With four small kids, I’ve had to ask myself a few very hard questions – multiple times. And one of the hardest was this… what do you do when your kid hits an 11 month old sleep regression? My answer so far? You cry a lot and binge-eat chocolate because a sleep regression is the worst. And then you dive back into parenting and you get those kids sleeping again – ASAP.
In any case, back when my youngest boy was (you guessed it) 11 months old, life was no picnic. You see, he hit a particularly awful sleep regression. And then daylight savings came into the picture and made everything 10 times worse – and it was sadness everywhere because he was up every 2-3 hours (and so was I).
An 11 month old sleep regression can make any parent go crazy
Seriously. It’ll drive you crazy. So in order to make this post easier to navigate in a sleep-deprived state, I’ve edited this post to include a table of contents. That way, you can get the answers you need without getting lost in the otherwise helpful text.
Sleep regressions happen in tandem with developmental milestones
According to both the Baby Sleep Site and my own experience raising kids, an 11-month-old sleep regression (sometimes it happens at 10 or 12 months) is related to your baby trying to transition from two naps to one. Yup… that awful sleep regression tends to coincide with a nap regression. Who thought that was fair?? Not me! That or your kiddo is hitting some other developmental milestone…
Well, my baby boy, one nap isn’t enough for your cranky little body. And the learning to walk at the same time? Also not helping. Your body needs **more** sleep – not less. You done been caught, mister.
So even though he fought it at first, we knew that the single most important thing we could do was to stick to our schedule of two naps and early bedtimes. And then we also tried a few other things – things that had worked with our older kids’ when they’d hit sleep regressions.
My 11 month old wakes up inconsolable
Sometimes, our kids wake up from naps – or just in the morning – and they scream. They’re cranky and can’t seem to find a comfortable position, because they crawl all over you. And the screaming? It can last for seemingly forever. In fact, we had one such session for our oldest son that lasted a couple of hours.
It wasn’t until we were packing up to head to the doctor for an evaluation that he finally calmed down!
So what was the issue?
He was overtired, unable to cope, and hit an awake night terror.
While our kids are in this overtired stage, they are just so unable to cope with being exhausted that they just cry. And cry and scream and writhe. It’s awful.
The trick to fixing it right away? Letting them calm down on their own – through cuddling, shushing, and keeping the room as calm as possible. And if that doesn’t work? Well, we’ve also found success in calming our kids by turning on a quiet episode of Curious George, going on a walk together, or getting them a favorite treat.
Even then, it can take a while. And, if your kid starts having night terrors like this? Be forewarned: they don’t disappear overnight. In fact, our kids have continued to have these episodes well until past four years of age despite a clean bill of health from our pediatrician. In other words, your kids’ sleep schedule must be a priority and ought not to be messed with.
Tricks to handle any sleep regression – and get more sleep
So what can you do to combat the evils of sleep regression – even this awful 11-month sleep regression? Well… when you’re sleep deprived, you need to get sleep. But with a sleep regression, it’s like your baby completely forgot how to do that. Actually, though, it’s just that awful state where you’re too tired to sleep – even though sleep is exactly what you need.
In other words, your sleep training schedule will be the most important thing for the next few days. Stick to it. Use it.
But between naps? What do you do then? Well, adventures help. Exhausting adventures. Exciting adventures that keep the kids awake while they’re supposed to be awake. We went hiking at a nature preserve. We went to the zoo for an epic four-hour visit.
Need some ideas to help you survive sleep regressions without going crazy?
And then, after the adventure, settling into a calming, relaxing environment that oozes sleep. In our case, that means their bedrooms. Our kids’ rooms have white noise machines, fans, and minimal distractions. That way, we can remind their little bodies that they like to sleep. That they need it and want it and can look forward to it. And that’s one way how you get your overtired baby to sleep.
Because, really, sleep is amazing.
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And when all else fails, there’s one other magic trick. After reading one of the two most amazing book on getting kids to sleep I’ve ever come across, this is the trick I discovered: to send them to bed earlier than usual. Because if naps are going poorly, a bedtime that’s 30 minutes earlier magically rests and resets their internal sleep clock to “they can do it again.”
I don’t know why it works. I just know it does. And since several other baby sleep experts all tout it, it’s awesome. Plus, it means I get to go to bed earlier, too.
[clickToTweet tweet=”That’s why keeping track of time changes, developmental milestones, and travel is so important. Because if I’m on top of things, those #sleepregressions are limited to just a night or two because we put the kids to bed early. #parenting” quote=”That’s why keeping track of time changes, developmental milestones, and travel is so important. Because if I’m on top of things, those sleep regressions are limited to just a night or two because we put the kids to bed early.”]
Daylight Savings (or any time change) can also trigger a sleep regression
I grew up in a sane state that didn’t (and still doesn’t) practice Daylight Savings. Arizona has insane amounts of sunshine during the summer, which is probably why they don’t fall for the “but we’ll have more daylight during the day!” scam.
Seriously, people. If you want to get up or go to work earlier, go for it. Then you can have more daylight *after* work and the clock doesn’t have to have an identity crisis. But leave my kids’ sleep schedule ALONE.
But when something messes with my kids’ sleep schedule, it throws everything off for days – and sometimes it’ll be up to a solid week of horror spent in recovery.
That’s why keeping track of time changes, developmental milestones, and travel is so important. Because if I’m on top of things, those sleep regressions are limited to just a night or two because we put the kids to bed early. (Need a sample sleep schedule?)
It works, y’all. Even for the older, school-aged kids.
Consistency is the only way to handle a sleep regression – and the 11-month-old sleep schedule
Sleep regressions, whether the 11 month old sleep regression or the 4 month or 8 month or 11-12 month sleep regression, all stink. They aren’t fun. But the only way to help baby through the transition is consistency and sticking to their sleep schedule.
First of all, stick to your sleep schedule. Baby’s learning some new skills – that’s all this is. It doesn’t mean they’re immediately ready for a “bigger kid” schedule. And as our 4th kid is now going through her own 11-month-old sleep regression, we keep her on a strict 11-month-old sleep schedule, too.
Second, have some adventures. Maybe that means an outing to the park. Or going on a walk around the neighborhood – or just the backyard. Not every adventure has to be an epic zoo trip. But get out and keep the kids busy, engaged, and awake. Wear them out so that they’re ready, willing, and excited to sleep.
Need a plan of action to get your cute kiddo sleeping? Here’s how to make a sleep training plan for your child – with a sample plan and a downloadable template.
And finally, make sure you’ve got bedroom environments that demand sleep. Our kids’ rooms are dark, cool, and quiet. And to help their brains truly unwind after a crazy day, we have my favorite white noise machine ever set up in their room. But it’s not just any old white noise machine – it’s one that has an asymmetrical fan housed in an acoustic case to create a unique, soothing sound – one that doesn’t jar your brain back awake because it’s looped back to the beginning. It works so well that we use it in our room, too.
At our house, everyone’s worn out by dinnertime. Then, early bedtimes all around. Our usual bedtime for the littles is 7:30 and 8 for the school-aged kids. But during a sleep regression? It’s as early as 6 PM for the baby.
And you know what? After all of those adventures, I could totally go to bed that early, too.
More on Sleep Regressions:
- How to Survive Any Sleep Regression at Any Age
- How to Survive A Baby Sleep Regression (Even When You Share a Room)
- Baby Center Community Forum: 11-month Sleep Regression
- What to Expect Community Forum: 11-month sleep regression
- How to Handle a Nap Regression (at any age)
- 11 Terrific Tips You Need to Get Baby to Sleep
- 7 of the TOP tools to help your baby sleep better
My Must-Have Sleep Resources:
- Say Goodnight to Sleep Regressions: the Ultimate Bedtime Checklist
- Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, MD
- The Sleep Sense Program’s Free Sleep Assessment
- White noise machine and/or a fan in the room
You May Also Love:
- How to Manage Sleep Training Your Child
- How to Get an Overtired 11-Month-Old to Sleep
- The Ultimate Bedtime Checklist
- How to Set the Right Sleep Schedule for Your Kids
- How to Survive Sleep Regressions without Going Crazy
- The Best Tips and Resources for Sleep-Training Twins