Your baby’s first birthday is just around the corner and what a year it’s been! The blur of celebratory milestones and new challenges all come together in a love that’s only grown for your little one. Lack of sleep is no doubt something else you’ve had to contend with more than you care to admit. But as you move into a schedule for your 9-12-month-old, the fog should finally be starting to lift.
This article will cover sleep-related topics with your 9 -12-Month-Old including:
- Sleep needs at this age
- A typical daily sleep schedule
- Common sleep challenges and fixes including how to get your baby to sleep through the night
Be sure to read the additional expert insight from certified sleep coach and owner Anna of Little Winks Sleep!
Considerations for Babies Ages of 9 and 12 Months
Through the months you’ve watched your baby grow from a tiny infant who’s needed constant care and attention to a mobile and chattering little human with their own unique personality. The growth that happens in such a short period of time is nothing short of amazing.
Clear sleep and wake patterns have emerged through the months and it’s become a lot easier to plan a day around your baby’s sleep. Ultimately we’ll have a suggested schedule for you to use as a guideline, but it helps to have an understanding of what your baby needs to be healthy and happy.
Here's what to know about sleep and nutrition needs for your 9-12-month-old:
Sleep Requirements: Your baby will continue to need between 12 and 15 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.
Nighttime Sleep: 10-11 of those hours will be consolidated into nighttime sleep, hopefully in one long stretch!
Naps: By now, your baby should have a consistent nap schedule with one nap in the morning and one in the afternoon for a total of 3 - 4 hours of daytime sleep. If you’re still trying to drop an evening catnap, we suggest you read: “Successful Nap Transitions: What to do When It’s Time to Drop a Nap.”
Wake Windows: Most babies will begin to comfortably and happily stay awake for 3.5 - 4 hour periods.
Number of Feeds: Stanford Children’s Health recommends babies this age have up to 32 ounces of breastmilk or formula per day split into 3 - 5 feedings.
Solid Foods: Though your baby’s diet will now be made up of a range of solid foods, breastmilk and formula are still your baby’s primary source of nutrition.
Sleeping Through the Night: Developmentally, babies are capable at this age of sleeping through the night without needing to wake up to eat. If wake-ups are still occurring it’s not likely due to hunger.
- Safe Sleep Practices: Continue to follow the AAP’s guidelines of keeping the crib free of loose blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals until the age of 1. Using a wearable blanket such as the weighted one from Dreamland Baby is the perfect way to keep your baby cozy while keeping them safe.
A note on sleeping through the night:
Many babies have not reached this milestone at the 9-month mark, so don’t fret if your baby isn’t there yet. Be sure to read on to find out how you can make this happen before your baby’s first birthday.
Typical Sleep Schedule for a 9-12-Month-Old
Below we’ve provided a recommended schedule that can work well for many babies this age.
7:00 a.m. – Your baby wakes for the day/First Feed
10:00 a.m. – Nap #1 (1.5 – 2 hours)
11:30 a.m. – Feed then play
2:30 p.m. – Nap #2 (1.5 – 2 hours)
4:30 p.m. - Feed then play
7:15 p.m. - Start Bedtime Routine
8:00 p.m. – Feeding and Bedtime
Thoughts to consider:
- This particular schedule gives your baby about 3.5 hours of daytime sleep and 11 hours of nighttime sleep which allows for the suggested average of sleep in 24 hours. Some babies will require a little more or a little less.
- Some babies may do better with a short 1-hour nap in the morning and a longer 3-hour nap in the afternoon. This is also common.
- Babies on the younger end of this range, especially if they’re breastfed, may require 5 feeds instead of the suggested 4. A cluster feed at the end of the day is a good way to fit in an extra feed.
Times for this schedule will need to be adjusted in order to fit your family’s own routine. Though this is just one schedule, by this age, you’ll want something that looks similar to ensure your baby (as well as everyone in your house) is getting the sleep they require.
We asked Anna of Little Winks Sleep what her biggest recommendation is when trying to create a schedule for their 9-12-month-old and here was her response:
"If your 9-12-month-old is all over the place with their schedule a good time to work on this is... NOW! Don't panic, it's going to be much easier once you've established a consistent schedule, blissful if you will!
Firstly, consistency is key! Babies love routine, it's a way you can communicate really clearly to them, so then they understand what is coming next and are able to thrive. When you are consistent, then they feel safe and calm in it.
Secondly, remember that you're learning a new routine, and so are they, so be patient while you adjust to this new routine! It's okay if it doesn't go smoothly or to the minute, it'll come together if you follow tip one!
Lastly, the way to throw a routine or schedule completely off course, is to not listen to your baby. If you are worried that your baby is upset, take a moment to ask what they are trying to tell you, watch for those sleep cues. When they signal to you that they are ready for sleep, go for it mama!"
Common Sleep Challenges Between 9 and 12 Months
Getting your baby into a routine and on a schedule like the one above is the best way to avoid the sleep challenges that may present themselves.
Though babies often take great naps or sleep through the night at this age, setbacks here and there are common. The goal is to identify any sleep issues as soon as possible so that you can help your baby get back on track with their sleep.
We love how Anna from Little Winks Sleep compares parenting to a dance or "kinda like flirting" she told us. She writes that communication for babies comes in the form of "routine, sound, body language, tone, noise, environment, cues and responses.' Be sure to keep this in mind as you tackle the tough sleep challenges we write about below.
Below are some common challenges your baby may experience along with solutions to help them through it.
Separation anxiety is a common sleep challenge that may present itself closer to 8 months in age, but it’s also something that may begin a little later or continue until your baby’s first birthday. It’s sometimes referred to as the 8, 9 or 10-month sleep regression. If your baby is experiencing this, you’ll notice them struggling to fall asleep for naps or frequently waking at night crying out for you even though they’ve typically been a good sleeper.
How to fix it:
The best thing you can do is give your baby lots of attention during wake periods, but keep good-byes short and sweet when it’s time for sleep. Keep up with your baby’s sleep routine - consistency with things like using a weighted sleep sack, using white noise, and keeping a calm sleeping environment will help your baby be an independent sleeper even when they realize your absence.
Mom Amanda G. writes about her experience using the Dreamland Baby Weighted Sack:
"Our almost one year old was a terrible sleeper and wouldn’t sleep anywhere but my arms. After 11 sleepless months, I thought to myself, there has to be a weighted blanket sleeper sack out there and Dreamland Baby was the only company on the market that had what I was looking for. We bought it and after two weeks of using it, I can confidently say it was worth the money! Naptimes went from 45 minutes to almost 2 hours. Overnight wasn’t as obvious, but last night he slept from 10 to 4! Which was his longest stretch yet!"
We mentioned this being a challenge in our article on sleep for your 6-9-month-old, and unfortunately, it’s something your little love will have to deal with through toddlerhood. The discomfort can be the culprit for night wakings.
How to fix it:
Keeping your baby as relaxed and comfortable as possible is the best defense against teething. Help calm your baby by placing them in a Dreamland Baby weighted sack and then holding them in your arms. Allow them to chew on a chilled, damp washcloth as you sing them a lullaby. If you’re noticing they’re still in pain, the Mayo Clinic gives the go-ahead for the proper dosage of infant Tylenol or Motrin.
New Developments in Gross Motor Skills
Watching your baby learn to roll over, crawl, and pull to standing are a few of the greatest joys during that first year. Now the time has come for them to start working toward those first steps! But as exciting as this is, it can also disrupt your baby’s good sleep habits. That’s because it’s so much fun for them to practice!
How to fix it:
Make sure you are putting your baby down when they are drowsy, but not to the point that they are overtired. If your baby is getting put down too early or too late within a wake window they’ll have trouble falling asleep and will likely start practicing their new tricks which will only keep them awake longer.
Unsuccessful Night Weaning
Developmentally, babies between 9 and 12 months of age are capable of sleeping through the night. 4-5 breastmilk or formula feeds by day should provide enough calories for your baby to sleep at least 10 hours without waking to eat. However, many parents report that their babies are still waking up in the middle of the night for a bottle or to nurse.
How to fix it:
What you’re likely seeing from your baby is referred to as “comfort nursing.” Happiest Baby recommends giving your baby less and less milk each night to help them successfully wean themselves off middle-of-the-night feedings. If you’re still struggling with this you may want to try a sleep training approach.
Needs Sleep Training
Perhaps you’re looking at the suggested schedule above and noticing that your baby’s erratic sleep patterns look nothing like it. If that’s the case with your little one, the time has come for some focused sleep training. Even if you missed the boat on sleep training earlier on, it’s never too late to start.
How to fix it:
Most parents and babies will do well with one of the effective sleep training methods we suggest in our article: A Helpful Guide for Sleep Training Your Baby. If you’ve struggled in the past, you may also want to consider getting help from a sleep coach.
We love this tip Anna shared with us:
"Each baby is unique and different, so don't panic if what KAREN SAID doesn't work for your baby. This is why I love working with babies, it is because they show us their personalities and who they are so early on! My biggest tip is to give your child the gift of feeling confident in own their own sleep journey. When we completely control the sleep journey, then they are reliant on us each time they wake up, every time they need to go back to sleep.
Whereas when we support them in their journey, allowing them to control it, then when they wake up they are able to put themselves back to sleep without a struggle.
Now let's also be honest that things work until they don't work, so there's no judgment. However, this is around the age where something that used to be your magic moment might stop working, gets more complicated or takes longer."
If you're ready to put your hand up to that, we suggest heading over to Little Winks Sleep where Anna and her team have a free class to watch to get you started in helping your little one sleep better.
As you embark on a sleep schedule for your 9-12-month old, we want to remind you that every baby is unique. Even with how much they’ve grown, your older baby is still a tiny human being learning to navigate this stimulating world. The most important thing is that your baby is getting plenty of sleep and are content and happy while they are awake.
What are common mistakes parents make with the 9-12 month sleep schedule?
The most common mistakes parents make when it comes to getting their “older” baby to sleep is a lack of consistency. Sleep scheduling can be a grueling task and it’s easy to give in and/or succumb to old habits that your little one has outgrown, just for the sake of getting some shut eye.
However, when it comes to sleep training and creating a sleep schedule, it’s important to stick to plan. Remember, babies – and adults! – thrive on routine. So be consistent, be patient, and be flexible. And when needed, ask for help! Talk to friends, consult your pediatrician and/or a sleep consultant.
What is the most effective way to get a 9-12 month old to sleep through the night?
With so many options available when it comes to sleep training, the thing you can rely on is trusting your own instincts. No one knows your baby better than you do so follow her sleep cues and find the routine that works best and be consistent with it. It’s also a good idea to do the following:
- Establish a sleep-time routine (ie: bath, books, bed)
- Be consistent with it!
- Darken the sleep space (close the curtains, soften the lights)
- Keep calm (even when baby is crying)
If however, baby seems fussy and simply isn’t adjusting to a new schedule, the Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack for 6 - 12 months might help! It is designed to help baby feel calm, fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. The gentle weight naturally reduces stress and increases relaxation through deep-pressure stimulation to give baby feelings of security and comfort. This product is safe for babies who are rolling and can sit or stand on their own.
How does the 9-12 month sleep schedule different from other stages?
By the time baby is 9 months old, so much has changed! She can likely move an object from one hand to another, recognize you and her surroundings, and she is much more mobile, able to pull herself up and may even be crawling. As such, her sleep schedule may be changing, too. On average, a baby this age can sleep about eleven hours at night and at least take a solid one hour+ nap each morning and afternoon. It’s also likely that she doesn’t need to wake up and eat the way she used to. This means that her nighttime schedule may need an adjustment. As you did at three months, and again at six months (give or take), follow her sleep cues and be consistent with your bedtime routines.
Is the 9-12 month sleep schedule easier than earlier stages?
When it comes to baby, some milestones may seem easier than others. Some parents have no problem with getting their little one to sleep, while for others, it’s a constant battle at every stage. Try not to compare one phase to another, or even, one of your children to another. Each baby is different and reaches milestones, like sleeping through the night, in their own time.
Keep in mind that sleep training can be challenging to say the least. So if possible, try to take some time every day, even a few minutes, to get outside, breathe some fresh air, and spend some “me” time. It’s likely that the better you feel, the more patience you’ll have in caring for your little one… and that can make the time spent with baby less stressful.
Is it too late to sleep train at 9-12 months old?
While most doctors suggest that sleep training can start as early as 4 months, it’s never to late to start! Training essentially means finding a routine that works, and sticking to it. While it may even seem counter-intuitive, sleep training seems to be most effective when putting baby down to sleep when they’re not completely exhausted. They should be just a little tired. This helps them learn how to self-soothe and relax independently so that a good night’s sleep – or even just a nap – becomes easier.
How can I prepare for 1-year old sleep training?
The good news is that it’s never too late to sleep train your baby. It really comes down to a bedtime routine that works for both naps and nighttime. With so many options for sleep training, it’s important to do your research! Like everything baby-related, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. There’s the Ferber method, cry it out (CIO), the chair method, pick up/put down, and more! So no matter which method you try, be consistent! That really is the key when it comes to getting your zzz’s! …and if you think you need some help, please consult with your pediatrician or even a sleep specialist. Help is out there!
Anna is a certified sleep coach & owner of Little Winks Sleep, who works with families from all over the world, teaching parents how to get their little ones to sleep. Using a gentle parent-present approach where they are able to compassionately guide families through the process of teaching their little ones to sleep. Since 2018, Little Winks Sleep has been able to help over 400 children, and the team has grown to 4 certified sleep coaches.