Dr. Sarah Mitchell
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12 Month Sleep Regression: Signs in Babies and What to Do About it

The 12 month sleep regression is less common than many of the other sleep regressions and is  associated with early eruption of the 1st molars.  This teething pain can distract your little one from relaxing into sleep.

What is a sleep regression? 

Anytime you hear sleep regression, think growth and distraction.  Your little one is growing physically or neurologically and that is distracting them from relaxing down into sleep. 

Cause of the 12 Month Sleep Regression:


What are the signs of a sleep regression? 

  1. Bedtime resistance:  more resistance and more time to fall asleep where baby was previously going down fine.  You might see one finger in the mouth at bedtime.

  2. Increased night waking: often every 2.5 to 3 hours in the night where baby was previously sleeping in stretches longer than 6 hours.

  3. Shorter naps where baby was napping for an hour or longer.

  4. Early morning wake ups such as 5 or 5:30 am where baby previously made it to 6 am.

What are Signs of Molars Coming Through? 

  1. Some babies might want to breastfeed more.  Less commonly is babies wanting to eat less. Some babies are less interested in food in general. 
  1. Some babies might tug on their ear or rub their faces.  Others present with having one finger in the mouth at bedtime, where seemingly unbothered by teething during the day.

How long does the sleep regression last? 

How intensely a child feels a sleep regression and how long it lasts is related to the cause of the regression and a child’s temperament.  Some kids are more flexible than others whereas some kids feel things more intensely. 

The pain with teething occurs before the teeth have cut through the gums.  Once you can see the teeth the pain has receded.  So teething is often a hind sight diagnosis of what’s been happening.   For one tooth coming through it could take 1 to 2 weeks for that tooth to protrude once you have the first signs of teething pain.  During that time the pain might ebb and flow.  You might have a terrible day but then have a fine day the next day.  This can be very confusing to parents, but is completely normal.   If one tooth takes 1 to 2 weeks you can imagine that if you have multiple teeth erupting this could take even longer!  Many parents report 4 week of on and off disrupted sleep and the most common sign with teething is 5 am wake ups.  Your baby surfaces from a sleep cycle and is then distracted by the discomfort in her gums and can’t relax back down into sleep. 

This chart from the American Dental Society shows the average ages of tooth eruptions.

What Can You Do To Ease the 12 Month Sleep Regression? 

Just because your baby is distracted at sleep time, it doesn’t mean that they are not capable. Continue with your bedtime and nap time routines but offer more attention as needed.  Consider the root cause of the regression.  How can you help distract your child from what’s distracting them?    Can you offer any pain relief before naps or at 3 am to help with those early wake ups?   You’ll likely want to offer more comfort to your child in the night to help distract them from what’s distracting them.  Rocking back to sleep or patting back to sleep can be helpful.


Sleep regressions can happen at any age if your child is growing physically or neurological and is distracted.  Try to address the root cause to eliminate what is distracting them.  Stick to your regular routines and timing.  Know that this too shall pass eventually. 
If you’re struggling with sleep but it’s not a regression, or you’re not sure if it’s a regression, take our simple 6 question sleep quiz to find out WHY your baby keeps waking up at night.

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