Sleep and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old
Sleep problems are common in the second half of a baby's first year. Some babies may call out or cry in the middle of the night, then calm down when mom or dad enters the room. This is due to separation anxiety, a normal stage of development that happens during this time.
If this happens, as with other awakenings, give your baby some time to settle down. If needed, give brief reassurance to your little one without taking your baby out of the crib.
How Long Will My Baby Sleep?
Most babies this age should sleep 12–16 hours per day, including a stretch of 9–12 hours at night. Your baby will likely still take two naps per day. Some babies nap for 30 minutes, while others nap for up to 2 hours.
How Should Babies Sleep?
The American of Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends room-sharing without bed-sharing until the first birthday or for at least 6 months, when the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is highest.
Room-sharing is when you place your baby's crib, portable crib, play yard, or bassinet in your own bedroom instead of in a separate nursery. This keeps your baby nearby and helps with feeding, comforting, and monitoring your baby at night.
While room-sharing is safe, putting your baby to sleep in bed with you is not. Bed-sharing increases the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related deaths.
Follow these recommendations for a safe sleep environment for your little one:
- Always place your baby on their back to sleep, not on the stomach or side. The rate of SIDS has gone way down since the AAP began recommending this in 1992. When babies consistently roll over from front to back and back to front, it's fine for them to remain in the sleep position they choose.
- Use a firm, flat sleep surface. Cover the mattress with a sheet that fits snugly.
- Do not put anything else in the crib or bassinet. Keep plush toys, pillows, blankets, unfitted sheets, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, and bumper pads out of your baby's sleep area.
- To avoid overheating, dress your baby for the room temperature and don't overbundle. Don't cover your baby's head while they're sleeping. Watch for signs of overheating, such as sweating or feeling hot to the touch.
- Keep your baby away from smokers. Secondhand smoke increases the risk of SIDS.
- Offer a pacifier to your baby at sleep time, but don’t force it. If the pacifier falls out during sleep, you don’t have to replace it. If you're breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is firmly established.
- Watch out for other hazards, such as items with cords, ties, or ribbons that can wrap around a baby's neck, and objects with any kind of sharp edge or corner. Look around for things that your baby can touch from a seated or standing position in the crib. Hanging mobiles, wall hangings, pictures, draperies, and window blind cords could be harmful if they are within a baby's reach.
- Don’t let your baby fall asleep on a product that isn’t specifically designed for sleeping babies, such as a sitting device (like a car seat), a feeding pillow (like the Boppy pillow), or an infant lounger (like the Dock-a-Tot, Podster, and Bummzie).
- Don’t use products or devices that claim to lower the risk of SIDS, such as sleep positioners (like wedges or incliners) or monitors that can detect a baby’s heart rate and breathing pattern. No known products can actually do this.
- Don’t use weighted blankets, sleepers, or swaddles on or around your baby.
- Make sure that all sleep surfaces and products you use to help your baby sleep have been approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and meet federal safety standards.
How Can I Make Bedtime Easier?
You may have started a bedtime routine that you're sticking to. If you haven't yet, now's a good time to start. Soothing activities that lead up to "night-night" time can help relax your baby. A warm bath followed by stories or singing will signal an end to the day, and these same activities can be used at bedtime for years to come.
You'll want your baby to fall asleep on their own. This may mean doing your nighttime routine and putting your baby into the crib while they're drowsy but still awake. If the baby cries, stay away for a few minutes. Your baby may settle down and go to sleep.
If the crying continues, soothe your baby for a moment without picking your little one up. This may go on a few times until your baby figures out that the crying is not getting results. This can be tough for parents, since it's upsetting to hear your baby cry. If you know your baby is safe (and not hungry, wet, soiled, or feeling unwell), it's OK to give them time to settle down.
If your child keeps on crying and calling for you, a few loving words from the bedroom door ("Mommy's right here, but it's time for you to go to sleep now") and another quick exit may do the trick. Try to lengthen the time between these personal appearances until — at long last — your baby is asleep.
What If My Baby Wakes at Night?
Even a baby who has been sleeping through the night will sometimes wake in the wee hours, just as adults do. Allow some time to let your baby get back to sleep on their own. Give your baby a few fussy minutes before you respond, then after seeing that everything is OK, leave your baby alone to fall back to sleep.
When your baby wakes up in the night and cries for you, reassure your baby quietly that you're there. Then send the message that they need to go back to sleep. Your best bet might be a soothing pat on the back and a quick exit. If you are firm and consistent about teaching your baby to go back to sleep without you, this stage should pass pretty quickly.
Remember: Cuddling, feeding, or talking when your baby wakes up may prompt your little one to wake regularly for this attention.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
It can be hard to respond to your baby's needs with the right balance of concern and consistency. But this is the time to set the stage for future restful nights for the whole family.
If you have questions about your baby's sleep, talk with your doctor.