Your babies sleep patterns will generally not change drastically between 9-12 months of age, though he may sleep for about half an hour to an hour less per day by the time his birthday rolls around. Babies continue to need naps at this age, usually two naps of an hour to two hours each during the day time. If you haven’t done so already, this is a really good time to begin developing a sleep schedule with your baby. This can be done by putting him to bed before he has actually fallen asleep. If you have been rocking your baby to sleep, now is a good time to start introducing some new sleep routines.
Many babies will become anxious if you leave the room before they have gone to sleep. This is perfectly normal for babies in the 9-12 month old age range. At this point, babies do not have a solid concept that there is a world outside of the realm of what they can see, hear, taste, and touch, so when they can’t see you, it can be upsetting to them. Playing games like peek-a-boo while they are awake can help reinforce the idea that you are still there even if they can’t always see you. Another version of this is to walk around a corner, still speaking so baby can hear you. After baby gets used to this, stop talking for a short period of time, gradually increasing the amounts of time when baby can’t hear or see you. This may eventually help her overcome separation anxiety and fall asleep easier if you are in the next room.
Babies at this age will have developed favorite toys, blankets, and other comfort objects. It’s OK to let babies sleep with a stuffed animal or other favorite toy at this time as long as there are not long ribbons (over 8 inches) or other potential choking hazards. Another trick some parents have used effectively to help baby soothe herself is to place a favorite T-shirt or something like it that is familiar and has mom’s smell on it. This can help your baby self soothe through periods of light sleep and brief wakefulness.
During this period in your baby’s life, establish as much routine as you can. Singing a favorite song before bedtime, reading a story, and giving him a bath before bedtime are all excellent ideas to help your baby understand when it’s time to go to sleep. Ideally, choose two or three things, and do them more or less the same way night after night. Your little one will soon get the concept that these rituals are what happens just before it’s time to go to sleep.
Finally, don’t be surprised if your baby fights sleep occasionally during this part of his life, either at nighttime or nap time. Babies are growing and learning and experiencing so many new things at this stage of their development, that he might not want to stop to go to sleep. Be gentle with him, but establish routines and stick to your routines.