The 12-Month Regression

How to know if the 12-month regression is here, and what you can do to get through it.


Can you believe that your baby is turning one?? This is such an exciting milestone for parents. You’ve made it a whole year together! You’re now entering the world of toddlerhood.


But wait, isn’t there a 12 Month Regression?


The short answer is, yes. BUT I don’t like the term “regression.”


Here’s why: what’s actually happening are developmental progressions that have the ability to impact your child’s sleep. What is developmental progression? Things like:


Gross motor skills: cruising, standing independently, walking, or even running.


Language: first words, learning to mimic conversations with the inflection of their voice, receptive language skills improve.


Feeding: transitioning to mostly solids with milk as supplementation, no more bottles.


There are some ways that you’ll need to adjust to these changes, and I’ve listed them all below for an easy-ish transition.



Bedtime Routine Changes

By 13 months old, milk is not a part of the bedtime routine. Bottles should be eliminated around this time as well (definitely by 18 months.) The reason for this is due to oral motor development also oral hygiene.


In order to eliminate bottles, you can either go cold-turkey or gradually wean each bottle individually, with the final bottle being the bedtime bottle.


Instead, you can offer breast milk, cow, or non-dairy milk in a sippy, straw, or open cup before the bedtime routine begins. Do this away in a common room in the house with the lights on, and then proceed with your bedtime routine.


Nap Transition

Most babies are ready to make the transition to one nap between 12-16 months. If you want to know more about the signs that they are ready to ready to transition, check out the blog post all about nap transitions.


A special caveat if your child is in a daycare where they are being moved to the next classroom. Oftentimes, this means that they will be only offered one nap at the same time every day. If this is the case, you’ll need to adjust accordingly.


This means either offering a bridge nap (20 minutes or less) so that baby is able to make it to bedtime OR bringing bedtime up by 30-60 minutes.


This transition typically takes some time to work itself out (up to 6 weeks.) So, give your child grace and know that some days you may need to offer a second nap.


Separation Anxiety

A tell-tale sign of the 12-month regression is separation anxiety. You’ll know what I mean by this if you’re experiencing it. Basically, your child suddenly loses it if you step out of the room for half a second, or if try to hand them to dad so you can pee.


This is totally normal and means that a) your baby has learned object permanence or the idea that something or someone exists even when it’s not in sight and b) has developed a strong attachment to you.


When it comes to sleep, this can look like all of a sudden crying after you place them down in their crib. In order to help combat this, spend lots of intentional time with your child before bed and practice leaving for a short time and then returning (over and over again.) This can be achieved with lots of peekaboo at playtime.



Any disruptions in sleep should pass in a few weeks at most. In the meantime, be conscious of not forming any new habits that make your child believe they need you to help them fall asleep. In other words, be consistent with how you respond and know that this is temporary.


If it’s been several weeks since the 12-month regression began and your child is still struggling with sleep, reach out and we’ll figure out a plan to get sleep back on track!


Congratulations! You’ve officially been a parent for a whole year, and that is definitely something to celebrate 🙂


Rest well,





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