Friday, March 23, 2012

Reader Question about Older Baby Sleeping Independently

A few days ago, we received the following question from a reader:

How about sleep with older babies? We have an 11 month old, we've never sleep trained, she's never been a great sleeper (we co-sleep). I'd like to move towards independent sleep after she turns a year but I have no idea how to implement... I feel like some of the reasons I shied away from (independent) sleeping when she was an infant aren't such a concern with a young toddler..? So what are your thoughts on sleep training for an older baby?

Most parents define independent sleeping as their child sleeping on their own sleep surface in their own room but different parents have varying goals or ideas about at what age this should or will occur. Let’s take a look at a few studies reviewing where babies sleep at 1-year-old. In a 2002 study, 76% of 12-month old babies slept in their own rooms (in a sample of non-co-sleeping infants). (Burnham 2002) A larger study in 2008 reported that about 71% of 1-year-old babies slept in their own rooms. (Hauck 2008)

While there is really no need to “sleep train” babies (in the popular sense of the term), even at 1 year old, we do have several great posts to help parents through this transition time. I’ll share a few key things to keep in mind, along with links to our past posts for you to read.

First, babies love routines, and this reader is changing her baby’s routine by moving her baby into the baby’s own room. Any change in routine takes some adjustment time and has the potential to cause increased night waking. Creating a consistent new bedtime routine that ends in her new sleep environment is the key. For more about the importance of routines, click here.

Next, some of the guidelines have changed related to crib safety. In the following post we answer a reader question about transitioning her baby into her own room to sleep. We share Recommendations for Infant Sleep Settings and Choosing a Safe Sleep Surface in part one of the post. Then in part 2 we share tips to ease the transition of baby into her own room.

Lastly, there are many reasons why we don’t like sleep training, even for older babies, and truth be told, older babies may wake-up at night in their second year of life as well. For more details, click here.

We think it’s most important for parents to weigh the evidence and then do what feels best for their particular baby and family, realizing this may be different from others’ choices. We hope this was helpful! Good luck and we wish all of you with 1-year-olds a very happy first birthday!


Burnham MM, Goodlin-Jones BL, Gaylor EE, Anders TF. Nighttime sleep-wake patterns and self-soothing from birth to one year of age: a longitudinal intervention study. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2002; 43(6): 713–725.

Hauck FR, Signore C, Fein SB, Raju TN. Infant sleeping arrangements and practices during the first year of life. Pediatrics. 2008 Oct;122 Suppl 2:S113-20.

Note: The original post “Reader Question: "At what age do you transition babies to sleep in their own rooms?"” published on 6/3/11 contained 2 typos. 1) The 2008 study by Hauck et al found that 29% still bed shared, meaning 71% slept in their own rooms. 2) In the text of the post we said the Burnham study was published in 2005, when it actually was published in 2002 (the reference list was correct). We apologize for the confusion.

1 comment:

  1. In the exact same situation. While I don't want to sleep train in the 'cry it out' sense, I do want my baby to learn that she is safe in her room alone, that we will come if she needs us, but otherwise, she can go back to sleep! Of course, if a one year old doesn't know the difference between 'need' and 'want' ('I'm lonely, please sleep with me' versus 'I'm scared or in pain'), then this lesson isn't going to work.
    I don't have a question, as such. Maybe something along the lines of - how will we know when she's ready to move to her own room/crib?