A whole year, really? How did your wee newborn, curled up on your chest, turn into a babbling, active toddler? Somehow, those long days became a short year. Happy birthday, baby! As you move into toddlerhood from 12 to 18 months, get ready for some roller coasters when it comes to food and sleep, including new schedules and routines. The non-stop eating tends to slow down, and toddlers typically only gain a few pounds between the ages of one and two. Continue to offer a variety of healthy foods for meals and snacks, but don’t get too concerned if they’re not that hungry.
Sleep also has some challenges ahead. Babies often go from two naps to one at this stage. “When babies make transitions, they don’t happen overnight,” says Erin Neri, a certified paediatric sleep consultant in Sherwood Park, Alta. “Your baby won’t just say ‘I’m down to one nap and it’s OK.’ It takes six to eight weeks for their body to adjust to that, so you have to adjust their bedtime, too, until they get used to it.” If your baby is starting daycare during this period, there may only be one nap in the afternoon anyway, which can be tough.
Is the “18-month sleep regression” real? There are lots of things going on that can disrupt sleep, says Alexis Dubief, a child sleep consultant in northern Vermont. “There isn’t some great documented 18-month regression. We know that toddlers fight sleep and test new behaviours all the time.” She adds that toddlers often don’t want to separate from you, so you may end up with new sleep routines, like holding their hand until they doze off. “From your toddler’s point of view, you’re awesome and they don’t want to leave the party,” she says. “They want to hang out with you and hold hands. Did you have a sleep regression? Or did you have a child protest bedtime and you leaned into it and now you have this new sleep association?” Other huge toddler milestones, such as walking and talking, can be so interesting to them that they kick sleep to the curb. It helps to remember that short and sweet routines and consistency are your buddies here (bath, PJs, book, snuggle and good night).
Wake time length: About 4 to 6 hours
Sleep time length: 1 to 2 daytime naps of up to 2 to 3 hours in total; may sleep up to 12 hours overnight or wake once or twice
Total sleep time: 11 to 14 hours a day
7 to 7:30 a.m. - Wake up (4.5 to 5 hours)
12 p.m. - Nap (up to 2 to 3 hours)
2 p.m. - Wake time (5 hours)
7:30 to 8 p.m. - Sleep (11+ hours, with or without nightly waking)
Total sleep time: 11 to 14 hours
6 a.m. Wake up (3 hours)
9 a.m. - 1st nap (45 minutes)
9:45 a.m. - Wake time (3 to 3.5 hours)
1 p.m. - 2nd nap (1.75 hours)
3:45 p.m. - Wake time (4 to 4.5 hours)
8 p.m. - Sleep (10+ hours, with or without nightly waking)
Total sleep time: 11 to 14 hours
Breastfeeding: On demand (your toddler is now getting plenty of other nutrition, so your nursing relationship depends on what works for your family)
Formula: Discuss with your healthcare provider; your toddler can switch to cow’s milk at 12 months old
Solids: Continue to introduce more table foods and family meals, with foods softened, mashed or cut into safe sizes; OK to introduce honey after 12 months
Liquids: Continue with breastmilk or water; 100 percent fruit juice in a cup only; cow’s milk should not exceed 475 mL (16 oz) per day; check with your doctor about soy or nut milk