Jane Barry advises one mum on how to encourage a healthy sleep routine for her one-year-old.
My baby just turned one and my problem is that she wants to sleep on top of me or be carried at night. Yes, we do co-sleep since my husband works the graveyard shift and I am by myself. I feel better with my baby with me. I don’t know if I have a horrible schedule. She wakes up at 9, naps from 1-2:15, naps from 6-7:30 and goes to bed at 11:30.
Sometimes she fights her second nap or at night-time if I try to put her to bed before 11. It is normal that she also moves a lot at night? I am going to try to put her in her own crib by 18 months.
At one year of age babies generally need around 10-12 hours sleep overnight and two day time sleeps of 1-2 hours. Of course, every little one is different but this amount of sleep is pretty normal. On average, they wake at around 6-7am so they’re tired enough to have their first sleep in the morning by 10am. Ideally, they’re awake from their afternoon sleep by 3pm so they’re ready for resettling overnight at around 7.30 pm.
A settling time of 11pm is late for a one-year-old. It’s probably why she’s waking so late in the morning. And another factor may be that she’s napping so late in the evening – getting up again at 7.30pm and staying awake for another four hours won’t encourage her to get into a regular day/night rhythm of sleep.
Restless sleep can be normal but there’s the possibility that she’s not sleeping as well as she could by sharing your bed. You may be disturbing each other. There would be benefits to both of you if she slept separately in a cot.
To be honest, the longer she sleeps with you the more difficult it could be for her to sleep separately. I understand why you want to have her close but she’s unlikely to improve with her sleep and settling routine until she learns how to go to sleep on her own. If she only knows how to go to sleep with your help she’s not going to learn how to settle herself. Until you change what you’re doing she’s not having the chance to learn skills in self-settling. It can be hard to stop cuddling/nursing/co-sleeping after so much time but it really depends on what you’d like to achieve. Being consistent and persistent is important.
It can really help at this age to have a regular pre-bed settling routine, at night especially. Dinner, bath, teeth cleaning, story and quiet time before going into the cot can all help.
Co-sleeping can increase the risk of SIDS and sleeping accidents– check www.sidsandkids.org for information on the safest ways to co-sleep. If you want to change what you’re doing you’ll need to decide what you’re aiming for and what support you need. Because she’s so accustomed to co-sleeping and needing you close, she’s going to protest when you do stop this.
It would be useful for you to speak with your child health nurse about support in your local area. Groups, sessions and even a short stay admission to a residential centre can be very helpful. And also check Kidspot’s Toddler Sleep section for more sleep information.