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The 11-Month Sleep Regression: Navigating New Mobility

You’ve just settled down for a well-deserved break after putting your baby to sleep, but suddenly, a shriek from the baby monitor shatters the calm. Rushing to your 11-month-old’s room, you’re greeted by a cheeky grin and a crib devoid of pacifiers. Welcome to the 11-month sleep regression!

As your baby approaches the 1-year mark, it’s pretty amazing to look back and think that just 11 months ago they were so tiny and unable to do so many things, and now you have a clever kiddo who is figuring out cause and effect.

While all this development is pretty spectacular, it also means some inevitable sleep disruption as growing and learning don’t stop when the sun goes down. In this blog, we’ll explore some of the reasons your 11-month-old might be causing you to Google ’11-month sleep regression,’ and provide insights into how you can navigate this challenging yet common phase in your baby’s development.

Physical Milestones: Standing and Mobility

Firstly, let’s delve into the physical milestones your 11-month-old may be working on this month. As your baby nears their first birthday, they’re not just growing; they’re on the move! Cruising around furniture and showing off squatting skills that would impress a CrossFit coach, your little one is hitting major physical milestones. However, these physical milestones can disrupt sleep in various ways, leaving parents wondering if their baby might be experiencing an 11-month sleep regression.

Sleep Challenges:

  • Nighttime Mobility and Sleep Disruption: Their newfound mobility can lead to disrupted sleep patterns, as the crib becomes a practice ground for these new skills—the hallmark of the so-called 11-month sleep regression.
  • Increased Movement During Sleep: As your baby learns to stand and cruise, they may experience more movement during sleep because their brain is busy integrating these new skills. This increased physical activity can disrupt the usual sleep cycle, leading to shorter and more fragmented sleep periods.
  • Falls and Bumps: With increased mobility comes the risk of falls, both during the day and at night.

Strategies to Help:

  • Encourage Daytime Practice: Allowing ample time for these skills during the day can reduce the need for nighttime practice.
  • Create a Calming Bedtime Routine: A relaxing routine can help your baby wind down before bed.
  • Foster Safe Sleep Environment: Ensure the crib is safe, with the mattress at the lowest setting and a sleep sack with foot openings to prevent trips. While it may be tempting to add padding to the crib to help buffer falls, padded bumpers or rail covers are not considered safe by the AAP.
  • Spatial Awareness: Are you concerned about your little one falling? Stay close to the crib, tapping the rails while discussing their position within the crib. This helps your baby understand their spatial relation and grow their awareness.
  • Guide Transition from Standing to Sitting: Instead of repeatedly laying your baby down, encourage them to transition from standing to sitting. Demonstrate this by patting the mattress and showing them how to bend their knees. As time passes, standing during bedtime and wake-ups will become less frequent, and your little one will increasingly sit and lie down independently.
  • Emotional Support and Patience: Offer comfort and reassurance during this learning process. If your baby seems wobbly, provide physical support or a comforting presence.

Cognitive Milestones: Cause and Effect

In addition to physical development, cognitive milestones can also impact sleep for your 11-month-old. As separation anxiety begins to wane, your baby’s understanding of cause and effect takes center stage. Now that your little one understands that objects continue to exist, even when out of sight, they may start to explore this idea by exploring cause and effect. For example, what happens if I drop my pacifier over the rail of my crib? Gone are the days of passive observation. It’s a time of discovery, but also one that can play havoc with their sleep, leaving you wondering why more people don’t talk about an 11-month sleep regression.

Sleep Challenges:

  • Increased Night Wakings: Your baby might wake up more often to test their influence on their environment and your responses.
  • Expressing Preferences: At this age, your baby can express their preferences more distinctly. They know what they like and what they want, and are learning how to make that happen.
  • Running Experiments: Your little one may test to see what you’ll do if they throw their pacifier or teether over the crib rail, or test various vocalizations to gauge your reaction.

Strategies to Help:

  • Consistent Routine: At this age, it may be time to reevaluate your nightly routine. What you did when your baby was younger may need to be adjusted to fit your baby’s current preferences and needs. For example, if your baby is very active in the evening and won’t sit still in your lap for a book, you may need to incorporate some more active time ahead of bed – like allowing them to crawl, stand, and cruise as you read them a book.
  • Deliberate Response: While it’s important to respond to your little one, the pace at which you respond may need to be slowed down. For example, if your baby shrieks, and you come running, that’s a reactive response. Whereas, if you pause, and watch the monitor to see if they may settle back down, that’s a more deliberate response. You may end up still going into your baby’s room, but it will be from a place of calm rather than alarm.
  • Don’t Get Into A Game of Fetch: If your baby repeatedly drops their pacifier or teether over the crib rail, and you repeatedly give it back, you’ve just started a game and taught your little one a reliable and fun way to keep you engaged at sleep time. Instead, rather than immediately returning the dropped item, don’t react strongly to it. You could say “Ah! Looks like you threw your paci. Paci stays in the crib.” If you’re not in the room when your baby throws their pacifier or teether out, slow down, and don’t immediately return to the room to return the dropped item.

11-Month-Old Mealtime Challenges: Too Busy to Eat

Furthermore, feeding can also play a part in the 11-month sleep regression.  Mealtime with an 11-month-old can feel like feeding a whirlwind. Their newfound mobility often means they’re too busy exploring to sit still for a meal, which can lead to hunger-induced wake-ups at night. For more on this topic, check out our detailed blog.

Sleep Challenges

  • Night Waking or Early Rising Due To Hunger: Increasing night feeds can be a slippery slope. As tempting as it is to want to feed them to get everyone back to sleep, it can lead to a shift in their feeding schedule to take in more at night than during the day. All babies go through periods where they don’t eat as much, whether due to illness, teething, or distracted eating. If you know your baby hasn’t taken in enough during the day, you may expect to be feeding more during the night – but these times should be the exception, not the norm.

Strategies to Help:

  • Regular Meal Times: Offer your little one 3 meals and 2 snacks each day. This means they have an opportunity to eat every 2 hours. It’s very common for babies at this age to have 1-2 larger meals each day, and the rest are small. Your job is to provide the food, their job is to pick what and how much of it they eat. It’s best not to chase a toddler around offering bites of food.
  • Bedtime Snack: If your baby tends to not eat as much at dinnertime, a snack with proteins and fats before bed can be helpful. It could be avocado toast, peanut butter on bread, yogurt a smoothie, or a cheese stick.
  • New Beverage Containers: At 11 months, milk is still an important part of your little one’s overall caloric intake. If they’re not wanting to nurse as much or take as much from a bottle, it can be helpful to offer milk from an open cup or straw cup.

11-Month Sleep Schedule Adjustments: Changing Sleep Needs

In addition to all of the things we’ve discussed so far, you have probably also noticed that the wake windows ahead of each nap and bedtime need some adjusting as your little one can cope with longer periods of awake time. While many parents mistakenly assume their child is ready to transition to one nap, it’s important to note that the transition to 1 nap typically happens between 13-18 months once your little one can comfortably handle at least 5 hours awake consistently.

Sleep Challenges:

  • Fighting the Second Nap: It’s common at this age for the second nap of the day to become tricky. As your little one starts to be able to stay awake for longer periods, they can sometimes resist sleep due to FOMO.
  • Difficulty Settling: It might take longer than 30 minutes for your baby to settle down to sleep at bedtime. This can indicate that their wake windows are either too short or too long.
  • Quick to Sleep but Frequent Wake-ups: If your baby crashes to sleep almost immediately at bedtime but then experiences frequent wake-ups or early rising, it could be a sign of overtiredness.
  • Early Morning Waking: Consistently waking up earlier than usual can be a sign that your baby’s sleep schedule needs tweaking, possibly due to too much or too little daytime sleep.

Strategies to Help:

  • Elongating Wake Windows: If bedtime or naps are a struggle, you may need to have a look at your little one’s schedule to be sure their wake windows are neither too short nor too long. Aim for wake windows between 3-3.75 hours, with the last wake window ahead of bedtime being the longest.
  • Nap Adjustments: If your little one has been consistently fighting their second nap, allow their first nap to go for up to 2 hours and then aim for a shorter cat nap in the afternoon to bridge the gap until bedtime. Be sure to keep the second nap short so that bedtime doesn’t get pushed too late.
  • Consistent Morning Start Time: Regulating your baby’s sleep schedule starts with a consistent morning start time. Aim to keep this time within a 30-minute window each day. This consistency helps establish optimal nap and bedtime schedules, improving overall sleep.

Assessing Sleep Associations at 11-Months

And finally, with all of these changes going on physically and mentally, it’s understandable that you may be just doing whatever you need to do to get some sleep. However, sleep associations can also impact your little one’s sleep patterns.

When it comes to sleep associations – the routines or cues that signal it’s time for sleep – it’s important to think beyond the labels of “good” or “bad.” The key is to assess whether these associations are sustainable for your family.

As your baby grows and starts to express strong preferences in how they settle to sleep, it’s valuable to evaluate if these habits are still working for you. Are they helping your family get the rest you need, or have they become a source of stress? Remember, what matters most is finding a balance that supports the well-being of your entire family.

Navigating the 11-Month Sleep Changes with Batelle

If you’re finding that the sleep associations you’ve established are no longer sustainable, or if they’re not meeting the needs of your little one, Batelle is here to help. Our approach is not about enforcing a one-size-fits-all solution; instead, we focus on a responsive method that respects your child’s developmental stage. We believe in empowering families with expert support and guidance, helping you to make adjustments that align with your parenting values.

Embrace the 11-Month Sleep Regression With Confidence:

  • Expert Support: Our team offers support and guidance, ensuring our strategies are in harmony with your child’s unique developmental needs.
  • Developmental Alignment: Our programs are thoughtfully tailored to align with your baby’s developmental milestones, ensuring that our advice is always relevant and effective.
  • Empowering Parents: We empower you with knowledge and techniques, transforming bedtime from a challenge into a joyful and bonding experience.
  • Sustainable Sleep Solutions: We’re committed to helping you establish sleep patterns that are sustainable and beneficial for your entire family, ensuring everyone gets the rest they need.

With Batelle’s support, the 11-month sleep regression doesn’t need to be a source of stress. We can help you create a sleep routine that is not just restful, but also a source of joy and connection for your entire family.

This article was written by Batelle – team of sleep experts, lactation consultants, therapists, doulas, and early education specialists.   

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