Episode Summary:

Today on Resting in Motherhood I want to chat about what I believe are the hardest ages for sleep. This is based on what I experienced personally and what I see with my clients. In the episode, we’re going to focus on the ages of 4 months, 8-10 months, 12 months, and 18th months. It’s important to remember that sleep is unique to each child, but these are also the most common ages that clients come to me for support. So what I am going to do is break down what’s happening at each of these ages that lead to challenges with sleep and what you can do to move through the progressions – which is what I like to call them instead of regressions because these are times in our baby’s life where they are developing so much! I hope this episode is helpful for you. Be sure to visit this show notes page to see the full list of resources mentioned.


  • Why Brittni has made the effort to be more mindful of how much she’s on her phone to find more rest in motherhood 
  • What sleep progressions actually are (and why Brittni calls them this instead of “regressions”)
  • What happens at 4 months that leads to a big sleep progression and how to overcome it 
  • The challenges that your little one will face around 8-10 months old and why it’s important to lean into attachment 
  • The big things your baby is experiencing at and around 12 months that may be challenging for sleep
  • How an independent baby actually means they need more connection with you 
  • Cues that show your little one may be ready to drop their second nap and other sleep needs 
  • Why Brittni believes the 18 month sleep progression may be the hardest and solutions for this age


Read a raw, unedited transcript of this episode.

Brittni (00:01.43)

Welcome back to the Resting in Motherhood podcast. I am so excited to chat with you today, all about the hardest ages, I think, that we go through with sleep. So we will jump into that in just a little bit, but first I want to share how I’m currently finding rest in motherhood. So how I am currently finding rest in motherhood right now is by being on my phone less.

And this has been something that I kind of go back and forth on. I think it’s twofold for me because I run my business from my phone. I mean, my Instagram is where I run my business. Now, obviously like I have emails and client calls and all of that, but Instagram is where I’m at. And so it’s this really hard balance of kind of figuring out.

how to balance running my business on my phone, but also not being on my phone all the time. And so what I’ve noticed is, like, I’ll get Lila to sleep, and then I’ll get on my phone to, like, check some DMs and respond to DMs, and then I go to, like, the explore page or the real page, and then, like, an hour goes by, and I’ve realized that I’ve just doom-scrolled for an hour. And so I just, I had this kind of epiphany the other day of, like,

I need to start having more boundaries around social media first because I need to have boundaries professionally. Like I started my business so that I could have the freedom and time flexibility to not feel like work was running my life. And yet here I am at nine o’clock at night responding to DMs, responding to emails, which as a self-employed person and a

a mom, sometimes I do have to do that. But I think that it was a big realization to me that I needed to set some boundaries both for professional reasons, but also for my mental health. Because I also would find that like, after like on a day that Lila’s with her dad, I finished working usually around four or five, I make dinner, and then I would sit on the couch in front of the TV and like be watching something and then still doom scrolling. And I was like,

Brittni (02:20.534)

when she would get home, I would feel like I didn’t actually get any rest because like, I didn’t actually get any rest because I wasted that time doom scrolling and getting nothing out of it really. And so I’ve been really mindful this week of, for example, when I stop working at four or five o’clock, I’m not gonna look at my phone the rest of the day, especially on my days.

where she’s with her dad. I’m really trying to be mindful of using that time to just really fill my cup and not let the internet suck me in. So how I’m finding rest this week is just being a lot more mindful of my use on my phone and having boundaries around social media. So today I wanna chat about the hardest ages that I think happen.

The hardest ages for sleep, in my opinion, based off of what I experienced personally and what I see with clients. So the hardest ages that I think that we go through with sleep are four months, eight to 10 months, 12 months, and 18 months. Now this doesn’t mean it’s going to be this way for everyone, it’s going to be unique, just as I talk about all the time. Sleep is unique to each child, but these are

in my opinion, like I said, from my personal experience with Lila, the hardest ages of sleep. And then these are also the ages, the most common ages that clients come to me for support. So what I wanna do is just kind of break down what’s happening at that age and what we see in sleep and what you can do to get through this. So we’ll start with four months.

And I’m sure we all know, right? Like even if you don’t have a little one who’s four months yet, you’ve heard of the four month sleep progression. And I will stop here and say that sleep progressions are not like this one thing that happens. It’s a multitude of things happening in a baby’s life that is impacting sleep. And I call it a progression instead of how the sleep training industry often refers to it as a regression. Because…

Brittni (04:39.102)

While sleep does regress or get harder, it’s all of the development and growth happening in a baby’s life that’s propelling them forward or progressing them forward that’s impacting their sleep. So around the four-month mark, there’s a lot going on with your little one. They are waking up to the outside world. In those first four months or up to the four-month mark, they really have this kind of

Brittni (05:09.19)

It’s kind of like this external womb, right? And so they’re really only focused on their immediate surroundings. You, right, you’re still their home environment. And then once this four-month mark comes around, they really start dropping that external barrier and they start really waking up to the outside world. So they’re going to be a lot more.

where when we transfer them down and they’ll realize, oh my gosh, I’m not on mom or I’m not on dad or I’m not on whoever’s holding me, and then they’ll wake up because they sense that separation easier. There’s also a permanent change in sleep cycles at this age. So there is a light non-rim sleep stage added in. So just like I said, it’s a lighter stage of sleep. So that’s also something that’s going on.

they start waking more frequently because they have this lighter stage of sleep and so they’re more aware of what’s going on. Lastly, they’re starting to roll and become more mobile at this age, they’re starting to get stronger, and so the body is going to, the brain specifically is going to want to wake up at night to practice these new skills. So oftentimes at this age, what I see in terms of sleep is,

I’ll often see disrupted naps. So maybe they’re fighting naps. Maybe they’re just having a harder time going to sleep. Same thing with bedtime. And then I’ll often see more frequent wakeups. And this is usually when a lot of families start bed sharing because they go to transfer their baby down into the crib or the bassinet and they wake right up. So then they get them back to sleep and then they transfer them down only for them to wake up again. And that’s due to them being a lot more aware of what’s going on around.

So what can you do at this age? You’ll wanna choose a good sleep setup for your family. So for example, if you are trying tirelessly to make the crib work or the bassinet work and it’s just not working, maybe you consider safely co-sleeping. Maybe you consider a sidecar crib so that you can kind of scoot baby in there or even almost kind of lay in the crib with them as they fall asleep and then roll back into your bed.

Brittni (07:24.406)

Maybe you set up a floor bed for them where you can lay with them and then once they’re asleep, you roll out. The other thing to keep in mind is just knowing that this won’t be forever. I hear from a lot of parents, they come to me around the four month mark terrified because the sleep training industry has put this narrative in their head that if they don’t teach sleep around the four month mark with the four month sleep progression, their child will forever be a bad sleeper.

You don’t have to teach anything to your child around the four month mark. The only thing that we want to show them is that sleep is a safe and inviting space and they are safe in sleep. So continue to show up for them, continue to support them to sleep and trust that this won’t be for forever. The other thing is, is leaning into their need for connection. So if you’re just having a really hard time transferring them down for a nap, maybe that day you are doing contact naps.

and maybe you are baby wearing, maybe you’re going on a walk and putting them in the stroller, or again, baby wearing them on a walk. Just really leaning into that need for connection, knowing that the more that you lean into that need for connection, the easier it’s gonna feel for them, or the easier it’s going to be for them to feel secure with sleep. Lastly, you really want to give them a lot of free time to move around on the floor. So,

Lots of tummy time. If they don’t like tummy time, then lots of time just laying on their back, maybe even laying on the bed with you playing. But the more time that you can keep them out of containers like bumbos, swings, entertainment centers, all of that. And at four months, we’re probably not having them in bumbos or entertainment centers, depending on their strength. But the more time that they can just spend

playing freely on the floor, moving their body in an unrestricted way, the more they’re going to be able to practice the skills that their brain wants to practice so that they don’t feel the need to wake up in the middle of the night and practice those skills. And I actually just, that just made me think about, that’s another thing that will happen during this age. And in addition to more frequent waking at night, we’ll often see long wakeups in the middle of the night where they are totally awake.

Brittni (09:49.014)

wanting to play, wanting to coo, wanting to practice rolling. And during those times, the best thing that you can do is just give them the time and space to do so. So maybe that means laying on the floor next to them while they play and coo while you try to shut your eyes. Maybe it means laying in bed with them while they play and coo, but just know that their brain is just working on the skills that it wants to master. The next age that is, I think is,

Probably the hardest age for sleep in the first year is the eight to 10 month mark. And that’s because there is a lot going on. They are becoming more mobile, they’re crawling usually, they’re starting to pull up to standing, they’re usually increasing their intake in solids. There’s also a peak in separation anxiety around this age. This is when object permanence starts to occur in their life.

so they start realizing that you can be away from them and still exist, which means they’re going to miss you more and they’re going to seek you out more. Some common things that I see around the 8 to 10 month mark are very common to what I see around the 4 month mark. Fighting naps, having a hard time going down at night, waking more frequently at night, waking upon transfer, waking for a long period in the middle of the night.

But another thing that I notice around the eight to 10 month mark is early rising. I often see that this is a time where many babies will wake at like 5 a.m. ready to start the day. And my theory here is that it’s the brain really working on all of these new skills, developing new social skills, all of this. And so the brain kind of just turns on in the morning and is ready to go. So what can you do?

Again, just lean into where your child is at and what they need from you. With this increase in separation anxiety, we really want to assure them that we’re there for them, that they’re safe. Even if we leave, we will always come back. Prioritize rest for yourself when and where you can. If you have a partner, maybe you guys sit down together and you establish a care plan, right? Of like,

Brittni (12:08.77)

Maybe they take the early morning shift so you can get a few hours of sleep. Maybe they take the first few wakeups of the night so you can go to bed when baby goes to bed. But really, if you have a partner, really lean on them and create a team between the two of you and figure out how you can get through this time together and supporting each other and your little one. Again, you wanna give them lots of time to move around. You…

have seen, if you have an eight to ten month old, you have seen they’re probably cruising around or starting to crawl, getting up on the hands and knees. Some little ones are even going to be like pulling up to standing, and so you want to give them lots of time during the day to move their bodies and really practice the skills that they want to practice. If you have a little one who is working on pulling up to standing,

you might really encourage that they do that during the day. So by like putting fun things up on the couch so that they can pull up onto the couch and look at it. Maybe you practice like tickling their knees while they’re standing up so that they can learn how to get down from when they’re standing up. Maybe you like model bouncing for them. Again, just to give them, help them get that leg strength that they’re working on when they’re pulling up to standing. And the reason that we’re doing this is again,

to give the brain time to practice during the day so that it doesn’t feel the need to wake up all night and practice. And then the next age is…

And then after the eight to 10 month mark, I know there’s not a long gap between this, but the 12 month mark is another time where sleep can be really challenging. You are entering the toddler stage, which I know is crazy. You’re leaving the first year. There is a language burst happening at this age. So a lot of times they’re kind of gathering all of these words in their brain around the eight to 10 month mark. Eight.

Brittni (14:10.694)

nine, 10, 11 month mark, and then some of these words are going to start coming out around the 12 month mark. There’s the 12 month molars. Now they don’t just magically come in at the 12 month mark. For earlier teethers, they usually do appear around the 12 month mark. For later teethers, they might actually be closer to the 18 month mark, which we’ll talk about in a little bit. There’s another peak in separation anxiety. They might start taking their first steps.

And there’s really an increase in independence. They’re really starting to kind of seek out their role in the world and wanting to kind of exercise control over the world. And one thing I’ll say here is the more independence a child has, the more they’re going to depend on you. So the more they start taking those steps towards independence, the more they’re gonna wanna kind of come back to you and really.

connect with you to make sure like, ooh, if I go this far, are you still my safe base? Are you still here for me? So even though they are increasing in their independence, we often see more clinginess because they just wanna make sure that as their world gets bigger, as their independence increases, we’re still there for them and we still love them. So at this age, with sleep, I often see fighting naps as a big one. They’re really all similar, fighting bedtime.

Again, fighting that transfer or just having a really hard time getting them into their sleep space if you’re not co-sleeping or if they don’t have a floor bed. I don’t often see early rising at this age, but it’s not impossible. And then oftentimes I will see those long middle of the night wakeups where they’re babbling. They just want to talk about everything and kind of practice their new words. So what can you do? You can practice.

talking with them, but we don’t want to quiz them on words. We just simply want to sit down and have a conversation with them, right? They’re not going to be able to have a full conversation back, but the more that we can practice with them and elicit responses from them, natural responses, not like a, what is this called? It’s more of just like a conversation that we’re having with them. The more they’re going to have the chance to practice, they’re also not going to feel pressured about like knowing words.

Brittni (16:29.11)

and so then they might not wake up as much in the middle of the night to practice talking with you. Next, we also want to give them lots of movement. Movement, if you are noticing, is a theme. We really want to give our children lots of time and space to move their bodies and figure out who they are in their body and how their body moves and practice those new skills. You really also want to lean into that connection piece and just be there for them as their

So if you were, let’s say you’re currently doing independent naps, but you just can’t get an independent nap right now and your little one’s close to 12 months, maybe you’ll lean into that if at all possible and do a few contact naps a week depending on how many naps they’re having. Maybe you do one contact nap and then one independent nap or maybe you do a few contact naps in the week. You also want to start looking at sleep needs at this age because sleep needs really start to decrease around this age.

A lot of little ones are nearing. They’re not usually ready, but it’s not impossible, but they’re nearing dropping to one nap. And so we often see that they’re fighting sleep. They might be fighting the second nap or they might be fighting bedtime. So before just dropping the nap, I would recommend maybe like capping the first nap so that you can get that second nap or if they’re fighting bedtime, maybe you’re capping nap one and nap two to help them get through the day.

So yeah, this is when you’re really gonna start tuning into sleep needs and what your child needs. And I’m not saying that we’re not tuning into sleep needs and what they need in the first year, but sleep needs are really gonna start decreasing at this point, and it really does kind of become a science of figuring out your child’s unique sleep needs. The last age that I find is really hard in sleep is the 18-month mark. And I would actually say…

this might be the hardest age with sleep because I think we expect that first year to be really hard and then we get out of it and we’re like, yes, I’ve got this. But now instead of a little baby, we have like a full blown toddler in front of us who’s chatting and has lots of desires, lots of strong will. And so it can make it a lot harder. And it’s actually funny as I’m recording this, this week I had five clients

Brittni (18:53.39)

come to me all with 18 month olds. And they were clients that I had worked with earlier on, like in the first year. And then I had five of them this week, all with 18 month olds who came back and they were all struggling. And it’s just a really good reminder of how hard that 18 month mark is, but also that you’re not alone and your little one is not the only one going through this. So what’s happening at this age? At this age, there is a huge,

developmental leap. As you can see, your little one is really going from baby toddler to full-blown toddler. Again, there’s an increase in separation anxiety. Their sleep needs are continuing to decrease. There is an increase in mobility and gross motor skills. So they’re kind of running. They’re maybe jumping a little bit more. And also, counter will is really starting to enter the picture.

and counter will is essentially the, them not wanting to be controlled. They don’t want to feel like they’re being coerced or controlled. They really want to exercise control over their own lives. And also at this age, sometimes we see either 12 month molars coming out for later teethers, or sometimes we see the 24 month molars coming in early for some little ones.

So what do I often see around this age? This one is similar to the eight to 10 months sleep progression. I often see early rising. And again, I think it’s because of all of that brain development going on. Also wanting to connect with you. I also see fighting naps. That is a really big one. And then fighting bedtime. And that is where that counter will piece comes in. They do not want to feel like they’re being forced to do something that they don’t want to do. So what can you do?

see them for who they are, they are becoming their own little person, they want control and freedom and autonomy, and we can give them that within loving boundaries. So with bedtime, we really wanna make sure that they feel like bedtime isn’t happening to them, but rather they’re part of the process. So maybe it’s asking them if they wanna put on their PJs.

Brittni (21:13.646)

might be a little awkward, right? But giving them that autonomy. Maybe it’s asking them which set of PJs they want to wear. Maybe it’s asking them if they want to brush their teeth before you brush their teeth. Maybe it’s letting them choose the books that they that you’re going to read at bedtime if you read books. So giving them choices but within loving boundaries and really kind of starting to figure out what your firm boundaries are and not feeling afraid to hold loving boundaries.

and also not feeling afraid of the emotions that are going to come when we do have to hold boundaries and knowing that your child is learning to express their emotions. I kind of already said this, but the other thing is like support independence. So if you see them trying to do something by themselves during the day, I think we often step in to try to fix it for them. Give them some space and time to see if they can do it.

Invite them to help you cook, obviously like safe things, age appropriate things. Let them help you fold laundry. Let them help you put the laundry into the wash, the yeah, the washer. Let them help you change the clothes from the washer to the dryer if you have a dryer. All of these different things. Just really giving them a chance to express that independence and have that autonomy so that it doesn’t show up at night when they feel like maybe they didn’t get a chance to.

be themselves all day long or do what they wanted to do and then they’re going to drag their feet at bedtime. You also wanna lean into their need for connection. As I talked about just a little bit ago, the more independence they have, the more they’re gonna really come back to us and make sure like, wow, this world is getting bigger, I’m getting more capable, are you still here? Are you still my safe person? So just really leaning into that connection.

Another thing that you’ll want to do, similar to the 12 month mark, is looking at their sleep needs again. If your little one is really fighting nap, do we need to maybe push nap a little bit later? Do we need to maybe move their morning wake time earlier if they’re waking a little bit later in the morning? Do they possibly need a later bedtime? So really start looking into those things to see if they’re fighting sleep, if maybe it’s a sign that they just…

Brittni (23:37.726)

need less sleep. Lastly, and this shouldn’t come as a surprise as I’ve said it for every single age, but movement, movement. The more they can move their body, the better. And the more outside time, and this goes for every age too, even the four month old, the more time you can spend outside with your little one, the better. Fresh air is so good for all of us. It’s good for our mental health. It often invites

unique sensory play that they’re not going to get in any other environment. The sun is amazing because it guides our circadian rhythm, so just being in that bright natural sunlight during the day is great for our bodies. And again through all of these, I think I mentioned this for the eight to ten month specifically, but for all of these if you’re feeling burnt out, if you’re feeling run down, first I want to remind you that it’s not going to be forever.

But I also want to encourage you to take care of yourself and figure out small ways to do that. Maybe you go back to my episode on microdosing joy into your life. Maybe you set a meeting with your partner if you have one and you guys kind of talk about, okay, this is what I need from you, what do you need from me? And kind of work as a team to make sure that you’re each getting your needs taken care of and you’re not getting burnt out.

And if you have other family or friends around, call on them. I think that we feel this pressure to be able to do it all ourselves, and it’s just not the case. I actually was just recently, I went to like a coffee meetup for the moms at Lila’s Forest School, which was amazing. I’m so glad I went. I actually wanna record a whole different podcast episode on that. But one of the things I learned was back like in the days of villages,

there was a 10 to one ratio for women to children, meaning that for every one child, there were 10 women taking care of that child in the village. And so if you think about it that way, we are doing the job of 10 women. Now, if we have a partner, we’re doing the job maybe of nine women, but our partner, if you have, let me say this, if you are, if your partner is a male,

Brittni (26:01.622)

then they’re not doing the job of a woman because they’re not a woman, right? And so this is amazing to think about that we are trying to do this all ourselves when we really were meant to be in this village. It wasn’t just one person raising the child, it was the village. And so I don’t think that I leaned on a village enough early on. Luckily, I’m very close to my mom and I’m very close to my sister, but I don’t think that I expressed my needs to them and asked them for help.

And I know that can feel really uncomfortable and scary, but if you have people in your life and you feel comfortable, and maybe if you feel a little bit uncomfortable, get curious as to why, but get comfortable asking for support however you need it. And it doesn’t necessarily mean watching your baby. If you’re not comfortable with somebody else being with your baby without you there, maybe it’s something as simple as like,

if they offer to come over or like, hey, could you help me? Like I placed an order for groceries. Could you go pick them up? Something like that, but really advocate for yourself and remember that you can’t fill from an empty cup. So during this time, these times, really take care of yourself. I hope this was helpful.

If you have a little one, I hope it wasn’t scary to talk about what’s to come. And like I said, sleep is unique to each child. So it doesn’t necessarily mean all of these ages are gonna be hard, but they are the most common ages where I see sleep gets really disrupted and is really hard. If you would like to learn more, I highly recommend checking out my four month sleep progression freebie, which will be linked below the episode.

as well as my toddler sleep progression freebie, which covers the 12 month sleep progression, the 18 month sleep progression, and the 24 month sleep progression. And they are free for you to look through. If you are struggling apart from that, I would love to work one-on-one with you, or you can always check out my comprehensive zero to 12 month course. I’m wishing you lots of love. I’m sending lots of sleepy vibes your way. And if last night was a hard night,

Brittni (28:16.038)

I am encouraging you to find some rest today. I’ll see you next time.

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