Sleep and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old
Though your baby is beginning to develop in so many positive ways, certain sleep problems may start to crop up near the first birthday. These are often due to your baby's increased awareness of "separateness" from you. Stranger anxiety and separation anxiety are two normal stages of development that can occur during this time, and they can interfere with much-needed nighttime sleep for you and your baby.
This may mean tears and tantrums when you try to leave your child in the crib at night — and more sleep interruption when your baby wakes up and looks around for some sign that you're near.
This is also the age when night terrors can appear. These can be more "terrifying" for the parent than the baby if you're not sure what's happening.
It can be difficult to respond to your 8- to 12-month-old's nighttime needs with the right balance of concern and consistency, but remember: This is the time to set the stage for future restful nights for the whole family. The important thing now is to try to keep the sleep experience a positive one for your baby and to be consistent with your response to wakefulness at night.
How Long Will My Baby Sleep?
While the average amount of sleep per day at this age is 13 to 14 hours, the range of normal is still quite wide at this stage.
Your baby is probably still taking two naps a day — one in the morning and another sometime after lunch. The average length of a nap now is about 1 hour. Some babies will nap 20 minutes, others a few hours. Naps help prevent your baby from becoming too cranky to sleep well at night, so it is important that they be long enough.
This is the age when your baby may start resisting taking naps because he or she doesn't want to be away from you, but naps will help your little one (and you) enjoy the waking hours more. The key is to be as consistent as possible with nap times and your approach to putting your child in the crib.
Where and How Should My Baby Sleep?
By this age, most babies are rolling over and picking a comfortable position for sleep. Your baby will move around a lot during the course of a night's rest!
Night terrors can begin at this age, so don't be surprised if your baby starts screaming and crying in the middle of the night and nothing you do seems to help. Night terrors are different from nightmares — nightmares usually start around 3 to 4 years of age and children wake up from them feeling scared.
Night terrors occur during the deep part of sleep and although they may seem worrisome to you, your baby is actually still asleep — even if your baby's eyes are open — and has no idea that he or she is crying. Make sure that your baby is safe and he or she will eventually quiet down.
When your baby wakes up in the night and cries for you, remember not to reward this behavior or it may continue for a long time. Reassure your baby quietly that you're there, but then send the message that he or she needs to go back to sleep. The best bet may be a soothing pat on the back, a repositioning of the blanket, and a quick exit. If you are firm and consistent about requiring your baby to put herself or himself back to sleep, this stage should pass pretty quickly.
Of course, during these middle-of-the-night "visits" with your baby you'll want to rule out illness or a very soiled diaper. If you do need to change your baby, remember not to turn on too many lights and to keep interaction to a minimum.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2009 The Nemours Foundation. All rights reserved.
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