Does Learning to Walk Affect Sleep?

Babies learn and grow so much during their first few years of life. Your baby goes from being a tiny, squishy newborn to being a full-blown toddler so fast! There are so many developmental milestones in the first year or so and they can have a huge impact on your child’s sleep. Whether it’s learning to roll, crawl, sit independently, walk, or talk, all of these huge milestones can impact sleep. 

If your baby has great sleep habits, is sleeping through the night, and then all of a sudden has multiple night wakings or other sleep problems, this could mean your child is on the verge of going through a developmental milestone or learning a new skill. Children typically start walking between ages 12-18 months. Don’t worry- there are ways you can work through this and get back to that lovely uninterrupted sleep that you’re used to! 

Does learning to walk affect sleep

Does Learning to Walk Affect Sleep?

Have you ever woken up during the middle of the night to peek at your baby sleeping in their crib to find them sound asleep sitting up?  I have!! I panicked, thinking “What on earth is my baby doing??” It turns out that when babies are learning a new developmental skill, whether it be rolling from back to tummy, crawling, sitting, standing, or walking, they have a hard time turning off the desire to practice the skill, even when they’re sleeping. Things like separation anxiety, potty training, and talking can also throw a wrench into what was a super sleeper. These milestones can make a significant impact on sleep patterns!

During this time of learning, sleep can be heavily impacted. Typically, this developmental skill impacts nighttime sleep, but you could see your child start to refuse naps. Sleep regressions often go hand in hand with developmental milestones because there is so much going on in the brain and body of your baby. So, how do you get past these crazy nights with your baby waking up several times a night or having trouble falling asleep? Let me give you a few hints!

Developmental milestones and sleep

How to Manage Developmental Milestones and Sleep

1. Practice, practice, practice!!

Practice makes perfect! The number one piece of advice I can give you is to practice whatever developmental milestones your baby is going through during their awake time. Whether it’s rolling, crawling, or walking, practice with them during the day so that they can work on mastering their new skill. The more you practice with them during the day, the less impact it will have on their night. 

2. Solid Sleep Foundation

If you haven’t already, look into sleep training. No hard and fast rule says toddlers or older babies can’t sleep train. Sure it’s easier when they’re younger, but if your child doesn’t already have a solid foundation of good sleep habits, try setting some up to help you get through these developmental milestones so that future ones don’t have as big of an impact on their sleep. It’s never too late to begin sleep training, and learning the skills to independently sleep can be life-changing (for the whole family!). 

How to get sleep through developmental milestones

3. Give Them A Few

If your baby starts waking up in the middle of the night while learning a new skill, give them a few minutes before rushing into their room. Typically, they will cry out to try and get your attention and let you know they are awake. Give them a few to calm down on their own and more often than not they’ll lay back down and go back to sleep. Sometimes, waiting it out is all they need to feel better. 

4. Ride The Wave

Luckily for you and your baby, learning these new skills and going through these physical milestones doesn’t last forever. Sometimes all you can do is ride the wave until they get the hang of it and get through it. Remember to practice as much as you can with them and remember, this too shall pass and your great sleeper will be back before you know it. Hang in there! 

How to get sleep back on track

Need More Help Getting Your Sleep Back on Track? 

Struggling with sleep deprivation? Some sleep issues require extra attention! If after trying these tips you’re still in need of a solid sleep routine, please reach out. We’re happy to have a sleep consultation with you to see if we can get you back on track.

At Sleep Shore, we offer one-on-one consulting for newborn, infant, and toddler sleep. We’re here to help you fix whatever is keeping your family up at night. Whether that’s sleep regressions, bedtime resistance, or just getting back on track, better sleep is possible! Sleep is a non-negotiable, and our goal is to get that back for you. We’ll get your little one on a solid sleeping and napping schedule! See what this mama had to say about our sleep services below: 

“We started a program when our LO was 17 months. He was fed to sleep every night and up every 2-3 hours and sometimes took up to 2 hours to go back to sleep. I was completely exhausted and knew I needed help. I had seen a recommendation from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen on Instagram for Molly and decided it was time to pull the trigger.

Molly was very accommodating with our anticipated start time and provided plenty of information and support both before and during the “training” period. We ended up using a couple of methods before finding the one that worked best. Being able to message Molly and keep in contact with her during the whole process gave us a lot of confidence in pressing on. Our little guy took to the program so well and we even traveled with him recently with great success! I would absolutely recommend Molly and am grateful every day that we made the decision to reach out to her.”


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