If your baby is nearing one year old, it probably feels like you can hardly believe it’s been a full 12 months since you birthed that little baby into this world! You’ve survived all the ups and downs that come with the first year of life and are now wondering what comes next. While your baby may still feel like a baby, they are now closer to the toddler years. There are lots of changes that are going to be happening! You may be wondering what your 12-month-old’s sleep schedule should be. I’m here to help answer some of your most common questions!

12-Month-Old Sleep Schedule and Wake Windows 

At 12 months, your baby’s wake windows should be roughly 3 to 4 hours. The first wake window of the day may be as short as 2.5 hours. You’re still watching wake windows, but your baby’s sleep schedule should be pretty consistent with the clock at this point. Your baby will still be on two naps per day, so the day would look something like this based on a 7:00 a.m. wake up.

7:00 a.m. – Wake up 

7:15 a.m. – Nurse or bottle feed

8:15/8:30 a.m. – Breakfast (solids)

9:30/10:00 a.m.-10:30/11:30 a.m. – Nap #1 (roughly 2.5-3 hours after wake up)

11:00/11:30 a.m. – Nurse or bottle feed 

12:00/12:30 p.m. – Lunch (solids)

1:30/2:30 p.m. – 3:30/4:00 p.m. – Nap #2 (roughly 3 hours after end of morning nap)

3:30/4:00 p.m. – Nurse or bottle feed

5:00/5:30 p.m. – Dinner (solids)

Nurse or bottle feed before bed

7:00-8:00 p.m. – Bedtime (roughly 4 hours after wake up from afternoon nap)

Also, be mindful that 8:00 p.m. is the ideal cutoff for bedtime for most kids this age. Anything after 8:00 p.m., things can start to unravel, as babies tend to get overtired. Based on this bedtime, the afternoon nap will likely need to end by 4:00 p.m. at the latest; you may need to wake your baby to prevent this from happening. 

General Sleep Guidelines

Every baby is unique, and your baby’s daily sleep schedule will depend on when your little one wakes, how much night sleep they’ve gotten, how long your baby naps, and individual cues. These age-appropriate guidelines are not intended to be a rigid schedule, but simply a guide for setting up a flexible routine. 

At this age, your baby should be sleeping 10.5 to 12 hours through the night and getting 2.5 to 3 hours of total day sleep. If your baby’s night sleep is still not solid, or you’re dealing with inconsistent sleep patterns, reach out to me! Let’s get a plan together to get your family some much needed rest! 

Weaning

This is a huge milestone that formula fed babies are ready for right around 12 months. I like to have 12-month-olds completely weaned by 13 to 14 months at the latest. If you let your little one hang on to a bottle too long, you run the risk of having a toddler who still needs a bottle. At that point, it can become much harder to give up; it’s better to do it sooner rather than later. Your baby is capable of eating all their calories, so there’s no need to continue giving bottles of formula or milk. This will satiate their hunger unnecessarily. If you’re breastfeeding and want to continue, then you can continue for as long as you’d like. If you’re ready to start the process of weaning with your breastfeeding baby, here are some guidelines to help. A formula-fed baby no longer needs to continue to receive that many calories in the form of a bottle of formula, so beginning the weaning process can start at 12 months. An easy way to start this is simply by reversing the order of the bottle and the solid food meal. This will naturally increase hunger and decrease formula intake. 

How much milk should my 12-month-old be drinking?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies at this age should drink 16 to 24 ounces of whole milk per day. Keep in mind, the AAP does not recommend introducing whole milk until a baby is at least 12 months old. I personally feel that 24 ounces of milk is A LOT of milk and will certainly hinder hunger at mealtimes. This is a huge issue that I see with the families I work with, so I tend to err on the side of less milk and more whole foods. Giving a 4 ounce cup of milk at meals is plenty in my opinion and will still allow your kiddo to eat well. I would also avoid giving milk in between meals, and stick with water instead. 

For some babies and families, cow’s milk is not the best option. Cow’s milk can be hard to digest for some kids, and it can trigger an autoimmune response in your baby. If you have a kiddo that has eczema, this is many times a dairy/gut issue. Goat’s milk can be a better option for many families, or using A2 cow’s milk is easier to digest as well. If your budget allows, always buy organic; you ideally don’t want to be giving your toddler milk loaded with hormones. If you have questions about milk alternatives and ensuring your baby gets the nutrition they need for healthy growth and development, please speak with your pediatrician.

Refusing the Afternoon Nap

Sometimes, at this age, kiddos will start to struggle going down for the afternoon nap. Usually, the morning nap is still pretty easy. For the afternoon nap, you may have days where no matter how hard you try, it just doesn’t happen. Here are a few things to try: the easiest thing to do is to shorten the morning nap by 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how long your baby is napping for. This alone can take care of the afternoon nap refusal. You can also try increasing the wake window after the morning nap, as long as it doesn’t push the afternoon nap too late in the day. This may mean that you have to cap the afternoon nap so that your kiddo is awake by 4:00 p.m. or so. Having to cap naps is many times part of the process as your baby gets older, and their wake windows naturally increase. You may get to the point where you have to cap one or both of their naps to ensure bedtime doesn’t end up being way too late.

Getting outside after lunch can be a great way to get some sunlight and burn off energy before the second nap of the day. This can definitely make for an easier afternoon nap putdown.

Introducing a Lovey

Once your baby is around 12 months, you can now have them start sleeping with a lovey. Loveys can be a great tool to help with sleep, as they offer baby’s an attachment object to give them comfort and security during times of sleep and any time they may just need some extra comforting. If your baby already has something they’re attached to and you haven’t yet used it for sleeping, now is a great time to start! 

Bedtime Routine

Never underestimate the power of a bedtime routine, especially at 12 months old. Pre-sleep routines need to be a consistent part of your 12-month-old’s sleep schedule; having a set bedtime routine cues your baby’s brain to prepare for sleep. The routine can be anything you want it to be, but ideally, it is a time to wind down for the day and prepare for sleep. Your house should be quiet, lights dimmed to allow melatonin to begin ramping up, and all screens should be turned off. It can be as simple as bathtime, pjs, brush teeth, book, bottle or nurse, and down for bed. If you’ve been away from your baby all day at work, the bedtime routine can also be a time to incorporate some one-on-one quiet play time into your baby’s routine. This can help foster closeness after an entire day away from your baby. 

*A Note for Daycare Parents

Many times, babies get moved to one nap prematurely, which can make for a very tired baby by day’s end; this is a situation where a very early bedtime may become necessary. Once your baby is 14 to 18 months, they can more easily handle one nap per day. Until then, putting your baby to bed between 6:00-6:30 p.m. can help your baby get the extra sleep they need. There may be a season where your baby needs to use nights to catch up on day sleep, and that’s okay! This is especially true if your baby has to be up early to be out the door to daycare. It will also help avoid a baby that becomes overtired in the evening before bed. 

The other thing you can try is doing two naps on the weekends. If you find that your baby is really struggling with one nap a day at daycare, stick with two naps on Saturday and Sunday. This can help your baby catch up on sleep, and start Monday morning a little more rested. 

Pro Tip: If you’re having to wake your baby each day for daycare, this is a sign that your baby isn’t getting enough sleep and needs to go to bed earlier! 

12 months is an exciting time, as your baby is reaching all kinds of new milestones! They’re possibly close to learning to walk, maybe beginning to say a few words, along with all sorts of developmental changes. If you’re struggling with sleep, don’t hesitate to reach out and get help! This is not a season where sleep should be a huge burden. If you’re feeling frustrated with your baby’s sleep habits, sleep is just inconsistent or feeling unsustainable to you right now, having a sleep coach by your side can make all the difference in bringing a new level of peace to your home. Whether you just need some small changes or bigger changes, my goal for you is that you can enjoy motherhood and enjoy your baby.

10 Simple Ways to Get Your Baby to Sleep Better Tonight

These tips are simple, easy to implement, and created to help your baby slowly step into a healthy, secure relationship with sleep!

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