby's first birthday as they get into a comfortable rhythm. But even though your baby is transitioning to toddlerhood, sleep continues to evolve and still may be a point of stress in your family.
Here we're focusing on the type of sleep your 1-year-old should be getting, what a typical 1-year-old's schedule should look like, and what to do when certain sleep problems occur.
Common Sleep Questions Answered About One-Year-Olds
Though every baby's growth and development are different, it's nice to have an idea of what to expect from your baby at this age. Here we give some clear answers to your most common questions about typical 1-year-old sleep habits.
The answers to these questions will help you as you go about setting up a sleep schedule for your own little one (and we have a couple of recommended sleep schedules below, too.)
How much sleep does a 1-year-old need per day?
Whether your 1-year-old is taking 2 naps or 1 nap per day, the number of hours of sleep should still be the same. With one less nap, the sleep will just be consolidated. This will be in the range of 13 - 15 hours per day.
And on that note, which is it - 1 nap or 2?
It is completely normal for a baby who just turned 1 to still be taking 2 naps per day - each probably around 1.5-2 hours. But this is about the time (or it may have already happened) that your baby will be ready to transition to 1 nap per day. Not sure how to go about dropping the nap? We recommend you read our article, "Successful Nap Transitions and What to Do When Its Time to Drop a Nap." Ultimately, your baby's schedule will consist of one long afternoon nap. Finally having an open morning for playdates, errands, trips to the zoo, etc. just may be the best part!
And the biggest question of all...should my baby be sleeping through the night?
Babies' sleep habits at age one are across the board. Some may be still be waking up multiple times per night while others may have been sleeping through night for the past several months. Though it's certainly all normal, I'd venture to guess that after a year of losing precious sleep you're probably ready for your little one to be sleeping through the night if they're not. And it's time! Your 1-year-old is 100% capable of a full night of sleep - think 10+ hours, without waking.
But getting a baby to do this takes focused effort on our part. If your 1-year-old is not yet sleeping through the night, it's likely a fix you can handle. Coming up we'll address some common sleep problems at this age and how to fix those. Let's first look at how a 1-year-old's sleep schedule might look.
1-Year-Old Sleep Schedules
Whether you're ready to move along to the next step in your little one's sleep training or are really just attempting a more solidified sleep plan for the first time, knowing what a typical 1-year-old's sleep schedule could look like is helpful. Here are two schedules - the first for those closer to 12 months on 2 naps; and the second for those a little older who have transitioned down to 1 nap per day.
1-Year-Old Still on 2 Naps Per Day
On this schedule, your baby will get 14.5 hours of sleep per day. A little less or a little more is great, too.
7:00 AM - Wake Up
10:00 AM - Nap 1 (1.5 hours)
2:00 PM - Nap 2 (1.5 hours)
6:45 PM - Bedtime Routine
7:30 PM - Bedtime
There is no need to push your baby down to 1 nap per day until they show signs that they are ready (not falling asleep for the second nap, taking a long time to fall asleep for naps or at bedtime, etc.) But once they are ready, you'll want to slowly shorten the first nap and start to move the afternoon nap closer to 12:30.
1-Year-Old on 1 Nap Per Day
Almost all babies will drop down to 1 nap by the age of 18 months. Here's what a schedule will look like for a baby that age.
7:00 AM - Wake Up
12:00 PM - Nap (Aim for 3 hours)
6:45 PM - Bedtime Routine
7:30 PM - Bedtime
You'll see that the amount of sleep your baby gets with 1 nap doesn't change from when they were on 2 naps per day. As time goes on they may not need as much sleep at night, but the one nap per day should continue to be about 2.5 - 3 hours in length so that they are well-rested and happy throughout the day. Pay attention to signs your baby gives you - be open to moving up or pushing back your baby's naptime and/or bedtime based on their needs.
Some of you might be looking at this schedule thinking, "That may be great for some babies, but my little one could never do that!" We understand that baby sleep can be erratic and that there are plenty of one-year-olds still experiencing sleep problems. But this schedule IS possible with some patience and work on your part.
Here are some common sleep problems at this age and our solutions to help you get your little one feeling nice and rested (and hopefully napping like a champ and sleeping through the night!)
1 Year Old Sleep Problems and Solutions
Whatever sleep problem you're facing with your little one, we promise you are far from alone. It can feel like all of your friends' babies have mastered their sleep and yours is the only one "not quite there yet" but that's not the case. Though on the brink of toddlerhood, 1-year-olds are still babies. They're tiny little humans trying to figure out life all while craving comfort and constant attention from the people that they love.
Of course they don't WANT to be away from you, but ultimately helping them become an independent sleeper is a gift you're giving them. And they'll be a much happier little person when they're awake.
Let's get those sleep problems solved!
Problem: Your baby won't fall asleep on their own at night.
Solution to try: Get rid of sleep props and be sure you have a solid bedtime routine. Rocking or nursing your baby to sleep are sleep props. If you're still doing either of these with your baby at age 1, it's going to be a little tougher habit to break but it can be done. Rocking or nursing before bedtime should still be part of the bedtime routine, but your baby should be drowsy when you put them down - not asleep.
And here's the sleep routine that we suggest:
- Calming bath 45 minutes before bedtime
- Massage your baby - tips on that here
- Diaper, jammies, and place your baby in a weighted wearable blanket. If your 1-year-old is having trouble falling asleep on their own, we highly recommend the weighted sack from Dreamland Baby that helps relax your little one and induce sleep.
- Turn off the lights and turn on calming music or white noise
- Nursing or feeding to fill up their tummy before bed (they should be relaxed and calm but not asleep)
- Rocking baby, snuggling and singing your favorite lullaby until she shows signs of sleepiness.
- Lay baby down on her back – still awake, but clearly drowsy
Completely walking away at this point will be very difficult on your baby at this age if they've always depended on your to fall asleep. In our article on sleep training we discuss 3 methods you can utilize to make the transition easier on them.
Worried you waited too long to sleep train? Don't worry - your baby will catch on quickly! Mom Kate G. writes about transitioning her baby to independent sleep using the Dreamland Weighted Sack:
"This thing is incredible! So well made and we had a seamless transition from co-sleeping to crib with this! Night one she fussed for less than 30 min on and off then slept 11 hours. Night two less than 10 minutes then slept 11.5 hours and night three zero fussing and out for 12 hours straight through."
Problem: Your baby won't take their nap.
Solutions to try: If your baby is still taking 2 naps, this is probably your baby's way of showing they're ready to transition to 1 nap. Follow our advice her on how to make that happen. If your baby won't sleep for their only nap of the day, or cries every time you lay them down for their nap, chances are they are dependent on you to fall asleep. Follow a shortened version of our sleep routine above for naps and follow the same sleep training advice as well. The goal here is to get your baby to fall asleep completely on their own. Once they've done this for a few days in a row, they've got it!!
Problem: Your baby never naps longer than 45 minutes.
Solution: This is what we refer to as the 45-minute intruder and it can be frustrating. There are several reasons why your baby might wake up after 45 minutes including: hunger/growth spurt, overtired, not tired enough, practicing milestones such as standing up or trying to walk, a sleep regression. You want to make sure your baby is getting plenty to eat before their nap, is getting plenty of fun during their waketime, as well as getting completely relaxed before their nap. Follow a shortened version of the bedtime routine and we espeically recommend using the Dreamland Baby weighted sack. Read here to find out all about how to stop the 45-minute intruder.
Problem: Your baby keeps waking up in the middle of the night (out of habit).
Solutions to try: At age 1, it is very likely your baby is waking out of habit and not hunger. What they are prone, too, however, is separation anxiety. Waking up alone with their parents who knows where, can easily send a baby this age into a tailspin. That's why it's extra important to help your little one this age know how to put themselves back to sleep on their own if they wake up. You definitely don't want to go in and take them out of their crib to comfort them. Do this once and they'll expect it forever. Instead, it's best to let them fuss for a few minutes to see if they go back to sleep. If they don't, you can go in and reassure them that you are close by. At the age of 1, your baby can also have a security object in their crib to comfort them so this could be a good time to introduce one for extra security.
Problem: Your baby keeps waking up in the middle of the night (out of hunger).
Solutions to try: There are instances where a baby may be hungry in the middle of the night. Growth spurts do happen and it may just be that your little one needs a few nights with an extra feed to get them through. That's normal and totally ok! And definitely feed them. (You'll know it's not hunger if they don't seem interested by the way.) What you don't want to happen is that they start depending on that. We recommend ensuring that your baby gets enough milk and solids during the day. If your baby is sucking down their bottle right before bed and still seems hungry, give them a bit more to top them off.
Finally Getting Your 1-Year-Old to Sleep
We know you'd like to think that when your baby turns 1 the rough patches are behind you, but the truth is that little ones this age come with a new set of challenges. And they may be hanging on to some old ones. This is the time to get any sleep problems sorted out. Our best advice is to follow through on your bedtime routine and sleep training. It's definitely not the easiest thing to do, but it's amazing how much sleep can do for your baby and your entire family. Be strong, moms and dads...they'll get there!