Your baby is nearing their first birthday and yet they are still waking multiple times in the night, leaving you exhausted as you close out the first year with your little one. You’ve been told, “It will get better” but you’re sleep deprived, tired of not knowing what to do, and frustrated that you’re still in the same place after all this time. Rest assured tired parents, there is help and you too can reclaim the joys of parenthood with peaceful sleep!
It’s one thing to be sleep-deprived in the newborn stage, but another when you’re still having night wakings for nearly a year. I’ve worked with hundreds of parents who have been in your shoes over my years as a certified sleep consultant, so you’re not alone! The key to success: Understanding the WHY behind your child’s sleep patterns, which will help you not only get them to sleep more soundly but also how you respond when regressions occur.
What’s a Typical Schedule for
an 11 Month Old?
A vital element to consistent, restful sleep is understanding your child’s unique sleep needs within the expected wake windows that sleep science tells us is typical for 11 months old. At 11 months old you little one should have an established 2 nap schedule with a maximum of 3 hours of daytime sleep. In order to aim for an 11-12 hour sleep period overnight we want to cap daytime sleep otherwise they will sleep less at night because they've already had enough sleep within the 24-hour window. We focus on having 𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐝, 𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐮𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐧𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐬𝐥𝐞𝐞𝐩 because this is when your little one does most of their growing and developing! A pitfall many parents find themselves in is that daytime naps often run too late, disturbing the sleep drive at bedtime and overnight.
Many babies and toddlers biologically like a bedtime around 7-8pm, but for some, pending on what stage they are in in their sleep journey, may even need a bedtime as early as 6pm, as we want to avoid a baby going to bed overtired. ⠀
How do you get an 11-month-old on a sleep schedule?
We know what you’re thinking: 2 naps and a bedtime between 7:00-8:00pm sounds great, but how do you make it happen? This is where understanding the WHY behind your baby’s sleep patterns comes into play. You want to help your baby learn sleep foundational skills so they can not only fall asleep but stay asleep for maximum, restful sleep.
Begin with a consistent routine: Routines do not need to be rigid. A young child’s brain is still undergoing major development, especially the part of the brain that is able to plan ahead and make predictions about the future. A routine helps kids practice making these simple predictions, as well as understand concepts such as “before and after.” A regular schedule fosters responsibility and independence because they have done the same activities many times before in the same environment.
Maintaining Proper Wake Windows: Wake windows is the term we use to describe the time between naps, from wake up to back to sleep, that your little one should be awake and engaged in order to fill up their little tired tank and get good sleep! At 11 months old, wake windows are typically 3-3.5 hours, with the first wake window being the shortest and the last wake window being the longest prior to bedtime.
Practice Putting Self to Sleep: This is the one that gets everyone because it’s tough to help your little one learn a new skill when they are used to doing something another way. We practice letting our little ones learn how to eat, right? So we must also let them practice the skill of putting themselves to sleep so eventually they can be confident, independent toddlers! Sleep is one of the most important skills we need to help our children learn, as it is during restorative sleep that they grow, repair, and master new skills. Age appropriate schedules, techniques, and consistency are all a part of helping any child no matter their age learn to sleep independently.
Connecting Sleep Cycles: Wake ups often occur when little ones move from light sleep to deep sleep every 45-60 minutes. There are many methods on how to help your little one connect their sleep cycles, but they all have a universal theme: allowing your little one a few minutes before intervening in order to see if they are able to self-settle and return to sleep. This pause before going to your child when they suddenly wake, allows your little one the chance to practice connecting their sleep cycles using their independent skills so it becomes easier and easier!
How do you deal with sleep regressions for an 11-month-old baby?
Sleep patterns at this age can continue to go up and down, thanks to all of the amazing new skills your baby is fostering daily. Almost one-year-olds show greater emotional engagement, increased communication, heightened cognitive skills, and expanded physical abilities including spending more time standing, cruising, and possibly walking. These and other developmental milestones may influence your tot's daytime and nighttime sleep, regardless if they were a sound sleeper prior to their 1st birthday!
Little ones will often make it appear that they are ready to drop from 2 to 1 naps but proceed cautiously as this is typically just a regression hiccup! Most babies will naturally continue to need 2 naps until 15-18 months. Sleep is vital to our little one's development and growth so hold onto the nap until you're getting clear signs from your baby. Track your little one's sleep for 7-10 days and when there is a consistent pattern of the mentioned signs, it's time to tackle the transition! Just like other nap transitions, it will take some time to find the sweet spot for their nap so stay consistent and give yourself grace!!
Just like the 3 to 2 nap transition, transitioning to 1 nap takes time.. There will be days when your young toddler needs 2 naps and others when 1 nap will be enough. Typically the 2 to 1 nap transition takes about a month for your baby to return to a predictable schedule for sleep times. However long the transition takes, remember to give yourself grace, as you're both learning to master new skills!
Final thoughts about 11 month old sleep schedules
11 month old sleep problems are no joke, especially if you’re the parent up throughout the night with them. You can start your baby on the journey to more peaceful sleep by making small changes to establish a consistent routine and then overtime building independent sleep skills so everyone is resting peacefully in your household again. Whatever method you choose that is right for your family, remember to remain consistent, as this is where long-term progress is made!
Are you feeling a little overwhelmed about your child's sleep habits and just need some input and advice on what to do? Serenity Sleepers is committed to helping families develop peaceful sleepers by integrating child development, parental health, and normative childhood sleep patterns at the center of our sleep philosophy. With a combined 19 years of professional experience as a certified sleep consultant and occupational therapist + 5 children between them, Kelley and Bailey are ready to help you tackle your sleep goals. Healthy sleep habits (and confident parents) make for healthier, happier children.