12 Month Sleep Regression and Why Not All 12 Month Olds Transition to One Nap

12 month sleep regression

This post will help you learn more about the 12 month sleep regression and the transition to one nap.

As your baby approaches their first birthday, most parents are beginning to wonder when it’s time to transition to one nap.

Why is my 12-month-old skipping naps?

How will you know when it’s time to transition to one nap?

Don’t all 12-month-olds take just one nap?

Actually, they don’t.

It surprised me when I was a new mom, too, but the average age for a toddler to transition to one nap is actually between 15 and 18 months old. They take just one nap until between 3 and 4 years old, on average, before toddlers stop nappingaltogether. This article will review the reason not all 12-month-olds transition to one nap.

12 Month Old Sleep Needs

Once a baby goes through her 8, 9, or 10 month old sleep regression, typically most babies will get into a pretty good groove. A 12 month old’s schedule typically involves wake windows of 3 to 4 hours between sleep periods. 10 to 12-month-olds get 11-12 hours of sleep at night and 2-3 hours total in naps, for an average total sleep of about 13 1/2 hours per day, on average. Naturally, some babies will get more and some less, of course.

12 Month Olds Skipping a Nap or Taking Short Naps

Based on both my personal experience with my two sons and in my consultations with countless parents, I know that some 11 month olds and 12 month olds seem to go through a sleep regression that largely affects naps.

It starts to appear that your 11-12-month-old is trying to transition to one nap. How? They either start skipping one nap entirely (usually the afternoon nap) or they start taking two 45-minute naps. And, these things might make you think it’s time to transition to one nap.

Many parents will transition their baby and many babies will do just fine. Similarly, babies in daycare typically are required to transition to one nap around 12 months old, ready or not. Again, most do just fine.

However, I typically tell parents, who have a choice, not to rush this transition.

12 Month Sleep Regression: Causes

When Do Toddlers Start to Walk?

A client once told me her baby started walking at 8 months old! I was shocked as this is the youngest I’ve heard of a baby WALKING! My boys didn’t even CRAWL until 10 months! 😀 Although my eldest was a late crawler, he started walking just three weeks later around 11 months. He always wanted to be on his feet, since he was just a few weeks old, actually. He’s the son of a track star, what can I say? This kid very rarely sits still.

While there are babies who walk very early, the average age is between 10 and 14 months to take their first steps. Keep in mind that those first few steps pale in comparison to how active they will become and this is why not all 12 month olds actually finish the transition to one nap. Once they start really walking, they get extremely tired, again.

What Does Walking Have to Do With Sleep?

Think of what you might feel like after you’ve done cardio or run on the treadmill for an hour.

Now do it three times a day. You would be pooped!

Lately, I’ve been exercising a lot more and I have been EXTRA tired almost every night, too. Well, your baby cruising, walking, running, and climbing is expending a LOT of energy. I find some babies even start getting hungry at night, again, due to all the calories burned. Please Note: That does not necessarily mean feed them, but do increase daytime intake.

I find that although an 11-12 month old may begin to transition to one nap, they seem to go backward and get tired sooner, again, a few weeks later. This could be due to physical energy they’re using or mental. So, you may want to hold on to those two naps for a bit longer before you push your baby too soon.

I didn’t know better my first time around and had a mess a month after transitioning my 11 1/2-month-old to one nap. My toddler was extremely overtired and CRANKY and I just couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong! The second time around, I hung on to two naps for about three weeks and my toddler happily kept napping twice a day until he was around 14 to 15 months old. Now, I help clients in similar situations every day as they transition to one nap.

12 Month Sleep Regression: How Long Does It Last?

In my experience of 15+ years as a sleep consultant, the 12-month sleep regression lasts approximately 3 weeks. It’s shorter than many of the other sleep regressions. Be sure to watch for the 5 signs to switch to one nap.

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When did your toddler transition to one nap?

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57 thoughts on “12 Month Sleep Regression and Why Not All 12 Month Olds Transition to One Nap”

  1. My almost 13 month old has been solidly napping am and pm since 7 months old for between 2.5-3 hours a day, and sleeping 11.5/12 hours at night. Randomly a couple of days ago she just started fighting her naps and taking 20-50 mins to go to sleep and as a result taking shorter naps as I wake her at her usual time to have a fighting chance at the pm nap and bedtime at the usual times. She did similar at 10months which we treated as a regression and stuck with the naps and she came out the other side and went back to “normal” is it best to assume this too is a regression and keep putting her down for sleep. I’m loathe to go to one nap just yet as she has always been a solid, reliable sleeper and ready for all her naps so it seems odd that it’s all just suddenly gone crazy….or am I totally wrong and should I be pushing her to one nap? She is crawling, pulling up and cruising confidently but not yet walking…is it linked and will the naps return once walking starts? Please help before I lose my mind!!!!

    • Hi Rachel,
      Thank you so much for using The Baby Sleep Site as a resource! We’d love to help. Your description of your daughter’s current sleep patterns sounds a lot like a slightly late manifestation of the 12 month regression. It doesn’t affect all babies, but we do see an uptick in nap refusal and sometimes night waking right around this age. Both of my kids went through this regression 🙂 We do mention it in this article: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-naps-2/12-month-olds-one-nap-transition/

      Generally, we do recommend sticking with the 2 nap schedule until 15-18 months-old, which is the more average time for a child to transition to one nap. This regression can be tough, but is also a lot shorter than most of the other regressions, and tends to leave as suddenly as it came after only about two weeks. It can be a tough two weeks, but definitely hang in there! I hope this helps, but please let us know if you have any other questions.

  2. Our 12.5 month old son, is definitely going through some kind of sleep regression. He’s not a mover yet. He doesn’t walk, crawl, or bum shuffle. He will turn himself round on the stop and stretch for things but if you put things further away than he can reach he just has a mental breakdown.

    So the knock on effect is he has a habit of only napping for 45 minutes in the morning and afternoon. He then wakes up through the night with chronic separation anxiety.

    He screams the house down until he wake up, get up and go to him. He then stops as soon as we touch him – a hand on his back or side is like a kill switch. However in truth it’s more like a “dead man’s handle”. He looks like he will go back to sleep but then, as soon as we take our hand away, he starts screaming again. He will eventually drift off it usually takes half a hour, and it’s not fun at 11:30pm, 1:30am and 4:30am.

    While he’s not moving we’ve been considering whether we should move him on to one nap, and then try and move him back we he starts getting mobile. The power-nap-style night time routine is killing us. I’m lucky, as I can get back to sleep quite easily, but my wife takes another hour to fall asleep each, so she’s feeling the pain, even when I go and settle him.

  3. @ Lisa-
    Sounds like her might be ready! You can try it out for a few days, and go back to two naps for a few days for a “test run.”
    Thank you for your interest, and here are a few links to articles yo may find useful:
    Best wishes!

    @ Deb-
    There is really no rush, and we generally recommend to keep as many naps as you can! You are right in following your instinclts, and should continue to do so. And you really do want to keep him well rested instead of dog tired by dinner. That being said, yes, I’d wait till the signs are much clearer. Morning wakings get earlier and earlier (or bedtimes later) and just plain skipping many naps is the perfect cue. The brief wakings in the night are actually quite common, MIGHT be a sign of him being over tired, and will likely fade on their own soon.
    Good luck!

    @ Maree-
    Did you speak with Nicole directly after this blog post or are you basing this on this article/comment? All situations are unique and there are a variety of factors involved. Article comments are quick tips, but it doesn’t mean it will be THE answer without all your family’s details to consider. Also, is your baby still napping in the car? You likely need to help her fall asleep independently, first, so her nap is not in the car (naps in motion are not as restorative). And, have you tried two naps, so she’s not too overtired at bedtime? It sounds like you need to address more than just a schedule problem and schedule problems can take 1-2 weeks to fix, too. Nicole’s advice in article comments, as well as mine, is meant to give people little things to try, but by no means is this a comprehensive look at your whole situation. Clients send pages of history in a private consultation and I would recommend that you consider doing the same, if you’re still having a lot of sleep troubles. Good luck!

    @ Kim-
    Thanks for sharing, and I love your “appreciative” attitude! Sometimes we cannot have perfect sleepers (I’m included), but it is certainly good to be grateful for what we do have!
    Best wishes!

  4. My baby girl is 16 months and we had alot ups and downs with her sleep routine but after reading the 5 steps she eventually started taking naps .Her bedtime is 6pm and sleeps till 6 am and naps at 9 am and at 1 pm.But sometimes she sleeps from 10 30 am till 12pm and then there is no afternoon nap. But I am grateful for whatever sleep she gets

  5. An update!! I followed Nicoles suggestion of an earlier nap time and bedtime and it has been a disaster – daytime nap time has reduced by half and my little darling is waking even earlier in the morning – 4.30am consistantly now. So much for expert help!!!

  6. It’s good to know my 15mth old boy isn’t out of the norm! I’ve got lots of friends whose kids are the same age. And they’ve been on one nap since 12mths. But my boy has just always seemed to need 2 naps. I keep wondering if I should push him to drop one but this article just encourages me to follow my instincts and let him guide us. In saying all that though I do have some questions. Lately he’s often calling out in the night a few times but almost always self-settles back to sleep without us having to go into his room. He’s a 7-7 kid and has been for ages. Also, lately his early morning sleep (eg. 5am onwards) has been a bit disrupted. He can definitely survive on one nap a day, but some days he just seems too tired, sometimes still indicating he needs his first nap at 9.30am! I guess the question is, do I wait until it’s really clear he doesn’t need 2 naps (eg. he resists more), or start experimenting with one? If he does have one nap, he’s very tired by dinnertime…

  7. My son is almost 14 months & I’ve been wondering if he’s transitioning to 1 nap. Not sure if I’m ready!! He’s been waking a little at night and waking earlier in the AM (6, sometimes a little earlier!). He takes his first nap at 930 for 2-2.5 hrs & second nap around 3ish for 45min to 1.5 hr. Bedtime is 8pm. His nighttime sleep has shortened in the last few months which is why we pushed his bedtime back.
    All this to ask … Nicole, you mentioned that you had talked about nap transitions earlier … Can you include the links to those articles? It would be super helpful! Thanks!

  8. I hear where you are coming from Margaret, you could be describing my daughter at that age. And within a few months she was fighting any day nap. Even the suggestion of a nap and she shakes her head and runs the other way. I will try Nicole’s suggestion of an 11am nap (in the car because she wont go near her bed during the day) and 6pm bedtime for the next week but if that doesn’t work then i am sick of fighting her during the day and we will see how she goes with no naps.

  9. This is a really helpful discussion, but I still find myself stumped about my 12-month-old daughter’s sleep needs. At 10 1/2 months, after being a great napper, she suddenly started fighting one or both naps. I stayed consistent with routine and time (while still watching her cues), extended her wake time, and basically she has kept fighting. If I let her, she will take a morning nap. I have tried waking her up after an hour, hoping that will force her to take an afternoon nap, but not once in 2 months of trying has that strategy worked. I have basically had to concede that she is dropping a nap, in spite of everything I’ve read and heard. It seems she does better to take a longer one in the middle of the day, rather than just a short morning nap (because I kept it short) and have to stay up until bedtime. When I do try to put her down for an afternoon nap, like yesterday, she usually just talks to herself — she doesn’t cry. I want to give my child the sleep she needs, but she doesn’t seem to take the offer.

  10. @ Wendy- Thanks for the feedback. Now is the time I usually put him down for his 2nd nap (2:30) and he is showing no signs of sleepiness. I am watching his cues more than the clock. I am going to aim to get him to sleep 15 min earlier each night for the next 4 nights, until I can get him to 7pm. Hopefully that will work 🙂

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