There is a lot of writing online about how to get your baby to sleep through the night during infancy but not as much expertise to help those of us with toddlers and preschoolers who wake a number of times. Between age 2 and 3 when O was released from crib jail and moved to a big bed, he’d come to find me a couple of times a night. I’d often awake (and startle) to find him standing next to my bed! I tried many things to improve his opportunity for a full night’s sleep yet for those kids who never quite figure out that sleeping through the night starts around 7 or 8pm and ends with the sun coming up around 7am, we want to help. Recent data shows that 1 in 5 infants who have trouble sleeping may continue to have challenges during the toddler years. Clearly challenges with sleep that span multiple years affect many of us.
I turned to a pediatric sleep expert for help. Dr. Craig Canapari is a doctor I met on Twitter (of all places) who answered questions surrounding sleep challenges for toddlers. Dr Canapari is a father to 2, a pediatric pulmonologist & sleep expert, and is thinking of starting a blog! He told me that when he was a kid he, “definitely did have problems falling asleep sometimes,” so not only is he an expert, he’s experienced! Check out his responses here and leave comments and questions — I’ll get him back on the blog to respond as needed.
Why does my toddler wake up at night?
Every parents has experienced the dreaded 2 AM call. You hear your little one stirring on the monitor. Either you wait, fingers crossed, to see if they go back to sleep and they don’t, or you run in there as fast as you can to stuff the pacifier in their mouth before they really wake up. Most babies are capable of sustained sleep (6-8 hours in a row) at night by age six months. If you are nursing your child, it may take them a bit longer to achieve this. I think that it is reasonable that every child should sleep through the night most nights by 9-12 months of age. Now, every child wakes up sometimes at night. I view the awakenings as a problem if they are more than a few minutes in duration, occurring multiple times at night, or resulting in significant daytime irritability for either the child or the parents.
If your child is having problematic nocturnal awakenings, there are a few possible causes:
- “Inappropriate” sleep onset associations. This is the classic sleep disorder of childhood described popularized by Dr. Ferber. Your child falls asleep under conditions that aren’t present later in the night (that’s was “inappropriate” means here). For example, you are rubbing his back or holding her; she is nursing; he has a pacifier in his mouth. During the night your child cycles through deeper sleep, lighter sleep, and then may wake up for a minute or two every few hours. If the conditions aren’t present (e.g. she’s not in your lap) she will cry out until you go back in and pick her up. You fix this problem by teaching your child to fall asleep on your their own by having them go to bed drowsy but awake. Sometimes, moving their bedtime later by 30 minutes may help with this process. They may fuss for a night or two but the awakenings should go away in a week.
- Learned hunger. This occurs in children who are drinking a bottle or two of milk or nursing for prolonged periods at night. They are conditioned to expect food at night so they wake up looking for it. If your child is over one, healthy, and feeding multiple times at night and requiring diaper changes, this is likely your problem. If your child falls asleep eating or nursing you may have sleep association issues as well. I recommend reducing the volume of the bottles by an ounce or increasing the intervals between nursing by an hour nightly which should address this. Going “cold turkey” is hard because your child is actually hungry and you need to wean them off this.
- Medical disorders. Many common medical problems are overlooked as a cause of sleep disruption. If your child coughs frequently at night they may have asthma which needs to be treated. Acid reflux can be associated with belly pain and vomiting at night. Obstructive sleep apnea is a very common problem associated with snoring which can disrupt sleep. I would definitely recommend seeing your pediatrician about any of these concerns.
- Environmental factors. These tend to be obvious. Is there a TV on in the room? If so, please take it out of there! Is there loud noise from neighbors or the road outside? Does the child share the room with a sibling or parent who makes a lot of noise? A white noise generator or fan can be useful in these circumstances. If the room is hot or cold (>75 degrees or less than 60 F) it can also be a factor.
Do you think these four explanations are sensible for your toddler? What have you done that has ended the dreaded overnight awakenings?
Dr Canapari will offer tips to mitigate early morning awakenings for toddlers on tomorrow’s post.
A think a pediatric sleep blog would be fantastic! Of all the books I read when pregnant, I didn’t read a single sleep book which I’ve deeply regretted. (Then, I tried to read them when I was incoherent with sleep deprivation and that certainly didn’t work well.)
My toddler just went through a rough patch with sleeping that seems to have settled down (fingers crossed). I think the ““Inappropriate” sleep onset associations” was probably part of the problem. I had been sitting outside of his room, where he could see me, when he fell asleep. However, I eventually learned that he was also falling out of bed. I put a pillow next to his bed to soften the fall and now occasionally find him sleeping on it.
I have a 16 month old that is the very definition of a high needs/high spirited child. They do not sleep well, do not self soothe and crave motion and touch. That’s only the beginning. I feel most pediatricians are unfamiliar with this type of personality so it is hard for me to get advice other than reading about it. She has only slept 9 hours straight one time and that was recently. She is very inconsistent with her wakings and sometimes she goes back to sleep easily other times it can take an hour and a half. Every night is different and unexpected but the nightly routine is the same. She also will not take a nap in her crib on the weekends when she is not a daycare. She cries before we get to the bedroom door. CIO does not work for high needs babies and it doesn’t work for me. I am just an exhausted parent waiting for “it” to get better as everyone keeps saying.
Monica. My daughter is exactly like you described. CIO doesn’t work for me. I am waiting for the day she sleeps peacefully all night.
My son (2.6 yrs) is waking up everyday around 2 am,
Many times he will wake up after every 2 hrs.
Sometimes cries so much that until he doesn’t hear my husband’s voice he wont calm down. I am so frustrated every night snd morning becsuse of him not in my control and uneasy sleep.
Teri B says
This is exactly my grandson. He will be 3 May. I don’t think he’s sleep all night even once in his life. Please let me know if you find an answer. So tired of hearing “he’ll grow out of it”. That doesn’t help in the meantime. I am writing this at 5:3] am. He woke up at 2 and again at 4. Been up ever since. I finally turned on Moana.
That is unfortunately the situation im in right at this moment. I dont knos how.mucb more i can take. Ive tried everything i swear sometimes i think she just want to torture me
Paola madrid says
This is so me right now watching moana.
Amatullah Jackson says
Me too…..my 3yr old continues to wake every night. Even when he does not have a nap. I’ve been up for three days
I have a 16 month old now that is the exact same way. He is my 3rd child and also the hardest child. He is super attached to us and sleep has always been an issue. I’very read and tried all the sleep books, nothing works. And he doesn’t like to be without us but he tosses and turns all night in our bed too. Uggh.
My child sounds similar. He is 15 months old and wakes between the hours of 2 and 4. When in our bed he just tosses and turns all night and will not sleep a wink with us (which I can’t understand). Once he’s up he does not go back to sleep in his crib or with us. It’s confusing because he’ll sleep through for 4 nights or so then wakes for 3 nights, etc. CIO does not work at all. I’ve tried teaching him (since 6 mo old) to fall asleep awake with no consistent luck. I’m positive the “inappropriate” sleep onset association is our problem. But at this point I’m just not confident that he will adjust and fall asleep on his own after tackling the issue, but of course I will try whole heartedly for his sake.
Edith Espinoza says
Oh my! Thats exactly how my 11 month old is, every single thing you said! everyone says it will get better but its exhausting.
My son is the same way!!!! He will be 2 next week. I really don’t know what to do anymore. We have tried everything! I have another baby due in a few weeks and I’m terrified no one will sleep anymore. The pediatrician is of no help. My son gets services for speech, special instruction and will start ot soon. He’s a very sensory seeking kid. We do many sensory activities but that doesn’t help the sleep. Everyone keeps saying once OT starts maybe that will help, then his dr says cut out the rough house he could be over stimulated…. like what do I do!?!????
Karla S says
This is exactly my son. Did you ever get help with this? We r struggling with this issue so bad.
I have a son who has sensory issues and he wakes between 1-2 every morning and stays awake until 5-6am. He will scream out, bang his head into his crib, talk out or laugh. It’s hard. I have mellowed him down a hour before bed and he still does it. I can’t find anything that helps.
I’m a parent of a 18 month old girl, where things went wrong is when my wife decided she wanted our daughter sleeping with us in our bed the entire 18 months not only risking us rolling over accidentally suffercating our daughter but now our daughter won’t transition to her toddler bed with rails and throws tantrums for hours knowing my wife will just give in and let her sleep with us once again, its not normal development for a child and very likely will give them separation anxiety. My advice let them cry it out in their cribs toddler beds they will learn.
Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Monica! The excatly the same thing is happening here and Im beyond exhausted.
I agree with you. My two year old gets out of his bed every night and finds me climbs on me or next to me and goes right back to sleep. I just want to be able to sleep in my bed by myself sometimes. I could really use some help with this.
Monica my two year old is exactly like that. I hold him every night until he goes to sleep. Then he wakes up around 2 comes in my room gets in my bed and goes right back to sleep. I got him a toddler bed thinking that would make him want to sleep in his own bed. Not at all. He will roam around the house until he finds me!
I deal with the same situation! My sons father left us a year ago and his sleeping problems have gradually gotten worse. At this point with having MS myself, I’m at whits end with his stirring at 2am and staying awake until he is ready. I have tried everything from moving his bedtime down to melatonin in his milk before bed. I can’t keep going on like this and need some suggestions too!!
Not sure what the long term impact is but I do not recommend giving melatonin to a toddler.
You just described my kid exactly. My husband and I are at our wits end! Our 17 month old son is happy to go to sleep in his cot with a little gentle nursery rhyme and will often indicate it’s bedtime so why does he wake up 4/5 times a night crying like the world is coming to an end? Sometimes he wil be awake for moments and other times it’s an hour. There is no pattern, nothing we can pinpoint as a cause and he will only sleep 9-10 hrs a night and 1-1.5 in the day. It took a long time for us to get to this point admittedly, as we just couldn’t put him through CIO. He gets so genuinely distressed. I honestly think there is real fear of something in him. He is asleep when we leave the room and I’m not convinced he needs to be alone when he goes to bed to fall asleep again when he wakes but the bigger issue is why does he wake so much? We could hack it once a night, maybe twice but he’s only ever slept more than 6 hours straight 5 times in his entire life. He’s noisy too and moves around in the cot all night. Paed simply said its a mild sleep disorder and we basically have to get on with it but it can’t be good for him to sleep so little and wake so much and so unhappy. It’s certainly not good for us. Yet he’s such a happy little thing during the day? I just don’t know what to do next.
Did It get better or did you find what was wrong?
My child has slept through the night but for about a month now he is exactly as you described your child. The screaming like he’s terrified or in immense pAin just is so hard to deal with!
Sounds like night terrors
My son is the same I️ know it’s a year later but how has it been?
You described my 22 month old son. Have you discovered a cure yet? I’m desperate.
My daughter is 2 and the same. If I let her CIO, after 15 minutes she throws up cause she has an anxiety attack. So now I have to hold her hand , while she falls asleep. Most times she sleeps through the night, but this took a longgggggg time to achieve. Sometimes she wakes up 6 hrs into sleep and I need to go in and hold her hand again. If I let her cry she just throws up. My daughter is the kind that hates sleeps. So I know how you feel
Can you give me an update on your daughter. My lo wakes up every 2hrs to see if I’m in the room or not. She will not sleep
I realize this isn’t now a year ago… but chantel how long did it last? My daughter is the same… there is no crying it out… she can go for hours and it intensifies .. two different occasions ( that I saw on the monitor) she’s head butted the crib on purpose… of course I have to go into her room.
Yes!! I agree, sounds a lot like mine. Every night is different but most are good as far as sleep and she’s over 2!
Aubrie Coughlan says
Hi Monica, I know this post is very old but I was wondering if you could update how and if things have changed. My son is exactly how you described only he is now 19 months. I am very early stages of pregnancy and terrified of how things will be once the new baby arrives. Any help or advice would be much appreciated. I hope this finds you. Aubrie x
Hi Aubrie! Have things got better for you? I am in the same predicament as you. I am scared if things don’t get better how am I going to juggle a toddler that won’t sleep and a newborn. My daughter puts herself to sleep with me sitting in the room but throughout the night has zero self soothing skills. I am exhausted.
Thank you, Monica. This is my 16-month-old. The only consistency in his sleep is his inconsistency! I completely agree that most sleep advice is written for children in the middle of the bell curve, not the high needs outliers. I know this is an old thread, but your comment gave me the peace and calm I needed tonight. Thank you.
My child is the same way, very spirited and high needs. He does not fuss, he screams, so I doubt that cio (or any version of it) would work, and I don’t agree with those techniques anyway so this is probably moot. I found this page hoping it would give me any usable advice, and instead found the exact same ramblings that everyone else repeat like parrots.. I feel your pain Monica!
I feel you! We are in the exact same situation- and frankly reading what babies ‘should’ be doing makes my head explode.
Vanessa A says
My daughter is the same exact way! Ppl tell me to put my daughter on a schedule and to be honest I won’t force my daughter if she is screaming her head off not wanting to nap. My daughter is 13 months and she craves my touch always on & is literally at my hip at all times and even though it’s exhausting, I still can’t see how parents put their child on a schedule? I’m 26, & this is my 2nd daughter had my first at 20 & for some reason the 2nd child seems to be way more difficult to handle. If anyone has some tips for a tired mom, please sent help. Thanks Liz
Hi. Probably surprised to see a man participating….
We have an 8 month old. He still wakes up every 2-3 hours every night!
Really desperate. My wife and i are struggling to keep awake at day time.
No snoring issues, apnea, etc.
He still sleeps in our room. Breastfeeds. Not irritated at day time.
Is this more common that what we think it is?
Your baby is 8 months old and breastfed this is normal
Please do not think this is normal. This is the routine of an infant, not an 8 month old. Mother’s diet can be a factor, and was why son worje every 2-3 hours until I weened him at 16 months. He is sensitive to food chemicals, which I had no idea about at the time.
Hi M its so great to see dads that help out..Did u guys ever resolve your little ones sleeping issues..we have a two year old that hasnt slept well since she was little..alot of the womans here stories sound similar to mine especially the ones who say cio doesnt work and describe restlessness waking more than 5 to 6 times a night without a pattern..I see you posted quite a while ago i was wondering if things have gotten better for u guys..I am so exshuated
Mauricio, this is completely normal for an 8 month old he still needs frequent night feeds. Don’t worry!!
Tired Mommy says
Please help! I have a 2.25 year old who used to be a great sleeper. Now, as of a month ago, he wakes at various times in the middle of the night. I think I nipped the nap problem in the bud, and he still gets 1.5-2 hour naps, but he is up at night. And i should say he has a nightlight, which he wants on… The last two nights, he was up at 230 or 235. I went down to put him back into bed and told him no getting up until the sun comes up. He knows repeats it. Yet, this morning he was back up at 430 and I was too tired to put him back. He was awake and raring to go at 6 or 615. Then, the rest of the day he can’t function as welll – he was really dragging today. Tis, to me, indicates a need for sleep, not to mention my own! He’s so tired, which leads to more bad behavior and testing and I’m just worried this pattern won’t stop. Our doctor says to lock him in his room, as do some friends. I’m not sure we can, and we are concerned about fire hazard, etc… Or even being terrified and shreiking and therefore waking his baby sister. How do we stop this waking? Thank you for help/suggestions.
I have a five year old that still wakes up at night wanting anything to drink and then up early in morning.what can I do
Hi there, I am really exhausted at the moment as my 2 1/2 years old girl keeps getting up several times during the night, she has a routine since early age, goes to bed about seven on her own, but after 4 hrs sleep she kept waking up every hour or 2, she cannot get back to sleep, even and I get to a point to put her in bed with me she keeps having trouble to black to sleep and move side to side, up and down in your bed, it is very disturbing for her and for us.
have tried every thing, when she gets up she goes to our bed, she open the door and wait for me/dad to get up and lead her back to bed and keeping doing it every hour or so, most the time, and sometime she decided to cry, we leave her crying and eventually she fall slep for 2 hrs and back getting up again.
Any comment for experts will help a lot, I thinking of take her to see a doctor soon.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I think seeing your pediatrician would be a great idea.
In the interim, see if you can gradually stop the interventions you’re providing so she can get a chance to really practice and learn the skill of getting back to sleep. Learning to fall back asleep on her own is a skill she needs to learn but it will take time. Be consistent from one night to the next as you gradually pull away things you do over a matter of weeks to months.
Hi I wonder at the age the toddlers become restless sleepers and also restless in parent bed where you’d think they would settle? I took advice to give cal-mag for restless legs (aching). It solved the problemfor us as the child is not able to explain the ache because movement or upright (standing) takes the ache away. Then when resting, the legs ache again and disturb the sleep. Notice the toddler age suffer from this due to their walking and running by day. Some toddlers were previously good sleepers as thy had crawled. Once they run about some get achy legs when inactive in their sleep. Try calcium-magnesium combination infant dodge 2 X day and can re dose in the night if necessary.
Exhausted rookie mom says
Thank you for pointing this out. My husband and I are absolutely exhausted trying to figure out why our almost 2 year old went from sleeping literally 12hrs a night to waking suddenly and frequently for the last few weeks. I tell myself we’ve been so lucky since he was 9weeks old. The Cal-Mag idea is one I will be running by my family doctor. I’ve noticed on the monitor that he stands and screams but as soon as he lays himself back down he freaks again. I’ve often wondered about growing pains in infants and toddlers, and I hate to use Tylenol unless I know it’s a tooth coming, fever etc. Don’t know how coherent this message is but thanks for posting!
Aeriale Brady says
Monica my 16 month old sounds exactly like yours! She is on her second set of tubes and I am afraid of the “cry it out” because how do I really know if she isn’t in pain? She wakes up twice a night, sometimes falls asleep immediately when I start rocking her and other times at 3am decides she is done sleeping and might fall back asleep around 6am, I never know what to expect other than knowing it won’t be an uninterrupted night for myself or my family!
Stacie Wallace says
Our 15 month old wakes every 2-3 hours every night and will only be comforted by nursing. We have tried everything. I would like to night wean and want to try the suggestion of increasing the interval between nursing by an hour, but practically speaking how do we do that? Rock him for an hour? Ignore him for an hour? He is very strong willed/attached and will not self soothe back to sleep. Any tips would be appreciated because he has literally never slept through the night and we are exhausted.
Hopefully you read this. My doctor told me to remove the baby from the bedroom because they wake up every time they hear you move and they can also smell the mothers milk when co sleeping. This first night he woke up every hour. The second night only woke up twice. then he started sleeping throught the night! It took my 8 month old a total of three days to start sleeping through the night. He is now 15 months and just started waking up again around 2-3 am. I think his full diaper wakes him, i need some more absorbent diapers!
My son is 15 months old and til a couple of months ago he slept thru the night, Went to sleep on his own and many times he just comforted himself before doing so. He cried sometimes but not for longer than 10 minutes. He used to throw his comfort blanket out and I picked it up once the. Promised not to go back and it worked. Now he’s teething, 6 of them coming out, and he’s gotta bit of a cold but I guess what changed his sleeping patterns was taking him into my bed on a couple of early mornings and then his dad who complained he was unable to sleep because of our baby’s loud crying or complaining. Thing is now not only doesn’t he go to sleep on his own, he does it in my arms or of we rub his back, he needs either of us by his side and he wakes up at 2 or 4 and doesn’t fall go back to sleep until we carry a mattress into his bedroom and sleep by his cot… He also starts crying when I leave him in his cot so can’t have a quiet shower on my own or even wash the dishes as long as I turn my back on him while doing so. I tried to let him cry it out it but he can go on for half an hour and that can be pretty sleep killing and nerve racking for both of us. What have I done wrong? When I’m tired my patience runs out easily and I feel trapped and foresee raising a kid who is so dependadnt on me, no self confidence for him and no rest for me
i am at the end of my tether, my two year old has never been a good sleeper, we ve had glipses of full night sleep but rarely. Now she is in a big bed and i wake up to find her in my bed arms around me, or she just screams mama 20 times every 2 -3 hours.
she has a great routine, she falls asleep in her bed but as soon as she starts waking up she no longer wants to be there…. and only seems to want me.
Sometime I feel like crying, I am so sleep deprived that I can’t think straight, my memory is even fading….
My son, 2 y and 5 mo seems to have some kind of sleep disorder that is not on any medical diagnostic book!
He is an extremely intelligent boy and doesn’t like going to bed. I am a stay at home mom of 3 under 4-1/2 year old. He is the second and most problematic one -middle child. All go to preschool except the baby. He is active, play rough with the girls, provocative, outspoken. Very picky eater, extremely difficult. Milk is his best friend. After bedtime routine(pj on, brush teeth, reading stories) , starting at 7:00pm, (on bed at 7:30-8:00pm) he request milk after the struggle of putting him into his crib, even if you just gave him milk two minutes ago. We want to buy him a bed but keep on delaying Bc he wdn’t stay in it. At night he wakes up multiple times for different reasons: voiding, milk , being scared…. (I was praying that he is potty trained and now he has been on his bday, start of school, and that created even more problems)
He will also wake up to tell me it’s morning time when I really want to stay in my bed a little longer after waking up so many times. If I don’t get him up he would scream so loud that the 11mo baby would also wake up for an orchestra of problems. The baby sleeps through the night , I don’t understand it. Same parents, same parental style, same apt .. etc…
Sometimes I think I have to go to a psych doctor but I don’t want any records
I need help.
Gosh! Did you manage to find a solution? My 20 month old is EXACTLY the same since birth, has never slept through the night ever!
I understand others mentioning food as root of sleeping problems but my son eats only organic food and do not drink juice nor coffee nor soda. No additives, no sweetened cereal… They drink water or organic milk. They walk from the bus stop to the school, and vice Verna and I don’t use strollers so they could get tired. I still don’t get it.
Magana Girl says
I’m so glad you replied to this! At first I thought, “I don’t do anything in the inappropriate category. But my son does ask me to sit in a chair outside his door every night! The chair is placed where he can’t see it, and I normally plop down in it for a millisecond and then leave. But he knows that I’m not sitting in the chair at 2 in the morning and comes and finds me in bed.
I wouldn’t have thought this was and “inappropriate” thing but I’m definitely going to be changing this behavior! Thanks again for opening my eyes that this could be a part of the problem!
My Grandson stays with us every other week, so we can spend some QT with him, since our daughter stays with her in-laws. We had some issues but I figured everything worked out..
He naps once a day About 1-2 or maybe 3 hours, he eats good (less bottles), he sleeps in his crib, he sleeps in his own room & sleeps throughout the night, occasionally wake up for a bottle. He barely cry’s when his parent drops him off.
Now when he is with his parents – he wakes up crying but screaming & it’s hard to calm him down, when they drop him off now, he screams/cry like he dsnt know us. It breaks my heart but he calms down, After his parent leave (like 1-5 mins). I told them to say their goodbyes and go because it’s so hard to calm him down, if they don’t leave right away. He dsnt listen to us when his parents are around. If he falls (not hard) he cry’s like if someone hit him & his parents pick him up To comfort him. My daughter and her hubby has been here serval times while he was napping & he dsnt wake like that. When he is at my house – he knows
When it’s time to eat because he sits in his high chair but when we try to put him in it when his parents are around – he yells/cry/scream. As soon
As they pick up The baby to take him home – they carry him & don’t put him down till they leave. He hits them and he throws himself on the floor if they don’t give him
What he wants. It’s hard to give advance because she is my step daughter and I don’t walk over her toes. I would giver her a couple of advance:
1 – sit him down and eat – have his own food and don’t let him off till he finish his food.
2 – stop running to him when he cry’s – he needs to figure out himself
3 – don’t allow the baby to run the show – you’re the parents
4 – stop saying, when they are picking him up & he dsnt listen, “ If you don’t listen – we are leaving you here.”
How can relate this to them
Without stepping over their toes. Plz. Help
Kristin Hubert says
Love that these two fabulous docs have paired up on this topic. I trained with each of them and couldn’t think more highly of them individually, and together, what a force!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
Dr Hubert, so nice of you to say. A small world. Especially with Twitter 🙂
concerned granny says
What a nightmare for kids and patents.
But I read quickly through the posts and saw no one mention FOOD as the problem.
Many food stuffs are full of chemicals, additives, e numbers etc., these can have an affect on the body and brain etc., another thing that causes sleep roblems is Thrush otherwise known as Candida Albicans. Changing the child’s diet should be looked into.
Sugar really can cause too much energy, restlessness etc., sodas are full of additives.
Look at foods that cause yeast infections , sugars, breads, cookies…..
Do research online.
Most of all Good Luck.
Really interesting. We figured our toddler was waking due to hearing the neighbor coming in from his restaurant job late at night. Four months after moving though, he still wakes up at that time (4am). So hard to break the cycle.
Thank you for this — I wonder what advice there is on breaking/re-framing sleep onset habits. My four and a half year old has always co-slept. Recently he transitioned to his own bed but he still relies on me to lay down with him each night while he falls asleep and he still comes in to my room / bed each night when he wakes, sometimes as early as 11:30 PM, often 1:30/2:00 AM, occasionally 4:00 AM. He is a high anxiety child with weak attachment issues (i.e., he is very afraid of abandonment); he lost his father about a year ago after a long illness; I’d like to be gentle with him, but I know he needs to start to be able to fall asleep on his own.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
Elizabeth, I agree with everything you said. You have to be gentle and yes, at some point he likely does need to learn to fall asleep on his own. But you’ll know when that time comes. As will he, I’m sure. I’m not certain there is a rush. There is no danger in co-sleeping after a year of age that I understand (except poorer sleep quality for parents), so it’s an entirely personal decision.
Best of luck with all…
Craig Canapari MD says
I’m sorry to hear about your loss. This is a lot to deal with. Sometimes moving bedtime a bit later for a short period of time can help a child fall asleep more easily without a parent present. In your situation, I think your child needs a very gradual transition to falling asleep on his own– falling asleep with you, then falling asleep with you sitting next to the bed touching him for a few days, then falling asleep with you next to the bed but not touching him for a few days, then sitting by the door, then sitting outside the door. Make this transition as slow as he needs and do what you need to do to survive during the night; I suspect the awakenings will improve with time.
My 7 yr old is at the worst stage, toddlerhood and baby was easier than 6 and 7 so far, she’s always scared, wakes during the night pretty frequently and yells out “can I come in your bed”? The bedrooms are on the second floor and either my husband or I HAVE to be upstairs at least until she falls asleep and we have little adult time together as a result, when will she ever be able to go upstairs to HER room and just go to sleep?? It’s killing me. We have kept routines and rituals but nothing works!! So I’m off the age track but none the less I have a problem here. Just thought I’d vent. Thanks
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
Sounds like a huge challenge. I’d recommend making sure she has decent light (one to two to three night lights) and ways to self-soothe (age-appropriately) when she does wake up. Consider a sleeping toy or a book or picture to have next to the bed to reassure her–one thing that is constant and always there. Map out a plan for overnight awakenings that you both agree to and reward her for sticking to it. If it’s ongoing and nightly, at the same time each night, you may want to chat with your daughter’s pediatrician.
Dr Canapari, thoughts here?
Craig Canapari MD says
Sounds like a challenging situation. I was wondering if you could clarify– does your child actually seem terrified during these episodes, or are these “fears” the way that she signals that she wants your attention? Is she fearful or anxious during the day, or only at night? Also, are you in the same room when she falls asleep?
I know this was originally posted a while ago but for anyone else with this particular issue, my 7 year old son was suddenly having the same problems. I got him a body pillow and said pretend this is me and hold it tight to fall alseep and if you wake in the night and that seemed to work for him. Plus he has a dim night light in his room.
Magana Girl says
I have a friend whose daughter stopped sleeping through the night. It took them months before they found out she had watched a horror movie at a sleepover that was giving her terrible nightmares. They think she didn’t tell them because she was afraid she would get in trouble. Maybe your daughter watched/read something etc that has been giving her nightmares? I can’t really help with the how to help her get over the fear (night lights, maybe even putting a monitor in her room so she knows you can hear her at all times if she needs you? I even saw a person who decorated a bottle and called it Monster Spray but your daughter might be too old for that). Good luck figuring everything out!
Interesting about the sibling! My kids share a room and recently my son started waking at 2am and running, still half asleep and eyes still mostly, closed out of his room. At first he was terrified and didn’t want to return to bed. When I got him back in there he heard the sounds again and we realized his sister was snoring on the top bunk. She’s been congested lately and has been a bit noisier than usual. However this isn’t the first cold she’s had since they started sharing a room 6 months ago. He always had to pee after he wakes so I think it’s probably a combo of noisy sib combined with his being easier to rouse because he’s aware of his bladder.
My oldest slept much better once he was fully potty trained and dry at night. My youngest son is working through this process now and I hope he follows the same path! I think they were/are waking up when they need to use the bathroom.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
Oh, Carrie, I hear you on that one.
We’ve transitioned from the overnight awakenings where he would stand at the side of my bed for comfort to wetting accidents or trips to the potty. This road can be long…
Glad to hear another blog is on its way to educate us! Our problem with our 4-year old is dreaming and nightmare. She seems to get up every time when she has a dream, doesn’t matter its good dream or bad dream. She knows not to get up from her bed so she would scream “mommy” until I go in there. She understands dreams are not real but she wants to tell us all about what she dreamt about.
We recently moved from a crib to a big boy bed and there was a lot of waking up at 1 or 2 and playing for an hour or two. We finally figured out that without a nightlight, if he is waking up, he’s falling back to sleep quicker. We are assuming since he can’t open his eyes and see the distractions in his room, he isn’t tempted to stay awake and play. If only I could solve this problem at nap time too…
My daughter was the best sleeper until we transitioned to a toddler bed in December at 22 months since she was climbing out of her crib. It was rough! She still goes to bed at 7:30pm and putting her to bed is a breeze and she stays in her bed. We bought a “ready to wake” clock that has pictures and she understands the “going to bed” picture. However, she routinely gets up around 3-4am and my husband and I take turns constantly returning her to bed, fits and all. I am hoping as she gets older, she will understand the clock better. I miss the crib! Any suggestions?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
I hear you on missing the crib! That’s why I affectionately refer to it as \crib jail.\ Before the climbing out, it’s a safe place to allow children to learn to self-soothe.
This transition will hopefully improve. Your most important agenda is consistency. What you do from night to night should be essentially the same so that your toddler knows what to expect. Don’t bring her into your bed one night and then not the next as she won’t know what to expect.
Consider not bringing her back to bed, instead asking her to get herself back in her toddler bed. If she refuses, some children will even sleep on the floor next to mom and dad’s bed, but usually with time (without reward) they will return to the more comfortable sleeping area. The key is to make sure you home is safe and she can’t wander into danger…
If you don’t feel she can get herself back into the crib, work on a solid routine of what you do that provides as little reinforcement as possible. walk her back to her bed (fit or not) with no water, food, sippy cup or other rewards. Provide her a clear timeline, ie \I’ll be here for 2 more minutes and then I’m leaving. If you return to my bed, you’ll need to get yourself back to your room on your own.\ And do you best to stick to what you say!
Make sure there is adequate light (nightlight) and doors to outside are locked and out of reach, etc.
Hope that helps!
We are having the same problem!! My son was about 2.5 when he started climbing out and we reluctantly put him into a toddler bed. Recently he’s been waking at least once a night just to be tucked back in, no fighting! We also have the OK to wake clock for early wakings, but he has no concept of it although he says “I wait till my clock turns green!” Uggh…He’s been waking with me at 6 AM ever since I went back to work 7 months ago, when he used to sleep until 8! I swear he has a sixth sense or “Mommy sensor” in the morning!
Where do I begin? Our almost 4 year-old has never been a great sleeper (we have had one five month stint where she regularly slept through the night and this was from 10-15 months of age). Other than that, she wakes up every night. I now believe that it’s behavioral because we finally started letting her climb into bed with us. This was out of sheer exhaustion and frustration – also, I was working on getting her younger sibling to sleep through the night and thought I would deal with her once I got the younger one going. Her younger sister does sleep through the night fairly consistently now; however I’m enjoying my sleep so much that I haven’t addressed the older child and she still ends up in our bed every night. I don’t even wake up when she comes in anymore…in fact, most nights I wake up at some point and am surprised to see her there. We have always laid down with both girls to get them to fall asleep and stay in their rooms until they are fully asleep so maybe weaning her off of that, from a suggestion above, would be a place to start. I guess I don’t really have a problem with her sleeping in our room except that I don’t want her younger sibling to feel bad that she doesn’t get to and she is just now starting to become aware that this is the case (younger child is almost 2). We also have a new baby on the way and I feel like I am going to need my space in bed when that happens. With a move coming up (we just bought a new house!) and a new baby on the way, I don’t want to turn her world upside down too much but also feel like I need things to change. Any suggestions??
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
Sounds like a lot of work! I think you need to figure out what your goal is. Is it to get your children in their beds all night? Or for part of the night? Is it to provide an equitable space (ie the same for each, as you mention)? There is no right answer here, only what is best for you and your partner and you family. But with a new baby, your reserves will be less and less, so implementing a plan now might reduce your fatigue and stress.
I would recommend gradually transitioning to have your two children learn to fall asleep on their own if you’re ready. Once they work on knowing that they can do it themselves, you may find night time routine will be easier, overnight awakenings will be easier (they will know how to get themselves back to sleep, etc). How you do that is likely a gradual process with clear, transparent explanations for your children and rewards. Incentivize the new plan and be clear about how long you will continue to fall asleep with them. And then provide rewards when they get themself to sleep on their own!!
For the occassion, consider getting them each a transitional sleep toy or stuffed animal, one thing that is always and only in the bed with them that they are use for comfort going to bed at night and in the middle of the night.
Good luck and congrats on the upcoming baby!
kristine s says
I am seriously struggling. Almost 14 month old has beareen hospitalized with cold induced reactive air syndrom. Now multiple ear infections. She is well today but has been up every hour both last night and tonight. I worry she is waking because of asthma? Or sleep apnea? Any suggestions out there.
Technical question: How can we subscribe to the blog in a RSS reader? I can get a comments feed to work in my Google Reader but not the actual site.
Just wanted to say thanks for this — and especially for the responses from the authors. Very cool to have your specific input.
Just want to start by saying that reading everyone’s listings have eased my mind a little. My son is 3 now. He has never slept through the night, except for maybe a couple of times in the whole 3 years. I have tried numerous things everything from a comfort item to doing the same exact thing every night, and nothing seems to work. My husband picked up a second job and works both days and nights, and I thought by him not being home was the problem but he still wakes up all through the weekends when he is home and was doing this when he was younger. There seems like there is no hope because he cannot be comforted in almost any way other than his dad (and no one else) laying with him. We are expecting another child in about 4 weeks and I get so anxious about how bedtime and lack of sleep will affect everyone. If anyone has suggestions that would be very helpful..I feel like I’m at the end of my rope because it has taken such a strain on my marriage.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I’m so sorry you’re so stressed. You’re simply not alone in this. Our children’s sleep challenges take a huge toll on all of us…
It sounds like your son really has a wonderful attachment to your husband and that’s a delightful thing. Work to preserve it, but find ways to shift it to day time whenever possible.
I suggest you make a plan for your family now and work to make changes prior to the baby coming, however, changes after the baby comes are really common.
Reward your son for nights where he doesn’t scream.
Reward your son for nights where he doesn’t have someone laying with him.
Practice having him fall asleep (for nap, at bedtime, for middle of the night awakenings) alone.
Get him a new toy for sleep only. Have the toy live with him in the bed. Have him use it for security.
Have your husband spend time alone with your son during the day. Use that time as a reward for your son sleeping alone. For example, if you son gets himself to sleep without all of you and doesn’t scream at night, he gets a special trip to the park for an hour with dad the next weekend. Use the bond as a reward but shift the time for the cuddling! Good luck and congratulations on your expected baby.
My 2 year old son, is currently in a big bed and doesn’t sleep through the night. Sometimes he will slip down and sleep with me (I sleep on a pull out bed by his bed) other times he will insist going to Mama’s bed, and become unconsoleable if i don’t agree (he is locked in his room with a baby gate as we have stairs)
Now sometimes when he wakes up (usually around 02:00hrs) he will stay awake for two hours playing, this is the most fustrating problem we face, what can we do that would change this behaviour, it is only occassional say one or twice a week.
By my own admission we probably don’t follow a lot of the rules, his bedtime routine is milk (still in a bottle) pacifer story and then lie with Mama dn possibley Dadda until he falls a sleep!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
The best thing you can do is not reward the behavior. Take out toys in easy access, don’t allow the lights on, don’t interact and play with him when he’s up. His awakening is not unusual but the playing can become a “habit.” Having him learn to fall asleep all on his own (at bedtime) will really help with overnight awakenings. Once he has that skill, it will be lots easier for him to wake up at 2am and then get himself back to sleep without toys or your help.
Jamie Tobin says
WOW i thought i was the only one dealing with this. 🙂 I am not the only one at all. O”ur 2.5 yr old son slept in a crib for a week or so but then in our bed and still in our bed. He is on the bottle (milk only) wont tale milk from a cup at all. Wont sleep all night, he wakes up and makes noises and usually has a wet diaper once throughout the night. I have tried no naps and then he falls asleep around 4 and need a nap then doesnt eat supper and then we dont go to bed til around 9:45. I am always seeing and being told take the bottle away NOW hes almost 3 and hurry upp and get him to his own bed as well as why is he not potty trained. OH MY its hard bc he is attached to me and the bottle seems to comfort him. At night he has to hold my hand and wont his daddy. He is my baby but advice is always welcomed as long as it not to knock us all down.
Luv from indiana
Our 24 month old usually wakes once at night, but the real problem is bedtime. I’m trying to switch to him going to sleep on his own, but I just have no idea how to get there from here. At naptime, I think his caregivers rock him, and that works pretty well for them.
At bedtime, I’ve been trying to have him lay down (and right now I’m laying with him), but he’s sometimes still awake after an hour and a half. Either I give up at that point out of frustration (and his dad rocks him), or we both eventually fall asleep.
He’s in a toddler bed and we don’t have a gate on his room, though I guess we could put one on.
I am so frustrated at having bedtime last from 8 to 10. It seems like the recommendation is just to leave him in his room and check on him until he’s asleep, but he just comes out of the room upset. When I’m laying with him, it seems like he just fidgets and fidgets and goofs off, keeping himself awake. When I try to stop him from fidgeting, though, it seems like it just escalates the situation.
This drama is all after our routine of bottle, brush teeth, and books. We are stuck – I really don’t know how to change this routine!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Is there any way you can leave him in the room, use a childproof door handle from the inside and let him get himself to sleep without your help? Ensure the safety proofing in the room is perfect and there is no danger for him in there without you. But then give him a chance to get to sleep at night without you.
All those things you do (including responding to him when he comes out of the room again and again and again are positive reinforcement. If you could someone take yourself out of the 8-10pm routine (as you’d like, I know!) it may dramatically improve.
I agree with Sharmac (below) as well. that cutting down on nap time can REALLY help.
Our situation with my 2 1/2 year old is very similar to Sue’s post above. We start the bedtime routine around 8. But our son will not go to sleep until 10, and sometimes 10:30. He takes very scheduled naps (every day 1-3pm). We’ve tried night lights, which seemed to make the matter worse. He has a special bear that sleeps with him. We are very careful about what he eats for dinner (no sugars, etc). He will get out of bed 3-4 times between 8 and 10pm. We tell him to go back to bed and walk him back in the room. Eventually I end up rocking him to sleep or falling asleep on the floor in hir room. This has been going on consistanly for over 5 months now. In addition to the 2 hour battle everynight, he wake up 2-3 nights a week in the middle of the night (usually around 2-3 in the morning). When he gets up, we walk him back to his bed. I might ask him if he needs something (potty, water, etc) to make sure there’s not some need for something. But usually he will willingly go back to bed, and after about 1/2hr will fall back asleep (if I stay in the room with him).
I would appreciate any insight anyone has on our situation. I feel like we are doing what most articles suggest already. I’ve read about the sleeping clocks and reward system – so will give those a shot (not sure if he’ll understand them, but certainly worth trying). But my son is also very stubborn and reward systems generally don’t work with him!
Hi Sue and Amanda while i am no expert and our night time routine is far from perfect one thing i did find helped my boy fall asleep quicker in the evening was cutting down on his day time nap, he know only has an hour an a half as opposed two to two and half hours after which he would get up himself, i do find i have to wake him up and it takes a good 10-15 minutes to get him out of bed (not sure how bad this is)
Like i said i am no expert and maybe that this is not a good idea but it has worked for us, my son is 28 Months.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Read this post from Dr Canapari that he wrote a few weeks ago. Great, comprehensive advice I think you’ll get a lot out of.
Hi! My situation is very similar to this. I have a two year old boy and for the past two months his bedtime has been a nightmare! He would not stay in his bed at all, I tried the pick him up put him back in routine, it made him even more upset and uncontrollable! He wouldn’t even lay down for 10 seconds, as soon as I put him back in bed he would be right behind me walking out the door! I was consistent but when it was going on 3-4 hours of getting nowhere, I gave up and sat on his floor until he fell asleep. He will fall asleep after about an hr or hr1/2 of me sitting on his floor, but then he wakes up 2-3 times during the night usually beginning around 2AM and will not go back to sleep unless I sit on the floor in his room! I will also mention that we tried the gate on his door and leaving him to put himself to sleep, that made him very angry and he actually was able to climb over the gate and get out!!
Jen M says
We have 30 month old triplet boys that we have sleeping in the same room together. We have just switched them from cribs to beds. Everyone will sleep within 30m from the time they are put down without mommy or daddy being in the room. The problem is that one of the boys has woken up about 5 times the first night, 7 times the second night, 4 times the third night, and 11 times the fourth night since the transition. The first night I went in and he would automatically lay down without me saying anything. If his father came in at any of the above times, he would scream for me and then lay right down when I would come in. I think the second night increased because of the immediacy of my reaction to the first night. The third night I waited 5m, the first time, 10m the second time, and 10m after for the next wakings. Then I read an article by a doctor that said it could be separation anxiety and that to go in as much as needed and assure the child that they are ok. Thus my last night that I had to get up 11 times. Is my son testing me and seeing if i will come when he calls, cries, screams, etc. I am worried that he will wake his brothers. Should I wait 5m, 10m, 15m, etc to make the undesirable behavior become extinct? I really need my sleep back and am at a lost on who’s right. Any thoughts????
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Oofdah. Exhausting to say the least.
First off, not all pediatricians and sleep experts agree about what to do when there is separation anxiety. Some would say NOT to go in until the fussing and crying stops on it’s own, no matter how long a baby cries. That going in only sets up the child for being more and more dependent upon awakenings for proximity and it’s the making of a bad habit.
Most important in my opinion, is your consistency from day to day. If you can tolerate his crying and fussing himself to sleep you can try the Ferber method you have (increasing duration between going in) or you could let your 3 year-old cry until back asleep or you could go in for every cry. But whatever method you chose (all are ok) just keep steady from day to day.
It’s not uncommon for this to happen when transitioning out of a crib. It will get better all on its own with time, too.
Tess Erdman says
My 4 year old son was a great sleeper as an infant and toddler…then came preschool. I don;t know if it is possible for a 4 year old to have OCD, but I think mine does. He has to have his blanket just so, has to have the same 2 songs sung the same exact way, has to have the same 3 stuffed animals lay next to him just right, and as I leave the room for him to sleep he says the same “Good night”, “sleep tight”, “is that enough”, Ok”….requiring me to repeat him each time…….and I have found myself doing all of these things to ensure he does go to sleep, because it really worked before..but now it has become the reason for his waking up all through the night…”my blankets aren’t straight!”, “the door is closed too much!”, “my doggy moved”, and probably because I didn’t want to fight with him at 3am, I would o in there and “fix” the problem. But now, at least once if not 2 times a night he wakes up screaming and whining for me to “fix” one of his problems……I have tried ignoring, reasoning, explaining how HE can fix it…but still every night he wakes up demanding my assistance. I’m sure it’s his way of getting some of my attention – as I work 3 jobs and my husband works 2, our time with him is very spastic. What do I do now?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
My advice is to explain to your son that you are going to transfer all responsibility to the “fixes” back to him. And that over the next 2 (or 3, or 4) nights you’ll gradually stop helping with those. Explain you are there for him as he needs you but not for overnight repairs. Maybe talk with him about what routines to keep at bedtime (the song and the salutation, for example) but that you can only have 3 rituals in total. If he wants additional, he needs to maintain them.
The way you explain the “fixes” sounds less like OCD than simple stall tactics and security/separation anxiety manuevers. But that being said, some toddlers do develop OCD in this age and if his need for order and/or repitition seem to be mounting, talk with his doctor about ideas for supporting him.
My daughter has just turned 18 months and for the last 4 weeks she wakes up in the middle of the night. My husband works long hours and I made the mistake of going and laying in her cot (Not comfortable at all) and after an hour or so she would go back to sleep. Once she is asleep I then would leave her and wouldn’t here from her agoain till 8am
I have never had a problem putting her to bed she always goes to sleep on her own.
I just need to sort the waking up? I have stopped going into her room and just letting her cry which is really hard and after on hour she will go back to sleep. but how can I stop this I am really struggling!!!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
It is excruciating at times to let our babies fall back asleep while crying (or at least I thought so). But the fact that she gets herself back to sleep after the middle of the night awakening is a great sign that she’s learning to self soothe from the awakening. My suggestion is to stay your course. With time these likely very natural awakenings will continue but she won’t cry and scream for you, she’ll know how to get herself back to sleep. In practice, I see a lot of patients who awaken in the middle of the night at 15-18 months of age after sleeping well through the night. Maybe a sign of separation anxiety returning?
Keep it up. Your consistency is so key for her.
My 2 year old son has not slept through the night since he was 9 months old. He wont even sleep in his bed, we sleep on the living room floor. This all started when he was diagnosed with night terrors and then diagnosed with central nervous sleep apnea. The dr decided in January of this year to take his tonsils and adenoids out and this would cure all and it has not cured anything. He is still not sleeping through the night and still having night terrors. We get about 1-4 hours of sleep a night when he goes to bed around 8pm – 5am when I have to get up for work. Most nights he wakes with in 1/2 hour incroments or 15-20 min incroments. I am worried that the drs are missing something. This has put a lot of strain on all of us and it disrupts my oldest three childrens sleep as well.
What do I do?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Can you make an appointment with his doctor (regular doc) to discuss a plan to help get him back on cycle? It may include a possible sleep consultation but work with his doctor to develop a set of steps to resolve your difficult nights.
So sorry–you must be terrible fatigued.
My daughter is 4 1/2 years old. We consistently have issues with her waking in the night. From the time that she climbed out of her crib and entered her toddler bed, she was not able to “settle down” and go to sleep as quickly as our first daughter. We tuck her in after the same nightly routine of teeth, story, bed and shut out her bedroom light (leaving the bathroom light on all night for her and her older sister). But, each night we hear her in her bed bumping the wall or playing with her dolls until she falls asleep. More recently she seems to get scared, not wanting to be alone in her room to sleep. She comes out multiple times and has even snuck into her sisters room and fallen asleep in her bed. She comes in in the middle of the night to my husband and I. We will let her in our bed some nights, and other nights go lay in her bed with her until she falls asleep.
But, more recently she will wake us up from crying out. Not crying, but calling out. She seems as though she is talking in her sleep. When we go in there she will laugh or whimper, but never verbally respond to us. It is as though she is sleeping and I can’t wake her. When I was a child I was a sleep walker and talker. I still talk in my sleep. I also have a cousin who even as an adult walks in her sleep and talks. My younger brother used to scream in his sleep (I believe these were night terrors). I was just wondering– is this possibly a genetic sleep disorder? Will this pass and the difficulties with wanting to sleep with someone else. How can I comfort her appropriately? Some of the advice in the above article helps, as she sometimes goes to sleep listening to a cd, but it turns off. So we can make sure there is a sound all night.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Your child could be having night terrors as they can certainly be present in 4 1/2 year-olds. Especially if it’s difficult to get her attention during the episodes.
One strategy that works in slightly older children is anticipating the events. ie, if they tend to start 2-3 hours after bedtime or around 11pm, try to wake her around 10:45pm or just before it would happen. This way, you’ll slightly re-arrange the sleep cycle she is in. Get her up out of bed, have a sip of water or walk to the bathroom and then tuck her back in. Sometimes trying to “abort” the sleep or night terror from happening works and will prevent them from coming in the nights to come.
Otherwise, keep working on consistency– however frustrating that sounds. Same bed time, same response at night, same routine. And same response without a lot of secondary gain at night (be brief and boring) and then let her learn to fall back asleep on her own.
Good luck! If not improving, or worsening, talk with her pediatrician or family doc.
Elizabeth C. says
Hi I have a 22 month old who is recently waking in the night and cannot fall back asleep no matter what. He has never been a great sleeper, I feel like I was “sleep training” him from 6 months to 18 months! We moved to a new house in March (about 4 months ago), and at that time moved him to a toddler bed, in his own room, got very strict about no more co-bedding and sticking with the bedtime routine. After about two weeks, he seemed to get it and starting falling asleep on his own and staying asleep all night. It was heaven for about three months! Now for the past two weeks or so, almost every night he will wake up around 2 am, and stay awake for 2-3 hours. No matter what I do, he seems to not be able to fall back asleep. He’s not playing, not crying, just tossing and turning with intermittent whimpers of frustration. If I leave him in his room, he will cry hard for hours, which causes marital stress as my husband doesn’t agree to that. If I go in his room when he wakes up, he will stop crying but tosses and turns for hours as above. I’ve even resorted to rocking him again, and even gave in and let him back in our bed last night, but still tosses and turns until about 5 am. Nothing else in his life is different. He is still napping well in the day time. He still falls asleep easily on his own at bed time (around 8:30 – 9:00 pm). But I am exhausted from being up from 2-5 am every night, and very frustrated and afraid I am making it worse by back tracking and restarting our old bad habits. And the worse part is I am a young pediatrician and am so embarrassed that I can’t even do things right with my own kid! Please help!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I’m certain you’re exhausted! So sorry.
First off, you’re not doing a terrible job and give yourself a little break here. Learning to practice pediatrics isn’t the same as parenting your own children of course. But I get it—for sure!
My advice based on the story you told is to gradually reduce what you’re providing for at night. Make a plan with your partner that you both agree to and stick to it. Eg–when your child starts to fuss and cry you’ll let him try to self-soothe for 20 minutes. Then you’ll go in and provide reassurance. And then you’ll return at X amount of times and do the same thing. The inconsistency from night to night is likely hard for your 22 mo old who is awakening. Try to get back to a routine. But make sure you both agree on it so when 2am rolls around you can stick to your plan. Use ear plugs for your husband (or yourself) as necessary so you can take breaks. And maybe alternate nights “on the clock” for overnight care so you can get some rest.
Auna H says
My little boy turned 12 months two days ago, he started sleeping through the night a few months ago. Just recently he started waking up atleast twice a night for a bottle, he want to sleep with us. I had never done this previously so im not sure why he wants this now. The only thing we have changed is starting him on whole milk, he is very little he is only right at 20 lbs. he takes a good long nap during the day and goes to bed around 9:30 wakes up tossing and turning and crying all through the night, like hes having the worst possible nightmare. sometimes i cant even get him fully awake and he screams and screams. I have not slept in nights trying to get him to go back to sleep in his own bed… im not sure what to do at this point! please help!!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Lots of 12 month-old babies have shifts in their night sleep at this age. I don’t think it has to do with diet changes, more with developmental and sleep changes.
As best you can, step back from providing overnight feeds. Your 12 month-old (even at 20 lbs) likely doesn’t NEED any milk at night. They will make up for needed feeds during the day. Likely, it’s just another mechanism for comfort.
Do your best to step back on what you’re providing at night and stretch out the times between you going in and consoling your 1 year-old.
There is no danger to co-sleeping at this age but the more you allow your 1 year-old in bed, the more you create that as a new norm. If you want a family bed, then great–keep doing it. If not, I wouldn’t allow your 1 year-old back in bed as it’s a very strong positive reinforcement for overnight awakenings.
My nephew Ethan doesn’t have much trouble sleeping the problem is that he wakes up early. Sometimes at early as four am and even earlier. We aren’t sure why as he never talks about bad dreams, or other things that it might be. His room has thick curtains do its not the sun when he wakes at his usual five am. Making him stay up till later does not help at all, and tiring him out sometimes just means him waking up even earlier.
He won’t go back to bed and sleep again, and sometimes he’ll keep himself from falling asleep so he can play an iPad game, or read a book.going on long car rides will help him sleep, or nap; but with gas prices on the rise again it will be difficult for my sister to take him in the car and get him to nap. We can’t leave him in the car as we live in Arizona and the heat will hurt him.
There was a case when he was about two and he woke without even waking anyone else up, got a snack ate it and then occupied himself until he got tired again and took a nap. That was around two am, and he said he fell back asleep after three hours. We usually wake up at five or six, due to him waking then. His siblings can sleep just fine as long as he is not too noisy.
We really don’t know how to get him to sleep a whole night, as again we tried to exhaust him and that can just make him wake up sooner. Doing a later bedtime doesn’t work and can few times make him wake early too.
He is active and fairly rambunctious, he’ll play all day but wont sleep even eight hours. There have been cases were he kept himself from sleeping the whole night and would not nap the next day and still woke up at five when we finally got him to sleep at eleven. That is about all I know, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with him, he doesn’t complain or tell of nightmares. Or get up and go to the bathroom.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
It seems like one of the problems is your nephew’s access to food and games in the middle of the night. Some children awaken by natural shifts in their sleep schedule, in the middle of the night. But what you want for them is to learn to quickly fall asleep without even knowing they were awake.
If they awaken and have access to food and games, they become more alert and awake and ready for play. This clearly can create a difficult pattern and habit. I’d work on making sure that his sleep environment doesn’t have any screens and that overnight you all work to limit his access to food, etc. Hopefully, over time, he’ll learn there is no reward to being up at night and learn to fall asleep moer easily without causing a disturbance.
I have to say, while this article was a bit informative… it didn’t address our issues. I suppse my child is the exception. Here’s my tale… I have a 3 year old son, (middle of 5) He has always been a decent baby and toddler. As an infant and a baby, he was never fussy, has always slept in his own bed in his own room, Started sleeping through the night at 5 weeks old and did so until he was 3. He does not have any medical conditions (doesn’t even have allergies)and there are no known stressers in or around the home. He does not go to school yet (he starts this year in pre-k) and I am a SAHM. He is not fed a lot of sugar and plays outside most of the day. We have a night time routine and have taken all the advice that we have been given. I even sought the services of a behavioralist, a child Pyschologist,his pediatrician and our family counselor. We took everything out of his room except for his bed (which we ended up taking the frame out and just had a twin size mattress) and one small dresser and less than 5 small soundless toys. He stops taking naps when he was about 2 1/2. But here’s the problem… he refuses to go to sleep until 3 or 4 AM! He won’t even entertain the idea! He screams and cries, throws things, kicks, bites, punches, pinches…. and still will just end up getting out of bed. He never goes to sleep! He will finally pass out around 3 or 4am but then he usually wakes up at 6 or 7 am and SOMETIMES goes back to bed. If he does go back to sleep, he will only sleep a couple more hours. So, his day starts at 7 or 8am and he is literally NON-STOP until about 3am. (In fact, I am up right now at 5am because he just passed out)We have tried EVERYTHING. Changing his diet, changing his routine, staying in the room, sitting outside the door, ignoring him, giving into him, time out, not letting him have treats the next day, rewarding him, melatonin (sp), and it’s even come to the point where (I hate this, but) we’ve even tried spanking his bottom. When we spank him.. he cries for about a half second, then he laughs at us and continues to do the same thing. When we reward him for listening, he just demands more reward… until he ends up screaming at the top of his lungs like he is being killed. He tried the whole “just keep silent and replace him in bed when he gets out” thing…. it doesn’t work. I have read a ton of books, articles, been to drs and therapists.. everything. Everyone says he is fine and if we do like they tell us, but it never works. It got so bad that we had to put an alarm on the doors and windows because he would open his bedroom window and climb out! He would even walk out the front door. Once, when my youngest was about 2 weeks old… My 3 year old and my 5 year old (Autistic) were in his room playing and I was in the livingroom nursing my newborn. I got a knock at my door and when I went to answer it.. it was a police officer. Come to find out, the boys sneaked out the window and was playing in the neighbor’s garage! My son even climbed out the window while the officer was standing at my door talking to me!He also broke his window one night just after the babysitter put him to bed, because he used a toy car and repeatedly banged it against the glass until it broke. (thank heavens it was a double paned storm window and the sitter cleaned up all the glass before he got hurt) We’ve had to pad lock our fridge/freezer and pantry… because he will go down stairs in the middle of the night and get food and take it to his room. (He doesn’t eat it.. he plays in in) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten up in the morning to find his bedroom floor litered with shredded cheese, eggs thrown at his walls, yogurt all over his bed… etc. I am really at my wits end here. So, now it has come to the point where I sit in the livingroom with him on the couch (np tv, no radio, no lights…) until he passes out. But even with no tv radio, lights etc… he will lay or sit there and talk or sing to himself. I can’t allow him to scream all night because I have other children that need to sleep and my husband has to work during the day. I have really bad insomnia and I take a prescription for it… but with him being up til 3 am… I can’t take my meds because if I do, then I am out cold while he is left to roam the house at will and do as he pleases. So, that’s not safe. Which means that I am left to take care of things during the day with no sleep. Which means that neither my son nor I am able to preform tasks at our peak level because we are both so exhuasted. I really don’t see that it bothers him during the day, because he is literally non-stop all the time. We were having him tested for ADHD, but the behavoralist refused to see us again because he was so difficult to work with. He is VERY strong willed and defiant. He is aggressive and has a horrible temper. BUT he is very loving and caring. He does share and helps out with the baby and normally does what is asked of him. It’s like he goes from being horribly bad to a perfect angel in 2.1 seconds. I have noticed that he doesn’t eat much either. We offer a balanced meal each time and even have healthy snacks (apples, yogurt, crackers…) and while he likes those things and even asks for them.. he will only eat a few bites and then he is done. For a drink, he normally has milk (with a flavored straw)or during the day I will give him water, lemonade, or low sugar juice. So I know it can’t be his diet. No medical problems, or evironmental issues, no known mental issues… I just don’t know what to do. We need sleep! So, if there is anything that you can offer in the way or advice or suggestions.. I have my ears open. Please help my son go to sleep and stay asleep.
I have also tried baby proofing the bedroom and even took the door off the frame and replaced it with a baby gate. When our son learned how to climb over the baby gate, our counselor suggested that we replace the door and turns the handle around so the lock is on the outside. We did this, and took out anything that could be harmful to him and put a safety lock on his window. Now, he just has his mattress, a small dresser and a couple toys and books in his room. I even had to take all his pictures and decor down because he was destroying those as well. I don’t shut his door during the day, so he knows that when it’s shut that means it’s bed time. And he knows that if he calls for me, I will come check on him. I am also in the room next to him, and I check in on him several times through out the night. However, it doesn’t do much in the way of helping him sleep, but it does safe guard against him roaming the house in the middle of the night and hurting himself or setting the house on fire and it keeps him from wondering outside in the middle of the night… So, no if I could just get him to go to sleep and stay asleep.. all would be right in the world.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
It sounds like you’ve had quite a challenge. Has your pediatrician offered to have your son see a sleep specialist in your area? A sleep evaluation and study may be really helpful for you and often improving sleep can often have incredible effects on behavior challenges. I’m certain you’re all very tired.
I think seeing a sleep specialist would be a great next step for your family.
Autumn Berg says
I don’t think a sleep specialist is going to cut it. Look, I’m not a doctor, but I’m a mom, and I think if your behaviorist quit on him, find another one, or a psychiatrist, or a psychologist who can give medication recommendations to your pediatrician. I don’t think this is a sleep issue, I think it’s something else. My son has ADHD, pretty badly, and I think this is what you’re coming up against..this is deeply deeply familiar. Again, I’m not a doctor, but it’s really familiar to me. I think he needs medication to address the issue, and soon.
I would try no dairy, no wheat, and no sugar (even juice) for 2 weeks and see if it makes a difference. Look up dairy and it’s effects on children with behavioral issues. It’s worth a try!!
Nicole Serrano says
I am so happy I found this website, (and perhaps as all people think/ feel that their case is different from all others) I could not exactly find an answer to what I see going on with my son’s issue. My son just turned 2yo at the end of july. He has always been, for the most part, a great sleeper! However in the past couple of weeks we have been battling putting him to bed (which, fingers crossed, seems like we have resolved! from some advice from colleagues of mine, we made a strict bedtime routine, sing with him a few songs and put him to bed. if he gets up, we do not talk to him or get upset or make much eye contact, we walk him back to bed and put him back in. first couple of nights were miserable. walking back and forth for over an hour. however it has been 3 nights that he does perfectly fine! AND we started putting him to bed with his door open (we had always closed it before then.)
NOW the issue is that my son is waking up every night at 4-530 am. Before he could sleep until at least 630-8am! The thing is, after he falls asleep, I close his door, (grandma lives with us and uses the restroom several times at night, so I am afraid the restroom and her walking could wake him if I leave his door open). If he wakes he cries so much and eventually begins BANGING on the door. at this point either I or grandma take him in to our room, our beds. he plays for about an hour, but then falls asleep till about 730-830am! what do I do? why does this happen? After reading the blog, I realize perhaps having the door closed when he wakes may be a problem. but not sure if this is the only problem??
Menka Bihari says
This website was really helpful regarding infant sleep issues and I thank you all for starting this. I have an 11 month old and he has always been a very poor sleeper. We tried to sleep train him using cry it out but it did not really work for us. He is a rather strong willed child and can go on for hours without giving up. Recently he has started waking up in the middle of the night…around 2 am and starts crying and screaming. This goes on until 4-5 am in the morning and he refuses to calm down. He will come over and cling to me in bed….to the point that he refuses to even lay on his designated area on our king bed. He does not let his daddy touch him or console him and will just wrap himself around me or cling tightly. This is very tiring for me and we are really disturbed by this. I don;t know how to encourage him to sleep on his own and through the night…..to date he has not slept through the night and I am getting very worried now. Please help!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I’m certain you’re exhausted. What this sounds like to me is a bit of separation anxiety. It’s not uncommon that infants develop strong bouts of separation anxiety at this age. Especially during over night awakenings. It should like he is really showing bot ha strong urgency for proximity and preference (you over his father, for example) which is common with separation.
Solutions for this are likely not quick. Most of all, you have to keep your routines. Yet since you’re co-sleeping, it is difficult to allow your baby to learn to self-soothe when he can cling onto you. If you’re considering getting him into his own sleep environment, that could be a start but right now seems as if it would be very difficult timing (for all of you). I’d recommend doing as little intervention for him as possible, allowing him comfort of knowing you’re there but not creating new dependencies on you for getting back to sleep at night. If no progress over the next week or so or this is worsening, you may want to talk with his physician about next steps so you can get some reassurance.
Kristen Riley says
I am a mom of two, my oldest is 2 years old and prior to 2 weeks ago, was napping 2 hours a day and sleeping through the night (being put down awake for both). Then he got a bug bite on his ear which I was told to treat with Benedryl (for first time). Since then he refused to nap, climbed out of his crib a few days in a row at which time we converted his crib to a toddler bed. Since then, he won’t sleep in his crib. the only way he does is if we rock him to sleep and put him down asleep. that generally lasts 2 hours, then he wakes up every hour after that until 6/7am. He sleeps on the floor with his teddy bear or if I rock him to sleep again I will put him in the bed however that only lasts for about an hour. Any suggestions you can provide is much appreciated.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Are you still using the benadryl or did you give it to him just one time? The reason I ask is that benadryl typically makes children sleepy (as side effect of the medication) but some children can have the opposite response and get more alert than usual which can impair sleep. Did you see that response? If you’ve stopped using benadryl, it is out of his system at this point and very unlikely to blame for the sleep challenges. It could be that the change in the sleep isn’t about the benadryl at all, and it was only coincidental. But I certainly know how those things feel when we make a change and there is a big shift like you’re seeing.
Also, I agree about the nightlight.
It sounds to me like he’s having a transition to the toddler bed. Many children don’t stay in the bed like they do the crib. However frustrating, I’d do your best not to rock him to sleep and not go backwards in the amount of support you provide as he proved to you previously that he can go to bed awake and get himself to sleep. I’d allow him to sleep on the floor if it’s his choice. Some children do this but in my experience in clinic, they always migrate back to the bed when they realize how much more comfortable it is!
Kristen Riley says
Also -my doctor suggested putting in a night light, I did so 2 nights ago however haven’t seen a difference.
karen scott says
hi my 7 year pld is holding a carry on every night at bed time it has been like this for about 2 weeks now she fine through the day but as soon as it is bed time she starts crying screaming i leave her for 5 mins then she comes out the room every 10 mins i am really at breaking point i have another 3 children and i am so tired please help me
Christa Schaffer says
Hello, reading all the previous comments almost bought tears to my eyes. For THR longest time, I thought I was only mom whose baby wasn’t sleeping through the night! My son, now 22 months, has never been a “perfect sleeper.” since birth he wakes up every 2-3 hours at night every day. In the beginning he was sleeping in his crib but he was been sleeping with me in my bed for over a year now. I know it’s a bad thing to do and everyone has discouraged me from doing that but I was so exhausted and frustrated that it was the only option for me to get a decent night sleep and still be coherent in the morning. My son has had some medical issues, he suffered with acid reflux at a very young age (4 month) and had to be put on medicine for few months for that and recently (2 weeks) had surgery to put tubes in his ears due to chronic ear infections. We thought the tubes would our answer to our prayers to correcting his sleep at night ( other parent’s testimony of how their children’s sleep got better after tubes) but that’s not the case with us, actually it might of gotten worse! The easiest way to get him back to sleep every time he wakes up is with a bottle. So that means he sucks on either milk or water constantly at night, therefore his diaper has to be changed 2-3 times a night (soaked diapers). Sometimes he wets himself and the bed cuz his diaper is so soaked! I know what I am doing with the bottle and cosleeping is wrong but we couldn’t do what his pediatrician suggested with tge “crying out” but now I am willing to try anything! I can’t stand it when he wakes up in the a.m. droggy, yawning constantly, and has puffy, saggy eyes…it breaks my heart. I know sleep deprived kids has developmental delay and I am scared to death that’s the reason why he doesn’t talk yet. I am willing to start having him sleep in a toddler bed in his own room. I would really need specific step-by-step instructions to how to slept wean him to sleep all by himself through the night. I know it may take weeks but we are willing to try not just for us for most importantly for him. Thank you for your time!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Well Christa, you are certainly not alone. Many children have sleep challenges, particularly when they have medical concerns and after recovering from surgery.
I’m hoping that as you get farther out from the ear tube surgery, you really will see an improvement in his sleep.
My advice for you is to start implementing a step by step process to reach the goals you have.
For example, if the goal is to have your son sleep in his own bed, in his own room, falling asleep on his own and staying in his room all night, start now making transitions. Since the bed wetting/diaper filling is really bothering both you and him, start first by getting rid of overnight feeds. Without question, most children don’t need a bottle right before bed and certainly don’t need bottles in the middle of the night.
After you’ve gotten rid of the bottle, have him start sleeping in his room. Then work next on getting him to fall asleep without you rocking him, etc.
Make a plan, stick to it as best you can and remain as consistent as possible from day to day. Be methodic—make a list, check it off, get everyone in the house on board with the plan so they can support you. This will get better with time and consistency. If not, check in with his pediatrician.
Good luck, hope that helps!
Our lovely son has never slept through the night. We have tried all sorts of things to resolve this and the results are either marginally better (not so many awakenings) or worse (teething is a factor). Although we are managing with sleep deprevation, it’s becoming increasingly harder as he gets older. I’ve just searched the Internet for any new ideas/reasons why our son wakes up at roughly the same time each night and I think I have found some answers on this site – I think he is suffering number 2 of the 4 reasons! Will try out the recommendation and leave feedback in a week or so. Fingers crossed! 🙂
Sorry, I should add that our son is now 18 months, has always been bottle fed (except for first 2 weeks – he had toungue tie which was corrected when he was 5 weeks old), and he wakes for milk at 1am and sometimes 4 am. I blame ourselves for giving milk to him at night when he wakes as it seemed to be the only thing that helped him back to sleep. We share the bedroom with him and my partner works (early wake up of 6am). I am currently still unemployed. It’s becoming a bit of a strain on our relationship, although when we do get through it and sort things out thankfully! Willing to try any suggestions to help us out. There are times when I do feel I have failed as a parent – but thjnk that’s the sleep deprevation talking! :-/
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Best of luck–hoping that if you get rid of the night time feedings you’ll see improvement. And as Dr Canapari mentions, switching to water first, and then getting rid of feed altogether (andor spacing them out!) may be a good step wise approach. This will get better if you stop providing the milk at night!
And in regards to feeling like a failure at times — WE ALL DO. That’s because of the depth of our love and the complexity of raising a child. Also because parenting is imperfect, entirely variable, and always evolving. You’re not failing at all — but I certainly think you and your child will both feel better as you make new transitions. Good luck and please do return with a progress report!
Craig Canapari says
I agree with Wendy Sue. You were correct to address the meedical issues first. The next step is getting rid of the nocturnal feeds which you can do by reducing the volume of the feeds (down to 2 oz then stop) or increasing the interval between the feeds by 1 hour a night. Try to use water and not milk so there is not a “learned hunger” component.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Thanks, Dr Canapari!
Andrea Fletcher says
My little one was sleeping through the night at 6 weeks, but when we moved (3 months) this was disrupted. I have no clue how to get her back on track and it has been months. I realize she may feel less secure now, but I feel like in the process of helping her settle in, we somehow caused a sleep association issue. Any advice?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I think any transition and any stress can change an infant, toddler, or child’s sleep schedule (illness, travel, move, etc). So yes, the stress and changes around a move may certainly have changed things for your infant. However, your infant’s sleep cycle is also maturing as she grows older. So these awakenings really may have more to do with her maturation than the physical move itself.
Work to be as brief and boring as you can be at night. Provide comfort or a feed and get her back on her back to sleep. Gradually take away the support you’re providing and if she is reaching 6 months of age you may want to let her try to calm herself on her own and gain self-soothing skills.
Lisa Johnson says
Not sure if you are still replying to this stream but thought I would give it a try. My husband and I are blessed with two year old twins (turned 2 in July) whom have always slept well. Until lately, they sleep 11-12 hours a night (7:30pm – 7:00am) and take one nap at Noon that typically lasts for 2 hours. Beginning last week, our son will randomly wake up, get out of his crib and come upstairs to play (his room is with his sister in the daylight basement). I often hear him as my room is upstairs, and I will find him eating crackers, playing with the toys in the family room or with the CD player. Lately, he is opening the fridge/freezer and eating frozen corn or taking out the salad dressing and squirting it on the floor. When I find him in these situations, he is happy and calm. I take him back to bed and he quickly falls back asleep. Any suggestions on how to change this behavior or what might be causing it? Thanks so much.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I suspect he is awakening from his sleep cycles and nothing else. However, now, he is becoming more and more alert—and as he becomes more sophisticated and more and more curious, he goes on adventures. And with the opportunity for exploration, he is taking it.
In some ways, you want to do very little. You don’t want to provide any reinforcement for the awakenings. AND it’s wonderful he goes back to sleep so easily. I think the goal is to make sure that he doesn’t leave his room so when he gets up there is nothing to tempt him. You could consider using a system that doesn’t allow him to leave his room in the middle of the night, to avoid any safety risks and avoid him getting up and eating corn (!!) or undoing your refrigerator. Many child stores sell the door knob handles that can help. Only issue is, sometimes toddlers outsmart them.
Other than that, waiting it out and hopefully as he matures, gets little reinforcement for his awakenings, they will cease.
Hi, I’m hoping to find the answer as you are helping so many families with sleep.
I have a daughter who just turned two a week ago. She has most been a good sleeper and from 12 mths of age putting herself to sleep. She doesn’t use a dummy and doesn’t have a bottle at all to help calm her. Normally you just put her in her cot say good night and leave the room. She will just talk to herself and play with her teddy and with 15-20 min she’s asleep. However from around 22 months she has started waking throughout the night some times five times. She doesn’t wake screaming nor does she seem hungry, just unsettled. She will put herself back to sleep each time. I will usually check on her once each night when she wakes to make sure she’s not hot, cold or sick etc and will only ever offer water if she asks for a drink. Her waking though wakes the whole household as before she puts herself back to sleep, she will call for me, add some fake crying etc… But I don’t go I just call out sleep time and she will lay down and sleep but this happens min three times max eight times a night leaving us all exhausted every day every week. She sleeps 1.5-2 hours during the day from 12.30-2/2.30pm and bed from 7pm but sleeps from around 7.20pm-5.30am with all wake ups. Ive tried putting her to bed later even after a week of trying it resulted in earlier wake up times from 3.30am. Also tried only letting her sleep 1hr during the day everything stayed the same but just had a cranky tired toddler all afternoon. Not sure what to do….. Can you please help!!!! Thank you so much!!!!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
This is frustrating, I’m sure. So, the really great news is that your daughter knows how to get herself back to sleep. More and more, you just have to insist on altering the way she seeks your attention during the night so the rest of you can sleep, too!
How about trying to set rules for no screaming for you. Also, goals for no leaving the room, etc.
As you’re doing it now, I think it’s great you don’t go in to see her and just call out “sleep time.” As time goes forward, I’d stop going in to provide water or reassurance. It may be that all those times she is calling out, she is hoping that you’ll come back to her room. Since you continue to see that she is doing well and simply unsettled, do your best not to go to her room.
Further, keep the nap time as you have it—perfect timing — and like you’ve realized it doesn’t usually help to shorten it.
Get light blocking shades for the morning light to see if that will help her in the AM
Keep your routine consistent. With time and routine, hopefully she will go back to not calling out for you and seeking your attention during her mid-night awakenings.
Also, can you provide others ear plugs in the house? Seriously? Maybe just have one adult a night without them…you ALL need some sleep! 🙂
Thank you so much! Good to know I’m on the right track. I will make sure I use all your tips for better sleep…. Including the ears plugs lol I laughed as I read it but as soon as I laughed once I thought what a fantastic idea. I hadn’t thought of them.
I also thought today that it might be food related although she eats a well balanced diet I will give anything a good so I added two extra snack/meals to her day and for her three main meals I provided a large plate with lots and lots of different foods, some she hasn’t liked or tried and it was surprising what she ate.
Well with a new night upon us and using your tips and the new and extra food its now 2am and its the first time I heard from her. I didn’t go in and I only called out sleep-time once and she was back to sleep within a couple of minutes. 🙂
Thank you so much, explaining the new rules to her before bed and sticking to them has given me 5hours of straight sleep 🙂 🙂 Thanks Wendy!!!
Tracy Smith says
I really appreciate being able to hear that I’m not alone in my sleep depravation and that there is hope! Recently, we’ve been having trouble with my 2 1/2 year old son. He was never the best sleeper, but he was sleeping through the night for a few months there. I hope this doesn’t come out super creepy but the other day he told me that there was a man in the living room. I looked and since I saw nothing I asked details. He said that there was man sitting “wight dere”. I can’t tell if this is just something toddlers do, I tried to make sure he didn’t feel like this was a scary thing or unusual andhe didn’t seem phased. That’s about when we started having trouble sleeping. I am such a horrible sleeper that as a kid I remember feeling alone and afraid at night so I feel like I’m really sensitive to him being frightened. But at the same time, I’m still a horrible sleeper so if he wakes me up at night, I stay awake and it’s been like this for almost a month. Do you think I’m reading too much into it? His cries at night aren’t panicky just cries two or three times until he’s in bed with us.
My 3 1/2 year old son recently cut out his naps. He has never been a “good sleeper” but now it’s worse. he wakes up before 6 a.m. and is up multiple times throughout the night. He goes to sleep on his own pretty fast at night now that he’s not napping during the day (it used to take him hours to fall asleep). But the night wakings and early wake-up times are killing us. We are so tired. He gets aggressive and has more behavior problems when he’s not well-rested.
I have Dr. Ferber’s book about sleep problems but my son still wakes up. Also, I have a 1-year-old who sleeps in the room next to him so I am concerned about waking him up as well if I let the older one scream and cry during the night.
I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and ideas 🙂 I’m defeated.
Starr Andrews says
Hi I need some help ! My daughter is 17 and a half months old and her crib is in mine and my husband room ! She GO’S to bed with a bottle of milk and a water bottle of water ! Since reading this I have tried to wean her off the milk at bedtime because if she screams my husband will go give her a milk bottle some time she up half the nite! She lays down like she almost asleep and jumps up wire more of the time ! I put her down when she rubbing her eyes ! ANY HELP WOULD BE APPRECIATED IM GOING CRAZY FROM THE LACK OF SLEEP ! I don’t know how to wean her from the bottle during the nite I tried with water but then hubby ruin that by going and getting her milk ! She hates SIPPY cups but I’m trying everyday with her to use them she likes a bottle better ! I’m at the end of my rope I’m a first time mom and at my whits in ANY HELP ON HOW TO GET HER TO SLEEP DURING THE NITE APPRECIATED SO MUCH !
Also like yesterday she had a late nap to 4-6 pm so we put her to bed at 10 pm and she was up within two hours and I made her stay in crib and she didn’t go back to bed till I think 4-530 am it’s 930 am she still sleeping , I’m hoping to go back to sleep I’m so beyond tired ! I need help any help …. She waking up ;( I just want to get my baby girl to get more sleep so she not so fussy and crying all day and get me and my hubby sleep so we all can sleep
Thank you so much
My husband and I have hit a rough patch with our almost 22 month old daughter. She had been a great sleeper since about 9 months of age. We try to keep a consistent bedtime routine with a couple of books in her room and then putting her in her crib awake but content. For the past couple of months she has been waking up at 5 AM yelling for Mommy and when I go into her room, she asks for “1 more book”…as though she doesn’t realize she has been asleep for the past 10 hours. We’ve deceided that we need to sleep train her again and ignore the 5 AM wake up call but it is so much harder now that she is more vocal and louder. Sometimes after I read her that 1 more book she is hysterical but eventually falls back to sleep. Has anyone had an issue like this? I am wonderig if we read books in the living room before bed if this might help? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
So sorry you’re back to these early morning wake-ups. I have the predictable response–I think you should stop reading books—it’s only reward and incentive for next time she wakes at 5am a bit confused. Although you may change the expectations for books if you read them in the living room, I must say, reading books in bed with children is one of the yummiest things. I wouldn’t give it up. Just work to define expectations and routines for her, discussing that books are for bedtime, not for wake-up. Good luck!
Nicole Brown says
Oh this was so helpful in explaining what may be going on. I find that noise, like thunder or even rain will wake my child but other times I simply don’t know why she wakes up and come to our bed. She is 2 and we just change her crib to a bed in the last two weeks.
My son is 4 yrs. old, that has always slept in his crib and toddlers bed with his light off and no night light. He has never had a problem until last week. Now he refuses to sleep in his bed, and he says because his bed is not pretty.. HELP! I tried turning lights on, changing his bedding set to a new one that he picked. After I changed it he said that he did not like it. Tried putting him to sleep by the door on my room where he could see me and still nothing.. He keeps repeating himself over and over “mom I want to sleep in your bed, I want to sleep in your bed…” It kind of makes me thing that he is developing a problem!? Because he repeats the same thing over and over with out stopping. Please help me I don’t know what to do and have not slept ever since.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
He may just be developing a bit of a fear of the dark or of being separated. This is very common at this age. I’d keep on providing good structure, a night light as you suggested. And unless you want to have him sleep with you each night, you may not want to have him in bed with you.
You could try the “camping out” method? Stay with him for 10-15 or even 20 minutes while he’s falling asleep and let him know that once he’s asleep you’ll leave and over the days that unfold decrease the amount of time you stay with him? May provide reassurance during this transition–for both of you.
My daughter who is 2 and a half used to have night terrors we got to a good point with them now she awake (literally) every 20 mins or so a night wanting a sippy or yelling for me or daddy and sometimes yelling random things as tho she’s dreaming. I am going to push her bedtime back and add a yummy snack before and limit sippys hopefully something will happen 🙂 thanks for the info
I have a 29 month old son. Sleep has always been a nightmare. He has never slept all night properly. We have had issues with getting him to sleep as he will stay up late, tried own bed, sharing room all sorts. We can now get him to sleep with a good routine. My problem is he wakes at 2am daily. I have tried settling, leaving
in room, shutting door and he can scream for hours and I mean could go 2 hours if I left him.I’ve super nannied him, 3 day sleep therapy,
I’m just at my wits end.he comes into our bed &
goes straight to sleep.I NEED MY BED BACK,
I’m so over tired now I just run on that.I am
woken constantly while he is with me.we dont
seem to apply to the rules as we do
everything.only thing is gets eczema & doc said
he could wake because of that. But it’s 2am
each night & he’s not itching.I’m about to resort to natural sleep tonics.help please
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Can you make a visit with the pediatrician to discuss and let them know that you don’t think your child’s awakenings are from itchiness? Your exhaustion is very understandable and clearly you need to find a new way to help your child sleep but also find respite so you can, too.
In the meantime, can you possibly allow someone else to do the overnight awakenings with your son for even one night so that you can get 8 hours of sleep? Is anyone available to help you—even one night can really help restore you.
I’ve read many of the sleeping challenges on this page and like others, none seem to quite line up with our challenge with our (almost) 3yr old lil man. (things to know; he shares a room with his 4yr old brother, who sleeps well; he’s potty training; he’s been teething, with his 2nd yr molars coming through over this last year) As I type this, this morning’s chain of events is a prime example of the challenge we have been experiencing with our youngest and his sleeping (or lack thereof); when I randomly woke up this morning, at 3am, I checked on the kids. He was WIDE AWAKE, sitting up in bed. He wasn’t talking, playing or anything. Just sitting up, quietly. I got him up to go potty (we’re in the middle of potty training) and I thought that maybe a bathroom break would empty his bladder and relax him. Then I put him back to bed. A half an hour later, he’s back up and tells me he has to go potty…again. (at this point I’m figuring he’s likely going to be up for the day, referencing previous occurances) Tried putting him back to bed. He laid in his room, quietly talking. Over the next hour, he came out 2 more times before I finally just let him join me in the living room so he doesn’t wake up his brother and sister by going back-n-forth. The exception for THIS particular instance is that I had been up since 1:30am and I think he sensed that I was out in the living room and “available”. USUALLY, he wakes up anytime between midnight and 6am, staying up for hours (and in some cases, never going back to bed) at a time. He never fusses. Most of the time he doesn’t even get outta bed. I usually catch him awake because I check on the kids when I get up during the night for a bathroom break. Sometimes you can barely hear him humming or quietly talking and EVENTUALLY he goes back to bed; who knows how long the awake periods are when he DOES fall back asleep. Still, I can’t imagine it’s “normal” or healthy to have this kind of sleep “schedule.” SO…I finally made an appointment to see a pediatrician about his HORRIBLE sleeping “habits” and/or schedule. In the meantime, I would be ever so grateful for ANY insight/advice you may have.
***This challenge with our 3yr old has been happening for the last (almost) year and this happens at LEAST 3 or 4 nights a week.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I’m hoping you had a productive visit with your pediatrician. In the meantime, if not, I just want to tell you that I think not running to your awake child’s aid in the middle of the night is the right thing to do. I suspect that if you’re available, as you say, it will only stimulate your 3 year-old to stay awake.
Something is clearly awakening him, but not alarming him, and he’s having a difficult time falling back to sleep. However, it may be that some nights he awakens (from his sleep cycle) and then gets himself back to sleep without you knowing. Sometimes, it sounds like, he just lies there (or sits) awake.
I’d be very curious to hear what your pediatrician decides to do and/if you go for a sleep evaluation/sleep study if this really is having him miss out on hours of sleep each week.
Is he really drowsy during the day? Is he napping well during the day? What time are bedtime and normal awake time in the AM?
Hi, please help!!!! I am frustrated, over tired & feel I am failing as a parent!!! We have twin 3 yr old girls who were diagnostic w autism. They have never been great sleepers. They get up every night at about 2am like it is 7am. They sleep on the floor & when they get up in the middle of the night they start jumping on their bed & screaming. We live in an apt which makes me worried about the neighbors. We shut their door at night because if we don’t they will never stay in their room. I end up getting mad at my husband because he sleeps through it & I want to solve this problem. I am pregnant & due in a couple of weeks & am stressing out at how this is all going to work. Not to mention I work full time & I am just exhausted. PLEASE HELP!!! Must husband & I are struggling…. I’m not sure how much longer our marriage can handle this strain.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
This sounds so exhausting. The best advice I can give you is to not fuel the fire in the middle of the night. I suspect when one wakes up, she awakens her sister and then the chaos begins, and they are both up. In some ways, I would suggest you do very little and allow the girls to get back to sleep on their own, if at all possible.
Is there a way to allow one of the girls to sleep on the floor on a mattress in your room, or elsewhere to separate them to try to help allow for overnight awakenings?
The only other thing I want to mention is that children with autism very commonly have sleep challenges. Talk with your pediatrician about things you can do specifically to support your girls.
If you can, tell them how stressed you are and how much frustration and anger (that is very understandable) is developing so they really know the stakes and can help implement a plan now!
Ok so my daughter only sleeps a few hours at night. She wakes up and screams and cries all night. She was diagnosed with adhd. With no results from adhd meds we tried melatonin. The highest dose at that with no results. Then clonadine with melatonin.with no results. She just wakes up more aggrivated because she is more drowsy. We have tried everything we could think of. Everything. We are so exausted. We’ve been at this ffor quite a few months now. We would just like some answers to help her and us sleep. We have triedd exersize, letting her stay up, sleeping with her, sleeping with her brother, sleeping in different rooms, played music…etc.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I’m so sorry you’re not finding any improvement with medications and environmental changes like sleeping with a sibling or having music, etc. Is there a way that you and your pediatrician can create a sleep log where you log in exactly what you’re doing, how much sleep your daughter gets, and what time she awakens on a nightly basis?? A sleep journal would be very useful for determining what is going on.
1) log in bed time, what routine you keep and what time you think she falls asleep
2) log in awakenings and what intervention
3) stick to same plan each night (in your routine and intervention) for at least a few weeks
4) log medications given and timing
5) make an appointment with the pediatrician or developmental specialist who is managing her ADHD and medications to review this in 3-4 weeks
My son use to sleep for about 4 hours then scream. We would have to hold him and walk around. After about a 1/2 hour we could sit down with him, but not lay down for quite a few hours. Sleeping in our bed, he would throw himself around and cry. He had both acid reflux and a milk allergy. The milk only effected his stomach at night. It’s worth a try to take her off dairy. We give our son oat milk. He now wakes up once/night, but doesn’t scream.
My son is 16 months old. I cannot remember a day when he slept throughout the night. He is still sleeping with us in our bed room. He goes in bed room at 10 but it takes 1 hour to fell him asleep. My wife has to rub/ rock hard his back continuously keeping him on her lap until he sleeps. We tried a lot to make him asleep on his own but nothing seems to work so far. He wakes up in the night 3-4 times at regular intervals for bathroom needs. He is not potty trained yet. He will scream until he pees. We do not use nappies for him in night time. So need to change his pajama every time he pees in the bed. He needs atleast a bottle of milk every night. He will have little milk every time he wakes up in the night. Some times (2-3 times a week) he will wake up at around 2am and will not sleep for 2-3 hours. Its really getting very frustrating for us. In the afternoon, he sleeps from 2-5pm.
Please help us out with this problem.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
It sounds like the overnight bed-wetting which is considered NORMAL at this age is causing a number of awakenings. Is there anyway you could used diapers (nappies) at night to see if this would help your 16 month-old get into a regular sleep routine where he is allowed to sleep through the night?
If he is an otherwise healthy 16 month-old, I would also recommend you not provide overnight feedings. Wean off of those gradually, over a couple of weeks, and only offer water at night, as needed. If you have difficultly doing this, talk with his pediatrician–or if you have feeding concerns, check in with them as well.
Lastly, I would work to move the nap time in the afternoon to a bit earlier. Over the next month, I would work to transition the nap gradually (by 20-30 minutes every few days) earlier and earlier. If he typically sleeps 3 hours, I would aim for a 12 noon nap time with a goal of no sleeping past 3pm in the afternoon. This potentially will allow for an earlier bed time and easier get-to-sleep routine.
Tired. We have a 7 1/2 year old daughter who is healthy and very active. She is very bright in school, not struggling with work or friends. She has always been a terrible sleeper, both going to sleep (excuses to stay up) and waking up at night ever since she was moved to a big girl bed (at 1.5 years because she figured out how to climb out of her crib). We usually (up to 2 months ago) could usher her back to her bed without problems. She would fall right back to sleep (and self awakens every morning 7am or so happy).
The last 2 months she has been very poor about falling asleep, but worse, staying asleep. We now must stay in her room until she falls alseep (we are progressively moving the “sitting” chair farther every 3rd night), but wakes up at 11 or 1am, and CANNOT fall back asleep – for HOURS. “I need to snuggle, I am lonely, its too loud, its too quiet, my covers fell, I worry about fire (house fire)/tornado (we don’t live in tornado area nor have history with seeing/being in house fire..etc”
We have tried sooth, tuck, and leave (crying out loud and in our room in 30 seconds). We have tried sooth, re-establish sleep with us in her room: she is back in our room within 20 min. We have tried rewards, punishments (taking away play date), threatened closing (locking) the door to our room, on and on. We don’t watch TV or movies – so there isn’t stimulation pre bed. +/- if there is a desert: more often no than yes. She reads books for 30 min before bed (Annie of Green Gables, Magic tree house, etc). We have talked about her fears/inability to stay asleep during day: agreed on plan for sleep. We have talked about positive visualization of happy time/adventure (soccer, skiing, playing) and relaxation methods… BUT when it comes to the middle of the night between 3-4 hours of trying to help her fall asleep: we are exhausted, she is exhausted (she is yawning and looks tired). She denies nightmares. If we sleep with her, or put her in our bed, she will fall asleep, but does continues to awaken and either “have to tell us something” or reaches out to “see if we are there”. We have tried an “adventure bed” in our room that she can come to if she feels scared. This (2 feet from our bed) is “still too far”. (conceptually she gets it, appologizes, says she doesn’t try to do this, but night after night, we repeat over and over.) Ideas that work for middle night?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
First off—you’re doing an AMAZING job!!! I’m entirely impressed by your plan of action to date. And then terribly sorry it hasn’t worked. I’m certain you’re exhausted.
I of course know very little about your daughter, but I wonder if she’s experiencing some stress and/or anxiety due to other things happening in her life? My thought is that you should check in with her pediatrician, review a log of her sleep these past few months and discuss all the incredible steps you’ve taken. Discuss any other changes that may or may not have occurred in her life (school, friends, eating, activities). Then make a plan together about next steps and ways you might want to intervene– This is precisely why you have a pediatrician/family doc/ARNP!
Hi. I’m not sure how old these posts are but I’ll give it a shot.
My three and a half year old and 22 month old share a room. They’ve been sharing for almost 4 months. They used to be pretty good sleepers, especially the 22 month old. BUT now they consistently and purposely wake each other up. The 3 yr old is in a toddler bed and we put the 22 month back in his crib, but to no avail. We’ve tried everything. Even when we stagger bedtimes, the 3 yr old will go to the toddler’s crib and call his name, tickle him, throw toys in his crib, anything to wake him. If they’re both sleeping and one wakes early they will do whatever it takes to wake the other. We’ve tried Everything from rewards to threats to everything in between. Nothing has worked consistently! Now that we have a newborn in the house, I can’t handle being up with her all night only to deal with them once I do get her to sleep. Please for some advice- them not sharing a room is not an option since we only have 3 bedrooms. My husband got so frustrated tonight, put the preschooler in our bed, but we know that can’t be a long term solution and not a habit we want to start. HELP!!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
If you don’t want one of them sleeping with you, I wouldn’t bring them into your bed. That’s a habit that may quickly form.
I would do your best NOT to do much of anything for your 2 bedroom hooligans :-). I think the less attention they get (negative or positive) from these overnight and early AM awakenings, the less likely they will continue. At some point the novelty will likely wear off and they will just go and stay asleep. So many toddlers experiment with awakenings at during these years and what has made it difficult is that they get some reinforcement from their sibling. Do your best to have patience and let them ride this out, as best you (safely) can.
I’m certain you’re exhausted especially with a newborn in your home. But I think the less you intervene the better. Keep up with the rewards for good behavior. I sincerely don’t think that will backfire.
My 2 year old son for the past 2 weeks or so, has been waking up in the middle of the night talking and screaming like someone is in the room with him. Screaming and upset, as soon as we open the door he’s ok.. But now he’s up from 11 am to 6 am awake. Crying every 10 minutes, we go to him calm him down and we leave , 10 min later he’s crying again .. All night long. I’m so tired. He was such a good sleeper, I don’t know what happened. Please help!!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I’m hoping this has already improved since it’s been a bit since you left this comment.
Is there something new in your child’s life? New fears that he has mentioned or showed you? Have you started to let him watch something new on TV or screens?
I ask those questions only to figure out if he is fearful when he’s awakening like this.
IDEA: I’d do your best to have the room be lit, validate any fears or responses, but then do your best to leave the room, too. Allow him to learn how to get himself back to sleep again. Keep your schedule (nap and bedtime) the same. Consider getting him a transitional sleep toy (a toy just for crib or bed)? No screen time for 2 hours prior to bed time, too.
My son is 26 months old. He slept fine through the night while he was in a crib. However, my husband and I separated and a few short months later he was killed. I think my son started waking a bit more often during the few months we were separated but more so now that my husband is gone all together. I feel like it’s a bit of separation anxiety. We stick to routines at night and he goes to bed awake, and falls asleep fine on his own (with a soothy and projection mobile). He is now in a toddler bed that he transitioned to when he turned 2. He wakes several times during the night. Sometimes it is just a fussy cry, other times he is screaming so hard I can’t help but run right to him. I have tried several things. I added a night light because he never had one, but then he woke more. I got him an extra soothy (toy) in case he couldn’t locate one at night in the dark. It doesn’t seem to help. The only thing that seems to get him back to sleep is me to physically apear by his side, cover him back up, give him his soothy and turn on his projection mobile that he falls asleep to when he first goes to bed. Obviously this is adding to my loss of sleep and difficulties of being a single parent. Any suggestions?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I am so sorry for you and your son’s loss. I imagine this is a very difficult time for all of you.
Sleep changes in children (as a response to stress or bereavement) are common. It really sounds like you are doing so many wonderful things to support your son during this difficult time (soothy, keeping schedule the same, bed time stable, etc).
Have you considered “camping out?” It’s the sleep technique where you start with your son and then gradually leave once he’s asleep. And gradually do less and less for him as he shows more and more independence getting back to sleep.
I don’t think you can do ANYTHING wrong right now as you all make sense of new realities. I would maybe consider talking with a behavioral health counselor to help strategize and support your choices for him during day and night.
Again, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. And hope you and your son find peace and good night sleep’s routine shortly.
I have a 4 1/2 y/o daughter, who like her mother and I, has never been a good sleeper. Never a napper either, from day 1.
She is usually laying in bed by 8PM and sleeping by 9PM. She was falling to sleep with a TV on but because she comes to my room, wakes me up, and says she doesn’t want to go back to sleep but wants the TV on, I decided to remove it from her room. She says she is scared of bugs and siders but I think this has become more of an excuse to get me to stay in her room. IF (this is a big if) I can convince her to lay down and go back to sleep, she will most likely come back in the room to get me with-in an hour or so. Sometimes this may occure up to 5-6 times a night. I am a light sleeper myself, and have recently been laid off with other stresses of life on my mind, so if she wakes me up at 2AM my mind starts dwelling on these other stresses and I am up the rest of the night. Which makes me, and everyone around me, very miserable.
I should mention that her mother and I have been split since she was 2 1/2 (y ears now). I have remarried, while her mother is still on her own, but she is having the exact same issues. We have shared custody, although I have her probably 75% of the time. Could the fact that she is seperated from one of her true parents constantly have something to do with all of this? I am at a loss, as is her mom, and both of us, and those around us, are being severly effected by her lack of sleep. PLEASE HELP!!!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I am so sorry you’re so miserable, stressed, and tired. Of anything I know, I know you’re not alone. This is a common problem — being woken by a child and then unable to go back to sleep. I’ve certainly had many of these nights myself and know how terribly frustrating and miserable, as you say, they can leave us.
I don’t think that the sleep disturbance is because of your separation and/or not having both biologic parents around. But it’s possible that all the stress in your life is also affecting the sleep structure for your children.
Here’s what I would recommend. Do your best to make a plan with your daughter’s mother of a routine. Do everything in your power to keep the same time of bed, same routine prior to bed, same habits for meals/TV etc before bed and the same interventions when she wakes. The consistency between your homes will really help.
I’d consider, if at all possible, for her to tell you about fears and help you come up with a plan to mitigate her concerns at night. For example, if she’s scared of spiders, etc, validate her concern and then talk to her about all the reasons you think there won’t be spiders in her room and all the things you do as her dad to make sure they don’t bother her or don’t harm her. Making the plan together with her (and her mom) may really help calm her down.
Next, reward her for nights when she wakes up (even 5-6 times) and gets herself back to sleep with a toy or routine that you decide on WITHOUT you or her mom. Make a reward chart that moves WITH her from home to home. This way, it will be valued in both homes, in both circumstances, and any night of the week. When she reaches a certain number of nights (say 3 to start) where she doesn’t need your or her mom’s help, maybe you can give her a prize, etc.
I hope this helps. If this continues, I would talk with your pediatrician for more plans. Hoping for you all that improvements happen in the near future. This will get better!
hi im so desperate for some sleep my 2 half year old wakes up 6/7 times a night .since he was born hes never slept alot im so worn out . he has a good routine i bath him read a book and he goes to sleep fantastic around 7pm has a deep sleep until 10pm then he wakes up screaming and this goes on throughout the night every 2 hours he wakes up i do not put him in my bed i keep him in his own room even though sometimes i feel like letting him get in my bed . then we are up at 5.30am with him full of energy he will not sleep during day. He has a allergy to dairy and is also under the gastro dr as he has very loose bowels 5/7 a day and this is under investigation at the moment i would be very grateful if you could give me any help thanks
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I’m not certain if his underlying gastrointestinal issues are related but I wouldn’t hesitate to bring up your sleep concerns next time you see his gastro doctor. If you are concerned he is waking due to pain, please bring it up with them now.
In the meantime, I would continue your great routine before bed—this will ONLY help. Like I’ve said to so many others, I wouldn’t bring him into your bed here or there because the inconsistency is a bit confusing to him. He may wake normally (from his sleep cycle) and then just call out for you and you bring him in, it’s reinforcement. For so many children, being in bed with parents is the ideal—and if that is where you want him, that’s great. But if your goal is to have him sleep independently I wouldn’t do it from time to time.
Make a list of goals for yourself and for him during night. Even at 2.5 years old, I would review those with him. Do your best to stick to your goals each night and do your best to be as consistent as you can. The main goal should be doing less and less for him during the night as the days and weeks unfold.
Hi – I’m hoping to find some help here..We have a 20mo girl, she has been a very good sleeper. We have no issues with napping. But unfortunately at bed time, we rock her or walk her to go to sleep, which she does quietly. She hasn’t learn to falls asleep on her own.
In the past couple of months, she has been waking up in the middle of the night and if we do not go to her room she will start crying. As soon as we lay down with her in our bed she fall back to sleep, but if we rock and walk her back to sleep and leave her in her crib she will wake up several times a night.
The two major changes in her life has been a new sister. She is now 5months, and her grandmother use to take care of her – now she has a babysitter. Not sure if these changes have affected. We need help as it has been exhausting taking care of an infant and a toddler who do not sleep through the night.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
As challenging as it may be, I think the skill your child needs to learn the most is how to fall asleep on her own. Once she has that skill she’ll be able to get to sleep at night on her own but also get herself back to sleep in the middle of the night.
It’s a huge challenge, especially with a new baby around, but will be worth it. Start to put her down without you at her side for naps and then start to do the same at bedtime.
Consider getting her a new transitional sleep toy or lovey or stuffed animal (a toy that ONLY can be used in the crib/bed) for comfort and continue to explain what you’re doing, etc.
Good luck! Your hard work now on helping her learn to fall asleep on her own will pay both you and she back again and again in the future.
Help Me Jesus! says
My two year old son is a terrible sleeper and always has been, but lately it’s been getting worse. He goes to bed just fine, but he NEVER sleeps through the night. He has recently started coughing at night, tossing and turning, literally all night long! Omg it is driving me crazy! I know it’s not his fault and I feel sad, but at the same time I find myself getting really annoyed from lack of sleep. Every thirty minutes he well wake up and cough and cough AND cough. It’s happening right now. I know it’s bothering him a much as it is me. My poor lil guy! Tossing and turning is equally as bad. He never seems comfortable even though he has an amazing mattress. It’s like holy crap dude, sit still already! Lol.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Talk to the pediatrician now–call and make an appointment.
Coughing at night is not normal and you should have your child seen.
Cough can be due to infections, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux, allergies or even sinus congestion.
My 5 year old has the same problem that the person above. he has never been able to sleep deeply. He keeps waking up at night, makes sounds like something is bothering him and lately he is saying he does not sleep because he is tired!!. I feel so bad for my son and I feel like going crazy of sleep deprivation for so many years. I have gone to all specialist (except the sleep one) and he has had negative test for allergies but he still has sensitivity to foods, polens, dust, etc. We just cannot figure why if he is exhausted instead of sleeping he keeps waking up through the night. Perhaps over-exhaustion makes a child not sleep.. Do any one has an idea of such a thing. I have heard from other parents that. My son is very active. Every day he goes out for a few hours or more. If we go to Disneyland He will be walking for 10 hours and still will not sleep soundly.. help
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
It sounds like your son gets great outside time and activity—-so another strategy may have to start. Consider talking with your pediatrician about having his sleep tested.
I’d work on thinking about these ideas:
Make sure no time in front of screens in the 2 hours before bed
No activities in his bed other than sleep (no watching movies, games, screens, etc)
If he’s really restless at night (sheets everywhere, never still) talk to pediatrician about potential restlessness
Do your best to offer whole grains/veggies/fruit every day. Avoid preservatives when you can
Keep sleeping room very dark if you can
Stephanie B says
My 21-month old wakes up at least once every night and sometimes 2 or 3 times for many months (over 6 and probably more like 12). His night waking can be a few minutes to several hours. I generally let him fuss at least 30 minutes before I go to him. How do I stop this? We’ve tried everything and we are exhausted. He is on a very rigid schedule as my husband and I both work full time. Bed time is 8:00PM – he does still take a bottle about 15 minutes before bed, but he goes to bed awake and falls asleep on his own. Nap time is 12:00, and he sleeps 1.5 to 2 hours. He generally wakes up between 6:00AM and 7:00AM. At the advice of our pediatrician, we tried letting him cry it out. He would wake up between 2:00AM and 3:00AM and would cry until we had to get up and get ready to leave for the day around 7:00AM. We lasted for 8 days with no improvement before everyone was just too exhausted to keep trying that method. We’ve tried co-sleeping and usually then it’s worse. He likes to be in his own bed. Any thoughts or suggestions?
Craig Canapari says
Sounds pretty frustrating. I think I need more info. Does your child snore? Does he seem in pain at night? Does he tend to throw up when he is crying? A positive answer to any of these suggests that a medical disorder could be responsible. It would be very reasonable for you to take him to a sleep specialist or even consider a sleep study. That being said, I also wonder what you do when you respond at night. Does he take a bottle? Do you rock him to sleep? Do you tend to take him to bed with you? Such responses could reinforce the night wakings.
Hello. My son will be 3 years old in February. He has never been a great sleeper. We don’t have a set routine every single day, tut bed time usually goes like this : we brush teeth and he goes right back downstairs into our living room to watch a movie.. Sometimes he will refuse to go to bed no matter what we try and will be up until 4am either just lying there or sometimes he is running around like it’s 2pm. He insists on having his nails bit until he falls asleep, ad will whine and cry if I try to stop because I have dozed off beside him. (He has always slept with us) after he does eventually fall asleep he will always wake up anywhere from an hour-four hours later.. (I should mention that if we do get lucky and he goes to sleep early we bring him up to bed and go back downstairs to try and get some time together) sometimes he will need to be held or brought back downstairs and he’s out again, but other times he is up as if that was a nap him and stays awake playing or saying hes hungry until either 3/4/5am. (depending on when he falls asleep) We also have a newborn so we dont get a lot of time together due to this bedtime/sleep problem, our marriage is on thin ice now, and are at a loss at how to solve these issues.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I think the strongest thing you can do for all involved is start a routine for sleep. The most important thing to do, regardless of how simple it sounds, is setting a consistent bedtime for your child. Your child needs a routine for sleep. With all the stress and changes w a newborn at home and all the changes from night to night, I’m not surprised it’s been hard to sleep. That’s the good news—this will be much better with time and a few changes, I suspect.
A start may be:
Set a bedtime for your nearly 3 year-old. 8pm is a good, natural time for a child that age
Reward good behavior (no screaming at bedtime, etc)
Keep nap times the same every day as much as possible. Don’t allow your child to sleep after 3 or 4pm to allow for that 8pm bedtime
My son is 4 years old and my fiance just recently moved in the house. He has always slept in the bed with me until now. I also went to jail for a year when he was 1 yr old until he turned almost 3 yrs old and he was with my parents. They always told me he seemed to suffer from extreme separation anxiety. Since he has been back with me, for over the last two years, he has slept with me. But now that I have my fiance living with me we are trying to break him of this habit and is just not working. We want some privacy!!! He will fall asleep on his own watching tv but constantly complains of being scared even during the daytime sometimes. He wakes up numerous times during the night screaming frantically. Runs into the bedroom and really seems to be completely terrified. The look on his face is frightening. He responds if we talk to him and tell him to go back to his room, he will cry and go but stand there and scream at the top of his lungs that he is scared or run back to our room just terrified. But if we let him in the bed with us or put him in our floor he will go to sleep and usually stay asleep. We are both completely exhausted from this and can’t understand why he is so scared of everything. HELP!!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
A couple of things. It would be great for him if you stopped the TV habit at bedtime. Here’s post that explains a few reasons why:
Also I think you need a bit of a more mellow approach—going from sleeping with you to not sleeping with you and a new person in your life and in your home was likely very stressful for your child. Can you continue to discuss the changes with your child and also offer up ways that he can come to you when he needs you so he feels safe/secure and that you are always there for him? Every child wants to know their parent is around and always there for them. I think it may really help your child to spell it out so that the overnight awakens are not so scary.
If this keeps going on, talk with his pediatrician about it, too. Could be he is having night terrors.
My 21 month old son stopped sleeping through the night when he was 8 months old. Since then he wakes up anywhere from 1-3 times a night. Usually 2 times. He won’t go back to sleep without a sippy cup. I’ve read many different suggestions to the point of confusion. Should I cut off the sippy cold turkey and let him cry? Should I gradually lessen the amount I give him in the sippy each night? So confused and would like to eventually sleep through the night.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I like the quitting gradual approach more and more the longer I parent and practice pediatrics. The reason is it serves both the parent and the child. You both wean from the custom of having milk in the middle of the night and you allow the hunger cue to shift and dampen.
I suggest you gradually reduce the amount and number of times you offer milk. But while you do this, you keep telling and explaining to your toddler what you’re doing. Be clear about expectations until the end i.e. “I am giving you a little bit tonight but tomorrow no more sippy cup if you wake up”
I would also let you child cry and self-soothe longer and longer periods as the days go on and keep explaining that you’ll be there but that you want your toddler to get back to sleep on their own or by hugging a beloved toy, etc.
Diane Dacko says
I am on my third child. She is a girl, born a 28 week preemie, and for the first year up to 18 months was a rockin sleeper. I have noticed that between the age of 2 and 3 all of my children start having trouble sleeping through the night. After taking my middle child, who is 6 years old, to a sleep expert we found out a few tricks that really turned his troubles around. We did put him to bed later then what his pediatrician recommended. The Sleep expert suggested allowing him to gage his own readiness for bed. Of course it’s not convenient to have your 6 year old up until 10pm, but after allowing him to become drowsy and basically ready to conk out, he began to sleep through the night. A couple of other things we did was give him a giant flash light to use when he wakes up afraid during the night (we call it the monster zapper) because he was having a lot of nightmares, and finally we instituted a better sleep routine. Lights dimmed down at 8pm, quieter home, book time, and some relaxation techniques the sleep doc recommend. With a little effort and some major consistency he became an awesome sleeper within only 2 weeks. All of the night wakings went away. It was truly a miracle.
My daughter is now the one who seems to be having these nightime wakings, and so we have begun to do the same thing with her. However I began to wake her up earlier in the morning and so she is tired earlier in the evening. I also only allow her to have a 1 hour nap during the day. We give her some milk an hour or so before bed and do not feed her anything at bedtime. She asks for water and we give her 1/4 cup and she seems satisfied by that. I think what I’ve learned (after my first child literally slept WITH us until he was 7) was that I had to be willing to be flexible in some ways and consistent in others in order to achieve better sleep habits. It’s not always a perfect scenario, but it seems to be helping a lot. This transition period is tough, but parents really have to stick to their guns and try not to get discouraged. It really stinks, I know. I felt sleep deprived for 7 years and vowed to do everything not to go through that again. Thus far, we are way better off then the first time around. This article offers a lot of the same advice that my son’s sleep doc suggested, and believe me we had great results.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Thanks, Diane. Great to hear how your solutions brought you some sleep.
Karen Tokar says
My 4 year old son has just recently started getting up all.night.long. He’s always slept in his own bed, with a nightlight on in his room, a fan running and the door closed. He wasn’t waking up to go pee at night so I started waking him at 11 to go when I went to bed. H’d be fine the rest of the night and would stay in bed. In the mornings he’d call out “Mommy! Where are youuuuuuuu?” And I’d go in to get him. It was almost like he was afraid to get out of bed himself. Recently he requested that his door be left open and the stair light on, we did that. There’s a night light in the bathroom and the hallway as week. Well, a week ago we found his bedroom light on when we went to bed. He had put it on and turned the fan off after we put him to bed! I turned off the light and he woke a few minutes later. He went pee, I tucked him in and went to bed. Heard footsteps a few minutes later and he had turned his light on again. I’m not okay with him having his light on all night…he can’t tell time yet at 4 years old so when he wakes and sees the light n he thinks it’s time to get up! Anyway, for the last few nights he’s been up from 3-430 or so. He doesn’t seem afraid, just awake. He’ll come in to our room, I’ll tuck him back in, go back to bed and 20 or 30 minutes later he’s back. This morning he was back at 6 so I pulled him into my bed and we slept until 730. I’m a mess!! I’m familiar with the whole sleep association thing, which is why I want him to keep his bedroom light off and his fan on. With the fan off he’s almost too aware of every noise the house makes and the silence keeps him awake. Do you have any tips or advice?? Many friends have recommended that clock that turns colour when it’s okay to be up for the day…maybe a dimmer switch on his bedroom light so he can fall asleep with it very dim?? My head says go back to lights off, door closed, fan on until we get over the hump so to speak. Those are all the things that would stay the same in his room all night.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Well I think you’re right, I think there are strong associations. Is it possible to create new ones but also bridge with a a few “compromises?” Ie–why not use the dimmer or the light he likes to help at bedtime. Get a clock that helps him with time and if he doesn’t know numbers yet, then use it with colors. Empower him to think about growing older, “Big boys and 4 year-olds can learn to stay in bed until the clock says 7am or turns yellow)” and enlist him to help you make a plan for things to help keep him safe and asleep. But it sounds like he doesn’t want the fan any longer. Could you get him a different noise maker if you think that white noise really did help him? Perhaps have him help you pick it out (even online)?
I son is now 26 months old and he always was a poor sleeper! He is sleeping in his crib next to our bed but he wakes up 90% of the nights and stays awakes anywhere from 2 to 4 , even 5 hours at night! I don’t have a strictly routine at bedtime but basically do almost the same thing: get the toys together, take a bath or just wash his hands and face, put on pj give daddy a kiss and go to bed! I always stay next to him to have him fall asleep! Sometimes I stay with him for on hour or longer to have him asleep! He falls asleep easy only when he didn’t have a nap or if I put him at sleep very late. I tried a routine with him to wake him every day at 7am and have his nap around 1pm and his bedtime at 9pm but never works because like last night he went to bed by 8.30 but woke up at 2am and didn’t fall back to sleep till 6.30. Mostly he doesn’t cry! I gave him a bottle of milk but he didn’t drink too much. I changed his diaper but he was still awake trying to talk. I took him in bed with us let him stay in between us. He stays there for minutes without moving and I think he is asleep when suddenly he starts moving around and wants to go in his crib! And he does this for hours. I thought that maybe he is cold, he doesn’t like to be covered, though lately he lets me put a blanket on him but later he will kick it out. I thought maybe he is hot so I put lighter pj on him. Then maybe he is hungry but not all nights he’ll have a bottle and many times he just drinks a little! I am very exhausted. I am stay at home with him but eventually go back to work sometimes next year. It is frustrating and many times I get so angry. Sometimes I yeld at him but most of the times I talk very little and I just hold him in my arms! But that still doesn’t put him back to sleep! Once he’s asleep he will sleep anywhere from 3 to 5 hours. The other day I let him sleep as long as he wanted and he sleep till noon! During the day he does good enough but when he gets tired he is very angry! If I let him his nap is anywhere from 2.30-3.30 hours! He doesn’t watch crazy cartoons. I am careful with what his watching. We have pretty much a nice atmosphere in the house. We don’t fight with my husband almost never and my son gets a lot of love and attention! He is a happy toddler but I am on the edge. I start crying at night after he’s awake for hours because I am so frustrated and tired! Please let me know your opinion.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I’m certain it’s really frustrating and tiring to be up at night. Your feelings of anger and fatigue are totally natural!
Sounds like you’re doing so much right for your son. One idea, if possible, to help you and your son sleep through the night may be to have him in a separate room? Consider moving him to his own big boy bed and room (if you have it) to establish a new way for him to sleep. Potentially it will help you not be as accessible for him each and every time he awakens in the middle of the night.
if you can’t move him our of your room, consider gradually reducing what you do for him (stop the bottles over the next week or two, stop moving blankets on or off, stop changing jammies for him). I think also working to help him fall asleep at night on his own (without you next to him) will REALLY serve him in being able to get himself to sleep in the middle of the night, too.
My daughter is 3 1/2 and never was a great sleeper. She goes to bed just fine. We read, I tuck her in and sing to her, and she goes to bed, usually without a lot of trouble. But she doesn’t seem to stay asleep for more than an hour or 2 and then she is up. This continues usually for the whole night. She will sleep for an hour or maybe 2 and then be up. She doesn’t say she’s scared it’s “Mummy, I want you”. I tuck her back in, give her a sippy cup usually, and then she goes back to sleep. Needless to say I am exhausted. I don’t know where to start in trying to fix this, especially since she goes back to bed each time, but she continues to wake and never sleep for long…could there be something physically wrong with her?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
It’s unlikely there is anything physically wrong with your daughter however I’d talk with her pediatrician about this for sure. However, it sounds like she really is a “trained night feeder” — one of those babies/toddlers/preschoolers who is used to feeding for comfort at night and hasn’t ever really broken the habit. Her cycles of sleep and arousals are likely normal and are awakening her but then she needs you (and a sippy) to get back to sleep
start now by reducing what you provide in a sippy cup and then decrease the amount to nothing over a couple of weeks.
do less and less for her at night. she’s old enough to undersand your directions so prior to bed tell her that you’ll only be able to get up once during the night to help her. If she needs you, you will be there. but only once. Other than that, she’ll need to snuggle with her blanket/animal to get back to sleep. Make a contract with her and reward her when she only asks for you once a night. THEN when that is successful move it to helping her ZERO times and start rewarding her for that. Good luck!
Please help!! my son is 22 months and always been a very bad sleeper, hes never slept through all night apart from last month where he slept all night for about a week, i thought i had cracked it but hes just gone straight back to normal if not worse. Hes always gone down fine, in hiso own room, awake and with no lights or bottle. hes now up every two hours!!!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
What do you do when he wakes? Do you let him try to get back to sleep on his own? At this age it’s my recommendation to gradually do less and less for him with each and every night so that he can learn how to self-soothe. Give him longer periods of time as well (let him fuss for 15 min, then 20 min, then 30 min, etc before going in to help him). Let me know more specifics and we’ll see if we can find a plan…
Flexibility, adaptability & resiliency must evolve from emotional safety in order for independent sleep to happen.
Sleep is a biological process, not a behavioral one. Behavioral sleep issues arise around sleep, when a baby or child’s emotional needs remain unmet. Yes, babies & toddlers need a lot of emotional support, balancing the needs, while encouraging safety & security around sleep is the solution. Conscious parenting helps parents understand how their own emotional past plays a role in their child’s developing emotions. We cannot train a child to sleep any more then we can train them to breathe. Like all milestones, sleep evolves over time and each stage must be mastered before moving onto the next.
Sleep becomes complicated when the factors that influence sleep are not addressed. When those milestones are not met or other factors come into play, such as reflux, feeding issues, birth trauma, sensitivities, colic, allergies, regulation imbalance, mom’s emotional health, stress, anxiety, travel, illness or temperament, sleep becomes a problem. Finding solutions begins with identifying the areas of concern, working from the inside out, balancing the needs, adjusting feeds, adding sunlight, emotional connectedness, play, physical touch, stimulation, activity and emotional availability, before making changes to sleep.
Day-by-day these changes fill the night-time needs, reducing night wakings, providing emotional security, supporting down-regulating, empowering babies & toddlers, and then asking them to shift comfort zones at night. Holistic sleep work requires careful planning and an understanding of your baby’s needs from their point of view. Before any behavioral strategy can be considered, it’s important to identify the root of the problem and understand why your baby is resisting independent sleep. Babies dominant survival instinct is close proximity to mom. Working through this takes time.
Some babies have negative associations to bedtime, immature development of the nervous system, or early experiences that negatively affect sleep. Some may have switched to reverse cycling with feeds or are awake for long periods at night, identifying the cause is always the first step. Knowing what parenting style resonates most with you, is imperative to the process. My philosophy follows conscious parenting, with components of peaceful, gentle, respectful and leadership parenting styles.
As a parenting instructor and sleep coach I combine hands-on solutions with deeper awareness. By supporting mom’s emotion, becoming aware of the synchronized emotional reaction and building connected relationships we can often solve sleep issues without any behavioral changes at all. Today’s generation recognizes the importance of healthy sleep for early brain development, emotional intelligence, attachment and trust. By proactively seeking professional advice for emotional development, early parent-child relationships, parenting challenges, nutrition and sleep support, you are giving your baby the very best! Children benefit emotionally, cognitively, and developmentally, when we are in balance with ourselves and emotional connections are the primary focus. The first three years are critical to a child’s development, the ability to regulate emotions down the road begins with a deeper understanding and awareness. We know that overall happiness and academic performance is directly related to emotional intelligence. Emotional isolation is never an option!
amy savage says
i need help the last two weeks my 3 year old daughter wakes up screaming like shes mad and she will scream and cry from 3 to 4 sometimes longer whats going on help
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Do you think she could be having nightmares or night terrors? Does she seem wide awake or just upset and screaming?
Make sure you’re keeping consistent bedtime. Do your best to provide comfort and then let her fall asleep again on her own.
IF keeps on happening at same time every night, could potentially be night terrors. Talk with your daughter’s pediatrician if so.
I have a three and a half year old daughter and she still has yet to make it through the night!!!! HELP!!! I have tried amost everything. It’s anywhere fron 2-5 times a night she is up? We have tried putting her in a toddler bed she now sneaks in my room and climbs on the bed without touching me or saying anything. So i wake up to her in my bed. She has a routine for bed and goes down by herself. Just she doesnt stay asleep. I’ve put a gate up and she will stand there and scream, or I go in her room and tuck her back in in her bed and say good night and then its hit or miss she will either cry and ill do it over again or she will pass out? so my question really is do I let her cry it out in her room or do i go in and tuck her back in????
Thank you so much for a great post! My daughter is nearly 6 months old and sleeps 6-8 hour stretches, but wakes between 4 and 5am to nurse. I worry that I’m training her to feed in the middle of the night, but also want her to stay asleep. The balance is challenging. I agree with other comments that I wish I would have spent more time thinking about sleep habits before she arrived and really appreciate you talking about this issue!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Thanks, Yolanda. Hang in there. I don’t think you’re training her—that is likely morning for her. However, it would be nice, I’m sure, to help her sleep until 7am 🙂
Here’s few posts on infants and sleep you may like:
laura wright says
Not sure how old these posts are, wondering if you could help me. My little girl is 19 months old. She has never been a great sleeper and from the age of 7 mnths we were lucky if she slept an hour in the day. unfortunately I have to work in the day time so can’t stick to a set nap time although our child minder tries (very often fails). However its at night we have the problems, as I said she was never a great sleeper but usually slept through most nights. However just lately she is waking up between 11pm and 3am and nothing I have tried will get her back off to sleep meaning 1 tired toddler and a very tired mummy at work. Getting her to go to bed we have to rock her and occassionally use milk to get her to sleep. she is still in her cot and friends have suggested we put her in a bed but im not sure that will help as she doesn’t try to escape or climb out. any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I’m sure you’re so tired! My best idea is to stop rocking her to sleep and stop using a bottle to get her to fall asleep. By doing so, she is conditioned to think she needs motion and food/sucking on a bottle/you holding her — to fall asleep. And what you really want for her is to know how to get herself to sleep all on her own. That way, when her sleep cycle awakens her at night (which I suspect is what is starting the overnight awakenings) then even if she awakens and finds herself alert and distant fr you, she can get herself back to sleep.
It may take some days to weeks, and some nights it will likely take her a good deal of time to get to sleep, but in the long wrong, I suspect breaking the rocking/bottle habit would be a great step in the right direction.
alissa barty says
I have a 17 month old who began sleeping through the night at 5 weeks. At about 11 months she started having separation anxiety with naps and at night. The only solution was to co-sleep. She would sleep fine through the night if she was in my bed with me. We have since moved (new house, new location) and the transition was well accepted, she went through successful sleep training to sleep in her crib again. For a little while she was doing fantastic, in bed at 8pm and up at 7am. But then things went downhill, she disliked her crib so I have converted it to a toddler bed (which has helped) but the problem is that EVERY night she wakes up twice. Once I will give her some milk and she will go back down but the second time she just wakes up crying and cant fall back to sleep. Often I am away for 1 to 3 hours with her. She wants me to sleep with her. When I put her down for the night she is awake, we read a story and she falls asleep on her own. How do I get rid of the wakings at night? I have baby number 2 on the way….
Ruth Borland says
Love reading about all the other mamas with non sleeping toddlers, it’s comforting to know I am not the only one. I have a 22 month son who has only had a few nights where he has slept through. There doesn’t appear to be a regular pattern in his sleep issues. But one thing is definitely for sure, he cannot settle himself back to sleep and neither can I! He goes to sleep no problem, no rocking, no soothing from me and wakes every night at any time after midnight, sometimes for up to 4 hours. During his awake time he sometimes settles himself or I go in and check he is OK if he has been crying, I cuddle him put him back down, most times he cries but normally for a few minutes and then it’s quiet but it’s not because he is asleep, I still hear him talking to himself! On really bad nights when I have been into him several times I do lay with him because I just want to sleep but he doesn’t go to sleep, so I have no idea what to do anymore. My pediatrician suggest having a sleep study done but I am reluctant to go through all of that and am trying to convince myself he will grow out of it. Do you have any advice?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I would recommend seeing a sleep expert in minimum–but a sleep study may really help you and your pediatrician understand what would be best to get you both a good night sleep. What is your concern with going through with the sleep study? Do you have health insurance that will help pay for the majority of the cost?
Janna Norby says
Thank goodness we aren’t the only ones! My oldest, 5, was/is a sleeper almost always 7:30P-6:30A, from day 1. My youngest 26 months is hell on wheels….HELP! We first tried the “cry it out” (it worked with no. 1 during his initial “big bed transition”) but no. 2 works himself into a frenzy leading to projectile vomiting, and then a strong desire for a sippy cup of milk AND a massive clean up/bedding change session for me. Then it was my husband sitting in his room until he feel asleep and then creeping out, but he is still awake 3-5 times a night, from 11:30 to 4 then to avoid the screaming chaos, ends up in our bed THEN he sleeps perfectly well until 7A or so. Then we tried music, multiple nitelites, a space heater, his comfort pillow (which has basically filled his bed with stuffed animals and pillows, his blankie. We have overcome the getting to sleep, but I am at a loss on how to get him to STAY asleep. Excessive crying always leads to vomiting and clean up and more milk scenario…I need a vacation from my kid!
I need help badly! I have a 21 month old daughter and an 8 month old son. I haven’t slept a whole night since I was pregnant with the older one. My daughter didn’t start sleeping through the night until she was a year old. I finally just let her cry it out and after a few nights she started sleeping through the night. She is a creature of habit. Her naps have to be at the same time each day. Night time she insists on watching Little Einsteins with a bottle of rice milk, then go to bed. But once in her crib she will stay awake playing, jumping, screaming, talking, singing, etc for several hours. No matter what time she goes to bed, she does this. When we go to put her to bed she says, “Eat eat!” We make sure she is fed. Then she pulls the “Change diaper!” card. Then back to eat if her diaper is fine. No clue what to do there!
Ok, then my son. He started out with breathing problems when he was born. Doctors haven’t addressed the breathing since he was born. They say he has a little bit of wheezing but nothing bad. He has never slept the night. He wakes up anywhere from 6-15 times a night. Last week we finally broke down and did cry it out with him. After a couple nights he went to bed easier and his nap (he decided he only wants one nap a day already) is pretty easy too. BUT he is still waking up all night long. He wants to be in bed by 7:30. On a good night he will sleep 3-4 hours without waking, but then he starts waking up every hour or 2. Sometimes he wants bottles, but usually all he wants is me to pick him up. He will cry and cry and as soon as I pick him up he is asleep again. Lay him back down and he cries. I leave him in there crying and he goes on and on (I gave up after an hour and a half the other night because he sleeps in our room and my husband needed to get up to go to work so needed some sleep!). I am about ready to break down from lack of sleep. I don’t know when the last time I slept more than 2 hours straight was. I really hope you have some advice for me.
Grechen Sahratian says
Going to give this a try even though I’m not sure when the last few comments were sent. It is currently Jan and my daughter will be 3 in March. When she was 11 months old, she suddenly started having prolonged night wakings. We thought it was bc she was walking but they persisted. In a few short weeks, we will have been dealing with prolonged night wakings for 2 years. It is exhausting and frustrating (as every parent who comments here understands!)
She was an extended nurser, so night weaning was the first thing we tried. In fact, we tried it, went back to a night nursing and realized she def. didn’t need it, then night weaned her for good. We have tried talking to our ped (no hellp!) chiro, cranial sacral, 2 naturopaths, 1 homeopath, the Sleep Buddy, taking the Sleep Buddy away, energy balancing, no dairy, bedtime snacks, sleep training, twilight turtle, by the clock schedule, by the child schedule….I know I’m forgetting a few but nothing has made a difference. We have been trying for 2 years, so each was given a good chance to work except the cranial sacral work which jazzed her up too much so we stopped that very quickly!!
She had 3 months of ear infections starting around 20 months. That led to co sleeping, then pt tubes, then a big girl bed bc she would not go back in the crib. We gradually worked our way out of her room at night and for a few weeks she actually STTN! Then it was right back to night wakings.
This fall she added leg movements to her waking routine but the homeopath actually cleared that up right away. Currently, she makes noises when she wakes now and it is driving me CRAZY! Mostly bc her waking wake me up.
The current situation is: goes to sleep fine, wakes at some point in the night for 1-4 hours and makes noises. Eventually falls back asleep. I do not think she can voluntarily stop making the noises as there have been several consequences given to her if she continues to make the noises and she just. keeps. making. them. Some nights she comes into our room but I walk her back to hers. Every once in a while she will actually STTN but gets up at 4:30,5 or 5:30. She rarely naps but does have quiet time in her room.
She doesn’t have a problem with falling asleep. Bedtime routine is bath (not every night in the winter) books, snuggles then I go downstairs. She asks if I’ll sit on her bed, I say no but I’ll check on her in 5 mins and every thing is fine. She prefers Mommy to put her to bed, but if I’m gone Daddy, our baby sitter or my parents have put her to sleep and not had a problem.
Our ped seems to blow me off every time I bring this up saying that this happens with LOTS of children. I realize that I do not know as many children as he has worked with but I have found 1 other family whose child had night wakings but also medical issues and 1 family whose child had night wakings with no medical issues but never the leg issue or the noise making.
I keep searching for a way to help my kiddo (and therefore myself) STTN. I’m slightly hopeful that turning 3 will bring a little relief, but not betting on it. Do I need to just give it up? She functions pretty well during the day which is surprising when she often gets only 9-9.5 hours of sleep a night and it is not consecutive. She’s a pretty smart little cookie and I just don’t want any development being compromised due to lack of sleep.
Any help, info, advice or even just acknowledgment that this isn’t super rare but not the norm would be appreciated! 🙂
Hi, I wonder if someone can help. My 3 year old is not sleeping, we have been recoreding her, may sound weird but we were wondering why she was waking in the morning tired, emotional, yawning and even some days having to go back to bed at 9/10am, missing pre-school! She falls asleep fine but is scared so puts her comforter over her head, we recently got her a childrens relaxation cd so we lay with her now until she drops off to sleep. She seems to go into a lovely deep sleep but 4/5 hrs later that is it, she tosses and turns after only 50/1hrs sleep, she even wakes every hour sometimes. She just cannot seem to relax again after 4/5 hours into what we thought was a lovely deep sleep. She has had a blood test and everything came back fine, we are getting so stressed with it now we just dont know what to do. We leave a lamp on really dim in her room asshe said shes scared of the dark….
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Try getting a nightlight to see if that helps so that just floor is lit up and not the whole room. I recommend you also talk with your child’s doctor next time you’re in. Prior to going in, write a sleep journal for at least a week. Include when she went to bed, how long it took her to fall asleep, when she woke up and what you did to intervene.
Sleep disorders are rarely diagnosed by blood test. In fact, my understanding for blood work with sleep issues is usually to look at a ferritin level (iron) to see if your child has low iron. Some children with restless legs do much better after they have additional iron when their ferritin levels are low.
Sara Green says
My 17 month old goes down pretty well at night. We have our bedtime routine and rarely does she fuss. Sometimes it takes her a while to drift off but she will, majority of the nights with no problem. But then, she wakes up, somewhere between 12:30 and 3 and that’s it. Frantic screaming, tantrums, pointing to the door and saying “Go, go, go”. if you touch her, she will hold on for dear life. The high pitch screaming will go on forever. sometimes after several hours, she may fall back asleep after we’ve given in and are on the couch. Sometimes she’ll never go back to sleep until her afternoon nap.
I am in the same situation as Sara Green. My son is 16 months old. He goes to sleep between 9-10pm everynight. He wakes between 2-4am. When I have given in after an hour I have to take him downstairs and lay with him on the floor, because he tosses and turns so much I am afraid of him falling out of my bed. Sometimes he won’t even fall asleep then and I have to turn the tv on and he doesn’t go back to sleep until I have to be awake at 6:30am….. The babysitters say he only takes a 1-2 hour nap during the day, so I am pressed to say he is getting too much sleep during the day.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I’d still recommend you do as little as you can in the middle of the night. Further, I wouldn’t turn on screens/TVs as best you can. The screens and light can change the way our kids fall asleep.
Check out this new data about TV and bedtimes: https://www.wendysueswanson.com/why-no-tv-before-bed-is-better/
Erica Dougherty says
Hi. I have a 27 month old boy who has been a terrible night time sleeper since he was a newborn. The pattern the majority of his life is being awake between 4-6 am, tossing and turning, unable to fall back to sleep. Finally around 17 months he began sleeping through till morning. He did so till maybe a month ago, and is now back to waking numerous times a night, and often tossing and turning, wide awake till 5:30 am. He transitioned to the toddler bed at 24 months, and did great for a couple months. Stayed in his bed and slept all night through! He does have the skill of putting himself to sleep. We just read a book, sing, pray, and walk out when he’s comfy and settled down. He falls asleep on his own during nap and initially at night. He is a very emotional, high strung, active child who craves a lot of touch….from me. Ever since he started daycare at 23 months, he has become super needy for me. Crying when I walk out of the room, not wanting his dad, only me. It’s extreme! And when I ask him what’s wrong at night, he says he wants me. ( He is very verbal and has been able to verbalize other things that have been wrong before….pajamas itch him, belly hurts, etc. ) when he’s been waking at night, he comes into our room, I immediately get out , walk him back, he throws major fits and doesn’t want to go back into bed. Eventually he concedes, and I’ll sit till he’s done tossing and turning and will sneak back out. Often he isn’t asleep yet and soon starts screaming again. When its close enough till morning, I have pulled him in bed with me, and have said , ok , it’s morning, you can come in…. But it’s still dark and that has probably confused him. We have a third child expecting to arrive in April. I would like to know if This is a sign of ADHD. My husband has it and is a horrible night time sleeper. I know 27 months is young, but there are so many things about him that point to it. We always review the rules before falling asleep…. No screaming, stay in your bed, and you can get a big treat in the morning. Should we try putting him back in his crib for a while? Does this have anything to do with the extreme attachment he has to me right now?? Help!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
First off, you ask a lot of questions and I really think it would be great for you to discuss all of these with your son’s pediatrician. That being said, ADHD can be associated with sleep challenges. Many children with ADHD have a hard time falling asleep at night. But the only way to diagnose ADHD is to have a psychologist of physician evaluate and test for behavior challenges in home and school environment.
Your hard work on consistency for your interventions is still the most important thing you do. Further, you may have to help set limits to help you with sleep. Many children have challenges with separation anxiety during toddlerhood—know that it is in one case a sign of a really great bond. But you setting limits with your son (ie—you sleep in your bed, I sleep in mine) is also ok.
Congrats on the upcoming birth of your 3rd child. Try to find some time to get in to see the pediatrician prior if with consistency and limit-setting this isn’t getting better.
I have a three year old daughter. My daughter just does not require a lot of sleep and its been getting worse. I’m a working single Mom… so our nightly routine may start out a little later than others. But she eats dinner, plays or goes to gymnastics/dance class, fruit for dessert, bath time, 30 minute show, read a chapter in her book and to bed by 9pm. She falls asleep fairly quick. She wakes up between 4am and 5:30 every morning! Wide awake. Sometimes she tells me her tummy hurts or she wants to have a pb and j sandwich… I tell her no. I take her back to her bed. She gets maybe a half hour nap at school because the other kids are distractions for her. I just don’t think its healthy and don’t know how to “fix it”.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I don’t think it’s “unhealthy” but she isn’t getting as much sleep at night as is typical at that age.
Does she take a late nap (even if short)? You may want to consider making sure she isn’t napping after 3pm and see if that helps.
Also, what does she do on the weekends? Does she nap longer? Is night time sleep on the weekends any different?
Also, do your best to block out light, noise, and other things that may have her rising with the roosters so early in the AM.
Keri Matthews says
I am hoping you can help me out. We are at a loss. For months now, our 16 month old wakes up between 4-5 am most nights crying. We dont know why this is. We have a white noise machine and small nightlight in her room. We are so consistent with her nap (sleeps at home and daycare 2 hours a day), she is sleeping by 730 each night, eats a good meal. When she wakes up, I let her cry 5 min, then go in, change diaper, she cries when we leave the room, we go back in, soothe her a bit, let her cry 6-10 minutes and repeat until we get to 10-15 minutes of crying. After about a half hour of this, she goes back. But lately, she is not. Please help us as I am so worried about her, us and #2 is on the way! I am willing to pay for advice as well- I really appreciate it!
Keri Matthews, sleep deprived parent.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I’d work to do less and less each and every night. You want your toddler not to be dependent on you going in, changing diapers even, and then going back in to soothe. Can you work on doing less and less and returning after longer and longer stretches so she learns that she can get herself back to sleep?
Lisa Gregory says
My son turned 3 earlier this month. He dropped his nap about 3 months ago. Before then he was always a great sleeper, slept through the night from 8 weeks old and would sleep 12 hours a night. He never woke up! Now he is waking up 4-5 times a week during the middle of the night. Usually he just wants a cuddle and goes back to sleep in his own bed. We moved bedtime early to 6:30/7pm from 8:30pm to help him get more sleep. He wakes at 6am no matter what. Any thoughts on why he is waking at night and what we can do to help him sleep through the night again? Since he has had the early bedtime his behaviour is much better. No meltdown like before and his mood is pretty good.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
He could be awakening and then getting up to find you only because of his curiosity. Do your best to maintain your habits of not doing much for him. You don’t want him to get rewarded for being up at night and you want him to remember and get back in the habit of awakening and then getting himself back to sleep.
It’s likely that he is just up with his sleep cycle changes. And before, he would awaken and then drift off back to sleep without getting up.
I’d plan a simple reward chart. Stickers for nights where he doesn’t leave the bed or only leaves 1 time.
I’d offer a transitional sleep toy—a toy that he wants but that only lives in the bed—so he can reach for it when he awakens at night
Keep bedtime the same each and every night.
Lisa Gregory says
Do you know anything about low ferritin levels and sleep disturbances?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Low ferritin may be relevant ot children or teens with sleep issues. There is data that low ferritin may contribute to restless legs and sleep challenges. Often getting a ferritin level is one of hte first steps in a sleep challenge work-up. Further, recommendations for treatment usually suggest that children with sleep challenges or potentially restless legs stay on iron daily until their ferritin is up and over 50.
Carrie Gourley says
My 4 year old and 2 year old boys share a room and they both were sleeping through the night with no problems. My 2 year old transitioned to a toddler bed without any problems and was still sleeping through the night until about two months before his 2nd birthday in November. He goes down without a problem and falls asleep on his own but now wakes 2-4 times a night every night! I tried putting him back in his bed which usually caused screaming and would wake his brother so to avoid two boys awake in the middle of the night, I think I made the problem bigger by pulling him into bed with my husband and myself until he falls asleep and then I carry him back to his bed. It seems as soon as his little head takes over my pillow he falls right back to sleep. This is very exhausting as my husband and I don’t sleep well anymore either. Any advise or ideas on how to get him to sleep through the night in his own bed once again would be greatly appreciated!!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Hi Carrie–Such a challenge! I hear about this kind of problem so often in clinic–with room sharing we often want to “save” one of our kids from the one awake.
Do your best not to send mixed messages. Of course it sounds so easy to bring one back to your bed, but he is developing a habit each and every time you do that. I’d provide him clear explanations about going back to his bed, rewards for nights where he doesn’t leave his new bed. Keep all your routines consistent.
This is so common and really will get better as he ages but you’ll need to be really consistent to help him and I know that’s so exhausting. Good luck!
Hello Dr Criag
Can you offer some solutions on how to stop night waking? My daughter is 3 yrs old, she was a great sleeper when she was a baby. She was able to sleep through the night at one month old and was never needed much effort to fall asleep on her own. However when we switched her to the big girl bed a year ago, putting her to bed have been a struggle every night, but still there were not much night waking until we potty trained her 9 months ago. She has been waking up at night at least once or twice per night, even we take her to the bathroom before we go to sleep every night. She will stand by her door and call us at around 2am, then 4am or 5am. It doesn’t take much to put her back to bed and she falls asleep quickly, but with us getting out of bed twice every night, our sleep is interrupted.
We refused to let her sleep in our room with us. I thought about sleeping on the floor next to her in her room after she fall asleep, and when she wake up during the night, she can see I am there and hopefully she will feel secure enough to sleep through the night after a few days. Not sure if this will help.
I have a 2 yr old who is waking every 1-2 hours during the night. We have tried everything we can think of from changing her bedding, to changing the end of the crib that she’s on, to changing her pj’s, to giving her Melatonin, etc. What your info has made me realize though, is that we are rocking her to sleep every night & apparently possibly causing the problem. The plan is to start putting her to bed without right away tonight.
Thank you for having this site available!!! I am feeling as though there may be a light at the end of this tunnel.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I really hope your new plan works. Check back in and let us know!
I have b/g twins aged 2. They only nap for half an hour normally from 10.00am-10.30am. Bedtime is anytime between 7.30pm and 9pm. They are currently in toddler beds and spend more time messing around. When they finally go to sleep my girl is up at 10.30pm and wakens her brother.
I have to put them in my bed to settle them and if I transfer them back to their own beds they still wake up every hour on the hour.
My boy also suffers terrible temper tantrums, high pitched scream and cries normal for 30-45 minutes. These are worse if he is tired.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Sounds like you have your hands full! First thing to do is set a more strict bedtime. I’d suggest 8pm every night as best you can. It may help them in the long run. Further, they may be messing around when they are most tired. If you get them a consistent bedtime you may avoid a bit of it as they won’t be so tired. SOmetimes the more tired the child the more difficult it is for them to go to sleep.
Is there a reason they have such an early nap? I am wondering as well if you pushed them to stay up through lunch and then had them nap (say 12:30pm) in the afternoon if they’d sleep a bit longer…
We certainly know challenging behaviors (like tantrums) worsen with sleep deprivation and fatigue. I’d see if moving naps until later and setting a more consistent bedtime would really help.
Let me know how it works!
Hi i have a 14 month old when he takes his nap about 40 min into his nap he starts crying . I just let him cry it out he cryes for maybe 10 to 15 min then goes back to sleep . Why dose he do that ?This is everyday. He move’s around A LOT in his crid @ night while he is sleeping why dose he do that and is this normal ?
he naps @ 2 until 3:30 4:00 @ night goes to bed around 8:45 / 9:00
BUT IS HE SLEEPING WELL EVEN THOUGH HE IS MOVING ALL OVER ?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I suspect he is cycling between the stages of sleep and awakens somewhat. The stages of sleep represent different brain wave patterns and when he’s transitioning between cycles he likely arouses and then drifts back off to sleep. I’d do exactly what you’re doing—don’t get involved. He’s learning great self-soothing skills each time he successfully gets back to sleep.
I have a 15 month old daughter that has to share a room with me. No other option available. When she wakes at night she can see me and cries until she is picked up and given something to drink. I recently started just giving her the sippy cup and telling her that she can have a drink but needs to go to sleep in her bed as soon as she is done. She does respond to that but sometimes she just wants me to hold her. What can I do to help in this situation? Her crib is right next to my bed and I have no way of moving the crib away from me. We are living in my parent’s house. Any suggestions?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Certainly a challenging situation and you’re certainly not alone. Lots of parents with this same situation.
First off, I’d continue to do as little as you can. Provide clear explanations (even to your 15 mo old) that you aren’t going to pick her up. If you offer a sippy, I’d only recommend offering water as you’ll put her at risk for dental caries and decay if you let her sip on milk or anything with natural sugars in it.
Just do your best to provide vocal reassurance and a reminder that it’s night time and time to sleep and have her get herself back to a routine where she’s getting herself back to sleep without you holding her or feeding her. Just gradually take away the things you’re doing and let her adjust to the independence.
Natasa Markovic says
My son is going to be 3 next month and has never slept through the night. I have two older boys that had only one wakeful period through the night, and slept fine on their own. I nursed the youngest til 14 months, he would always fall asleep nursing. It got to a point where I had to wake every hour to feed him for over five months. I had to keep him quiet due to our living arrangements (were staying with people for a while when we moved cross country). We thought if he transitioned to a big boy bed, he would sleep. We would lay with him (as we did with the other two) when he would fall asleep, but he was different, he would wake every two hours screaming for us. We are so exhausted, we cater to him so he doesn’t wake his older brothers. We keep thinking its a phase. Now, we just stay there, but his little feet and hands are constantly moving, searching for us even in his sleep. We fear his lack of continued sleep is harming his health. He did have tubes put in his ears for frequent ear infections. I’m at a point where I feel we are going to crack, I bought a book to see if there are things I can try. Can you give me your advice? Anything would be appreciated.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
So sorry you’re having such a difficult time. I certainly think you are doing the right thing thinking of new transitions and ways th help your son. It’s likely that he has just never really learned to self-soothe because from the beginning he got into a pattern where he nursed to sleep and then you transitioned to lying with him until he went to sleep. He’s just conditioned to using that comfort and presence to fall off to sleep.
That being said, if you really feel his hands and feet are constantly moving and he is restless and unable to get to sleep or stay asleep, it may be worth your while to talk with his pediatrician. Sometimes children with difficult sleep who are restless can having sleep disorders like restless leg syndrome. Sometimes we also do some lab screening to ensure they aren’t iron deficient.
In the meantime before seeing the pediatrician, I suggest you try to gradually take away the supports you provide him throughout the night. If he’s three, sit down and talk with him about upcoming changes. empower him to know that now that he’s 3 years old he can do this without you and gradually take away the things your provide.
hi i have a 2 yrs old baby,,,i wonder if she sleeps normal.she sleep at 8 or 9 pm and wakes up at 1am and she is awake until 9 or 10 in the morning…im worried bcoz i dont know if its normal or not…i really need your advice as soon as possible…thank you and more power!…
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I’m not certain I understand what you wrote. If your year-old is truly up all night, it’s worth chatting with her pediatrician or family doctor. If it’s true that she is awake all night, I’m assuming she has really long naps during the day to make up for missed night time sleep?
Molly K says
Hello. I’m so glad I found this website. I feel better knowing we aren’t the only parents who are sleep deprived out there! Our daughter is 16 months old and we have been dealing with tough, sleepless nights on and off for months. It seems she will have a good couple nights then multiple bad nights. She takes a 1-2 hr nap at daycare starting at noon. When we pick her up and drive home she usually will fall asleep so we will let her sleep 15-20 min at the most. We also have not allowed her to take this little nap and it hasn’t resolved night sleeping. She will go down b/w 8-8:30pm and our routine is a bottle, change her diaper and put her in her pjs, walk around with her until she burps, then my husband will rock her until she falls asleep. I rock her sometimes too. She usually goes down pretty good but we have nights where it can take an hour to get her down. She has a nightlite in her room along with a sound machine that we have played the hearbeat sound since she was a newborn. She wakes up anywhere b/w 11pm and 1am and will be up 2-3 hours. She will scream and throw herself around if we try and rock her. We have tried letting her cry it out but she gets so upset she purposely smacks her head on the crib railing over and over…so that doesn’t work well. So we end up going in and try to rock her, and if that doesn’t work we give her a bottle, even try tylenol or advil thinking its teeth, then always end up putting her in the car and going for a drive and she finally falls asleep and we come home and get her in the crib and she sleeps. We always leave the car ride as a last resort because we are so tired and don’t want to haul into the car but it always works. I know she doesn’t need a bottle for hunger as I’m sure its more comfort for her. She uses a nuk and if e are lucky we can sneak into her room and pop it back in her mouth and she will go back to sleep but eventually she will wake up screaming and crying. She also sleeps with one of those Taggie blankets. I know they say you shouldn’t have anything in the crib with them but its just a small square and its a comfort thing for her. She won’t go to sleep without her nuk and taggie! Its causes a lot of tension b/w my hubby and I and he will just let her down and let her run around and play and I don’t agree with that. I always tell him we have to stay quiet and keep it dark but that doesn’t always pan out. We have tried putting her in bed with us but she has never lasted more than 30 sec. Once she is awake she wants to get down and play. We tried putting her down later but that didn’t make a difference. She was a good sleeper until the teeth started coming through but I also don’t want to be giving her tylenol every night cuz I know its not always the teeth.after reading previous posts maybe we should try not rocking her at night but I have a feeling she is not gonna just go to bed and just start screaming and throwing herslef! When is the right time to switch to toddler bed? My hubby and I both work full time and its been so hard. I’m on a coffee high to survive! Help please!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
It sounds like there are a few things to do here.
First, it’s okay to have blankets and toys in the crib. It’s only a concern up until 12 months of age (to protect against SIDS). At 16 months, it’s great to offer your child a transitional sleep toy or blanket– reserve that toy only for sleep time.
I think the biggest change you could make right away is work to stop rocking your daughter to sleep. You really do want her to learn how to self-soothe and you want to help her learn how to get herself back to sleep. It will be far easier for her to learn how to get herself back to sleep in the middle of the night if you teach her how to fall asleep all on her own at bed time. And I think you’re right–for the first few nights of not rocking her–she’ll throw a tantrum, etc, but if you really do stick to a routine and a regimen that involves a solid, trusted routine for her I’m really sure she will adapt with time.
By far, the most important thing you do is be consistent night to night so she really knows to trust you on the routine. Good luck!
Susan Herman says
I think a sleep blog with solid helpful advice would be a blessing! We have two grandsons with what I call major sleep issues. The worst right now is the 3 1/2 year old that wakes up at 3 am every morning. He goes to bed at 7pm (they have tried earlier and later). He is a tad OCD about his bedtime ritual and it takes him about an hour to settle, with them going in a few times to handle his concerns. Then they hear him up at 3am. They taught him to stay in his room and not to wake everyone up (his baby brother’s room right next door) but he is up so the parents aren’t sleeping. They have tried going in and settling him again, ignoring him, etc. still no sleep. His behavior is effected the next day obviously. He lays down for a nap everyday, sometimes he sleeps sometimes not but his parents want him to have a sleep routine. If he naps it is for an hour. His brother is 18 months and woke up every hour until he was 16 months. They tried every doctors, friends, etc advice but he still could not sleep. Their mother developed full blown insomnia from the constant interrupted sleep. He now has grown into only waking 2 to 3 times a night but usually settles himself back to sleep. The 3 1/2 year old does still sleep with a nookie and blanket, has a sound machine, night light, quiet, calm home, routine, etc. Any ideas that shed some light on this sleepless house would be wonderful!
As I am reading all these posts I can totally relate, and feel the frustration and sleep deprivation! I have a more specific question…My daughter’s share a bedroom as we are in a small house. One is 6 and one just turned 4 in nov. Both of my girls had EXTREME colic. They would nap for 15 minute intervals as babies when they weren’t screaming bloody murder (bless them as I know it was hard on them too). Both girls had a very difficult time shutting down to sleep and movement and rocking next to the hood fan over the stove or leaving the vacuum on was the only thing that would settle them. I had friends , family and professionals assume it wasnt as bad as I made it out to be until they experienced what I was dealing with …needless to say I heard a lot of “I’m sorry..I didn’t know it was this bad”.I always had undiagnosed tummy trouble when I was a child also…it still surfaces without any diagnosis….ANYWAYS…..MY SLEEP QUESTION IS : When a child has suffered extreme colic (up until 2 1/2- 3 yrs old) and sleep patterns have been nothing like a pattern since birth…how can you change this into a normal sleeping pattern now???? My daughter was never able to self soothe because of the stomach pain that would rear it’s ugly head at any time of the day or night and needed comfort to help release gas or tummy trouble and then usually fell asleep for a short time in my arms until the next attack 15 minutes later or so. Now she (4 yr old) goes to sleep every night in her own bed but wakes and screams every night and comes into mine. I have tried to put her back in her own bed but she screams and refuses and her 6 yr old sister is in the bunk bed above her and has school the next day…I can’t have the 6 year old waking to prolonged screaming every night or she is a disaster at school the next day from her lack of a restful sleep. My husband is tired of being on the couch as the 4 yr old is a restless sleeper. I’ve talked to specialists, done tummy tests, allergy tests, tried calming natural remedies etc…She lets a lot of gas out when she moves around during the day…I think it gets her at night when it’s not working itself out and wakes her up. The kid lived off of oval and gripe water for the first 3 years. She is a tiny little fireball who hardly eats but has energy like crazy. I feel like I haven’t had a good sleep in years! Are there any articles anywhere that talks about sleep patterns of children that experienced extreme colic as infants????? is this relevant?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Sorry it’s been so challenging. Colic, by definition tends to end after 3 months of age. I wonder if your children have had other causes for what you experience to be pain, stomach pain, restlessness, screaming and crying, and difficulty sleeping. I wonder if it’s pain or something else?
Have you talked with the pediatrician about potentially seeing a gastroenterologist for an evaluation? Or even more formally seeing a sleep expert?
I’m not aware of associations between colic and poor sleep. But we do know that babies who don’t learn to self-soothe and get themselves to sleep can potentially have habits and sleep challenges throughout their life.
jessica short says
I have a 2 year old and a 1 year old, both boys. My one year old always goes to bed at 7pm awake and goes straight to sleep without even a whimper but still wakes up 2-3 times a night and won’t settle back in his cot. My 2 year old won’t go to sleep in his bed he will only settle on the settee with a dummy and the tag on his blanket and he also wakes up through the night even though he falls asleep easily every night by 7pm. They both have a strict routine, tea at 5, bath at 6, living room light off and settle down time 6.30 then bottle and bed at 7pm. They share a bedroom. I just don’t know how to get then to sleep through???
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Can you let them try to get themselves back to sleep at night without your help? It may be with practice, and time, they’ll learn to self-soothe and when awakening, quickly get themselves back to sleep after days of practice.
After tea, and your ritual before bed, do you leave them when they are still awake or do you lie with them until they are asleep? If you’re “camping out” I’d try to gradually reduce what you do after the ritual is over. Meaning, I’d gradually reduce the time you stay with them or the other things you do to help them drift off to sleep. After they can get themselves to sleep easily (like your 1 year old is already doing) it may help with the constant overnight awakenings that are dragging on.
Hello, I have a 16 month old son. He has never been a good sleeper. From the time he was born, he would have nights where he would have such bad gas he would scream for an hour or two until the gas was expelled (cutting out onions seems to have helped some). He also fights going to sleep most of the time and will not go to sleep without being held or rocked. We have tried on a number of occassions to let him just tire himself out, missing naps, etc., but he won’t go to sleep. We are working on not rocking him any more, but have spent hours trying to get him to sleep without doing so. He will also wake up in the night and, though trying to go back to sleep, either just tosses and turns for 2 hours or, if we are holding him, just keeps moving (hands and feet) for hours without being totally asleep. We keep a good bedtime routine, bath, books, bottle, but are looking for other suggestions. He goes through times when he sleeps 8-10 hours at a time, but more times than not, wakes up at 2 and 6. He also seems to urinate a lot at night, though he only drinks 6 oz at dinner and 6 at bedtime. He does not seem to be interested in a comfort item, but we have not tried too many. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
You’re do so many things well to help support your son. One thought I had after reading what you wrote is that you could try to get rid of the night time bottle (doesn’t likely need it to fall asleep) which will reduce his need to pee, but also help him break the habit of sucking as a mechanism to drift off to sleep.
So far no one has ever been able to help me! Everything I read is not our situation! My own doctor has no clue! I ALWAYS had a good sleeper since 3 months old, being sure to not rock our daughter to sleep..crying it out etc. She did great…easy transition. Napped well all the time. Everyone envious! At about 20 months old she started night waking and mainly at the same time every night. Fall asleep by 9 and wake at 3. However, she does not cry or call for us or fuss or ANYTHING! I wouldnt necassarily know she was awake unless I got up to pee in the middle of the night. Which then in turn I couldn’t sleep till she fell back asleep. She would just lay there wide awake for somewhere between 2 to 3 hours. At first I tried intervening doing the normal things but nothing mattered and she didnt care if we came or left!!! So I came to the conclusion that I would just ignore her. No one can help andb it’s chalked up as just a phase. I’ve researched the hell out of this and nothing works. It is what it is. Sometimes I just make her suffer and staying awake from 3 am till nap time. Things got a little better In the last month where she would only do it for a few days every 2 to 3 weeks but now that we’re potty training she’s full on again every night. Insight? Im pessimistic…doubtful anyone has a clue.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I don’t really know why she’d be awake that long. Does she seem drowsy when you get her in the AM? Extra tired and cranky during the days since this started (granted, I understand how typically cranky 20 mon-olds can be)? Do you think she’s lacking in total sleep? She needs about 11-14 hours of total sleep in each 24 hour period (sleep + nap). Do you think she’s getting that?
For the meantime, I’d journal what you find about her awakenings to see what’s happening. And like you’ve mostly been doing, I wouldn’t intervene. The last thing you want to do is start a habit where she needs you to calm down in the middle of hte night.
If this goes on and on for months, I really do think it’s worth checking in with the doc, consider if she’s got restless legs or potentially is getting overtired from sleep deprivation at night.
Please I need to know why my toddler cries out from her sleep on her bed at midnight, and if I carry her and take her to my bed she will sleep back
Erin Uttner says
Hi! Over the past week my 4 year old daughter has not been falling asleep when we put her to bed. We put her in bed between 8 & 8:30 pm. Shortly after we leave we hear her “whispering” and hear a lot of movement. I decided to see what was going on & to listen. What I saw was so unusual. She was sitting up and then throwing her body back onto the bed repeatedly. As I listened I heard her saying, “Jump horse, go, go…..” Them she would offer herself Icecream and respond ,”Yes, I like strawberry….” So these little self conversations make sense and even the rustling in bed had a theme, but this goes on for no less than an hour or two. She has even done it at one in the morning or wakes up early (7ish) doing the same thing. Sometimes the throwing herself around in bed is a different scenario; for instance, I’ll hear her say, “Give me that back” and she’ll go back & forth in a conversation with herself. I took away e night light thinking that it provided too much stimulation, but it hasn’t helped. I’ve gone into the room to correct her & it doesn’t work. When I aske her what is going on she says she is dreaming or that her dreams are magic. She is super tired during the day & doesn’t want to get up in the morning. This is also affecting my husband & I as we can hear her little escapades. Not only are we losing out on our own sleep but we are distressed for her. Please advise…we are desperate for an answer.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
It sounds like she is going through a phase of imagination. Any reasons for it? New TV shows, new books, new experiences or classes she is exposed to?
I’d recommend you not intervene. Keep the same bed time like you’re doing, and all the same rituals. If you wanted, you could reward her for getting quiet 30 minutes after bedtime with stickers and a reward chart.
Like all the other moms here, we are also stuggling with night time waking.
I have identical twins..23 months old. Logan sleeps like a dream, but Lincoln wakes every night! They have no problem falling asleep, and are usually both settled by 07h00pm, however..Lincon wakes like clock work around 1h00am and then jumps on our bed, runs around the room and opens the curtains. O yes…he gets on his hands and knees and rocks back and forth for hours(by the way he is not autistic). he literally rocks and runs around for 3 to 4 hours!! We moved them a few months ago from their cots to matresses on the floor as they were climbing out and pushing their cost over..not safe, and they were not ready for beds hence the matresses. At first they adjusted rather well..but for the last few months i have been subjected to the midnight partying! They have a super diet..free from all preservatives and sugar. They nap from 11h00 till 13h00 so they are well tired by bed time. So what to do??? Your input would be greatly appreciated. Kind Regards from sunny South Africa (Nina)
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Sunny South Africa??? Sounds wonderful. It’s cool and rainy here. But this is Seattle after all..:-)
Well, it sounds like indeed Lincoln really has figured out a pretty fun overnight schedule…and although I do think it truly is a phase, that was precipitated by transferring out of a crib/cot (THIS IS VERY COMMON) there is little you can do.
Is it possible to keep him just in the bedroom by using a a door knob guard?
Make sure no screens for 2 hours before bed time.
Make sure you reward him for good behavior and nights where he isn’t up partying
Make sure you keep you routines steady, despite bedtime going ok already
Make sure he is safe in his room. Meaning make sure window guards are on the window, furniture is sturdy and attached so can’t be knocked over.
And then hold on…this will get better.
My 3.5 year old son has woken up in the middle of the night mostly after her turned 3 and always comes into bed with us. He was a pretty good sleeper until 3 and most recently wake us every night between 3 – 5 am and comes directly to our bed. I feel as though he doesn’t want to be alone during sleep, but what’s waking him up every night?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
His sleep cycle is awakening him. Just like you and me, as he transitions between the stages of sleep he alerts and arouses to be awake. He’s likely transitioning between stages, wakes up and instead of falling right back to sleep he’s gotten in the habit of coming to find you.
More info here at the National Sleep Foundation:
Carli Luxton says
My 27 month old daughter has always been a good sleeper – she has slept through the night in her own cot since she was 2 mths old. She has generally had the same bedtime routine and has never resisted going to sleep when we put her in the cot (once we’ve finished the goodnight routine, she typically happily rolls over on to her side to signal she’s going to sleep).
About a month ago, she started waking up crying a few times during the night. She’d wake up crying, we’d go in, she’d stop, and we’d go back to bed. But it would happen a few times throughout the night (eg. 11:30pm, 2am, 4am etc). Originally we put it down to having a cold. However, the cold ended a few weeks ago but she is still waking up and crying out several times a night. The crying is more like whining, rather than terrified screaming.
We haven’t changed her diet, her bedtime routine, her room, her bedtime (usually between 7:30-8pm) etc. I can’t think of anything else that might be the cause of this sudden (and persistent) change to her previously solidly reliable sleeping pattern. Any suggestions on how to cure it? Or is this just a longer phase that we have to weather?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
May be a longer phase, but as you see here, you’re not alone!
I hear over and over again in the office when with patients how disruptive colds and travel are to toddler’s sleep schedule and patterns. I often tell families it will be more than a month after a cold that the sleep goes back to normal.
My advice is to keep up your great habits. Don’t intervene when you hear your 27 mo-old whining at night and work to continue to let her learn to get herself back to sleep all on her own without you so that gradually over the next few weeks she gets back to her full through the night sleeping on her own.
She’s proven she is a good sleeper and has the skills to sleep through the night without your interventions so I think your job and goal is to empower her to return to those awesome habits.
My 19th month old is a happy little boy. He can put himself to sleep at night, but he usually wakes up at 11:00-12:00 and then again around 3:00am! Usually at 3am we have to give him a bottle to get him down (which I try to avoid)… or rock him until he is asleep. I am exhausted. Please help me?!?! My husband has just started traveling and I’m a walking zoombie. Tell me what to do?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Can you try to let him calm himself down all on his own at 3am? It’s normal for him to be awakening but what you want is for him to really learn to self-soothe and get himself back to sleep all on his own. The longer you feed him and rock him back to sleep, the longer he may become dependent on you helping him get back to sleep.
It’s okay that you’re doing what you’re rocking him, etc. No harm—just will likely stretch out the time that he awakens and calls for you overnight…
My 3 year old daughter has never been a good sleeper. The bedtime stall tactics are unbelievable. Our nightly routine consists of (Dinner, play time or tv, bath, milk, brush teeth which is an event itself,read book then lights)If I miss the “short window” to get her in the tubby around 8pm, she will not willingly get into the tub,cries the entire time. Most nights I have to lay with her until she goes to sleep, some nights, very few, i try to say i’ll be right back and she falls asleep on her own. She still takes a 1.5 hr nap daily (around 1pm) and on the days She goes to preschool that can be delayed until 3:00 – which is so hard to understand b/c i would think she would be more tired but i guess she is more stimulated from school. I try for 8:30 bedtime each night, usually it turns into 9pm, I’ve tried earlier bedtime with no luck. She will wake up anywhere from 2-4 times each night,midnight and 2pm are typical, sometimes she is calling for me in her sleep, other times she has to go potty, or she wants milk. I always go into her room when she calls for me, if I don’t she keeps calling. She does go back to sleep easily but the continuous wakes up are tough. When my husband and I ask her why she wakes up she says “I want my mom mom” We are at our wits end…….any suggestions would be appreciated.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Can you try to see if you make a reward chart for her getting herself back to sleep? Since she is three, she can likely understand what is expected, etc. Talk with her about a plan for hte night for the typical times that she wakes up. Help her make a plan that will help her know she can get herself back to sleep without your help. On nights where she doesn’t call out for you or doesn’t ask you to come in, you can reward her with stickers or something in the AM. Just like I just said to Wendi, there is nothing wrong with your continued interventions except that it stretches out the time (sometimes years!) that children depend on you to get back to sleep!
I have a 20 month old boy who has never been a good
sleeper. He puts himself to sleep at about 7:30 each nite but he
wakes up every two hours on average. He continually asks for his
“ba ba” (bottle) at each waking. Lately even if I give him a bottle
he has trouble getting back to sleep. He is a restless sleeper and
a light one. He doesn’t seem to sleep well no matter where he is,
in his crib, our bed, even on the sofa with me. He doesn’t snore so
I don’t think it’s apnea and has no other health issues other than
a peanut allergy. I feel like I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep
since he was born. Any suggestions?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Like so many of the comments before you, I’d recommend that you do your best to help your 20 month-old learn to self-soothe in the middle of the night. Can you let him fuss for longer and longer periods before you go into help him? Hopefully by allowing him a chance to get himself back to sleep he’ll learn more and more than he can get himself back to sleep and be less dependent on you. I also think you should gradually fade out the overnight bottles now. He may be at bigger risk for dental cavities if he’s feeding on milk every night in the middle of the night.
The great thing is he has shown you that he can put himself to sleep at bedtime. You just want to help him realize he has the skill he needs!
My 4 year old son will not sleep through the night. If he goes to bed at 8 or 9pm, he will wake up at 3:30 or 4am and stay up. Or he won’t go to sleep until midnight or later and sleep all night and late into the next morning! It’s driving my husband and I crazy. He has never been a good sleeper.
I’m lost at what to try next. I read the above article and i see alot of good suggestions. Our son is 27 months and he wakes up at 4:00am-4:30am every morning screaming. He will not open his eyes. Once my wife holds him it takes him roughly 10 minutes to return to sleep. Some times she or i will take turns with him in his room until he falls back to sleep. Other times it can be just returning the pacifier back to his mouth, changing his pull-up, or even giving him a cup of milk to relax him. I just wish he would get over this soon, it’s taking a toll on our sleep pattern.
I have a 27 month daughter who co-sleeps. She needs me in
bed with her and will eventually falls asleep as long as I am in
bed with her. My main concern is she wants milk at night. I have
tried giving water instead and she knows the difference so she will
cry. Can anyone give me advice on how I can wean her off
I have a 14 month old that is struggling to sleep at night. He was an all night sleeper from the time he was born until he was about 8 1/2 months old. I moved into a new place and his sleep consistancy seem to be affected by this, or so I thought. He went from sleeping 10 hours straight without interruption to getting up 2 to 3 times a night. Now, the last several weeks he is sleeping the first 2 to 3 hours peacefully and then up anywhere from every 1 to 2 hours from that point on. Sometimes you can give him his paci, have him lay back down, cover him up and he’ll go back to sleep. Other times he is sitting up crying with his eyes closed as if he’s not even awake and it takes him a few minutes to settle and lay back down. I’m baffeled at his reasons for waking so frequently. He clearly does not show signs of wanting to get up and play and you can tell he just wants to sleep so he’s not asking to become active at that moment. He goes to bed awake without fussing between 8:30 and 9:00 pm, the room is dark (if there’s light he won’t sleep at all), I’ve tried low radio music, no music, a vaporizor, and a soothing sounds machine. He no longer takes a bottle and I never put him to bed with one when he was so he’s not missing it. I thought maybe he was experiencing growing pains causing him to wake or maybe he’s even getting more teeth so I’ve tried IBP before bedtime to easy any pain he may endure but that doesn’t seem to help. I’m at a loss in my mind and a loss of ALOT of sleep being that I’m a single parent and don’t have that nightly help. Anyone with suggestions or thoughts that my concerns are legit please advise!! I’m up for anything anyone has to offer as far as advice. My oldest son is 7 and has always been a great sleeper so this is new to me. As a mother, I want to fix the issue as quickly as possible for his sake and mine.
My 1 year old daughter has gone from a good sleeper to terrible in a couple weeks. We have a very regular routine that we follow every night. We put her to bed when she’s still awake and she will fall asleep pretty quickly. Prior to the last couple weeks, we would have to go in and give her a pacifier during the night at least one time, but it was in and out. Fairly easy. Lately, she has become a challenge. She will still go to bed on her own, but she’s been waking up screaming at least twice a night. It doesn’t matter if I pick her up or not, she does not calm down for a long time. I honesly don’t know what else to do with her. She is inconsolable. I haven’t seen her like this since she was colicky at 3 months old. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. We both need sleep!
Jessica S. says
I am about to lose my mind. My 22 month old has been waking
for 1-3 hours each night talking, singing songs, yelling
words/telling stories,and rolling around. This has been going on
since she was 12 months old more or less, after we went on a
vacation. We put her in bed at 8pm and she usually falls asleep by
8:30. She wakes the 1-3 hours and then I end up waking her up at
730am. Her daytime naps are usually 2-2.25 hours but she’s been
taking longer and longer to go down for them. She doesn’t end up
falling asleep until 1pm. We’ve been giving her a bath, reading
non-exciting stories, and not giving her milk before bed. We use a
white noise machine. She is almost fully potty trained and
sometimes when she wakes, she yells “poopy diaper”. I am not sure
if it’s just to get me to come in, or she’s waking due to a wet
diaper. Sometimes I change her and she’ll go back to sleep, but
most times not. When she wakes at night, it’s not screaming for me
or her Daddy. HELP! I have a baby due in September and am terrified
she will wake the baby up with her yelling.
Tara minson says
I need help please – i have nithing left in me and this is effecting my marraige and my job. I have read through every single thread here …. All because i have been up since technically 2am anyway! I have read so many blogs and books (including Ferber when my daughter was 15 mths). And I feel like I am back in the same spot once again… If I’m lucky I get a solid week where she only gets up once each night. I’ve done it all and I always end up back here after a night/morning that is really bad with my now 3 year old, I usually end up in tears (exhaustion, frustration, or sometime tears because I KNOW I yelled too much or was too ‘rough’ with her the night before) . I tried Ferber when she was younger to get rid of the last bottle in the crib when she was an infant (worked great), from there once we converted to a toddler bed and now twin size bed I would say it has had no positive or negative effect on her sleep problems.
My stages have been early riser (5 am) which I was willing to deal with it when it didn’t go away…. To then middle of the night wakings at 1& 3 am screaming “I’m not tired” “I don’t want to go to sleep” and then proceeding to ask for silly things… A specific blanket, a light on/off, socks off ect. Now a year later we still have those problems with on top of fighting going to sleep for the first time. My 3 year old is a “firey” personality to begin with and she is also quite stubborn… So if she doesn’t stop at some point and go back to sleep it ends with her getting herself so upset that she can barely catch her breath and I have to splash water on her face until calms down or she’ll puke! Hr bedtime routine is simple… We go up brush teeth, go potty, read one book, say prayers & then I spend a few minutes talking to her about her day today or tomorrow’s plans- her room temperature is fine… The is no noise (although I tried a humidifier or sound machine for awhile)- there is a small night light near her bed and she sleeps with one stuffed animal (she chooses) a night.
I have tried so many methods! I did the behavioral chart by her door with big smiley and sad faces with a big toy she has been asking for. I purchased a stupid $60 alarm clock stoplight that tells her when its “ok to get out of bed”. I used semi threts – “if you don’t go back to sleep we can’t go to the party tomorrow or you can’t have your new scoote” etc. I even tried (& please save the judgement because I read every blog and opinion for and against this) a half a dose of melatonin – I understand how it works but I tried it for only week to see if it could increase/regulate what her body produces on its own – I will say that going to bed was easier and she woke up LESS and with less fight in her too! But of course I wanted it to only be temporary and didn’t want to give it every night. I never wanted to created ‘bad habits’ and let her sleep in our bed or me laying with her until she falls asleep. We don’t let her come in our bed no matter what – but the past few months I have been allowing it only around 5:30 am out of exhaustion and frustration – but she doesn’t even fall asleep again! I could live with a co sleeper at this point if I had to ( as much as I would hate it) but she gets in our bed and either fidgets till the sun comes up or has a full melt down or tantrum over something and were back at square one. She still naps once a day (around 2pm) for an hour and even when she skips her nap it has no positive effects.
She is a really mature and advanced 3 year old so she understand things so l have tried during the day to have ‘conversations with her” on how it’s important that she sleeps and how she is a big girls now etc. I have a 1 year old and he is a great sleeper and I really don’t want him to pick up any of her behaviors!
I really don’t know what to do anymore but I can’t do THIS much longer! Maybe it’s something I did wrong when she was an infant and was developing sleep patterns, maybe I toke her out of her crib too early, maybe our move last year messed her pattern up… I’m not looking for pity or pats on the back .. I need HELP! I can’t talk to my family because all their kids are good sleepers and never had this – so they offer me armature advice all of which I have already tried or they just offer me sympathy. I don’t want to scar my kid and let her think that this is an ok pattern ( her waking and also me after awhile getting upset).
I could go to some specialist although I don’t believe there are any medical reasons since she doesn’t snore or have any allergies- I’ve spoken to my pediatrician and she offered be many if the suggestions above that I have tried already and then said ” she may just have to grow out of it”! The thought of this going on till she grows out of it by what.. 4,6,7- makes me want to cry even more!
Please help me I’ve done my research and have tried so much so please give me that “hidden secret” lol
Elizabeth Lincoln says
Hi there, this is really reassuring to read and to know many others have similar problems. I feel for those who have worse problems than ours as I am going a little crazy myself. Our eldest daughter, almost 4, has always been a bad sleeper. Things are not so bad now but she wakes almost every night with a “bad dream” or a “fright” and I hop into bed with her. Our youngest, 19 months, was a dream baby until she began teething. Then things turned rather challenging. At one point we got a “baby whisperer” who was amazing and we broke the bad cycle, got rid of the pacifier and taught her to settle herself to sleep. Alas we have gone backwards since then. She still self settles with no pacifier but wakes from about 9.30pm onwards, and stupidly I gave her a bottle to settle her quickly. So now she wakes anything from twice a night to every 2 hours all night long. I don’t want to do the “tough love” thing again, we are in a small house and it will just disturb everyone. I know I need to stop feeding her when she wakes every 2 hours or so as I know she doesn’t need the food, she just wants the cuddles. The thing is the bottle is the fastest way to settle her again and I’m so, so tired all I want is for her to go back to sleep quickly. But between Rose and Caroline both waking in the night, I am playing musical beds and am constantly exhausted!! Any advice on removing the feeds with minimum fuss would be much appreciated – and also on the “bad dream” scenario we have with Rose. Many thanks. 🙂
Lynn Thomas says
So my 2 year old has only slept all night a hand full of times over the last 6 months. I have done everything,holding him, let him cry, bring him to my bed , nothing works he is up 2-4 hours EVERY NIGHT. He just 2 weeks ago went into his toddler bed , because he climbed out of his crib. I need sleep I also have a 3 year old so I am running all day long. I am at a loss . I’m so sleep deprived I don’t have the energy to do anything.
My biggest problem is that my one year old wakes up at 1:00 to play. she has no desire to nurse she just wants to play with her toys. this is hard because I have to watch her or she will climb out and or to the stairs. there is no way to keep her safe except to watch her. I am so tired of this.
I don’t think that she is experiacing any of the four things you said.
rebecca potter says
my 22 month old has only slept through 3 times. he has a very determined almost obstinate personality. its been a shock since my eldest child has a very biddable and eager to please type personality and was off bottles and sleeping through at 4 months. the 22 month old boy wakes every two hours almost on the hour for a bottle. thinking of trying the reducing of milk by an ounce each night as he’s very ‘sturdy’ child so absence of the milk wont do him any harm and he has 3 meals a day plus snacks. i’m thinking we didn’t stop the bottles when we should but he always woke so hungry! he also cries during the night but in his sleep. if we look in on him he’s face down eyes closed. thought he had a tummy ache or night terrors at first as he cries so loudly but is still asleep. he did have reflux as a baby and we had gaviscon in his bottle from the doctor which seemed to help as he wasn’t throwing up anymore. could this continue on at this age? if so, its even more important to get him off the bottles. any advice would be great as i need some sleep! my eldest child and i have lactose intollerance (part of the reason the eldest was off the bottles so young, he wasn’t keeping them down anyway) but the doctors say that isn’t the case with the youngest, but he hasn’t been tested for it.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Thanks for your comment.
I really do think you need to stop feeding your 22 month-old at night gradually over a week or so. That is likely your strongest/most effective intervention. And although this could be from gastroesophageal reflux or discomfort, the awakenings may just be a trained sleep habit at this point… If the ongoing awakenings continue every 2 hrs after you’ve ceased all feedings at night for a week or two, then see the doctor.
Stephanie Spohn says
My daughter is 13 months old and has always been a fairly good sleeper. Unless she is sick or teething, she generally sleeps from 7pm to 5am or 6am – with only an occasional bout of “sleep-crying” and then falls right back to sleep. She also takes a nap everyday at school from 11:30am to about 1:30pm. Recently, over the course of the last week or so, she has been waking every night around 2am and is either crying for me or is up and ready to play. In either scenario, it usually takes her about an hour to two hours to go back to sleep. Generally I put books in her crib when she goes to sleep after her bottle so that when she wakes, she will have something to do. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. My biggest concern is that I try not to give her a bottle but most nights it is the only way to get her to go back to sleep. I try not to cave but my husband and I both work so I usually end up giving her one for the sake of letting everyone get back to sleep. So now I’m afraid she is starting to learn to be dependent on the middle of the night feedings again but I’m not sure if that is why she is waking, or if it is another reason. I have tried moving her dinner time later to keep her tummy fuller… and I’ve tried putting her to bed a little later and a little earlier – none of that seemed to make a difference. She is getting molars in, but doesn’t seem to be in pain most of the time. I just don’t know what to do but my husband and I are exhausted like the rest of the people on this page!! LOL. Any other suggestions that we could try??
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Totally understand why you’ve caved. I think we all do, although you’re right—I do think it’s a step backwards.
definitely think it could be the teething
definitely think it could be her just awakening and feeling a stronger sense of separation
books seem to me like a more “active’ thing to have in the crib. I’d perhaps just let her have a stuffy or stuffed animal or blanket or something that won’t alert her as much.
definitely think you should STOP providing a meal in the middle of the night. She is developing a dependency in some ways on the bottle now with awakening and you really want to help her know that she can rely on herself to fall back asleep.
EAR PLUGS? can you take turns wearing them so each of you get at least a great night sleep every other night?
Allyson Shryoc says
Was wondering if you had any suggestions for me. My son is 3.5 yrs and just started preschool. In addition, we just moved. He is having separation anxiety and wakes at night, leaves his room and walks up the stairs to our bedroom and wakes me. He has also been leaving his room numerous times at nap. At night, I walk him back down to his room and tuck him back in and tell him that it is not time to get up til his clock is green. I tell him that mama needs sleep too and I am going back to my bed to sleep. Sometimes he will accept that and is fine. But other times he just runs after me crying as soon as I leave the room. I do not want to start staying with him nor do I want to start letting him sleep with us.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Just like so many above you I think you need to provide consistency from one day to the next. Ensure that you don’t allow him in bed with you if you don’t want it and enforce the rules. Even if he wants to sleep on the floor outside your door (ie if your rule is that he can’t be in your room) let him have that choice. Eventually without reward, most children migrate back to sleeping in their own beds!
Allyson Shryoc says
I forgot to mention that he has lovies and a turtle that projects stars as well as a few books but none of that is enough to overcome his anxiety right now.
Flo E says
I need some advice please. We moved to the states after being overseas for a couple of years. My 3 year old has always been a good sleeper. He did have a phase when he was 2 1/2 where he would wake up and want a glass of milk to go back to sleep. I cut it off cold turkey one day because it was starting to be a habit and only offered him water if he was thirsty and tried to help him back to sleep. It took about a week to get him used to going back to sleep on his own with no milk. Now it’s been 3 months at our new place. I know he’s not comfortable in the new room and has been waking up nightly demanding milk again. I’ve been dealing with almost nightly tantrums if I just give him water. We had a talk and he understands that he doesn’t need the milk and he’s even tried to go back to sleep without it but it will take hours and then I cave in and give him a small glass so that we can both get some sleep. Should I not give it so that it doesn’t become a bad habit or just let him have it since he’s not comfortable in his new surroundings and hope it’s a phase like last time???? Please help. It’s very frustrating.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
It doesn’t sound like this is really about the milk itself but about the habit and the power struggle of a want and a line not to cross. If he is a healthy, normally developing boy he really doesn’t need milk in the middle of the night.
Can you find a replacement for the milk? Can you offer him a new and special toy each night when he asks for milk? Can you keep it only in his bed and allow him only to have it at night?
It seems to me when he is asking for milk he is just asking for comfort and you need to look to find a replacement that you don’t have to pour from the fridge!
Stu M says
How do you teach a toddler to self-soothe when their fits/tantrums are so severe that they are puking after a few minutes of screaming? We are trying to break our toddler from TV sleeping. As soon as the TV goes off he starts screaming and stands at his bedroom door yelling for us until he pukes. Are we not teaching the self-soothe method correctly? Is there something we can do the help this transition? We’re so worried that the neighbours are going to call child protective services if we let him cry and scream for hours on end in the middle of the night.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Some children do vomit from frustration and from crying. I’m so sorry. I think the earlier you stop the TV habit the easier it will be. I’d suggest you talk clearly with your toddler. Just like so many comments above I think you should reward good behavior (ie if no crying fit then a prize) and stick to your guns. My hunch is with each day forward this will get easier.
And about the neighbors, on a serious note, can you tell them what’s going on so you feel less embarrassed? Lots of us have been in your shoes…
Stephanie Spohn says
I just wanted to say thank you, Dr. Swanson!!! Over the course of the past week, since my earlier post, my husband and I decided to try your suggestions to get our little one sleeping through the night again. The first thing we did is we removed the books from her crib and left only her stuffed bears and blanket. We also made a pact that we would not give her a bottle in the middle of the night no matter how long it took her to get back to sleep. The fist night was pretty terrible – as you can imagine! She was up for 2 hours screaming and crying out of frustration that she couldn’t have a bottle. We took turns comforting her about every 20 minutes or so, so that she would know that we hadn’t abandoned her, but we stuck to our guns and did not rock her or give her a bottle. Ever since that one night, she has been sleeping all the way through the night without a single peep!!!!! Yes, that initial time was so hard to get through – I was in tears a few times – but what a payoff. Thank you again for your help and to all the other parents out there – stick to the plan, whatever it may be – and if you can get through some rough nights, it will all be worth it in the long run!!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Thanks for sharing your progress, Stephanie!
my 2 yr old wakes up everyday dat between 3 330 and cries wants milk I’ve tried giving water not going in room letting her cry nothing seems to wrk I have not a full nights sleep in two years I’m so exhausted help ?
Anna Bergstrom says
My 13 mo. old daughter was a champ sleeper right when we brought her home from the hospital. We are still helping her fall asleep by cuddling with her to go to bed. We have a semi-regular sleep routine and once she falls asleep, we’re able to move her to her crib in another room. The past few weeks, she’s been waking up around 3:30 every morning. I have no clue what is causing her to wake up. We live in a quiet area so I don’t think it is environmental. Some nights we’re able to get her back to sleep, other nights, she screams for at least an hour and then won’t go back to sleep. We’re exhausted and looking for any help and assistance.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Sorry about your overnight awakenings! As you can imagine, I think you need to allow your 13 mo old daughter to learn the skill of self-soothing and getting herself back to sleep. Even though it isn’t causing you challenges at night while getting her to bed, it seems that she doesn’t have the skill yet (simply because of a lack of practice) to get herself back to sleep with overnight awakenings. Like any skill, she just needs to learn how to self soothe.
I’d recommend you gradually slip away from the support you provide after your bedtime routine at night. Gradually, your goal over the next few weeks should be to get her to a spot where you put her in the crib, say goodnight and then slip out and let her get to sleep on her own.
As you can see by the sheer volume of comments, overnight awakenings may not STOP (they are normal) but your need to intervene and hopefully the time she cries should diminish as she learns the skill to get herself back to sleep. Good luck!
I cannot express how happy I am to have found your page!
We have a 2 1/2 year old that has co-slept for most of her life. Around 1 1/2, she’d fall asleep in our bed, and then my husband would move her to her own bed, and she was fine. Around 2, my husband started reading stories with her in her bed, and she’d fall asleep. We thought we’d finally stopped co-sleeping because when she did co-sleep, she had to fall asleep with my arm around her. For the past couple of months, she’s refused to stay in her room to sleep wanting to ‘sleep with mama’. I’m now expecting #2, and have been too exhausted to argue (and kills me when she’s crying), so we’ve been letting her fall asleep with me, and then move her to her bed. However, she now consistently wakes hysterically and/or comes running into our bed several times throughout the night (after the 3rd time moving her back, my hubby gives up).
Like I said, I can’t let her cry, and won’t lock her in her room (like my husband wants to do). I feel like she’s become ‘clingier’ since finding out I’m pregnant, but I could just be reading more into it than there is.
I really hope y’all can help us!!!!
My daughter is 31 months and was born at 24 weeks old we never had a problem with her sleeping till a few months ago where she wakes up thrashing kicking screaming owie and wont let us touch her but wont let us leave her side she is waking up every hour on the hour I need help what do I do
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Amyjo, I recommend you check in with your pediatrician
My 12 month old daughter slept through from the age of 4 months up until about 8 months and since then she wakes up several times per night, in the early morning hours. I have always had a very strict routine with her, and though it was thanks to that in the early days that she was such a good sleeper but now it doesn’t seem to do the trick anymore… After bath time at 7pm I give her her last feed and she goes straight to bed, I don’t wait with her, simply lay her down and walk away – no problem. And then in the early mornings she will wake, I will then give her her pacifier and most times she will go back to sleep straight away but then wakes again after a few minutes or sometimes an hour, sometimes twice or 3 times per night sometimes even as much as 8 times, every time just needing her pacifier it seems. I have tried all the obvious things, room is quit, strict routine, right room temperature, you name it, I’ve tried it. I’m soooo tired, pls, pls help!! Thanks for excellent blog 🙂
I have a wonderful 23 month old. He has never been a great sleeper. I did sleep through for a few weeks at a time, two or three times since he was born. I always thought it was the sleep association, but, he was able to do it then. He loves to snuggle, so we snuggle on the rocking chair before bed and he falls asleep. He has asthma so I am afraid to let him “cry it out” at all. (We up’d his maintenance medicine and that was a disaster, so we stopped that and are back down to once a day.) His sleep has now gone back to those of an infant. He is up every hour to two. He does not ask for a bottle or anything else. I have been fighting bringing him in our bed, but, I think I am too weak to go on. Do you know if bringing in a sleep specialist helps at all?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Definitely think it’s worth a visit to your pediatrician to talk about your concerns for how you’re helping support your 23 month-old’s sleep and concerns about crying and asthma. I’d suggest you start with your own doc in the office and see if they think sleep consult is necessary.
Dana Ailor says
I have a 3 year old who has woken up in the middle of the night (1:30-2 am) consistently his whole life. He hasn’t taken a nap since he was two, he usually goes potty but sometimes doesn’t need to. I know its a problem that I am in the room when he falls asleep but when I tried it in the past (each method, even the super nanny method) he wailed and cried and I had to walk him back to his room for up to two weeks consistently and up to 144 times one night (I counted). I don’t know how to get a full nights sleep. He does snore once in a while so maybe he does have some breathing trouble. Just thought I would see if there is anything else? I read about melatonin and most says it isn’t suggested. Just not sure what else to do. Thank you!
Our almost 4 year old has started waking multiple times almost every night. He’s been doing this for a few months now, and I’m at a total loss (and exhausted). He sleeps in his own room and in a big boy bed. He has a toy he has slept with for years, and has a fan running for background noise. He has never slept with a nightlight and has always gone to sleep on his own. He normally goes back to sleep quickly, but I’m not so lucky after having to go to his room to settle him.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I’d add the nightlight and keep informing him that he has the skills to get himself back to sleep. Do your best not to assist him in getting back to sleep. Reward him for getting himself back to sleep without you (give stickers or prizes, etc) and stay ultra-consistent from one night to the next so he knows what he can count on from you.
my 22 month old will not sleep through the night. at 7:30pm we put him into his crib with a bottle and he falls asleep on his own. he wakes up at least 3 x a night crying. sometimes we hold him and he is ok and sometimes we give him a bottle. not sure why he wakes up so much.
danielle kuhlman says
So its 3:12 am right more and my 20 month old daughter just woke up again for her usual late night snack. She’s been off bottles completely since her first birthday. She does wake up with a wet diaper, buy that doesn’t seem to bother her because she cries when I change it. She instantly goes for food and then hands me the remotes for Elmo. Idk what to do, this is getting old real quick, and I’m tired!!! 🙁
Giving her food in the middle of the night is a big no-no. She is confusing hunger with being tired. Also, certain foods convert into sugars and will give them nightmares or make them restless.
I have 4 children, my eldest slept fine as a baby and throughout the years. (Not breastfed due to medical reasons.)My second born from a different father as the first, always had trouble falling asleep on her own, so she slept in the bed with me and was breastfeed til about 10 months old. Than for my third pregnancy I knew I had to move my second born to her own bed. She seemed to do fine until about a year ago. My Third baby was also breastfed and coslept until about a year. Now my son who was also breastfed and coslept until about a year, is having troubles at night. I should explain that all three of my youngest fall asleep in their own beds, and than at some point through the night crawl into my bed. I cant remember when it became a regular occurance, but I assume after there father moved out. So almost every morning I wake up with 3 if not 4 kids in my bed, and sometimes the cat…lol Its a good thing im tiny, but my sleep is terrible. Also I would like to mention that my second and fourth born have a similar sleep pattern of taking over an hour to fall asleep, no tv, no distractions, and minimal light. I also sit outside their bedrooms until they fall asleep. I know I know. On top of all of this my son has taken to waking up at 1 am or 3 am about about 4 or 5 times a month. I have also tried giving them melatonin to help with sleep. the second born and fourth. Also they don’t go to sleep with drinks. Anything else I should mention, besides I would love a regular good nights sleep in the near future 🙂
I’m not sure if you are still responding to the questions, but I’m trying everything..
My daughter 15 months has always been a great sleeper. She was one of those babies that actually would sleep through the night at 2 months. We thought we were blessed, until she hit a year. Now she wakes up once a night right smack dab in the middle of the night (2-3am). We have always had a bedtime routine and implemented a fairly strict bedtime of 7:30/8pm. She was always very good about putting herself to sleep but for the past 4 months we have had to rock her to sleep. Not a huge deal as she would still sleep the night. Now for the past 2 weeks she wakes up in the middle of the night with a wet diaper, is changed, rocked, and right as she’s asleep and put down in the crib will roll over and stand up. After a few nights of rocking,put down, roll over repeat. I was so exhausted she came into bed with me just to be able to sleep soundly. Now for the past week that’s the only way to get her to sleep again. I’ve tried to let her fall asleep in bed with me then move her back only to have her roll and stand up in her crib. Last night I tried sleeping with her in a sleeping bag in her room. She was fast asleep on the hard floor, moved her to her crib and roll – stand up. We have tried CIO she gets so upset she gets sick. I have tried staying in the room and boring her to sleep, she will just stand and sing to me. I guess I’m wondering if there’s anything that we should try that we haven’t, and if co-sleeping for now is a wise choice?
Hiya!! My son is now nearly two years old and has to date slept approx three nights threw without waking up! He will not sleep in his cot for me I put him in my bed climb in with him takes about an hour to get him asleep then when he does ill movehim about a half hour later into his cot and after ten minutes he’ll wake up.. if anyone has any tips id appreciate them as I find it very hard to sleep with him in the bed thanks
One of our almost one year old twins has started waking up in the night. These girls we’re sleep trained early and have been sleeping 12 hours since about 14 weeks. They’ve always been strong sleepers and we’ve followed most guidance to have them be (eg self soothing, consistent bedtime, routine, etc). Now one is waking up at 1 or 2 am and crying. Wee wait to send she’ll settled down and she doesn’t. We got in and pat her back and she calms down but doesn’t get back to sleep for an hour or two. She doesn’t appear to be sick. The room temp is what it had been. She almost seems to be trying to calm down and then startling a little. But I’m not certain of it. Ruling out illness, temperature and other factors, we’re stumped as to why this sudden change. We’ve not changed anything about our routines. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Twins sleeping 12 hours at 14 weeks is utterly amazing. My daughter never slept. I breastfed every 1 to 2 hours, waking up always active through 11 months. She still only slept about maybe 4-5 hours a night at about 9 months. She is now 26 months and wakes up once in different hours of the night about 3-4 days a week, walks into our bedroom. Consider you guys REALLY lucky.
I have a 16m old little girl who has continued to wake up once a night screaming for a bottle. She has separation anxiety in general but at night it seems like she can’t self soothe back to sleep. So she wakes up between midnight – 2am crying for me/bottle.
My husband and I have started bringing her in bed with us because it’s the only way to get her to go back to sleep. We both work full time and the disruptions at night are killing us! Please help!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
As you can imagine I’d say, I wouldn’t use the bottle at night. I’d gradually phase out of that and then gradually phase out of providing her an opp to bring her into your bed each night. Each night you continue that you continue to build dependence and expectations for that.
It’s really not uncommon to have this challenge at this age and it’s BRUTAL — take turns for who will help listen for her at night and gradually work to stop providing interventions so that she can learn to trust herself and acquire the skill of getting herself back to sleep on her own.
Miranda McCall says
I am having an extremely challenging time with my daughter who is almost 2. She has never been a good sleeper. She was breast fed until 8 months old and never really wanted anything to do with a bottle. She basically switched from breast feeding to real food. She has always had a binkie at nap and night time. When she was just over 1, we went through the 3 day “cry it out” to teach her to self soothe and go to sleep in her crib by herself. Since then, she is fantastic at putting herself down. We read a book, hand her the binkie, and she lays down and goes to sleep. That is where the “good” ends. After that, she wakes up on average 5-10 times every night. In the beginning we would just go tuck her back in, hand her the binkie, and she would go back to sleep. But then an hour later we would have to do it again, and the rest of the night. We tried letting her cry it out, but she would cry for 10 minutes and get herself so hysterical she would vomit. Then we would all be really awake cleaning up her, the bed, and then end up having to put her in bed with us. It’s been a year of feeling like a zombie and I am at my wits end. Nothing seems to make a difference.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
You may need to give her more time and more practice self-soothing longer than 10 minutes….and not go to her every hour or so that she’s been demanding it. I certainly understand how awful it is to hear our children get so upset they get sick. Your experience is not uncommon as I hear many families deal with this — children getting this upset with overnight crying. But if unable to not attend to her 5-10 times nightly I would check in with her doc again, too.
My son is 2.5 years old and has always slept very well.
We have a concern that may seem unusual. He goes to bed very happily at 8.30pm but actually falls asleep on his own 1h to 1h30 later after being quietly lying in his bed sucking his thumb or talking to himself, and with his teddy bear. In the morning, he calls us around 8.00am but I think he is sometimes awake before and stays quietly lying in bed.
Two or three times in the past, he came to our bedroom at 6.30/7.00am and we told him softly to go back to his room because it was too early. He complied and never came back to our room in the morning.
In the afternoon, he has a long nap (about 3h) and only calls “mum” (without shouting) once or maybe twice. If I do not hear him, he stays in bed until I go to his room to check on him and I find him quietly lying in bed sucking his thumb and with his teddy bear, very occasionally I find him playing without making any noise.
Is it “normal” for a child this age to stay quietly lying in bed without doing anything for so long ? Is there anything wrong with that ? Was it wrong from us to tell him to go back to his room at 6.30/7.00 am ? Should we be concerned or not?
When he is out of bed, he is a very active boy who is full of life.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Nothing you wrote about regarding your son’s gentle habits concern me. I suggest you bring it up at the next check up with his pediatrician for reassurance but it sounds like he enjoys the time for quiet and relaxation. Children tend to get about 11-13 hours of total sleep (nap plus nighttime sleep) at that age.
Hi. I have a 3 1/2 year old who will no longer sleep through the night. This has been happening now for 10 weeks. The main change in environment was I went back to work FT after my maternity leave with her twin brothers. She also started preschool part time. Her bedtime routine is still the same. My husband and I are at a loss of what to do. There have been times where my daughter would sneak into bed with me, I did not realize until I woke up, other times I would crawl into bed with her for a few hours. I believe this has now become habit. Most of the time she wakes up because she is scared of the dark .. this is all new.
I need help please !
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Get a night light for sure. Talk with her about what she can do on her own if scared and a plan of action for the middle of the night. Lots of stressful changes for her with all the new patterns for your family so give it time and nightly consistency (most important) for what she can expect and I suspect it will improve. SO COMMON for this to happen after new sibling (or two) enters the home!
Dear Dr. Swanson, I found this article after many hours of searching for some help. My son is almost 4.5. We have had him on a sleep schedule (following Dr. Marc Weissbluth’s book) since he was an infant. He has not always been the best sleeper, but we have been able to manage most issues. 5 months ago, my son decided he was ready to give up his pacifier. He has not slept through the night since. We have implemented a “night pass”, reward charts, set wake time and nothing works. I have talked to his pediatrician who has told me to wait it out. The pass has cut down on the times he leaves his room, but he is still up in the middle of the night for several hours at a time most times. He wakes for good anywhere from 5-6:30 am. He also stopped naps cold turkey upon giving up the paci (he was taking a 1.5 hour nap a day prior). We are seeing an increase in behavioral problems and irritability. Would you recommend a sleep specialist despite our doctor advising us to wait and it will rectify itself? Thank you so much for any advice you can share.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I don’t think it’s unreasonable to seek another opinion or potentially see a sleep specialist. Can you return to your pediatrician with your progress (or lack of) with your ongoing reports of consistency and ensure still believe no referral? My rec is to discuss any other social changes, school changes, diet changes, etc as well if any.
Thank you so much for your response. I have consulted with his pedi. twice with the same response from him. I think I will seek another opinion. I was not sure if long, drawn out pacifier withdrawal constitutes a sleep disorder, but it certainly causing disorder in our home! Thank you again, Doctor!
cristina quinonez says
Hello there well i have a 3year old he just turned 3 and everyday at night he wakea up crying either for no reason…which i belive so because i feel like he is fine or for his cup of milk and ther is
nothing that shuts him up we cant he sleep like a big person i dont think his a little new born that he always has to wake up at night i try everything to make him stop crying and i dont work i comfort him rub him.. can you please help
Stephanie Spohn says
Hi Dr. Swanson, it’s me again!!! I am pleased to say that things are still going well with our 15 month old and her sleep, for the most part, but now it appears we have a different problem. We are wondering what your recommendation is for weaning off of the night bottle? Three nights ago we started putting our daughter down for bed without having a bottle first. She does great at school everyday putting herself down for a nap without one, and drinks from a sippy cup with either water or milk throughout the rest of the day. The last three nights we have put her down without a bottle and she only cries for about 2-3 minutes and then falls asleep. BUT she is now waking up in the middle of the night, sometimes for 2-3 hours and will not go back to sleep. The only other change we have had recently is a couple weeks ago we changed her bedtime from 8pm to 7pm and she was doing fine with that until the bottle went away. I find myself missing it a little bit – the bonding with her before bed – so I wonder if she feels the same. How long should we give it before we decide its too disruptive for her and try again some other time? How important is it for us to get her off of the bottle at this age? Thanks for your help 🙂
Hi I’ve been having a 3am wake up from my 2.4 years old daughter, everything was find until a few month after a put her brother in the same room… The worry of the kids waking each other up have chosen the routine I started to give milk to her and now she want milk two time! She also have issues eating her meal during the day. As well she learn how to lie to me as that she want to go to poopoo so I come and put her to toilet… All she want is to get out of her room…please advice? Thanks you
My 13 month old son has only slept through the night a handful of times. He was recently weaned off his bottle and refuses to take any juice or water from a sippy cup at bedtime. We’ve tried to read him a book after his bath before bed to calm him but he’s not interested so he’s in bed by 7-7:30. He will wake up 1 to 5 times a night for various amounts of time, 1 minute to 1 1/2 hours. I’ll try to give him some juice or water at the lengthier times as I figure he’s hungry or thirsty tho I’d rather not give him anything at all. He will cry and scream until one of us comes in and picks him up and will usually only fall back asleep in our arms as we rock him in the chair or bring him into bed with us. I can’t really leave him to cry for too long as his room shares a wall with our neighbor. My husband believes there is something psychologically wrong but anytime I bring up the issue to the dr they don’t seemed concerned and dismiss it. What can I do so we all get a full nights rest?
Linda Lopez says
My son is a fraternal twin who still doesn’t sleep through the night and lately he has been waking up at 1 am and not falling back asleep til 5 and is ready to go about his day at 6:30 in the morning.When he is up at night he isn’t hungry or thirsty he is up wanting to be active.
Hi! Your situation sounds similar to mine. My daughter falls asleep with me sitting outside her door and she wakes every 2 hours through the night needed me to sit there– I am going INSANE- she is 3 years old…how did you fix this?? People are recommending everything from cosleeping to crying it out, all which don’t seem right for us! Please let me know how u did this! Btw-I have a very very very strong willed child. Thank you 🙂
David W says
We have a 3 yr old who has never slept with us from the time we arrived home. The past three weeks have been pure heck. She goes to bed by 830 and at 12 is in our room. Repeated attempts at putting her back in her bed are followed by return visits. Eventually when we break and allow her because daddy has a 3am-7pm job she makes things even worse. She tosses and turns constantly and moves her legs & feet like crazy tucking them anywhere she can. She is extremely hot natured like I am so temperature is always comfortable. She does not snore but does have frequent Sinus infections as do I from severe allergies. Whenever you ask her why she’s not sleeping good in her bed or ours she even says “I can’t get comfortable” but she can’t explain why.
My situation is similar to many of the other parents commented above.
My son is 2 yrs old and he is very determined not to sleep continuously, for more than 1 to 2 hrs, at night (between 10 pm to 2 am). Usually, he sleeps for 3 to 4 hrs, from 2 am to 6 am.
Only twice he had slept continuously between 9 pm to 6 am without waking up. I feel that on both these days, he had played well up to his satisfaction until night.
As many people have pointed out, pediatricians have no clue what to suggest to the parents. One doctor said to just wait it out until the situation improves. I hate to see many websites suggesting medical reasons, and possible solutions, and creating panic and false hopes to the parents.
My advice to parents with a very hyper active kid is to wait until the situation improves, and try to get a nap when you can.
Raquel Jarrell says
I have 3 year old that hasnt slept well since birth. He sleeps in our room, in his own bed, but continues to wake. The tv is usually on which i know doesnt help the situation. I am moving him into his bedroom this weekend, and i believe i will try turning the tv off when he falls asleep. This may help him. My husband thinks that he is just trying to get attention. I dont agree with it. Mostly because he is crying real tears and looks and acts like something is bothering him. He has severe eczema which meana he scratches at night. too. I can only try my best to help soothe him at night. But he and i are tired
I have a 4 year old daughter and in order for her to go to sleep I have to stay next to her in bed. I tried leaving before she falls asleep but she calls me again (have tried several times but nothing seems to work). She would then wake up during the night and come into our bedroom. When she is next to us she always puts her hand on either one of us as if to check we are there. In fact if we go out of bed after a couple of minutes she would wake up.
Hi, I have a 20 month year old boy and he has never been a good sleeper. He has always woken at least once a night but now it has become 6 times a night and still waking early, sometimes as early as 5am. We used to have to rock him but for the past 6 months we now have to just sit with him.
We have tried the leaving him to soothe himself and only going in to lay him back down but he works himself up so much that there is no way he will get himself to sleep.
We thought it could be to do with what he was eating because he is a fussy eater and sometimes doesn’t eat great but we found it doesn’t make a difference as to how much he eats, he still wakes up numerous times. We have made sure he eats nothing before bed time that could be causing him to be unsettled.
We always keep the same routine, bath, pyjamas, teeth and milk before bed. We have tried reading but again no difference. He sometimes asks for milk in the night but not always. He goes to bed at 7pm and we sit with him until he is asleep. Normally that takes no longer than half an hour.
During the day he is very energetic/hyper so you would think he would sleep well at night but no, his nap time is normally around 9am or 10am and at most is an hour and a half.
We feel like we have tried everything and are 2 very tired parents. any suggestions would be really appreciated, thank you.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Sounds exhausting, for sure. To me it sounds like the most important skill you son needs is to learn to self-soothe and get himself to sleep without you. If you never allow him to learn that skill, I worry that those overnight awakenings will continue as he hasn’t yet figured that out. Can you perhaps start explaining to him that he is now almost 2 years of age and should be able to drift off to sleep on his own. Perhaps stop “camping out” with him until he is asleep at bedtime. He will then get a chance to learn how to drift off to sleep without you. Then as time unfolds, when he wakes at night he will hopefully employ the same skills and learn to get himself back to sleep on his own. In my opinion, if you continue to help him fall asleep with you and always go to him at night you continue to support his dependency on you being there for him to fall asleep. And although there is nothing wrong with that for him, you are only going to get more tired! good luck and stay consistent!
Hello, I am a first time mom to a 16 month old who’s sleeping patterns are getting worse than when she was younger. She is currently bottle fed and sleeps with us on the bed. She does get proper amounts of nap time and goes to bed around 9-9:30 and gets a total of 9-10 hours of on and off sleep. She goes to sleep on her own, but she drinks her bottle while she falls asleep. She will then sleep for 2-3 hours and she will then wake up crying. If I do not give her the bottle she will not fall back asleep. So i usually stay up with her until she falls asleep only to prevent the bottle from spilling, since she only takes a couple of sips. Anyway, from there on she will wake up like 3-4 more times. There are times when she does not want the bottle but she will just toss and turn which drives me nuts. There are other times when we try to sooth her back to sleep, which sometimes does not even work so we just stay up until she eventually takes her bottle and falls back asleep. My husband and I are so confused as to what we need to do. I have considered and tried putting her back in her crib, but because she bottle feeds, i don’t know how to do it really. I mean, this worked for like 3 days where she would cry and fall asleep but i gave up because I did not get any sleep myself and was exausted during the day, because she would wake up 4-5 times crying. and sometimes these crying moments would last a while. The other thing i also notice from her sleep patterns is that she will sleep for longer periods after 6am. She will sometimes sleep 2-3 full good hours. I’m super confused, please help!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I imagine you are exhausted! There will be a light at the end of this tunnel. When I read what you wrote about your routine and your challenges the number one thing I think you must do is break the association for sleep with the bottle. It’s a strong association for your daughter, of course, because she has been sucking on something with milk in it to get to sleep for her entire life. My suggestion is to work hard to wean her from that association (which will likely require gradually getting rid of the milk in the bottle–switch to water–then getting rid of the bottle entirely at the time of sleep). This will likely have her crying out for you or other things but work hard to make a plan to wean her of the bottle over the next three weeks slowly — this is just an association, not a necessary feed likely if she is only taking tiny amounts. Then work to continue to keep every part of your sleep routine really consistent.
Here’s some more info on consistency and ways to provide it for your toddler:
My 22 month old girl has moved from a crib to a toddler bed approx. 3 months ago. Since then, my Husband and I have been SLEEPLESS! She never woke up before when she was in a crib, she was easily sleep trained and never needed a bottle from 7pm to 6am.
NOW! She wakes up screaming and crying. Sometimes her eyes are open, sometimes she runs to our bedroom, sometimes she runs to the bathroom, sometimes she stays in her bed and screams and cry’s. But one thing is the same.. She starts doing this every hour starting at midnight, straight through till morning. She will refuse to fall back asleep without a bottle. And around 3 a.m. (after the second time trying to get her into her own bed), she absolutely wants to go downstairs. We’ve tried not giving her a bottle. That just makes her scream and cry longer. Trying to bring her into bed with us she will just keep kicking and screaming until she gets a bottle. She doesn’t have a bottle at the sitters and she goes to bed at nap time fine without it. Yet at home she will fight all night for it if she has to. If we close her door, she will kick and cry and scream like if we are torturing her. So that doesn’t work. Closing our door does about the same effect. We leave a night light on and the bathroom light on and we’ve tried leaving it off too. Nothing seems to work!!! Please give me some other tricks that I can try to encourage her to sleep through the night!
Craig Canapari MD says
Dear Terri-Lynn– you must be terribly tired! Wendy Sue asked me to chime in. I have a few thoughts:
1. If she is getting milk at night, there may be a component of learned hunger triggering her awakenings, although it does not account for her severe agitation when she gets up. How much milk is she getting during the night?
2. If she is only taking water it may be time to get rid of the bottle and deal with the consequences. If you have been dealing with terrible nights for months, it may be time to consider an extinction protocol– e.g. closing the door or double gating the door. This sounds horrible, but the pattern of changing your response, holding out then giving the bottle, etc, may be reinforcing the nocturnal awakenings.
Any advice apprechiated…my 2yr 4 mnth boy is a nightmare sleeper and has been since birth. He had really bad colic/reflux as a baby, suffers with his bowl movements, has reacurrant chest/ear infections,tonsilitis,eczema and struggles with diary. You name it, we’ve tried it when it comes to his bedtime routine ! Baths,quiet time,bedtime story,nightlights,rwa
d stickers,new rocket bedding,xa new.
toy if he stayed in his bed or slept through. He falls asleep around 10.30pm and thats without a nap during the day. (He stopped day naps by himself 3 weeks ago. He will sleep for 3 hours,then wake up crying for daddy,he doesnt want me ? My husband will out him back to bed then lay on the floor next to gim unril he falls asleep. We are all still in the same room, but its big enough for him to be on the other side so to speak. We are moving to a bigger place in the next few months. He is a very whiney child who cries at most things. My husband and I have tried the soft approach with his sleeping ie….reasurrance,support,explaining about bedtime,to agreeing to putting him to bed and letting him cry it out and keep putting gim back to bed each time he gets out. He is now averaging 5 hours sleep max,waking every 1.5 hours. Im fed up with people saying “oh its just his age” I can count on one hand the amount of times he has actually slept through since birth! My husband and I are trying to stay strong, but we are exhusted and have no family support ie…someone who can have him for a nightReally not sure what else to do ?? 🙁
My daughter turned 3 last week. For the first two years of her life, she slept from 8pm-7am without fail. Between 21-26 months, she experienced a lot of changes. First, we moved 900 miles, then was the transition to a toddler bed, then potty training, and lastly, the birth of her baby sister (now 10 mo old). We did our best to transition her gently to these things. It was admittedly a lot in a short period of time. At 22 mo when we switched to a toddler bed, she quit taking naps. She was never a great napper, they were always a struggle for her, but she did nap, and as I said, was a perfect nighttime sleeper. Around 25 months when she potty trained, she started waking up every night screaming. At first we questioned night terrors. We consulted our pediatrician and she was at a loss. At that age when she awoke, she was out of it. If we went in and calmed her she went right back to sleep. I think this became a habit. I’m not sure when it happened because we were then bleary-eyed parents of another newborn just trying to survive on an hour or two of sleep, but somewhere along the line,she got used to the nightly visits. Last summer her reasoning for waking would be to use the potty, but she would stand in the hall and scream until we came to get her. A few months ago, we told her that we would not be seeing her at night and to stay quietly in bed. Miraculously that worked …for a few weeks. Most recently, we decided to put a training potty in her room for night use, and finally put a safety lock on her door knob. Again, this worked great for a week, but she figured out how to open the door and screamed in the hallway on and off for a few hours again last night. We feel like we have tried everything and can not get this behavior to stop. Currently, we pick her up, lay her in bed and leave the room without a word. This usually takes 5-10 attempts before she gives up and falls back to sleep. We have tried sticker charts to reward her for “quiet” nights. Nothing seems to work. She doesn’t nap but has quiet time in bed during the day. Once every few weeks she will fall asleep, always for 2 hours. What should we do!?
Virginnia Gilham says
My family is in desperate need of help. We have a 26 month old. He has always woken at night sometimes for one hour, sometimes two hours, sometimes three hours and sometimes four hours. He spends this time usually happily chatting with a few cries inbetween. We have not responded to this. We leave him in his cot and he eventually always went back to sleep. However, he has now learnt to climb out. So when he wakes, we are now having to go in and sit with him to make sure he doesn’t get out and wake his brother. The four suggestions made do not seem to apply. He goes to bed at 7.30 and self settles. We have never had a problem with this. No bottle, we don’t hold him etc. He does not get fed overnight and hasn’t since he was a baby. No medical issues we know about. No T.V. In room. Brother sleeps really well and as I’ve recently spent many hours in their room waiting for our son to go back to sleep, I know his brother doesn’t make funny noises or snore. We stopped his day time nap, hoping that would help. It hasn’t. We do not know what to do as every night we have to go into the room for hours on end to make sure he doesn’t climb out. When we go in we do not put the light on, we do not speak to him. We lay down so he cannot see us. The only time we get up is to put him back into bed. Sometimes he goes back to sleep after an hour, tonight it was three hours. Please help. What else could be causing this?
We also have a 3 month old who requires our attention overnight too. He is waking once a night but we get to him before he starts crying so we know he is not the cause either.
Please help. I have been looking online at beds for autistic children that are like tents, so the child cannot get out. We are considering this option. What do you think about that as a strategy?
Thank you for your time. Any advice gratefully received.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
You are doing so many wonderful things to support your family’s sleep, that is for certain.
In regards to your question, it really sounds to me like you’re asking about safety and I do think the tents off a good alternative compared with you or your partner having to wake up and join your son in his bedroom in the middle of the night.
The less reinforcement you provide (positive or negative) the more likely that he will continue to have prolonged awakenings. If after you get a safe solution where you don’t have to go in and sit with him during his awakenings at night and they continue with all of your great consistent sleep routines, I suggest you check in with your son’s pediatrician to review. Best of luck!
Hi, I can’t find anything on here that seems to really be the same as the problems we are having with our 2.5 year old son. He is generally a lovely & easy child, and has for the most part been a really good sleeper since he started sleeping though at 10 weeks old. However for the last 6 months or so (maybe even longer) he has been waking most nights screaming & calling out for my husband or I, but when we go into him, he either wants something very minor (like another soft toy from his chair, his covers to be pulled up, or ‘a cuddle’). He is not allowed to get out of bed (he went into his toddler bed at just over 2 years quite happily) at night, which he knows, so obviously that is why he is calling out & crying rather than coming into our bedroom, but it’s become increasingly frustrating as we now have a 3 month old who would be sleeping through the night apart from half the time he gets woken by the very loud noise of our toddler screaming! When we go into him, he is easy to settle, and back to sleep pretty quickly, however he may wake again then an hour or two later – sometimes it’s just once or twice a night, but other times it can be 4 or 5 times. It can’t be the wrong sleep associations as we have the loveliest bedtimes – he goes to bed with no fuss, and says “night night, love you, see you in the morning” as we leave the room – he then nods off in the dark by himself perfectly happily by 7-7:15pm. He doesn’t nap anymore in the daytime as he dropped his nap naturally by himself about 4 months ago. I don’t think it can be related to his new baby brother as the problems began a long time before he was even aware there was going to be a new addition to the family. We live in a small cottage & it’s driving me mad – the boys have started to share a room as he was waking the baby anyway, so we figured it didn’t matter if they were in the same room or not – our toddler sleeps through the baby’s noises or crying if he wakes at all in the night. Our toddler was keen & pleased to start sharing a room with his baby brother. Should I try a reward chart? Should I send husband & little baby away for a week so I can leave the older one to cry it out? I’ve honestly tried all sorts (each consistently for at least a month) – being loving & reassuring, being strict & tough, not giving into the insignificant requests (a toy / a cuddle), giving in to them & providing whatever he asks for….nothing works – he has been through phases of going back to sleeping normally for 12-13 hours straight, for maybe a week at a time, but then goes straight back to waking several times a night. Please please help – we are at our wits end, and now feel it’s unfair to the new baby who is probably learning bad habits as when he gets woken we often have to feed him in the night as by 4am if he’s woken he’s hungry, whereas if he hadn’t been woken he would have slept through til 7am as normal. Other facts to know are that our toddler doesn’t have early waking or bedtime issues – he has a groclock & loves it – is asleep by 7pm most nights & wakes at 7:15-7:30am. Thanks in advance!
Oh, the other thing I should say is that he was potty trained at 18 months by his own choice, and initially would wake twice for a wee in the night as soon as he potty trained (at this point he was still sleeping normally 12-13 hours a night before training began). He was in a cot / crib so had to call to us to get him up for wee. We put him in pull ups at night as were reluctant to move him to a toddler bed so young, and encouraged him that it was fine to wee in his ‘sleeping pants’ at night. After a month or two, he understood this & went back to wetting his pull up nappy overnight without waking or calling out for us. Could this be the problem that he is weeing & it’s waking him? He often says in the morning “i’ve wee-ed in my sleeping pants, can you take them off please?” but he doesn’t seem upset about it. I’m clutching at straws here after a particularly bad night with both kids (baby has a dreadful cold so was up in the night as well last night!).
Hi, our 20 month old son slept thru the night only once. He falls asleep on a big bed (as he rolls around the whole night) he sleeps around 4 hours and then he wakes up every 2 hours. One of us sleeps with his and puts him back to sleep, which usually takes only a few minutes and he falls asleep easily but rolls around the whole night. I dont understand why he sits up and starts crying or whinging every 2 hours….. Please any advice, thank you.. Adriana
Julie J says
Our 2 year old used to sleep through the night in her crib, we moved her to a toddler bed at 27 months (d/t climbing out of crib) and now she wakes up after sleeping for 4 hours. Bed at 8, wakes up at midnight and moves to the floor. Then she wakes up every 1-2 hours fussing and crying after that until the sun comes up. We have tried moving her back to her bed but she continues to prefer the floor. Is it ok to let her grow accustomed to sleeping on the floor? I am due with baby #2 next month and don’t have the energy to be up every hour with her. (We have a baby gate on the outside of her door so she can’t wander as well as a video monitor.)
Carly Michelle says
Our beautiful 16 month old has never STTN. Most nights she sleeps 10 hours waking 2-3 times. She wakes in a wailing scream loud enough for neighbors to hear. It traditionally last 1-5 minutes. Then, she falls back asleep. It commonly occurs about 60-90 minutes into bedtime then every few hours. Unless we see her sit up/stand or the crying persists for 4+ minutes, we don’t even go in. Could this be night terrors at such a young age? Or potentially another sleep condition/medical concern? She is put to bed awake and we use white noise.
Lisa McLeod says
Thanks for all this advice. Our 20 month old seems to fall in the learned hunger category. She falls asleep at 8 with a bottle without any trouble but is now waking up up to three times a night demanding more milk. She has always had a bottle before going to sleep, but has only started waking up in the last 6 weeks, she managed to sleep through the night when she was younger. We have tried not to give her milk, or to wait before going in but most of the times she just shouts even louder. She sleeps next door to her sister – who manages to sleep through without too much trouble – and we have another baby coming in the next couple of weeks, so I fear we will be up most of the night between the two of them! Any more advice? Should we slowly reduce the bottle she gets when going to bed? Shall we water down her bottles before cutting her off entirely?
She eats well during the day so she really doesn’t need tall he extra milk.
My daughter is almost 19 months old and still in bottles. For the last month and a half she has been waking up 3-4 times a night wanting a bottle. She is an extremely picky eater and does not get enough solids to eat during the day. She still gets most of her calories from Milk. I’ve already taken her to a diatician and all they could provide is advice on how to encourage her to eat more. I’ve tried taking her out of the bottle, but this results in her not wanting milk at all from sippy cups. I’ve tried giving her water in her bottle at night but she would scream until she gets her milk. What is your suggestion on how to gently get her to stop drinking milk at night?
My son is almost 14 months old and has never been a very good sleeper. Occasionally, he will sleep from 8-530 but he has been waking up once around midnight or 2 am and crying and he can’t put himself back to sleep. (we let him cry for a few minutes because sometimes he can fall back to sleep but we can tell when he isn’t going to) *things we have tried and are doing; We started using overnight diapers to see if that helps, he has always had a consistant bedtime rountine since he was one month old. He takes 2 naps during the day we tried skipping the afternoon nap (not on purpose) and he still wakes up. When he wakes up we rock him and he falls back to sleep but when we go to lay him down in the crib he will wake up, occasionally he will stay asleep in his crib. Last night we were so desperate for sleep we rought him in our bed after he woke up and he slept unitl 6. Can you or anyone else please give me some advice I am pregnant with my second and trying to get a better hold of this sleeping issue.
My daughter is 16mths old. She was always a good sleeper sleeping through the night from 6mths. However, for the past month she will not sleep through the night. She has been teething but I don’t believe that this could be causing her this many problems. She has a lunchtime nap at 12.30 for 1-1.5 hrs and then goes to bed at 7.30. She self soothes to sleep both times with the aid of her soft toy monkey and doesn’t need me with her. She has started waking up to 6 times per night. I’ve tried bringing her in with me but I don’t want her to get in this habit. We have tried letting my husband go in but that doesn’t seen to work. Whenever she wakes she normally has lost her teddy. Sometimes if I get in there quickly and give it back to her she goes straight back to sleep but sometimes I’m in there for an hour and a half. We have tried leaving her to cry but that results in her vomiting. I’ve tried gradually leaving the room but her room is tiny so that is hard to achieve. In the end one if us ends up sleeping in a matress on her floor just to quickly sshh her back to sleep every time she wakes. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m pregnant and exhausted. Do you have any advice please?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
You can always seek a second opinion before getting a head CT scan. Typically physicians look at both head circumference growth and physical exam findings (how the soft spot feels) into account before ordering studies.
I can’t lend specific medical advice here outside a clinical encounter but perhaps you’ll feel better with a second opinion.
My son is 20 months old and wakes up two times in the middle.He shares the bed with us.The only way i can calm him down is the bottle which he started after 12 months..some times he cries without opening his eyes…We have tried to let him cry without giving him bottle due to which he gets anger and cries hard….as we stay in apartment his midnight cries disturbs the neighborhood which pushed us to continue the bottle…
Sometimes he doesn’t get consoled even after the bottle and both me and husband really try hard to get him back to sleep…My husband has to leave for office early moring which has become really hard…Its make me to think that am failing as a mother…I dont know what to do next…plese do help me with my suggestion..
Kerry T says
I have twin 2.5 year olds, with an unknown health condition. Originally we were told it was something called FPIES but we are not certain this is all it is. When our boys are sick they don’t sleep well but when they are well the usually sleep well they go to bed at 6pm and would usually wake at 7am and have a 30min to 1hr nap during the day, if we made bedtime any later it resulted in a wake up between 3am to 5 am and most often they would not go back to sleep. We recently switched to beds because we have climbers, 5 day’s after the switch our boy caught a bug and were sick for 14 days, we have not had a full night since and its been about a month, I know that after they get sick there is always a period of getting back into the swing of things, but I think we might have more of a problem on our hands, they are extremely miserable during the day and I know it is because they are exhausted but we cannot seem to get a handle on it. they do share a room and we have no other option, we live in a small 2 bedroom home, they do have an air purifier that cuts out outside noise, I do not feel that they are waking each other, they are both waking independent of each other. we usually wait and see if they will fall asleep on there own, it they do not or start getting very upset we go in give them there soother, rub there back a few seconds tuck them back in and then leave the room. They normally fall asleep easily at the beginning of the night on there own, we usually only have to go in during the night
Sarah B. says
I am writing this post on Feb 26, 2014. My son turned 22 months today. He will nap in his crib easily and he starts the night off in his crib easily. We are having a problem with him waking up anywhere between 12:00 and 5:00. It’s random. When he wakes up he wants in our bed. We have been giving in and letting him sleep with us because he will cry and cry if we don’t come get him. If he cries for too long he won’t go back to sleep at all because he’s too upset. We can’t cry it out because he makes himself vomit (who wants to clean up throw-up in the middle of the night!?!). Any suggestions as to why he wakes up every night to get in our bed? We were on a three month stretch of sleeping through the night until Christmas (December 2013).
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I think he wakes simply because of his sleep cycle. And I suspect he just feels significant separation anxiety when he does. Now that he knows he will be invited and comforted by being in bed with you it’s becoming a habit.
my recommendation is to work to not bring him into bed with him. Gradually reduce what care you give him when he wakes at night…but it would be better for you to camp out with him in his room until he is back to sleep than let him sleep with you in your bed if you’re trying to break the cycle.
You must be so exhausted after this long haul! Work to stop the bringing him into bed immediately and then gradually reduce what you do so he can become more self-reliant in getting himself back to sleep. hopefully the camping out with him and gradually reducing what you do will avoid the vomit mess.
Tanya Groth says
I completely understand where Sarah B is coming from because that is exactly what my son does, he is 15 months. Last night when he woke up after only a few hours I tried doing a modified version of CIO and I stayed in the room with him. The first hour he cried and screamed the whole time, once he finally calmed down it took another hour for him to fall asleep with occasional whimpering. I was really hoping that would help that he went back to sleep in his own bed rather than me bringing him into ours, but alas 2 hours later and he was awake again. I suppose at this point I will just have to keep working at it and like you said keep camping out in his room rather than him coming to ours. Hopefully we make some headway soon.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Best of luck. This will get better. With time and also with consistency
Hi! I am a mom of a 4 year old and a 17 month old. We have a very structured routine at night and have always had this in place since our first was born 4 years ago. She sleeps great, we had some issues around age 2.5-3 years old but with the right reinforcements she re-learned how to sleep through the night just fine. Our 17 month old is having difficulty, though. She is a high energy, strong willed child and has been since birth. As with our first, we established a night time routine right away. After bath, book, and a song, she happily gets into her crib and falls asleep (same routine for nap minus the bath.) Usually around 2 a.m. she wakes up (however this can vary from 12:30-2:30) and stays awake anywhere from 1-3 hours. She will usually fuss at first, then play, talk, cry, repeat. This has been consistent since 6 months of age when she stopped taking a bottle in the middle of the night. Up until 6 months, I would feed her when she cried in the middle of the night, but she began refusing food at 6 months. My husband and I are not opposed to allowing her to cry in her crib but it has not worked. We have attempted talking to her over the monitor (“Lay down, it is time to sleep.”) We have also tried going into her room and sitting in her rocker and using the same phrase when she talks or fusses. We do not pick her up or bring her to our bed. We actually try to have as minimal interaction at night with her as we can other than the phrase we use to encourage her to go back to sleep. We are frustrated because we aren’t seeing light at then end of the tunnel. I know she is strong willed but it seems like after a year of consistent night wakings and our not responding by picking her up or bringing her to our bed that we would have made some progress. I should note that for two separate one month periods (at 9-10 months and at 12-13 months) she slept through the night. She has all of the age appropriate teeth (not her two year molars.) I am wondering if we should hire a sleep consultant? Do you have any suggestions we could try and do you have any opinions on sleep consultants? Thank you!
Hi my daughter is a year and a half and until a couple months ago was sleeping through the night soundly in these past few months she wakes up at least three nights a week in the middle of the night sits up in her crib screams a screeching cry I go in there and she is awake I pick her up she cries for a minute sometimes longer and when I have her calmed and try to put her in her crib she cries and will not go in it. Do you think she is having nightmares? She doesn’t seem to be in pain and she isn’t a acting like she did when she teethed. Thanks for your help.gg
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
To me her overnight awakenings sound just more like awakenings and then her feeling a sense of separation from you. That being said, toddlers can have night terrors or nightmares but your consistency is still key in helping soothe and supporting her. Providing her reassurance but still asking her to rely on her self-soothing will help both she and you sleep!
Hi, I really hope you can help!
My son is 19 months old and has never been a good sleeper, in order to get him to sleep I need to sit on the edge of the bed, give him a bottle, and wait until he falls asleep. This can take anywhere between 10 mins to an hour and a half. He still sleeps in our bed because he simply refuses to settle in his cot. He has a pacifier and a teddy as a comforter which he uses both to go asleep. He will wake up sometimes on the hour if I am not in the bed, but usually when I’m in the bed he will fall straight back asleep. A few weeks ago he got ill with a chest infection and tonsillitis, and then chickenpox, and as a result of being so poorly he wouldn’t eat anything for me except his bottle of milk. I had to start increasing is intake of bottles and giving him bottles at night. However, now he is better he is still waking screaming for a bottle. He has never been a brilliant eater, will eat throughout the day in crèche, but very little if anything, when he comes home, and even more so lately, so I’m afraid he is hungry and that is why he is waking. Any suggestions/ideas would be great. Thanks for your help.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
It’s not unusual that illness changes up our patterns for consistent bed time routine. In general, toddlers don’t need to take in bottles at night. Many want them but they don’t need them and can be a terrible middle-of-the-night habit. I’d work to get rid of that habit as soon as possible. However, if you’re concerned about your son’s weight or nutrition, don’t hesitate to go in and talk with his pediatrician!
not sure if anyone will answer since this thread looks to be 2 yrs old, but i’m desperate for sleep at this point, so here goes: my 27 month old has been waking around 1:30am every night for as long as i can remember. at first it was just a cry, like she’d been startled by something, but in the past few months, she’s waking up and doing all kinds of stuff – talking loudly to herself, calling out for us, her sister (who is in the same room) or the dog even, undressing herself, throwing all of her stuff out of her crib….I can’t figure out why! We tried letting her try to get herself back to sleep at first (for a month or two) but that didn’t seem to work and we’d always end up going into her trying any number of things (nice at first – singing, gentle rocking; then end up with threats of time out in the morning). My husband and I are so frustrated…any advice on how to handle these night wakings is greatly appreciated.
Hello mom, your child may have a real reason why he cant sleep with out a light on or is afraid to get up to even go to the bathroom. Try this experiment not on the child but in his room. put a tape recorder in his room as he falls asleep, let it record all night long and listen to it in the morning you maybe shocked to hear all the activity going on in his room that he is not making, he is aware of this activity and it is frightening him and until you see his fears as legitimate this will continue to happen to him, and may affect him deeply. just try it for yourself and try and distinquish all of the back ground noises from everyone else who may have gone into his room, and know for yourself, what I have discovered, the things that go bump in the night are real.
I am overwhelmed!! I’ve got a 2 year old who still sometimes doesn’t sleep all night!! Several times a week he wakes up at night and this has been an ongoing issue! When he was a newborn he would sleep for about an hour and then be awake for several hours then go to sleep for an hour or so and same ol same ol! He does have mild centralized sleep apne and still has acid reflux and immune problems and is freakishly strong…I mean has defined muscles and is as strong as an adult. His pediatrician says he is abnormally strong…but I’m not sure how to help him sleep better! He simply does not want to sleep he does not want to nap even if he is tired he fights it…at night he wants to do everything in the world other than to sleep! He physically challenges me because I have to pick him up and put him in bed sometimes…he fights me on almost everything
and has so much energy all the time he is very smart but delayed on some things..I need help on getting him to sleep maybe that will help with all his other problems..and when he sleeps he is all over the place?
literally I have to hold him down just to put his diaper on o clothes..he has high energy level and is all over
I need help!
My daughter had been a great sleeper since about 8 months when we did sleep training with her. She slept through the night; took great naps and was a happy kid. She is now 28 months old and we are all struggling with her mood swings and aggression which I am sure are related to her being overtired.
We have not changed her bedtime routine (except she now sits on the potty before brushing her teeth) and her bedtime has always fluctuated from 7-7:30.
She is taking sometimes an hour to fall asleep (when it used to be 10 minutes), but the big thing is she is waking up usually once a night sometimes twice for an hour or two, sometimes three. She is not crying. She is wide-awake in the crib singing and laughing; running around. This has been going on for 2 months.
We have a baby due in 10 weeks and my husband has been on bedrest for the past 3 weeks due to having surgery on his leg so I am all alone and really struggling.
Should I be doing something differently? We are all so tired!
I really need help! my 27 month old just cannot sleep through the night –
We co-slept with him since he was 5 months old because he was diagnosed with a tumor and for the rest of the year he was either undergoing surgeries or chemotherapy… then after he was in recovery… I feel he is just so used to having us there and now its so difficult for us – he’s always so restless when he sleeps that he inadvertently wakes us up. We moved him to his crib and then a toddler bed but find him in our bed by 2-3 am. He is taking sometimes an hour to fall asleep and is waking up usually once a night sometimes twice, he does not cry, just walks out the door.
We really need to sleep !!!! please help
Our 19 month old has slept through the nighy maybe 30 days in his lifetime. He wakes up once at night still and the only thing that settles him is if I rub his back while laying next to him but he will only fall asleep with a sippy cup of milk. Have I created a bad habit here? How do I break it?
We have a very consistent routine that we follow for bedtime. We do give him milk before bed. We allow him to drift to sleep on his own after some books and cuddles. He sometimes still cries and we respond if he is screaming or if it is more than 10 minutes of real crying (not whining).
Any suggestions? If it’s to rid the milk in the middle of the night, what is a good transition that won’t have our entire neighborhood up all night with us?
Tamera Dyer says
I have a 19 month old that stopped taking his naps and he wont sleep all through the night I really dont know what else to do at this point please help!!!!
Brietta Rice says
I have a 2 1/2 year old that has a hard time going to sleep on her own and wakes up every night. Just recently it has gotten worse and she takes 1-2 hours to go back to sleep once she is awake. She constantly wants a drink, how do I break this habit. I also can’t get her to get back in her bed she wants to sleep next to mine. It is so frustrating and exhausting.
Wow. Lots of folks following pseudo sleep science, person-who logic, and really doing a number on their children’s ability to develop a sense of safe attachment. My heart is broken for these babies.
Here’s how we brevet had any sleep “problems” from the beginning:
A good understanding of brain development.
Responding quickly and consistently to our child’s needs.
Breastfeeding for the full term and on cue.
Trusting that our child was communicating not manipulating.
Basically trusting our parenting instincts.
That is how we ended up with a strong, healthy 31 month old who can identify and communicate his feelings and needs, who is utterly independent because his dependence and individuality were respected.
First of all we just moved to a new house. My 22 month old Screams for me to lay with her until she falls asleep and then I’ll get up and then she will wake up around. 2-3 and run to the hallway and scream. I try and lay her back down but she will scream for hours and not stop until she gets her way! ( me laying with her)! She is a very persistent child . What should I do? I put her to bed at 8:30 every night
We give her a warm bath before bed and a warm glass of milk then brush her teeth. Then I lay with her as she tosses and turns for 45 mins to an hour
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I suspect your 22 month-old is really just demonstrating some stress with the change to a new home, etc and some separation anxiety. Keep routines consistent and gradually reduce what you do to support her sleep so she comes back to relying on herself. Make sure you have a good night light and she knows and can come to find you if she needs you at night.
Hi my name is Janet I’m a single mom I live w/ my 2 1/2 yr old son n my sister, he’s always co slept w me until 3 mo. Ago the first couple of weeks he was doing fine I put him in bed read a book or two and sit beside him until he fell asleep, he would wake up one or two times if the door was not completely closed he goes to my room n I took him back to bed again sit beside him until he fell back asleep sometimes up to an hour but he’s doing worse now I have a really hard time just trying to put him into bed as soon as I tell him it’s time to go to sleep he stars crying n yelling no mammy, I’ll read at least two books sometimes I have to lay with him but I’m just too tired n end up falling asleep then wake up go to my bed, and 2 or 3 hrs later same thing happens, I’ve tried letting himself cry back to sleep but sometimes he just keeps crying and I’m afraid he is scared and I’m going to traumatized him or something also my sister is complaining with all the crying we both have to get up early for work, and I’m just too tired I don’t have any help and don’t know what to do, I’ve though about letting him move back to my bed but then all this work would be lost and also he moves a lot that I can hardly sleep, oh forgot to mention he goes to bed around 9 or 10 and if I let him 12 and still the same problem,.. Pls some advise for this tired tired mom!!!
Lulu bb says
Hello … My son is 11 months old and is never sleeping at night.. We has been waking up every night at 2 wanting to sleep in my arms and just when u think he is asleep and put him back in his crib he wakesup crying again right at the moment. He barely sleeps. Many rare nights he sleep at 10:30 and wakes up at 7:30. He is having very little sleep. Ill be happy if he wakes up only once at night where i actually rock him in my arms and he sleeps again, but lately no he is been staying up wanting to sleep in my arms. I havent been getting any sleep lately that its making me very nervous that many times i shout at him and about to go crazy. Please help me any advice! My life and sleep are becoming a disaster. Thank you
Hi, my four year old daughter has always been a good sleeper right from a few weeks old. She has always been able to fall asleep alone and slept through the night, until the last month. She had quite a clear nightmare that she can still tell me about,after that things have gone down hill, to start with she didn’t even want to be left alone in her room, I have got passed that and she falls asleep alone ok but nearly every night she wakes between 2 and 3 am, saying she can’t sleep. I’ve tried everything, she has a nightlight, the doors open, she has a torch, I’ve told her our house is ‘super safe’ because it’s magic, I’ve tried a sticker reward chart (which worked for 3 days!) I end up on the laning until she’s fallen asleep which can take anything up to an hour, however this morning she was still awake at 7am and then fell asleep on her bedroom floor while I was in the shower! I then had to wake her for nursery, we are both so tired, I work full time, I never let her sleep in our bed but I may cave in tonight as I really don’t know what else to do, I have tried punishment and taking things away, I would leave her to soothe herself, but my husband does not like this idea…..help!
Sarah Weiss says
5am every day plus night wakings for over 2 years — please help!!!
My son is 28 months old and never slept well. We started co-sleeping at a young age out of desperation. He falls asleep between 7:30 & 8pm with me lying near him on the bed upon which I sneak out of the room…I don’t nurse him to sleep anymore…I do nurse him to nap though or believe me, he wouldn’t nap ever.
I join him in bed at 10pm. He usually wakes up around 2:30pm, 3:30/4pm, 4:30, and then we’re starting the day around 5am every single day. I haven’t breastfed at night for months now (used to feed him 8 times per night) but he still requests breast milk at which point I say no milk, it’s nighttime, please go back to sleep, and in a few minutes he does but I can’t always fall back and he’s up again not long after.
He naps for 1 to 2 hours each day. He’s extremely bright cognitively, verbally, average physically, doesn’t seem to be tired during the day. So for the questions: Do you think he’s getting enough sleep? Could the co-sleeping be part of the problem? What should I do? Should I just totally “play dead” when he wakes up? But at 5am he’s running into the living room… Please help! My husband and I can’t wake up at 5am anymore. We are really sleep deprived.
Sarah Weiss says
I meant am, not pm when I wrote the message above, sorry…
My son is 20 months old and he woke up screaming 3 nights ago around 2am and he did it again today. He doesn’t even scream and cry like that when he gets hurt so I’m not sure what’s going on. I let him cry for a min. To see if he’s going to fall back asked but he just intensified it so I went to his room an rubbed his back and checked to see If maybe his diaper leaked and woke him up, but that wasn’t the case. He reached for me and at first I said no u have to go to sleep he wasn’t going for it so I picked him up. And went to my room w him. He continued to carry on and lay on the floor crying. He put his hand on the back of his head so I thought maybe his head hurt. He saw his sippy cup and grabbed it, but it was empty so I gave him water. He drank almost the entire cup. I put Sesame Street on and that distracted his screams as he laid on the floor. I know hew was still sleepy because he only lays down on the floor if he’s really tired. I put him in my bed and he laid down and watched a little tv. I turned it off and then about 2 min later put him back to bed. He went right back to sleep. No fussing or anything. I just have no idea why he was screaming in the first place. I couldn’t console him for a little bit and that’s not like him.
Jissely Soto says
My daughter is currently 19 months. I know this blog is from Feb2012 and I am not quite sure if anyone will even respond or look at this but it’s worth the shot. My daughter has been a great sleeper since she was 2 months old. She slept through the night anywhere from 8-12 hours a night. She falls asleep on her own and does not require any soothing since she was about 11-12 months old. The past few months she wakes up in the middle of the night talking loudly and laughing and occasionally she cries. We have tried to let her talk and figure out on her own to fall back to asleep but sometimes it takes her 3 hours or so in the crib talking before she could do that. Some nights she cries and cries until one of us goes in the room to pick her up and soothe her to sleep. Other nights she talks and talks but will eventually fall asleep. It’s been happening like clockwork at the same time every night around 1am and won’t fall asleep until 4am or so. My husband and I are exhausted and trying to function. I know our situation could be worse she could have been a bad sleeper since infancy but we find it so strange that she is having trouble sleeping now. There have been times where we check if her diaper is really wet and she wants to be changed so we put on a fresh diaper and she will instantly go back to sleep but most of the times her diaper is dry, she has a pacifier, and she is not sick. So we wonder what could it be…I have searched the internet high and low and no one seems to talk about toddlers having sleep issues it’s mostly infants until I came across this page. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!
Emma Edwards says
my boy who is 26 mths old keeps waking up at night(never been a great sleeper).he has calming down down time before bed i.e milk and bedtime story,tv on in the front room quietly etc.put him down in his own room in his cotbed (with bedguard on)at 9pm with me in the room.he has a teddy that plays lulabyes which i put on and he takes a muslin and teddy to bed.he wakes up about 11 then 1 then again about 4 and sometimes will go back to sleep but not for very long and just keeps getting up till around 6.each time i put him back in his own room in his cotbed.have tried a nightlight but its them same with or without it.we moved at the end of march from a 1 bed place to a 2 bed so he has his room.im really not sure what to do,need help!please!no stairgate and can open his door so comes out.can’t leave him to cry as he gets himself too worked up and have really moany neighbours.any advice would really help.thank you.emma
My 2 year old has been restless and hysterical at night waking up sometimes 10x per night – its been a nightmare!
We’ve seen all the specialists – from reflux to gut and everything in between, including a minister to pray against fear!
So recently my boy went down (I now sleep with him to pacify quickly when he wakes) and before he falls asleep indicates he wants another nappy?? I’m thinking (as I suspected for a long time), perhaps the sesation of him uriating in his nappy at night is freaking him out?? So I though wohaa this boy is onto something. So I slipped on another nappy and he looked very chuffed with himself. Suffice to say he did not wake once…?
I’m hoping this is the simple answer. Im posting as this was overlooked by everyone and could be the reason – we are also reducing his bottles. Food for thought?
I have a 18 month old niece that I keep overnight a few nights a week. She is very active while sleeping and at least 6 times a night she wakes up screaming and has done this for about a year. Her parents have separated and at first the incidents seemed to almost stop , she was down to once or twice a night, but now they seem to be getting worse and more frequently. Is there anything we can do to help her and us sleep better?
My husband and I are getting desperate and dont know what to do. I have a 2.5 year old that is having such bad nights. She doesn’t nap, and goes to be consistantly at 730pm. She falls asleep by herself with ease. We read a bedtime story and leave her awake to fall asleep alone. But then, at 12 or 1 or 2 she will wake up and can’t get back to sleep. She either wakes up and just calls for us, or wakes up screaming at the top of her lungs. When she wakes up she wants us to cuddle and stay with her. When we get her settled and leave she calls us back, and if we dont come the screaming gets louder, she throws things, hits the door and cries/coughs so hard that if it gets bad enough she will throw up. I dont’ know what to do, especially because we know from bedtime that she can fall asleep by herself. Please Help with any advice!
Miranda Frazier says
My 14 month old boy has slept thru the night twice. I do not do the CIO method, because I can’t handle it. Now at this point if I were to try he’d cry to the point of hiccups and would go to sleep like this. I want to say that teething as been the culprit, but I don;t know. I can give him tylenol or ibprofen for bed and put hurricane gel or orajel on his gums before bed and he’ll sleep for the longest about 4 hours. Other than that he wakes up at least once an hour or every two hours. Its like he has to have me. I know that getting himself to self soothe is important but how do I do that now? He had been sick for awhile (colds, allergies, etc… and thats why he wanted me)so mommy would not get any sleep so the end result is me getting on the couch or putting him in my bed. I can’t do it anymore. I don’t sleep with him in the bed- he moves alot and has to be right under me. I don’t know what to do anymore. I got desperate and thought maybe he could sleep with big brother. He’s 4. No luck. I just had surgery in hopes that would help me from being sick all the time. (probably a lack of sleep making me sick but I still needed it) Please help me. I really feel like my life would be sooo much better if I could just sleep. I mean I feel sluggish and tired all the time and don’t want to do anything ever anymore.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Sorry to hear things are so challenging with your 14 month-old. I agree that things will feel better likely when you get more sleep on-board.
My suggestion is to go in and talk with your son’s pediatrician now. Ask them to help you map out a plan for consistency in bedtime and sleep over the next month or so that doesn’t invovle crying it out so that you can make a plan you trust that will allow more and more autonomy for your son in learning how to get himself to sleep and get back to sleep and also align with your philosophies.
here’s a book you can look at too: https://www.amazon.com/The-No-Cry-Sleep-Solution-Through/dp/0071381392
Paro Sam says
I don’t know whether this blog is still going on. But I am at my wits end and could not find any help anywhere so trying here.
My 24 month old was a very good sleeper till she was 8 months. Then the sleep regression started which doesn’t seem to get over now also.
Normally naps for 2 hrs. She is sleepy 6 hrs after she get up in the morning. And 7 hrs after her nap she goes back to bed. Now, we are co sleepers. This gal wakes up 2 to 7 times a night. She is not fully awake but just sits up and makes some noises with eyes partially open. That time she wants me to rock her on lap and she falls back to sleep instantly. I keep her down and we r fine for some hrs again. I have made peace with this system but my problem is mornings. From around 4/5 AM she doesn’t want to get down my lap. Even if she does she wakes up in 15min and need my lap again. This thing continues till 7 or so and then she sleeps fine till 8:30.
I have a teenager as well who needs to get up at 6 and get ready. For last year my husband is helping a lot in that but can’t keep on doing this for ever. He has a lot of office work till 1:30/12 sometimes in the night and has to get up at 5:30 again for the older one. I feel terrible abt this. What should I do? REALLY REALLY DESPERATE! Pls HELP!
Gracynn is 23 months old and she has never spent a whole night in her bed unless she was at the sitter. She wakes up EVERY night and comes into our bed. Some nights she wakes up crying and we go get her. Other nights she just stands there at the edge of our bed until one of us wakes up to her. Other nights she has raging fits where it has taken 2 hours a car ride a lot of patience and a warm bottle for us to get her back to sleep. Then there’s the nights where she coughs and coughs and coughs. Just when I think we have one issue solved it’s a different issue the next night. I love my baby girl but I Can’t stand her sleep pattern or lack there of. I don’t know what to do for her. Taking her bottle away only sends her into a raging fit. Moving her from our bed back to her bed once she does go back to sleep only makes her wake up again. And for the life of me I can’t figure out why she only coughs at night. She will be done all day and as soon as you lay her down she starts hacking up a lung. Any advice would be great cuz I am literally at my wits end.
Please help! My son is almost 3 and has always been a night waker. However, unlike most of the previous posts he will not leave his bed to come to our room. Instead he will call out for me, and if I don’t go to his room he will cry literally until he vomits. So, what has become the routine is that he will wake usually twice a night calling for me, I go to his room, no talking and sit at the end of his bed until he falls back asleep within minutes. He falls asleep very easily around 8:30. After his book and prayers, he rolls over and is out. I do sit on his bed until he is sleeping. I’ve tried leaving before he’s actually out, but then we begin the calling/crying routine. I know this habit needs to be broken, but I don’t know where to start. This is further compounded by the fact that our second child is due in two weeks and she will need to be nursed through the night. Therefore, I really can’t be getting up three or more times a night with a newborn and an additional 2-3 times with our son.
We’re having a sudden and exhausting conundrum with our 4 year old. As a baby (when I was a single mother) she co-slept with me. She had a gradual transition to a crib, toddler bed, then a big girl bed, periodically finding her way into my own bed at night. Now she prefers her own bed, which is great.
However, she has been throwing the most downright horrid bedtime tantrums and waking up anywhere between 12 and 4 AM. As if the waking weren’t bad enough for her stepdad, who gets up for work at 4:30, she routinely turns the wakings into fits. She’ll snuff and kick her legs and whine and groan, but won’t tell either of us what the problem is. When we try and guess, she just snuffs at us and shakes her head. I’ll sit with her and rub her back or something similar to get her comfortable, but if I try to leave she’ll start to kick those legs and throw a for again. Usually, after about an hour, she’ll admit that she’s hungry and I’ll get her a few bites if yogurt and some milk or water.
And the bedtime fits? They consist of “but I’m not tired. Closing my eyes doesn’t help. I can’t do it,” before she even attempts to lie down. It will usually escalate to her screaming and kicking and punching when her dad or I gently remind her that this is her normal routine. The hunger awakenings have been happening for about a week, while the bedtime tantrums have been a constant battle for a few months.
We are at our wits end with this. Any advice?
I have a 2 1/2 year old who has always been a great sleeper. We’ve had the routine at night from birth to age 2, sit in the rocking chair with a bottle. He did great when I weaned him off the bottle and to a toddler bed(I just removed the front of crib) but I cannot get him to go lay down in his own bed. He screams, shakes and cries uncontrollably and won’t let go of me. I can’t get him back to sleep in his bed but if I take him anywhere else in the house to sleep he’s fine. I’ve tried sleeping in his room and he still wakes up. I’ve made him a bed on the floor next to my bed and he sleeps just fine as well as sleeping well if in my bed. I’ve tried to keep him from napping and running him crazy all day and it doesn’t matter. The second his body touches his bed he screams! We’ve even found him downstairs asleep on the couch with all the lights on. I’m at a loss at what else to do for him.
Cons Mar says
My son is almost 2 and rarely sleeps a whole night. I can count on 2 hands how many times he has, and never 2 nights in a row. There doesn’t seem to be anything different about those nights that he has slept through compared to most other nights. He wakes up 1-4 times when things are going well, and 5-10 times when things are not going well. We are very tired. Both of us work full-time, and have not slept a solid 8 hours for 2 years. He goes to sleep on his own fine (we lay him in crib awake and he falls asleep by himself). But after about 2-4 hours, he gets up and stands in crib. Escalates to bawling if we ignore and then takes a lot longer for everyone to get back to sleep, so usually I just go to him, put his blankets back on, and that’s the end of it. I say nothing (expect maybe “lie down”), and the interaction is about 3 seconds. He rarely wants anything else. Never had a bottle or pacifier. He has stuffed toys when he wants them, but lately doesn’t want them (he has never really been attached to any object). Has a sippy cup of water in the crib he can access if he is thirsty (sometimes he drinks early in the morning, not always, but he never needs my help for that). We have no idea what to do. I have tried telling him he can put his own blankets back on, but he actually can’t and gets quite frustrated, which wakes him up more and instead up being up for a minute, we are up for 45 mins repeating the lying down/blanket thing over and over until he finally passes out. Lately, he is starting to resist even going down to bed, although we have pushed through the last 2 weeks and finally seems to be going back to normal. Naps – he sleeps on a cot at daycare and has no issues. Sleeps for 2 hours. At night, he normally “sleeps” 10-11 hours, depending on how rough a night it was. How do we stop the wake ups? What is he getting from us?
Kim Gorey says
Hi all, we have a 2.5yr old girl who has just always been an angel to put to bed. You tell her bed time and she collects her bunnies and bottle and she walks to her room and asked for two stories, which she gets. The past week every time you tell her bed time sh starts crying but goes to her room where we read and put her in her cot, thats when she starts crying and coughing to the point of vomiting. Sometimes she just starts coughing strait away- like she knows it will make her vomit and then delay going to bed because I need to clean up and change her bedding and pjs. I don’t know what to do, it’s almost like she is scared to go to bed. After you put her back down she just crys out “mum” for half hour to an our to which I ignore and don’t go in. I have asked her if sh wants the door left open or a light left on but she has said no. I don’t know what’s spooking her and I am at a loss as to what to do. Please, all advise welcome 🙂
I really hope that someone can help me. I have a 2 1/2 year old who wakes up constantly. She has had a bedtime routine of bath and then bedtime for quite some time and just recently we have started reading her a book before we leave her room. She goes to bed between 8 and 8:30 pm and falls asleep on her own when we leave after reading her book. She rarely fusses at that time. She does however wake up each and every night. Sometimes as early as 12:30 and other times as late as 4:30 am. If she wakes up early she typically will come into our room and be led back to her several times throughout the night. Each time she comes into our room quietly and turns and walks herself back to her room when we get out of bed and take her back. Most of the time she will lay back down and we will leave and after a period of tossing and turning will come back to our room again. This can occur anywhere from 1 to 4 times in a night.
We have tried melatonin before bed and when she wakes up in the middle of the night and different dosages. We have locked her in her room, played music all night, stopped playing music, used a night light, not used a night light, left the fan on, left the fan off, making her fall asleep on her own, laying with her until she falls asleep, etc. I am sure that there are several things that I am forgetting to mention. I have been so desperate that I have tried Benadryl and Tylenol thinking that she might be in pain with no help.
She does have ear problems and has had three sets of tubes in the last year and has minimal fluid in her ear right now, but I ask her and she says that she does not hurt. Even in the few days following a new set of tubes she is still tossing and turning for hours at a time when she wakes up. She does not appear to have snoring issues and so I don’t think that sleep apnea is a problem. I do have her on Almond milk because she seemed to tolerate soy better as a baby and I have never given her milk yet even though I do allow her to eat things with dairy in them such as yogurt, pizza, etc. and she does seem to have abnormal bowels or any stomach pain.
I am at a loss and with a 3 month old as well and a full time job, I am desperate. My husband and I are exhausted and crabby and so is she a lot of days. I really need some help, but I don’t know what to do!!!
I have a 15-month-old, and her problem is night hunger. She never sleeps longer than 2 hours without waking up and expecting a feeding. The advice above is to lessen the amount fed and frequency. How do you do that when the toddler just screams and screams until she gets her fill when she wants it? I have tried to let her CIO to maybe get her to self-soothe but after almost an hour I couldn’t do it anymore. I went in after 5 minutes, then 10 minutes after that, etc. I didn’t touch her, just told mom is here, she’s ok, and night-night. None of this worked. I think it has gotten to the point where she’s switched her feeding schedule with daytime, because during the day it’s very hard to get her to eat much, and then she’s making up for it with all these night feedings. My almost-4-year-old didn’t sleep through the night until after the 15-month-old was born(she had FPIES), so I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in almost 4 years. Help!
Ok, I feel like a bad mom, but I am desperate. My 3 year old use to sleep very well, and now she is up about every hour after bed time. When I tell her to go back to bed its ‘no’. I am tired of her getting up. I finally spank her and she stays back in bed the rest of the night (with no crying too), but I feel horrible for spanking and feel that she is going to hate me. What should I do? I am a single parent to several kids, all on my own, and I need sleep to be functional at work. I’ve tried everything (bribing with marshmallows as a treat for staying in bed use to help). Please help!
JT Maynard says
My 21 month old loves to rub my skin; arms, legs, stomach if he can get to it, my
ears are an immediate go to. When he was younger he would hold my nose or lip…very painful with their little fingernails 🙂 Anyway, this need has gotten worse. He is very attached to me and seems to do this only to me. He used to do it to my husband but not anymore. He does this for 30 to 90 minutes before he finally falls asleep. Then he wakes up after 45 minutes or maybe an hour and a half, this continues all night. Then we go through the same routine where he rubs my arms and ears before he can fall asleep. Sometimes when he wakes up and he will be awake for 3-4 hours in the middle of the night. I am beyond exhausted and get frustrated on the long nights because I feel mauled. Lol! I have mentioned this to my doctor. She said he sounds like a high needs baby but has given us no direction as to how long this will continue. I have NEVER heard of a baby doing this. Is this why he sleeps so horribly? My first baby was so easy! My hubby is ready to do the CIO method. I just can’t. I have an anxiety disorder and worry he could to and that this need is an indicator he does. If my skin isn’t there to soothe him, he gets really upset and seems so broken by it. Not throwing a tantrum like my hubby thinks. Help!!!
I have a 2 1/2 year old who depends on his night feedings. When he finally falls asleep he wakes up about every 2 hours and I’ve tried given him less amount to eat but he freaks and screams until I give him more. I am a single mom and he is my only child, I’m exhausted and cant seem to help him with this habit.
Concerned Mommy says
I am concerned because my 2 year old wakes up several times a night in either a screaming fit, or just casually talking tot himself. At first it appeared that he actually woke up but his eyes were closed and he appeared to still be asleep. After these fits he tells me SHHHH , then lays down and sleeps. This happens several times a night. He’s extremely restless, I’m just worried this might be more serious then adverage night terrors.
Hi. I have a three year old, who used to sleep great. Never had any problems. But now she is waking every night between 1am-3am and is just up. Wont go back to sleep just wants to play. I have tried cutting out her nap. Putting her to bed. Giving her the natural sleep aid of melatonin. Even tried rewards but it just keepa happening. Insomnia runs in the family and im worried she might have it. Help?!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Hi Rosemary, I’d work hard not to provide any reinforcement during those overnight awakenings (no playing, no screens/TV, no snacks, etc) and let her get herself back to sleep on her own. Hopefully without any reinforcement she will start getting herself back to sleep during overnight early hours awakenings without you knowing it.
Hi, my son is a bit over 3 years old and he’s been waking up as far back as I can remember (maybe a year and a half?) every night around 3 or 4 am for about an hour or two. He just sings and talks to himself, sometimes jumps in his crib. I don’t come into his room. He entertains himself until he falls back asleep. He doesn’t seem to have any of the issues mentioned in this article. And thank G-d he behaves well during the day, so if I wouldn’t have known that he wakes up every night, I would never guess from his behavior. We tried playing around with his schedule- cutting out his nap, making it shorter, or changing the time but nothing helped. Again, he’s getting along fine so I’m not worried. It’s just so strange that he is up every night for so long!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I think you’re doing a good job observing his behaviors and following along. I suspect this will get better and this time of alertness will shrink as he ages. Sounds like he is really good at self-soothing so I wouldn’t change what you do. That being said, talk about this with his pediatrician at next visit so you cover all bases and get individual advice.
I have a three year old son who slept great in his own bed forever. But the last two weeks he keeps waking up earlier and earlier and crawling into bed with me and my husband. At first I attributed it to him changing daycare but it hasn’t gotten any better, in fact it has gotten worse. It was about 6-7 he would crawl in with us and go back to sleep now he’s up to 1-2 in the morning. I put him back in his own bed last night and he fell back asleep for maybe 10 minutes and woke up screaming which he hasn’t done in over a year…any advice?
My son is 16 months and will sleep through the night off and on. Some nights he will wake up 3 or 4 times a night and cry for a few minutes. If I go in there it takes longer to get him to sleep than if I just let him cry. My big concern is sometimes when he wakes up it is a high pitched screaming like he’s hurt or scared. His daycare provider said he does it after naps sometimes too. I’m worried that he’s having nightmares or something and don’t know how to help him. Also is it ok for me to let him get himself back to sleep when he wakes up or should I go in and rock him?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Children can have night terrors and some even have nightmares during toddlerhood. Don’t hesitate to check in with your child’s pediatrician for more info about behaviors you’re concerned about.
Hello, I’m wondering if you have any experience with children drinking rice milk (and sleep issues). I know that sounds weird but my 12 month old has been sleeping through the night with no problems until about a week ago when we switched her from formula to rice milk. She has a dairy allergy so I cannot give her full fat cow or goat’s milk (tried). My thought was, maybe rice milk is so nutritionally thin that she either A. doesn’t feel full and therefore wakes up or B. pees it all out quicker than the formula and wakes herself up because she’s SO wet…or maybe this is just a conscience but thought I’d investigate.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Any change in diet (like weaning from formula, etc) can certainly interrupt sleep skills and cycle. Cow’s milk, rice milk, nut milk typically have less calories compared to formula, ounce per ounce. Most children make up for that by eating more solid foods, etc –which is ideal during toddlerhood. I’d give it a bit more time and potentially check in with your child’s pediatrician if you don’t feel things are getting back to previous cycle.
Nicole Jobe says
As my sons first birthday nears… I wonder if I will stop making excuses for his not sleeping through the night. Kincade has slept maybe 5-6 times through the night.
I feel like I have tried everything. Taking feedings away. Not picking him up, only patting his rear end. He was a colic baby, so for the first four months I coped. I did anything for a little sleep and wasn’t ashamed. We used the CIO method at 5 months old with success. He cried for 3 nights. Then slept for three nights.
Then we got an ear infection. He has had about 10 so far and now has tubes.
There aren’t any more excuses for me to make for him. No more ear infections, no more colic and no more acid reflux. Back to CIO?
I have tried keeping him up later with no avail. He still gets up at the same time every morning regardless of whether I keep him up late or not. He is super active and is a healthy baby… we just want sleep 😉 He gets up 2-3 times a night currently. He eats gets at least one 6 oz bottle and goes right back to sleep.
I just don’t know how to break the cycle.
Kathryn G. says
My daughter is a little over 2 years old and always fought to go to bed at 7:30 pm but would quiet down after 10 minutes or so then sleep through the night. Now she is waking up at 2 am and crying and won’t stop until someone gets her. She screams blood murder, waking up everyone in the house even the 8 month old. She won’t go back to sleep unless someone is in the room with her. She has 3 nightlights in her room, has never been co-slept before and loves her toddler bed but for the past week she has been having those fits. Any suggestions or help?
I am in the need for some help I have moved my 2 year old son into a big boy bed about three weeks ago and it has been a nightmare. He continues to get up at 2 am and then again at 5. He has always been a good sleeper in his crib not sure why everything is changing. Last night was the worst I tried everything with him and he got so frustrated he started to bang his head on the wall. I believe it was to get my attention ( and it worked) I finally gave up around 3 and laid down in bed with him after that he was fine. Please help!
-one tired momma
Sally Treg says
Hi there, I have read through many of these sleep problems but can’t find anything similar to mine so will hope you can help. I am pregnant with baby number 4 and we returned recently from 3 weeks in the US (I’m in Australia) with our 7, 5 and 22month old. Whilst the time difference was a nightmare going over, it wasn’t so bad coming back. The problem we are having is with attachment. Our 22mo has always self settled, we followed the Tizzie Hall method with all our kids however DD has been by far the best. She has slept through, without a sound of complaint, since 11 weeks. I can safely say we had a period of at least 6 months where she slept from 7-8 without waking…BLISS! However, she is now used to having us all in the same room and will not settle at all unless we are standing over her cot. She screams for hours going to bed, throws her dummy out so we come in and pick it up, gets out of her sleeping bag and then demands it back on (“BAG ON!”) and generally just yells at my husband and I. She also wakes again anytime after 2 and starts this all again, this morning it went only until 5.30am and then she was awake at 6.10am. Both my husband and I are so exhausted. She is doing this during her day sleep as well. We have returned to her “usual” routine, left the door open so she can hear us, purchased night lights, constantly reassured her. When we go in, she literally throws herself onto the bed and closes her eyes and says “sit, sit, sit” because she’s happy to go to sleep if we sit in the chair next to her! We live in a small house and the boys need sleep (as do we!!) and I can’t have her still doing this once the new baby arrives (in the next couple of months). I worry that “tough love” maintaining the routine and consistent message we have already spent the last 2 years building may damage her if she continues to scream til she’s hoarse and nearly vomit, however standing in her room day and night while she falls asleep isn’t viable moving forward either…We’d really appreciate any help you can give! Many thanks
My daughter is 16 months. As of the last few weeks she has been waking up at least every 2 hours. (sometimes gets as bad as 15-30 minutes between waking) she is a self soother. We have a book and brush teeth bedtime routine. We give kisses and put her to sleep awake and she falls asleep no problem, but then has started waking many times through the night crying and unable to get herself back to sleep. When we go in to help her, I say “you are okay lay down” and she does and she goes back to sleep. I don’t linger or remove her from the crib. She has a white noise machine, in her own room, quiet house. Nothing in her routine has changed. I am exhausted and overwhelmed. Has anyone experienced this? Growth spurt? Theething, maybe? I don’t know, but I could use some help! Thank you in advance. -Brittany
Help!! I have a 29 month old who used to sleep so good!! Now she is up every night at 3am and every hour following until 630/7. I don’t know what to do. Its to the point where i cant even function. My eyes will not stay open until about 12pm and she gets into so much mischief while i sleep. Help!!
Hi, my alsmost 2 year old wakes up persistently throughout the night since last August when we had tubes put in her ears. We have tried everything and do not know what else to do.
Has anyone here tried Lavender oil? Lavender oil is a known sleep inducer. I use it on my son, mixed with other oils for his eczema, and he’s been a great sleeper since. We’ve just gone through some similar situations above when moving him to his toddler bed, and him waking up in the middle of the night. The two nights I’ve run out of his oils he’s woken up 6+ times a night, usually it’s just once or twice. I use the oils, diluted with coconut oil on his skin after a bath, and I also diffuse them in his room. It’s also great on scrapes, burns, splinters, etc…worth a shot for those of you that are desperate.
Hello, I am not one to post for advice on the internet but I am desperate. I have 3 year old twin boys. My one son (who is overall a bit more difficult) who used to be an amazing sleeper – always slept on his own, never woke up – has now over the past few weeks refusing to go to sleep without one of us in there with him. We have a bedtime routine of bath, PJs, playing with quiet toys like legos, storytime and lights out. He naps 2 hrs during the day – 12:30 – 2:30 and lights out around 8 – 8:30 pm which is sometimes even too late becuase I think he’s over tired and puts up more of a fuss. We try to leave the room and he’ll charge the door crying for us not to leave and to stay. We use every excuse in the book to leave the room and can get out for 10 – 15 minutes but he comes to the door crying again. this goes on for an hour until we finally give up and stay in the room which would be fine but he now also wakes up in the middle of the night wanting to come to our bed which we do not let him. he cries – will wake up the other twin. He’s difficult to console. Eventually we’ll end up staying in the room sleeping on the floor but it will take him 1 + hrs to fall back asleep and then wakes up again at 6:30 am when he hears my husband leave for work and cries.
The things that occurred in the last month or so since this behavior started was he developed an ear infection a little over a month ago with a high fever so obviously we stayed with him more during this time to monitor the fever,etc. He also was potty trained during this time but I keep a diaper on at night just in case.
When he wakes up i ask if he has to potty and says no. He does also snore at night but the snoring he’s had before this and wasn’t a factor in waking him up. I will still bring this up to the Dr and get checked out by an ENT to see if adenoids should be removed but I’m reluctant to have surgery done on a 3 yr old.
this is taking such a toll on us physically, mentally – we both work, we’re exhausted and experiencing back pain from sleeping on the floor. He isn’t getting enough sleep and it makes him cranky during the day.
I just don’t know what to do to get him back to the way he was.
Should we let him cry it out a few days and don’t go back up to check on him? I’m sure he’s now learned that when he cries we go there but his crying becomes uncontrollable – he gets more worked up and won’t sleep which is why we started going up before his crying escalates until he becomes hysterical.
any help, advice is really appreicated.
My Daughter is 3 years and will be 4 in February. She has never slept well and i have tried everything. I have tried the every night routine. I have tired bath time with the lavender. I have tired keeping the light on. sleeping next to her. Sharing the bed EVERYTHING… and now after years of lack of sleep I’m to about my breaking point, She is currently on melatonin and is still not getting enough sleep she is like she has a battery that never dies… and she even has bags under her eyes that never go away. she does not get a full 8 hours asleep, even with the melatonin and her doctor seems to think everything is just fine with that and that she has allergies that’s why she has bags but i don’t think that is the case. I a very concerned mother and have been fighting with this for years,I NEED HELP. please. I’m Adria that there is something more to not sleeping and there might be a physical problem but her doctor will not help!!
Yvonne Berlingieri says
Hi Christina – This sounds very much like my 3 1/2 year old and I was wondering if you ever found a resolution for the night waking. I am also losing my patience and at my wits end! best.
I have a daughter who turned 2 in August. I have always let her fall asleep on her from the age of 6 months. The past 6 months she doesn’t sleep through the night. She wakes up periodically. There are times when she won’t even go back to sleep. Last night I laid her down at 7:30, she woke up at 10:00 and again at 12:30 and again at 3:30. At 3:30 I couldn’t get her to lay back down in her crib. She was wanting to go in our room. Because I am so exhausted from not sleeping, I give in. I don’t know why because I still don’t sleep. She tosses and turns and finally at 4 something I just came downstairs and we both laid on the couch. She finally went back to sleep at about 5:30. I would take any suggestions. I have tried the crying out method numerous times, but she will cry for 2 plus hours on and off. I have a 6 year old and it started to affect his sleep. I need help. This mommy is exhausted. 🙁
Jessica Wilkerson says
I have a set of 3 1/2 year old twins my daughter sleeps fine but my son wakes many times through the night. Their Father and I are no longer together. He says that my son sleeps fine at his house (which I doubt) when he’s at my house its the same time every night. My kids spend the night at my sisters house and she say he wakes up banging his head and kicking at her house to. He screams and cusses and says very explicit nasty things. I’m worried very much and don’t know what to do……. HELP
We all need sleep
I need advice for my 23 month old twins. They go to bed in their cots wtih a bottle of water. My son seems to drink what he wants and go to sleep. On most nights that is it. My daughter however will drink one bottle and generatlly watn a second to go to sleep. Now she is waking in the night wanting a bottle. Should I just go cold turkey and stop giving her a bottle or go to the one only at bed time and then no more and just not go in. I am worried and just do not know what to do
We have a 3 year old who does well sleeping thru the night for the most part, however he wakes up between 4 and 5 to get up for the day! This is way too early for us, so we have been leaving him in his crib to cry until he falls back asleep. We want to transition him once he is sleeping later into a big boy bed. He goes to bed between 8 and 8:30 every night. We are very consistent and he goes to sleep easily. Its the early morning wake ups that are killing us. Any advice would be appreciated!
My son is 14 months old and I just adore him. I have an older son and I know how fast they grow up so at first, waking up in the middle of the night didn’t bother me, and of course was expected with a newborn, but I totally expected him to be sleeping through the night by now. His brother did it very early! 2 things I notice different between the two: My older son kept his pacifier until he was almost 2, so I think having that at night may have kept him sleep. Unfortunately, my 14 month old spit that paci out around 3 months and will NOT use it. He’s not a thumb sucker, but the bottle does put him back to sleep. The other problem is that my husband has a job that keeps HIM awake where he isn’t able to get much sleep. My mother lives with us and watches him for me while I’m at work. I find it hard to try the “cry it out” method because I want my husband to get a few minutes of sleep, and I want my mother to be able to rest as well since she has daytime duty. I don’t really know how to start this bottle weaning process. We do quiet time and bath just before bed, but no matter how sleepy he is, he will not go to sleep without me holding him and that bottle. Any ideas for a mom that really just wants her husband and mom to rest. (I’m used to being sleepy!)
I have a 4 yr old son whose night time behavioural and sleep issues I take complete responsibility for.. But which I need proper guidance to now overcome… It’s 4 years since I slept a full night or even in the same bed as my husband. And I’m feeling deflated now. He’s basically born in a home where both his parents find it very difficult to maintain a routine, his dad works way past midnight most nights and we are both away at work all day once we see him off to pre-school, only reconnecting in the evening by about 6.30.. When I get back from office. We run our own little business, my husband is the creative genius kind who can’t handle stress or lack of sleep or distractions or even money matters at either work or home so it’s a tight rope walk for me everyday trying to do my best in both aspects of my life… But I’m not doing very great at either cause at work I’m sleepy and at home well..: my son is still attached to his feeding bottle and drinks three full 10 ounce bottles each night.. Recently I’ve started to dilute the second two bottles 3 parts water to 1 part milk. But he won’t let go. I co-sleep with him and have recently moved to a mattress leaving him on the bed and noticed he sleeps better, perhaps without an anxious mother next to him… But he’s still on a diaper as well.. And I’m not sure how to start weaning him off both the bottle and diaper now cause I feel I might have left it for too late…
Please do help me with a step-by-step if you can. My paediatrician just gives me advice like “just throw his bottle away” and I want to tell him, “yeah why don’t you try it for me?”
Thanks in advance for any ideas or suggestions,
Wow, there is a wealth of information on here. My daughter wakes up in the middle of the night wanting a “baba” and my wife were debating whether we are going to ween or go cold turkey. I think we will try to ween. The other problem is that she saturates her diaper, and I feel terrible when I find her up with wet pants on. I assume that if she is still waking up, after we ween her off the bottle, it will be from her having a wet or soiled diaper.
Ethan Wang, DO says
Well, here it goes. My toddler is now 16 months old and was never a great sleeper. At one point he was sleeping through the night after I convinced my wife to not feed him at night when he wakes. We even went through sleep training, which got him to sleep through the night from months 8-11. From months 12-16 thus far he had 6 new teeth, one cold, where he was up a lot, all expected. However now at age 16 months he wakes up almost every night around midnight, then he cries out periodically 2-3 times from 1am-6am. Here is our routine, we read to him around 8pm after a bath at 7pm, he eats a good meal around 6pm. Around 8:30-9pm or when he starts to rub his eyes and gets tired/fussy, we start to rock him to bed. When he wakes up around midnight we let him cry it out thus far, he does go back to sleep after 15-30min, but I really want to go in and let him know that we are here. My wife is not working but it’s still a lot of work and a great emotional/physical drain on her daily. I try to sleep but find it difficult with his unpredictable outcries. Being an internist I have little experience with children, but I had inclinations about the association-factors and have finally convinced my wife to not run to him every time he wakes up, or take him into bed with us periodically. I also had the feeling that he need to fall asleep on his own, and the information here confirms it, so I will put him down in crib when he gets very tired then sit by him. Here comes the question, is he sleeping too late? Should it be before 8pm? We do also have a nightlight in the room, should it be taken out? I feel he wants to get up and play after 4 hours of sleep.
So my baby is just 12 months old and we are working on weening him off of breast milk. for the most part durring the day he is fine drinking regular milk but at night its the breast or he just wont fall asleep. he’d rather cry all night than be rocked to sleep. I’ve actually had the neighbors call to see if he’s ok because he crys so loud for so long if denied. So i nurse him to sleep and then gently put him in his crib. i’d like to correct this behavior at some point but the big problem is what happens 2 – 3 hours after his bed time at 9 pm. The first time he wakes i try to nurse him again. I get him back to sleep and the second I leave his room and get back to mine he starts crying, this is when i try again and after about 20 – 30 minutes i give up and take him back to bed with me. he can suck and i can sleep (this used to work, right?) its at this time he decides that he no longer wants to sleep and that its play time. we only have our bed and his crib (his crib is in his room)so i often take him out into the living room to try to get him to calm down before he wakes his father (at least one of us should get to sleep before we have to get up and go to work). usually this lasts about an hour or two before he’s finally sleepy enouph to fall asleep on the breast again. At this point I’m so tired that I just tuck him in the bed next to me and go back to bed for the next 2 hours or so he half wimpers and half suckles in that place between sleep and awake and then finally he goes down for a deep deep sleep and for the samll 30 minute window before my alarm goes off to wake me up to go to work for a 10 hour shift, I get to sleep. needless to say I’m thinking of running away from home to join the circus PLEASE HELP!!!!!
I have a 2.5 half year old girl who rarely sleeps all night. I nursed until 12 months and she really started sleeping through the night at about 8 months old. I feel like that only lasted 4-5 months and since just over a year old, she has not slept through the night consitently. We never coslept, she was in her crib by 8-10 weeks old, if not sooner. We have always had a strict bedtime routine. Baths, lotion, reading a couple books, the same classical baby lullabies on sleep mode set to turn off after so long. She is capable of sleeping through the night. She has gone stretches of sleeping all night that lasted a few days to a month. Lately it seems to be getting worse. It seems like her brain will never turn off enough for her to fall asleep or stay asleep. We start bedtime routine at 730 and usually try to have her in bed by 815-830. She often doesn’t fall asleep until 9, 930 or even 10. She comes up with any and every excuse to avoid going to bed. She needs to tell someone goodnight multiple times, wants to read more books, needs to go potty even though she just went, needs a wipe or some inadimant object, and if you try to tell her no, she has meltdowns that the whole neighboorhood could probably hear. We’ve tried being firm, we’ve tried giving in, we’ve tried everything. The bigger problem is that once asleep, she doesn’t stay asleep. Some nights she is up once, some nights up to 4 times. Sometimes she says she wants those conditions that were present at initial time she fell asleep ie: music, the hallway light on, rubbing her back. Sometimes it is as simple as turning music back on and covering her up. Sometimes its the all out fit throwing where we try putting her back in bed several times over and over until we’re both just so exhausted that she gives in. I’ve tried the music, essential oils in a diffuser, bath water, the bottoms of her feet. I know she has allergies and will be taking her to see an allergist this week, but I need sleep and imagine she does too. She is up for the day no matter what by 630. She takes one nap a day from 1230 ish to 2 and then we start all over again. Somedays she is falling asleep at 10/1030 or at lunch becauase she is tired. I am not sure if health issues are the cause of her not staying asleep or if she just craves/needs attention. It is almost like she is afraid to be alone…any suggestions?
Mindy Jackson says
You just described my 3 year old! This is our night time/day time routine. Also, my child has meltdowns and I can’t help but think if she wasn’t so tired then she could handle life better!
Mindy Jackson says
Our fourth child just turned 3. She has never been much of a sleeper. As a baby she would wake up multiple times (like 10 times a night). Now that she is 3, she wakes up three to four times a night. She does not sleep with us, nor has she ever. She doesn’t want to sleep with us, if I try (out of desperation) she always asked to be put back in her bed. She goes to sleep around 9:30 pm and sleeps till 1:30 am and then she comes in my room and ask for me to hold or, or play Barbies with her, or for some milk. When she starts coming in my room she doesn’t stop and she is wide awake. We are desperate for sleep!! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
kelly hansen says
my 23 month old wakes up every night between 1 and 3am… i have tried cutting back on the milk, she gets water when she wakes up at that time and she does not mind either way… and also she is very cranky during the day when she wakes up, which is every day… i am so tired day in and day out i just dont know what to do anymore… advice is needed
A very sleep deprived nana says
A have a two year old grandson who me and my husband are raising and we have from birth,, but anyways he wakes up every hour 1-2 hours every night and when he does he expects a bottle and he drinks the whole bottle. We have tried soothing him and rocking him but he wants a bottle. He goes through about five diapers through the night, he doesn’t nap throughout the day. If he goes to sleep at 9 he’s back up at 4 and stays up until about 10, but if he goes to sleep around 11 he sleeps until about 10 but he wakes up all throughout the night wanting a bottle. Please help I don’t know how much more i can take.. I need some sleep I’m exhausted ..
Brittany Savinkoff says
My son is 2 years old and wakes up frequently during the night. Sometimes every 1.5-2 hours and sometimes 2-3 times a night total. Very occasionally he sleeps through the night. When he wakes up its normally not a ‘cry’ but more whining than anything, and sometimes when we go in there it almost seems like sometimes he is still sleeping but it is impossible to figure it out over the monitor because sometimes he is sitting up when we get in there. He has very complex CHD that has caused a lot of trauma in his life and it has been very frequent. Could the trauma be why he is waking up? He has also had feeding issues his whole life (NG fed from 5-16months) and now drinks a high calorie formula, but not a whole bottle at a time he just snacks all day. We have an early childhood psychologist getting involved to get a start on all of the issues surrounding the trauma but what else can we try for sleeping? He has never co slept (don’t think he would even if i tried) and goes to bed all on his own. He is in a crib and has never tried climbing out so i haven’t even thought of switching to a bed yet. My 3 month old seems to sleep much better than him, but with both of their wake ups combined its becoming a killer!
Please help me! I have a 2 year old son who hardly ever sleeps. I have tried just about everything. He still sleeps in bed with me, he has since he was born. We are up until 4-5 am normally, which results in sleeping until 1 or 2 pm. I know what most people would say to that.. Get his butt up early! I’ve tried waking him up around 9, which results in him taking an early nap, which results in an early bedtime (yes, 10 pm is early for him), & he wakes around midnight. Then we’re up until 5 or 6 am. I’ve tried no nap during the day. Which results in an early bedtime & the same thing happens. I don’t know why he’s waking up! He still cries for a bottle every 2-3 hours during the night/morning also. Can you help me? I feel like a walking zombie during the day.
I came here looking for advice for my 21 month old who still rarely sleeps through the night, and won’t go back down without a fight, but came away with an almost overwhelming relief that we’re not alone in this problem. I found some tips to try, though. Good luck to everyone!
I am a monther of 21 month old twins. My son is a sleeper but recently wakes 1-2 hours after putting him to sleep screaming. I have been trying to let him cry it out but he eventually wakes my daughter. My daughter on the other hand has slept through maybe a handful of nights since she was born. She typically wakes up between 12-2am. I quickly run in and sooth her before she fully wakes up. If I don’t make it in their quick enough she sometimes will cry for 2-3 hours. I feel like I have done so much wrong between sleep habits, bottles and not letting them cry it out. Sometimes I feel like it is too late at this point. They always say you learn with your first but in my case I got a double dose. I just want to sleep through the night. I forget what it feels like only doing it two- three times in the past 2 years. Someone please help with some advice. My kids are in different rooms, have sound machines, but can still hear everything due to the age of our house.
I am having some serious challenges with my 2yd old. She slept fine from 6-22 months. All night(10 hours). We went on a family trip to Louisiana in April of 2014 and it has been hell ever since. She rocks and bangs her body or face on the bed. It scared us terribly. We took her to a specialist and a neurologist, both of whom confirmed nothing was wrong with her. She now wakes up every 2 hours on the dot and IS NOT tired at all. Me meanwhile I’ve almost had car accidents and have a hard time focusing and remembering things. I can’t carry on this way too much long. What can I do? She doesn’t rock or bang her head when she gets in the bed with us, but at the same time I can’t have her in the bed with me and my husband because if I do, we get zero adult time together. Help me please.
Hi. I have a daughter who will be 3 in march. She still falls asleep with a sippy cup and milk.. I’ve tried taking her off of it numerous times but she screams, cry’s and throws a tantrum until she throws up. When she was younger I tried the cry it out method with her but I would only wait a couple of minutes before going in to her room to get her. She typically goes to between 730 and 830, sometimes she doesn’t want to fall asleep until about 10 or so. I have tried everything to get her to sleep in her own bed and she sometimes will but only if I am sleeping next to her. She usually sleeps on the couch but she has to be watching a certain show in order to fall asleep. She does cough a lot throughout the night and most of the time it results in her vomiting. After she goes to sleep she typically sleeps for about 3 hours and then wakes up every hour or 2, and finally at around 6am she is up and ready to go. I am so exhausted all the time and don’t know what to do anymore, I have tried everything I can think of. Please HELP!!!!
amy quinn says
I have a 2 1/2 year old Girl. Always was great at bedtime for going to bed. Always slept very well up until a few months ago..maybe 6 or 7. She’s been in her cot. Always happily walked herself to bed and always fell asleep herself with her dodey and teddy. No assistance from us Only walk down with her and say goodnight. Lately she’s been waking up 4 ,5,6 times a night. Every night. We figured it might be the cot space so converted it to the bed last week. She adores her little bed. Never gets out of it not yet anyway. She falls asleep herself but it hasn’t helped her waking up problem. She still wakes regularly starting from about 2 am. She’s not roaring crying when she wakes. And she goes back to sleep soon as I come in and give her her dodey or put the blankets back over her. She calls out when she wakes. She doesn’t leave her bed. Sometimes I think she’s been dreaming but other times I don’t know she just unnecessarily wakes so many times at night. I’m afraid if I leave her to soothe herself back to sleep she’ll only awaken more and maybe start getting out of her bed. Don’t know what to do our sleep pattern is terrible I find myself in bad form everyday from interrupted slEeep. Please help
Hi! Please help…
I have a nearly 2 year old & a 6 month old..the baby has 2x 2hour naps and the toddler 1x 2 hour nap in the day! In the evening we bath, get dressed and both babies go in their cots (seperate rooms) with a bottle of milk, I kiss their foreheads and leave the room, they both go to sleep on their own, always have, I have never cuddled/rocked/breastfed them to sleep! (Naps are exactly the same) The only time either of them have ever made a fuss to go to sleep is the toddler when she knows her grandma is still in the house, fair enough..we ignore her, it lasts less than a minute then she settles down! Both children have slept right through the night since their colic settled at about 3weeks, neither of them have ever woken before 7am..they currently sleep from about 630pm-830am!
My problem is the toddler! she uses a pacifier only in bed..it can be twice minimum, 10 times maximum per night, she shouts out or lets out a loud cry (never crying) she appears still asleep, eyes closed, lying down! If we don’t go to her, she carries on with these shouts! Either me or my husband quietly enter the room, offer her water, replace her dummy if she has lost it or stroke her head and then leave the room. We have never had to remove her from her room and she has never properly woken up at night and she has never slept in our bed. I am a very affectionate and loving mother and we have a wonderful loving bond, but I have always been very matter of fact about bedtime and apart from this problem I count myself extremely lucky! I would love to know what might be wrong as it still causes us to have a terrible nights sleep, occasionally these outbursts also make the baby stir! She eats and drinks brilliantly, naps well in the day, she is in good health and has all her milk teeth now! Any suggestions would be most welcome! Thankyou
Hi my little guy is going to be 3 in April.. For a few months now he’s been waking up consistently at 2 am give or take a few minutes every night. Sometimes he screams and runs to the door.. Other nights he just gets up and walks around and will often look under the door.. I wish I could try the white noise idea but he is destructive and breaks everything as soon as he wakes up in the morning. Even keeping plates on the outlets is difficult because he can get the screws out somehow! I don’t know what’s wrong or why he wakes up and I don’t know what to do about it please share any idea or any kind of explanation you may have thank you!
I have a 15 month old who still wakes up 1-3 times a night sometimes for about an hour at a time or more. He has a good bedtime routine but needs one of us to be in the room while he falls asleep. Not to do anything, just to be there. Are we the sleep cruch? He always cries the moment he wakes up so we rush to him just incase we can keep him sleepy. Am exhausted. He’s slep
Through a about 5 times in 15 months… Any help would be appreciated.
Hii.I have a 14 month old that is still waking up between 1 and 2 am.I havr tried letting him self sooth himself back to sleep for half hour and he fusses till he gets a 4oz bottle.Then falls right back asleep.I know I shouldnt be caving in an giving him a bottle but sometimes its easier for me. Im 27 weeks pregnant with my 2nd child a im exhausted.A normal nights sleep is needed. He has a nap at 1030 till 1230, plays all day eats very well .Then I put my son to sleep between 7 730 after a bath, every night he only wants a bottle before bed 7 oz usually.Falls a sleep fine but the 2am comes around and hes standing up in his crib fussing.He has no tv in his room.A small night light and a projector with soothing music that he likes.And a humidafier. Sometimes I feel like Im doing everything all wrong or feel mean to let him just cry till he falls asleep.Is there something I can do.I sure wish we both slept great.And when i have the second baby I cant have two kids wanting bottles.Just the one.I need to break this habbit befor may.So please give me advice.
My son is nearly two and half our bedtime is very consistent we have a bath at 6 oclock downstairs for 6:30 for stories and cuddles. Bedtime for 7 oclock. I tuck him in kiss him good-night and leave the room. He does get out of bed once or twice but I reassure him and he goes back to bed no problem to fall asleep by himself. About three hours later he begins to wake and it continues from there throughout the night, mostly I will take him back to bed and leave the room and he will fall back to sleep but lately he has started to take longer to fall back to sleep and I need to continue to return him back to bed a number of times which can sometimes take an upto an hour. I am exhausted and my partner and I are struggling from the broken sleep. He does have a dummy still which he was given in hospital as a new-born, he was born with strep b meningitis and spent a month in hospital when he was discharged he was under a pediatrician until two – discharged with no concerns. He did have reflux and was on medication until 15 months but doesn’t complain of any discomfort now. He still has a nap usually around mid-day for about 1hr/45. He is a terrible eater and prefers to snack little and often I ensure he eats only healthy foods plenty of fruit/cheese/yogurts etc. but he seems to dislike textured foods e.g. meat. Hes very active typical boy and doesn’t stop from the minute he wakes in the morning until last thing at night. He gets plenty of fresh air, plays all day and for 2.5 days of the week goes to nursery. Please help with any advice 🙁
I don’t know if you are still responding, but I am beside my self… Our now 20 month old has had sleep problems from day 1. I thankfully at six weeks got it figured out and by three months she was sleeping through the night! It was wonderful. She was, it should be noted, in a rock n play next to my side of the bed… But when we moved her to her own room and bed at a year old, I have pretty much been camped out in here ever since… We will go through out routine, sometimes nurse sometimes not. But I have to lay here until she falls asleep… No exceptions. CIO is not for us. But the most time I get is from around 10 when she finally falls asleep after two hours of quiet playing etc, until about 1 or 2 am. Then she cries until I come in and tell her to go back to bed. Again, she won’t stop until I lay down w her. The only way I get any sleep at that point, cause she wakes up almost every hour after that, is if I stay on the floor for the rest of the night… Lately she is waking up crying, like she is in pain… She does on occasion have gas… But only occasionally so I have no idea what could be causing it…
My 3.5 year old son has no problems staying asleep…it’s getting him to sleep that’s the issue…and it’s a new issue just 2 weeks ago I would tell him it’s bedtime lets go to bed and he would run and dive into his bed and go to sleep, one nite, two weeks ago he had a high fever and wouldn’t let me put him down at all, so he slept in my bed pretty much laying on me. Ever since then he will not go to sleep on his own he screams and cries when I tell him it is time to go to bed, and now even laying with him until he falls asleep doesn’t work cause he just keeps trying to play
April Sibson says
Help! My 22 month old daughter had always been a great sleeper. Slept through the night since she was 3 weeks old. Within the past couple of weeks she has started waking up several times during the night. Some nights it’s 3 or 4 times, others 6 or 7. Sleep intervals range from 20min to an hour. She wakes up, walks down the hall to our room, most times crying, and I take her back to her room and put her back to bed. It’s becoming exhausting for my husband and I, as we are not getting much sleep. She is constantly saying she is thirsty when awake at these times as we’ll. She goes to bed at 8pm every night, on her own, awake. I don’t rock her etc. she has been self-shooting at bedtime and nap time since 6 months. I’m concerned she may have a health issue which has caused a sudden change in habits. I have noticed she has become a “gager” at evening Meal times as well as later into the evenings as well. doesn’t seem to want to eat her evening meal. She will gag and vomit easily when attempting to eat or if she is very active. I have also noticed she will be extremely sweaty at times when she wakes, without any drastic climate changes in her room. A couple of times, I think she has vomited a little bit on her pillow as we’ll during the night. Any suggestions or reccommendations would b appreciated. Thanks!,
Hello, I have a 19 month old daughter that has never slept through the night. She has always either slept in the bed with me or I the same room in her pack n play. We have recently moved abd she has her own room now shared with her 4year is brother. She dosent fall asleep in her own unless she is in our bed, then I move her to her bed in her room, 3-4 hours later( sometimes sooner) she wakes up screaming and running thou the house, she sounds so scared, I end up putting her in bed with me cause it takes a few minutes to calm her down. I just dint know what to do! I want her to sleep in her own bed in her own room, without her disrupting her older brother, any advice???
Hi. I see that this is an old post and hope that you will still reply to my comMent. My son is 13months old. He slept very well until last year oct When he started gettong sick. He is on a permanent astmapump and monte-air for his closed up chest. He has also had constant middle ear infection since then. He has had grommits put in twice…in october and again Two weeks ago. He constantly has goo running from his ears and rubs it A LOT especially at night. The last time we went to hosputal they removed his adenoids and did alergy test. They came back positive for dairy soya an citrus-alergies. He cries all the time and does not sleep for longer than 30min at a time at night. He eats well, does not have a fever, picks up weight and reaces all milestones. But i cannot bare the thought of him in constant pain and all the screaming. Is there anything my docters might be missing? He has been on cortizone treatment and antibiotics once a month for the last 5months.
I have a 2yr old that for the past month maybe longer, will wake up multiple times during the night screaming and crying. we took his pacifier away about 2-3 months ago and he did pretty good took a week for him to settle down of not having it at night anymore, it was good he would sleep, but then all of a sudden he would wake sup at lease 2-4 times a night and recently he has a fit going down which before he would only fuss for a min and fall asleep. My husband said he had night terrors when he was little so its a very good chance that its that? but can they really have that many a night every night? Its starting to take a toll on us and getting frustrated that we cant figure it out to help him. he cant speak that clearly yet to let us know what’s wrong. I am willing to try anything! Im also gonna call our dr today and see what they have to say. I have just been told they will grow out of it and it will pass but its been months and nothing has changed
Louise Quinn says
Please help! My 3yo son goes to bed around 8 pm but needs me to lie next to him or cuddle him. I try put him down while hes drousy but awake. Once asleep he will sleep till 1 or 2 but then comes to our room to get me, he needs me to b able to fall asleep. Im 5 months pregnant and need this fixed soon how can I get him to sleep all nite. I feel stuck. Thanks in advance x
Emily R says
My son is turning 2 in about 2 weeks. He has been sleeping through the night (8:30-7) for at least a year. Now all of sudden, he wakes in the middle of the night and cries. He is still in a crib and when he goes to bed, he goes to bed awake and puts himself to sleep. The strange thing is all we have to do is go in and put your hand on his back and he stops and lays down and tries to sleep again. On some occasions, he will pop his head back up and cry if you leave the room. Sometimes this happens 3-4 times a night. It so frustrating and tiring to get up 3-4 times again! Should we just let him cry? Or what is the best way to get him to sleep through the night again?
Monique van Zyl says
My son is 2 years old and has never been a great sleeper but has become worse recently, he now wakes up every 2 hours and sometimes every hour. I give him 100ml of milk and he goes back to sleep. I am exhausted and fear that I am becoming depressed due to this and other personal factors and am desperate to try get some sleep as I am sure this will help with other issues.
My daughter is just over 3 years old and has always been an amazing sleeper. In fact we used to brag on her. She would sleep from 10 to 12 hours a night and had up until about a week ago. We moved to a new home 3 weeks ago and at first she did great. Then, out of nowhere, she started waking up screaming and running through the house into our room and saying she didn’t want to go to sleep, she was scared and she wanted to sleep in our bed. She has never really slept with us before and we haven’t been letting her. Except one time I didn’t realize she had gotten into our bed. I am afraid I am making this worse. There were several things that we had changed when we moved but have recently changed it all back to as close to before as we could get it. The bed is in a similar position, the music that plays is the same, her night lights are the same, even her bedding is the same. I had been sitting with her and laying with her until she fell asleep but then she has been doing this so much in the night that I have been falling asleep next to her. I know she’s afraid of something, different noises maybe? I don’t know how to help with that though. We already play music, have a fan going and now the dog is sleeping with her to help her feel more safe. I always return her to her bed, she lays down and wants me to rub her back. I have contacted her pediatrician but have not heard anything back yet. I figured I would talk to the experts as well. So, please, if there is any information you can give it would much appreciated.
Andrew turley says
Hi. My son 22 months he has all ways had a very good sleep routine and good sleep pattern. From the age of 3 months he’s been sleeping all night!
But for the past months ( age 22 month ) he goes to bed ok. But now gets up though the night. The first time we just put him into our bed. But then we realise that we need to stop this. So now. Each time he gets up we lead him back to his bed ( he’s completely tired) we get him back in to bed. But as we try to go out the room he the. Gets back out and runs to us and then we do it again put back to bed and again gets up. This can last for 1-2 hrs. We just don’t know what or how to get him out of this. Can any one help.
Thank you Andy
Hi. Please help me. I have a 2.5 year old daughter amd have been struggling with bed her whole life. I have changes a lot of things amd tried a lot of things and now this is my situation… she will fight me amd beg me amd cry for me when I put her to bed around 730 ish. Her father and I now switch nights which for him she usually will stay in bed with less if not none of the hassle she gives me. Her father thinks it’s because I give in sometimes through out our day activities idk! ?? So eventually after she finally falls asleep she wakes at 2am ish comes to lay with me in our room. Is she having anxiety how do I figure that out? Idk what to do anymore I wanna do our bedtime routine which is always the same and her just go to bed amd stay there not make me carry her 25 times back to her room or hold her door shut.etc. I have tried laying in there, night light, no night light, tv no tv, crying it out, check back, meletonin, spanking. Please help me this stress of her behavior is causing so much stress between fiancée amd I. Please email response to me incase I don’t make it back on here. Tj17gange@yahoo.com
Susan Finnegan says
I am the neighbor of a family that has a one year old that 3/4 of the week wakes up anywhere between 3:30 and 4:30 and cries. And cries. And cries. The parents do not intervene. The child gets angrier by the minute and then begins to SCREAM. And SCREAM. And SCREAM! This often goes on for 45-60 minutes or until I finally blow a fuse and stomp about. I am so sleep deprived it isn’t funny! It seems to me that the child would have learned to self comfort by now (5 months of this). Help me understand. Are the parents missing something here? Am I missing something? (Yes, I have grown children).
nichole brown says
i have a 15 month old and he wakes up 2 to 3 times a night for a bottle.. as soon as I give him his bottle he goes directly back to sleep.. help I need sleep he naps just fine during the day its just at night
Danielle Saunders says
I have a two year old daugther that wakes up every night for milk….2am I dont know how to fix the problem. If she doesnt get the milk she will cry until I give in. however to me she doesnt have a peaceful night sleep because she is waking up two and three times a night. Please help
GINGER MCGOWAN says
I have a 15 month old who has a nightly routine. Supper, bath, a little play, then we go into her bedroom say our prayers, night kisses, I read her a book and then rock and sing her to sleep. Sometimes it’s a breeze getting her to sleep and other times it’s a nightmare. She will refuse to go down, kick me and cry. After about 30min to a hour I get up and change the scenery for awhile and then I will usually have to go to the garage and sing, bounce, and pat her on the butt to get her to sleep. And usually she cries until she finally gives up. Maybe because it is dark and quiet. But her room is like that too. I don’t know. But on top of this she does not sleep during the night at all. She moves a lot during the night and will wake anywhere from 1 to 4 times. Very rarely she will go back to sleep on her own. I have gotten to the point where we will go lay down on the couch or another bed and fall back to sleep. And sometimes after changing her diaper she will cry saying milk. But no night is the same. It is always different. I probably have formed a bad habit laying down with her but being a full time worker I need as much sleep as I can get and she usually sleeps better when we are snuggled up to each other. Is there any advice you can give me to help her sleep during the night.
My daughter, who is almost 4, wakes almost every night about two hours after going to bed. She has been a horrible sleeper from the beginning and we’ve discovered food was a major culprit. She is now lactose and gluten free. BUT we are still left with the one wake-up time. (She was waking up for hours at a time before taking gluten out!) She wakes up screaming and will continue to scream until we go tell her to use the potty. She will go to the bathroom, fall back asleep and sleep all night.
Is she screaming for attention? Or just so tired and doesn’t want to get out bed to use the bathroom? She is a very independant little girl! Why the screaming? Why not just go to the bathroom? Is she really awake or screaming in her sleep?
I have a lot of trouble with our first baby, but with baby #2, I started using the “Babywise” principles. Get the book!! It is so worth it! My biggest mistake was nursing the baby to sleep. Babywise is all about feeding as soon as baby wakes up, then having “waketime” and then learning to fall asleep on their OWN!! It’s been a lifesaver for me! I really recommend it for any struggling parent.
My son is 2 years and 4 months for the past week he has been waking up several times at night crying/screaming and when i go into his room he is shaking a lot and keeps pointing to the wall.? I don’t know why he is scared there is only trucks stickers on his wall and above them is a shelf which has cars. Can someone please help me understand why my son is becoming so scared and what i can do to help him.
My soon to be 4yr old has been a very good sleeper always slept 12-13hrs since about 5months old up until recently where she will come to our bedroom around either 1:30am or 4am and has a very hard time falling back asleep. We put her to bed around 8pm and she is awake when we leave the room and is able to put herself to bed. When she does wake in the middle of the night she is so exhausted but sometimes refuses to go back to bed. When I calmly tell her he has to try to close her eyes and fall back asleep she sometimes gets aggressive and tries to hit. This is something she does not do while awake during the day. She is a very sweet little girl but when exhaustion sets in it’s almost like she’s in a dream state (night terrors?) or something like that. I try to help her identify what emotions shes feeling. I usually tell her calmly I know you are tired and sad and that’s ok but it’s not ok to hit. This usually helps calm her and stop her from hitting but not getting her back to sleep. Any suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated. We are going on interrupted sleep like this for about a month now.
Thank you for this brief and clear article. My daughter, now 2 1/2 years old has been sleeping 11-12 hour nights pretty much for a year. Suddenly though this week she has been waking every single night at 3:45-4 AM for at least an hour crying and fussing about her teddy bear/her comforter/whatever inexplicably. We are quite mystified. Might you have some advice/explanation?
Thank you so much!
Hi! I have a 2 1/2 year old who has always been an amazing sleeper. She’s had a bedtime routine forever. We’ve never had any issues. All of a sudden the last few weeks she’s been impossible to get to go to sleep without one of us sitting in her room. We always read a book, tick her in, pray, turn on classical music that automatically shuts off in an hour or so, and she goes to sleep. Now she cries and cries. She is also getting up about every 90 mins at night. She comes out of her room and either cries til I find her or comes to my bed. We take her back to her bed, tuck her in, and sit in her room til she goes back to sleep. She requires very little but no one is getting any sleep. Nothing had changed recently and I’m so worried about why my girl isn’t sleeping. My pediatrician recommended melatonin for a week and to call him back. I’ve done it for about 6 nights now. It’s nit helping, she’s up more then ever at night. I don’t know what to do… I’m a pediatric nurse myself and I can’t think of why her sleep.pattern has changed so drastically. She use to sleep 12-14 hours straight. Please help! -Eve
My 32 month old daughter has been waking up for the last 4 mths crying, as if she has a nightmare, she does this almost 2 -3 times through the night. She has just recently stopped using the pacifier. Now when she awakes, she refuses to go back to her bed and wants to sleep in ours. But even in our bed she gets up crying and if you hold her or just be firm with her shes goes back to bed almost instantly. I had her ears checked, shes fine. She falls of to sleep easily after 2-3hrs the waking up starts.
Please help me help my baby, thank you, Michelle
This article seems to be about infant sleep problems. It is titled “4 Reasons Toddlers Wake Up at Night”. Sorry….but a little disappointed as this did not help at all with my toddler issues.
Sarah Thompson says
I am desperate for answers! I have a almost 3year old (3 weeks) and she doesn’t sleep through the night anymore. Shes always had a dislike when it comes to sleep but up until about 2 months ago she would sleep from about 9-9. She doesn’t nap a lot and if she does she doesn’t go to sleep till round 12!! advice please
Marie Conley says
Our 20 month old just recently moved to the big boy bed. He slept through the night perfectly for two weeks and now the last two weeks he’s been getting up every one to two hours coming to us for milk. We only give him an ounce or two just to quench his thirst and get him back to sleep but now it’s become a habit we can’t seem to quit! We tried to go cold turkey and leaving his a cup of little water by his bed but he wants the milk. I’m 6 months pregnant and don’t want to have to get up for two babies in a few months! What can we do to get him to sleep without the milk? Thanks for any help!
Kerrie Owens says
My 2 year old daughter used to sleep through night. Five months ago after an illness and growth spurt, she started waking up several times during the night wanting water. She does not get out of bed and after drinking water goes right back to sleep. As a result for the past 5 months my husband and I have not a decent night’s sleep. Should we be giving her water at night when she wakes up?
Naomi Flores says
I have two children, both who are under 2 years of age. My oldest is 22 months and is the one with the sleep problems. My son who is 10 months sleeps through the night, which can be anywhere between 9-11 hours at one time. Occasionally he’ll wake up hungry in the middle of the night, but not often.
My daughter, on the other hand, has always had problems sleeping. She went through what her pediatrician referred to as a sleep regression around 3 or 4 months, and then again around 10 months. However, we never really recovered from that last one, since her little brother was born when she was just 12.5 months.
Lately she has been waking up terrified around the same time every night. There has been some changes in her routine, which I think is the culprit. My husband has been working odd jobs on his days off, so she has to share Mommy with her little brother. She’d only wake up once in awhile during the night when my husband’s is around on weekends, but since he’s been working every weekend, she wakes up terrified. Last night she was so scared she started rocking back and forth by herself. But as soon as he goes in to pick her up, she calms right down.
My husband and I are running on fumes– have been since my second child was born 20 months ago and we are desperate for some help. We used the same methods with him as our first, who slept/sleeps okay (normal once in a while wakings) in his own room/bed. I am starting to think that something is wrong with the 20 month old and we cannot sustain this for much longer.
Since he has born, I can count on one hand the number of times he has slept more than a 4 hour stretch at a time. We put him to bed at 7:30 or 8. He goes to sleep on his own happily usually, but will sit up in his crib and start to fuss until one of us goes in, comforts him as briefly as we can, and gets him to lay back down. He’ll wake once or twice before midnight, and again 2 or three times every night until he wakes up around 6:15 for good. I’d say he is waking anywhere from 3 (rare) to 5 or 6 times (usually) total every night. It is driving us absolutely crazy, as this has been his entire life. Only now is it occurring to me that there is something wrong. We don’t give him any night feedings and haven’t since 8 months. He gets an occasional sip of water when he asks. We don’t play or cuddle or do anything to positively reinforce this, and we’ve tried to ignore it and let him cry it out, but it escalates him into wailing for long periods of time and wakes up his older brother, so we try to go in and nip it soon after it starts. He is usually sitting up when we find him. He seems happy and healthy during the waking hours, and always naps mid-day for about and hour.
If anyone is out there with some advice, I’d be forever grateful! I am losing my mind.
I feel this pain with you, my daugther is 20 months old now and have not slept through the night ever since she was born. She struggled with adenoid problems which was taken out/scrapped twice. Pediatritions, doctors and specialists in and out. I am fed up. She used to wake up 12 to 13 times at night but it came down to 5-7 times at night since we took out the adenoids. I sometimes feel like throwing that child to the ground of being so frustrated. If you ever get help, PLEASE LET ME KNOW….
Pediatritions, doctors and specialists do not help at all and some of them think that i am making it worse than what it is. I have lost my mind already
Need help please!
We have a 3 year old boy (who will be 4 in December) we obviously love him very much but he has been refusing to sleep of a night time shouting, screaming and slamming doors thus waking his 1yr old brother who is usually an extremely good sleeper. He goes to sleep but wakes up every day at 4:30-5am and some times during the night refusing to go back to bed again shouting, screaming and slamming doors my partner especially has been extremely upset and actually broke down into tears I (Dad) and mum have tried everything and we think he is just over tired but we dont know what to do. He has milk and books just before bed he then goes to the toilet and brushes his teeth as part of his routine and is tucked up by 6:30pm latest.
Can you please help or suggest anything?
Yes, 6.30pm is too early for bed for him obviously! Try 8pm
My husband and I are hanging on by a thread with terrible sleep deprivation as our 12 month old does not sleep through the night. I have had a regular sleep routine with her since we moved her to her own room at 4 months and tried the modified CIO method with check-ins every 5 minutes (hysterical for 3 hours the first night, then 1.5 hours the second, then 1 the third- and now it is just a battle with us going in to comfort her/lay her down, give a bottle for up to 2 hrs every night in order to get her to fall asleep). Once she does get to sleep, she’ll wake between 3-10 times every night. When I haven’t gone in right away during the night, I’ll find blood on the crib rail cover from her jumping in her bed and smashing her face/mouth. She gets two naps per day for a total of 2-3.5 hrs.
We can’t go on like this but I fear the CIO method and not giving the bottle at night as it’s the only thing that gets her back to sleep when she wakes. She is high-strung yet extremely happy during the day. Apart from teething like mad (5 teeth in one month!) and the regular cognitive surges, nothing else is going on.
Barring the CIO method, Is there any way I can get her to sleep through the night? I’m the only one who gets up to help her at night because my husband has a debilitating heart condition, but he still wakes when I get up and the lack of sleep is extremely difficult for him because of his condition. Any advice would be appreciated!!
Crovi Ncaizicky says
i have some problem too with my little girl. She used to think that if sleeping in dark room,will be some monster,alien,ghost will haunting her.. Not turning light will not making my girl to sleep peacefully too…
You know kids have very wild imagination, and we as parents can use a little imagination to help them.So me and my husband try to give her a companion and try to change her room to make it more comfortable and “safe” for her. We buy a “cute rainbow nightlife” from: https://mybabyneedthis.com that is really cute and has warm light. It has cute smiley face that ease the fear feeling on my daughter. It has automatic sensor, so when the lights goes off, my daughter can see colorful warm light “smiling at her”.
Now as a “dream traveling companion”, we bought a giant cuddly cute animal bed pillow. It is a giant plush with lamb shape and can generating sleep inducing sound. Bought from this site: https://www.hammacher.com/Product/82875
it works and my little girl can sleep peacefully now.
My son who is just 14 months wakes up for all kinds of reasons in the middle of the night.he never sleeps for long and when ignored attempts to shout the house down. Once he gets the crying into full gear it becomes difficult to stop and he throws anger tantrums, often flinging himself backwards. Most times he wants to be held in different ways and gets upset if my wife goes to sleep. other times its just hard to figure out what he wants. He is driving my wife nuts and i pity her.we need advise please.
My 2 year old 3 month boy have been having trouble sleeping for about 10 months now- although we did have a good patch for about 4 months. But he will sleep great from like 9-3 and then sometimes he will be awake anywhere from 1 hours to 3 hours. He is tossing and turning, seems a little jerky at times to me, playing with his blanket. Some moves almost seem involuntary and it makes me so nervous. It’s like he wants to be asleep but his mind is awake- we go in and talk with him and he is completely awake & alert. I’ve show videos to my pediatrician and she doesn’t seem concerned. We have tried 2 different time giving him be trip for 4-5 days at a time and he sleeps through the night- I just want to know why?? Thanks so much in advance for your expert advise
Our son is near 16 months and wakes about midnight almost each night for most of his life. He is always on the go and hard to get to bed. Sleep time is 8pm. Only one nap per day (timed now) otherwise he’ll be awake all night. He is very inquisitive and when waking up he seems to be on overdrive straight away. Most of the time though he isn’t up for long, he’ll have a quick play with his toy car, then put back to bed. Those are some of the key things that helped-bed no earlier than 8pm, and only 1 x 1.5 hour nap per day, wake them up by 2pm no later. So give that a try worked it for us (although he still wakes, just not for long).
Our is 16 months and wakes up 2-3 times per night. It wasn’t always like this. I had the perfect bedtime routine. 6:45 Bath, story, nurse, asleep by 7:30. He would wake up at midnight to nurse, and I would put him right back down. My goal is to wean him by 18 months. I don’t know how I’m going to do this now. He wakes up and screams for booby. Now that he can verbally communicate, he wants to be awake and talking or awake and nursing. He’s nursing now more than ever. If I don’t nurse him, I’ll never get back to sleep. My husband and I tried the CIO (well our own version of it) go in every 5 minutes until he’s asleep. Now that has become dangerous. He’s tries to climb out of the crib and he gets his thighs stuck in between the rails. I can’t function anymore at work. I don’t know what to do. I’m willing to CIO if I know he’ll be safe. I can’t rock him and nurse him to sleep forever. How am I going to stop this.. Please help 🙁
My 3.5 year old has slept through the night since 3 months of age. He has always been an early riser (5:30-6). The past month he has stopped napping daily and will nap 2 to 3 times a week. Since this change in napping he no longer sleeps through the night. He on average waked twice a night and will now sometimes wake at 4:30 and never go back to sleep. I don’t see much of an effect on his mood minus a little whiny at times, but nothing drastic. I think it is affecting me way more. I have always been very into his sleep. He has a night light and we do the same routine every night since he was a baby. When he wakes in the night he is happy and stays awake for about an hour before falling back to sleep. He will always stay in bed and waits for his alarm to turn green at 6:30 to call for me. Should I be reaching out to a doctor at this point. There’s nothing medical I see. He has a noise machine. Thank you for any help!!!
My daughter is 2.5 and she has been waking up anywhere from midnight to 4am and coming into our room, going to the bathroom, crying, asking for milk or whatever she can get to get us to get attention. We have a10 week old who sleeps well in a bouncy chair in our room and all of us are getting interrupted by her wakings. She was up from 1-4am last night then up at 7 am ready and happy. Any suggestions. We should probably eliminate the bottles as she refuses to eat dinner a lot.
My 15 month has always been a light sleeper, but usually when he wakes will go back to sleep. Lately he has been waking at 2 or 3 in the morning wide awake and wanting to get up. He has always gone to bed around 9:30, so he shouldn’t be any more or less tired. Nothing else seems to be ailing him, but he will cry for hours if you don’t let him get up. Do I just let him for for as long as it takes? Please help! I feel terrible leaving him in there to cry, but getting up at 2 or 3am every day is leaving me exhausted!
Diana Metushi says
I have a 20 months old and she was a great sleeper until recently. She has almost from day one been daddy’s girl, but about 2 months ago I found out that I was pregnant (unplanned) and suddenly she started becoming more attached to me. Since couple of weeks she wakes up every 2-3 hours at night and asks for her bottle and “mama”, and starts crying like immediately. I tried the cry-it-out method but she doesn’t stop until I get her into my arms, and then she falls asleep immediately. I am not complaining about the sleep interruptions, but I am worried I am not addressing her troubles right! I would appreciate any advice!
Hey, could i ask you to share a link to this book a young mom , a friend of mine, wrote for toddlers ‘bedtime? I think it has a great loving family message and your readers would love it and plus it’s gonna be free in december! One short minut book for toddlers called Sleep well my baby. Please check it out and share if you like https://www.amazon.com/One-Minute-Bedtime-Babies-Toddlers-Mothers-ebook/dp/B00YHEZNK2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448225460&sr=8-1&keywords=sleep+well+my+baby thank you so much !
Kasi Breen says
Hello, I have a two year old who is having A LOT of issues sleeping through the night. She’s got her own room, own bed, no food at bed time (She does get a sippy cup), no TV, only a music box and a light projector that stays on all night (maybe it shouldn’t?) We don’t rock her or anything, just climbs right into bed and goes right to sleep usually. Here’s the problem: She is waking up at least once, and sometimes up to five times a night!!!!! It’s exhausting! Her bed time is between 8 & 830, and she is usually finally up sometime between 6 & 7. but it seems almost every night around 11, 1-2, and 4 she’s waking up screaming and calling our names. Now once we go back there and tuck her back in she’s fine and falls back to sleep (usually). But still just terrible getting up so many times. What do I need to do? Take the cup away? the music box? later bedtime? Please help me!
hoping for help my daughter and 2yr old live with us ,she was a great sleeper when baby than occasionally woke between 1 to 1 1/2 now wakes everynight with screaming and unable to comfort her. no one is sleeping she has bedtime routine and naps an hour during day. active very book smart . daughter has worked since she was 8months with papa minding her. now screams for mom in night. developed stranger terrors when alittle over year, still cries uncontrolable if someone talks to her or us. need help dont know what to do. everyone keeps saying shell grow out of its getting worse not better. HELP!!!!!!
Nikki Lewis says
My daughter has always been a good sleeper. By 6 months she was sleeping through the night. By 14 months old she was transitioned to a toddler bed with side rail because the movers lost a piece to our crib. No problems there because she enjoyed climbing into bed all by herself. She is now 20 months and for some reason has begun not wanting to sleep. It started with not wanting to go to bed at all and screaming/crying. Then we cut out nap time and she goes to bed but wakes up a few hours later crying/screaming again. The past few nights she’s been up till at least 3am. This last night 4:15 is when she finally cried herself back to sleep after many attempts to soothe her and myself finally not being able to handle being up anymore. Why is this happening?????
She has a nightlight, white noise maker, and nothing has changed in our lives to make this happen (no new sibling, change in daily routine, or anything). Please help me. ='(
Hi my son Is almost a year and a half and up and til now he’s been a pretty good sleeper, only waking up once maybe twice for his chupie and would go to bed right after. His bedtime is 9pm and he’s been waking up at 11am and stays up til 2-3am screaming for me. I lay him down and pat him for up to 30min at times and as soon as I stop he wakes up screaming. He screams as if he’s terrified, he’s never had a problem sleeping in his crib/play pen and now only can be settled by him laying in bed with me or screaming until he falls asleep. I’ve read to just keep laying him down and eventually he’ll get the point and fall asleep but it doesn’t seem to be working. And i dont want him to get used to sleepibg in my bed and that be an issue later as he gets older. He’s no wet, he has his chupie, he’s not cold; I don’t know what the reason maybe…any suggestions? ?!
I have a 2 years 4 months old son we always co slept and breastfeed throughout the night. I had to stop breast feeding him 3 weeks ago cold turkey.
He now wants to be walked to sleep by his dad every night He falls a sleep quickly around 8-830 every day. I was still cosleep ing but he kept waking up too often so I sleep next to his bed. Not with him now
He wakes up every night at 2 am I tap his back. It doesn’t work .i lay next to him. It doesn’t work . I walk him. It doesn’t work .he cries for daddy. He wants daddy to walk him but he can’t sit down or lay down. He makes my husband walk for hours. He sleeps as long as my husband is standing . If we put him down in his bed or our bed he wakes up crying .
We offer milk thinking he may be hungry he refuses. He actually gets mad At me if I get too close. He pushes me away
He doesn’t want me. If I touch him he screams.
We tried to talk to him and say it’s bed time and go to sleep . But he just screams more
We don’t know what to do . He was breastfeeding all night for over two years this is such a change for him
He eats and drinks great during the day. Any advice ?
We have a 2.5 year old foster child. Before he came to us it was reported he woke up every 2 hours. He’s been with us a little over a month and the first few weeks, during the “adjustment” period he slept most of the night, only waking up once or at rare times, twice. The past couple weeks he’s escalated in waking up multiple times and recently has shown a fear of the dark which he never had before (and he don’t know where it came from!) He has two types of waking up.
1) Night Terrors – waking up screaming. Those are easy. He is pretty much still asleep and will fall asleep within minutes of us coming in.
2) Waking up – Screaming (fully awake)for ‘daddy’. When we think he is asleep and start to leave…and if he hears us leave he starts a rapid breathing and crying.
A) Adding a night light – which is new since he used to only be able to sleep in total darkness…
B) Keeping him up later.
C) Taking away naps.
D) Getting him up when he wakes up but making him sit there and not hold/play with him.
All along, re-assuring him. He was prescribed melatonin by his Dr, but of course that doesn’t help keep him asleep, and quite frankly, he doesn’t need it anymore. He tells us when he is tired and ready to go bed even.
We need to figure out how to get him to self-soothe without triggering the anxiety he has and making it worse. Any suggestions?
My 21 month old son is a very high energy/free spirited little boy. He can run circles around most kids his age and never seems tired. He has been walking and climbing since he was 7months old literally I have it on camera. His dr about died when I showed him the video. He has been crawling since 3 months old, sitting on his own at 1 month and held his own neck up since birth. He has never really slept through the night and just recently he has been waking up every 30min to an hour crying for no reason. He co-sleeps with us because it is whats easiest at this point since I work full time and need to be up by 4am plus I have a 3month old baby. My son normally falls asleep with us normally between 730-830 he than is moved to his bed in his room and by 12-2am he is up and back in our bed, once he is in our bed he wakes up every 30-hour crying/whining. It is driving me and his dad crazy. My 3month old sleeps through the night basically while her brother does not and he is starting to have an affect on his sister sleeping through the night as his whining/crying is waking her up as well. I dont think any of this is normal and I am not sure what to do at this point. Everybody I have talked to keeps telling me to keep his bedroom door shut at night and let him cry himself back to sleep, but there is absolutely no way I could ever do that to him. I fear he may have anxiety, he is extremely close to me and when I am home wont even let me go to the bathroom without standing outside the door screaming. Any advice would be most appreciated.
Stacey Nash says
Hello I hope you can help.
My 2 and a half year old used to sleep through the night from 7-6/7 but for the last 3 weeks he has been waking up several times a night and last night it was 6 times! He’s getting worse, nothing has changed in his routine so I have no clue as to why he is waking up?
He’s not upset when I go in he just seems to be awake and wants to get up, he screams for me till I go in there even banging on the walls to get my attention as if he hadn’t already got it by screaming, I have tried leaving him but he was going for over an hour and we live in flats so I went in as it’s not fair on other people.
I ask him what he wants and it seems like he just says anything that come to mind rather than actually wanted something.
I have 2 other children that he is waking up as well, I just don’t know what to do, please help.
My almost two year old has slept through the night since he was 3 months old. Now, all of a sudden, he’s waking up at 1, 2, or 3 and refusing to go back down. We have him in his own room, no night light, no loud noises, it’s a good temperature. He’s in a toddler bed. To put him down we do bath, then watch a wiggles episode, then lay him down before he falls asleep. He falls asleep just fine, with his nuk and favorite blanket. He then wakes up screaming, runs to the door, and tries to get out. If we try to lay him back down, he starts screaming as soon as we close the door. He’s never Co slept and hasn’t fallen asleep with us since he was a baby. He eats well before bath time and isn’t hungry when he wakes up, or thirsty. I’m running out of ideas. Please help.
My son goes to bed no problem around 7 p.m. every night. He sleeps through the night about 80% of the time. On the nights he wakes up he seems distressed and cries then screams. We give him about 5 minutes before checking on him and if I go in instead of my husband he grips onto me and doesn’t want to lay down or let me go. He screams if I leave and gets frantic. My husband can go in hold him briefly and put him back no problem. It seemed like his night wakings were during growth spurts. After 1 we stopped offering food at night. Sometimes it takes me cuddling with him and on really bad nights, rare, he sleeps in my bed. Those times he I’ll sleep in until late, 7 or 8, otherwise like clockwork he is up at 0530. I am not a morning person nd again he wants to get up to eat but doesn’t go back to sleep and is cranky. It makes me tired just thinking about it. He is a high need child. My doctor wants me to let him cry it out even for an hour but I haven’t found it in my heart to do that yet. Deep down I know he needs to learn to go to sleep, fall back asleep, and sleep in without me, a prop (binky, music) or food. In the end we will all benefit. What can I do to help him? Thank you for your time!
My daughter is 21 months old and has ALWAYS been a bad sleeper. She has gone through phases where she was waking for a bottle/cup; waking because she could not find a pacifier, waking just to be rocked, etc. Lately, she has been waking at 4am and will not lay back down….. until nap time!!! I do let her cry a bit, but it doesn’t help. I don’t want her waking the whole house up at that hour….
She still uses a pacifier, and I am afraid to remove it from the situation knowing she will really not sleep well for a few nights. She is down to one 2 hour nap each day, and still cannot make it past 7:30pm. I have two other children who are in school all day and it would be nice to get Tessa on a nice sleep schedule so I am more productive during the day. She is always cranky because she is not getting enough sleep….and mommy is too!!! Our first two children were amazing sleepers and Baby #3 has thrown us for a loop! HELP Please!!!
A Very Sleep Deprived Mama
O please advise me on my 20 month olds sleep. It’s 3:00 am and she is awake screaming again. ( does this a lot) for the past few months. She used to go to bed good. I stuffered ppd and ppa. As I grew closer to her and felt better about rocking her to sleep I would but I’d put her to bed before she was totally asleep. Tonight I let her cry it for an hour ( 11:00 to 12:00) three hours later she is crying again. I went in told I was here and everything was ok. 30 min she is still crying and fussing. What do I need to do now?
S A says
Have a 3yr old and 17 month old, sleeping in the same room. The little one goes to bed 6.30, having a 1hr nap between 1-2pm, and my big one goes at 7, 730. They both fall asleep by themselves, with a dummy that is attached to a teddy.
For the last half a year, I’m having trouble with one or the other waking up during the evenings and waking up his sibling, after which both have trouble falling asleep again.I then need to wake up my big one in the morning to be on time for preschool, but she just complains that she is tired. I have tried stopping the baby’s nap, but has not helped – he just falls asleep at 5 on my way home from work with him. I have tried putting them to bed later: again, no luck.
For the big one I’ve used star charts with rewards, which worked for 1.5months.
At the beginning of a new pregnancy, working hard, and desperately needing my sleep, I am simply not coping anymore. Any advice?
Amber P. says
My sister has two boy that came to her house a few weeks ago in need of a good foster home. They are 3 and 2 years old. They both wake up about every hour or so. My poor sister and her husband are not used to this because their 5 year old son sleeps a full 12 or so hours straight at night. They have been trying so many different things and nothing seems to be working. A warm glass of milk before bed, a glass of water beside their bed for when they wake up thirsty, etc etc. Any advise for them? I’m sure this is exhausting for the boys as well.
Need HELP!! My 2.6 yr old daughter slept well from birth to about 8 months and then everything changed. She refused to sleep in her crib and no matter what I did it did not help. It was so bad to the point that if i put her in her crib she made herself throw up, i mean full on taking her finger and sticking it down her throat!!!! I work full time and leave the house before 7 am so i need my sleep! After months of sleep deprivation i just gave in and let her sleep in my bed. after a few weeks i would try to get her back in the crib. I tried everything from holding her, standing next to the crib with my hand on her back, everything i probably shouldn’t have done but i was desperate. Some nights it would take 2 hrs for her to fall asleep and then she would wake every hour until i just gave up and took her in my bed. At age 2 i couldn’t take it anymore i was exhausted so i decided to turn her crib into a toddler bed. This helped with the initial getting her to bed, it still took a good hour or more but she did sleep for longer intervals. However i would still wake up every night with her standing next to my bed. I have the same bedtime routine with her from day 1, she does not get a bottle at night, i changed her bedtime, earlier because she wasn’t napping at school and was exhausted, but that didn’t help, i put her to bed later, still didn’t help. At this point i give up. I tried putting her back in bed when she wakes in middle of the night but i end up being up for 1-2 hours every night usually around 3 am and then before i know it its 6 am and i have to get up for work. I am so overwhelmed. Thank god my 6 year old son is an amazing sleeper, but i honestly don’t know what to do with this one!!! any help would be greatly appreciated!!!!
I have a 2.25 year old who has slept through the night starting at 6 months. Now she wakes and screams for me 2 hours after going down on her own perfectly happy. i did start going in and sitting with her for a few minutes and now i am sure she expects that. But it could take her over an hour to cry her self back to sleep. And an hour is really as long as I can take it. Even if i go in and calm her down she will wake a few hours later and it all starts over again. Not sure if dreaming starts at this age and she is scared (??) or if its just because i started going in the first few times this has happened and now she is conditioned, but I thought sleep training at 6 months was bad. This is a entirely new level of misery. Any help would be beneficial.
Tom L says
My 15 month old constantly wakes up during the night. It seemed to start when he began experiencing separation anxiety. He will not not go back to sleep unless Dad comes in the room and pats his back. Dad is usually the one that puts him to sleep also.If Mom comes in the room to put him back to sleep,he screams until I come in the room. Very frustrating for Mom (and Dad) as you can imagine. We have tried a sound machine and night light with no success. We tried a couple times to let him cry it out but he just continued to cry (over 20 minutes). He usually wakes up every hour. After a couple of times, I (Dad) usually take him and sleep on the couch with him on my chest and he pretty much sleeps through the night. Please help. It is putting a serious strain on my marriage and my sanity! Should I try to let him cry it out again? HELP ME PLEASE!
I desperately need help ! Our daughter is turning 2 in just a couple weeks, she has ALWAYS woke up twice in night, usually first at 11 pm and then around 2-3am, crying hysterically. Sometimes she will go back to sleep within 10 mins, majority of time she has to be told to go back to sleep and we just have to let her cry it out which sometimes can take up to half hour. We sleep trained her at 8 months, she always soothed herself to sleep. Falling asleep at bed time has never been an issue. She’s been in a toddler bed since 1 year, she never even fought it from day one! Her door is always shut, I keep it relatively calm n quiet at night. We read a book at 8 pm, she’s typically asleep by 830 every night. She eats 3 good meals a day, sometimes a snack in between, only drinks milk, water and sugarless juices (the packets you mix in a water bottle). She doesn’t watch anything that isn’t educational or kid friendly. No smoke in the house. Clean room, dim night light. I have no clue what to do. I’m going crazy. Thankfully hubby stays up late because of work schedule, so I don’t have to get up after midnight but its so frustrating hearing her cry, also should add lately it seems to be horribly crying, worse than normal. And she’s been VERY irritable all day. And she also ALWAYS wakes up from her naps crying for about 30 mins unless we go right outside. Very strict on schedule (waking up in morning, meals, nap time and bedtime). I never thought it would have anything to do with a medical issue, since she has always done it. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!
Hi I have two year old that has never been a great sleeper but right now she is out of control she us waking between 6 to 8 times a night mostly she just want to be tucked back in, i give her her dummy and she goes back to sleep. She doesnt eat much dinner actually most nights she will just eat fruit. She still has three bottles a day one at lunch, night and wakes asking for one around 4am. She goes to bed at 8:30 i just tuck her in and walk away and she goes straight to sleep but wakes through out the night. It is now 1am and she has woke 5 times. I thought she may be cold so brought a grow bag but tonight she woukd not put it one and she is sweaty so keeps kicking blankets off which she does every night but not normally sweaty. Can you suggest anything???
Our son turned 2 in January. He used to sleep good, slept through the night, went to bed without a bottle, until he was about 9 months old when ear infections and throat infections started. We got so desperate for sleep during that time that we started just giving him his bottle so we could get a couple of hours of sleep. We were literally up every night every 30 minutes to an hour. Last year in May, we had his tonsils out and adenoids removed and were told this would help him sleep better. It didn’t. After reading the article, I think we are suffering from multiple issues. We still give him a sippy cup at night and are in the process of weaning him down from it. We are potty training too, so when he has milk, he wakes up because he needs to pee, then wants milk again..and the cycle repeats all night long. He also snores REALLY bad, even after having his adenoids removed. I’m wondering if he is suffering from sleep apnea as well which wakes him up, so he wants milk, then has to go to the bathroom, and the cycle continues. Any advice or suggestions is greatly appreciated! We have gotten maybe a hand full (meaning maybe 5) good nights of sleep in over a year and are getting exhausted!
Tara Kuebler says
My two and half year old is up at night. She has been on a schedule at night since she was 8 weeks old until about three weeks ago and slept through the night. Three weeks ago we transitioned her to her toddler bed, which she loves until it is time for bed. She will fall asleep in her bed and then she is back up a few hours later, one of us puts her back to bed and an hour later she is up again. Being so tired and having to work the next day she fill sleep next to my side of the bed. Sometimes that is restful or restless. We do not know what to do to get her to stay in bed all night or to self sooth. Any advice would be great.
Kay Putty says
I have a 14 mth old that goes to sleep on her own with no problem but every night she around 1am/2am she cries out in her sleep on and off for atleast 2 hours without completely waking up. She constantly wants to take early naps eventhough she goes down early enough. Is this normal? Will she grow out of it?
My four year old just started waking up in the middle of the night. He comes to my room, I bring him back to his room to put back to bed. We do this back and forth for at least two hours. He won’t go back to sleep and it is getting very frustrating. He was always a good sleeper and slept through the night 11-12 hours. There are no problems, same routine every night. Doesn’t have problems going to sleep for the night. I don’t know what to do.
Michele Dotson says
Feeling defeated! My husband and I foster children. Currently we have a little girl who is 29 months old. She has been with us for over 6 months. Given the circumstances we are always very flexible when a child is first placed with us with regards to bedtime and sleeping. It is a traumatic event enough that we feel we do not need to add stressors to the child’s already stressed sitaution. The little girl we have now, came to us STILL taking a bottle. We decided that since it was more of a “comfort” for her rather than a source of nourishment, we allowed her to continue having a bottle at bedtime until she was fully adjusted to our home and schedule. Eventually we just reduced the amount of milk and switched to water in an attempt to make it less desirable, but even if it was empty she wanted it. We discovered she would hide them in her room and put herself to bed at random parts of the day with the bottle. Even with the bottle, this child has difficulties sleeping through the night. Sometimes she will sleep all through the night for a few days and then regress back to waking up at 2am, 3am, 4am and refusing to go back to sleep. She will sometimes just play in her room, but other times she is screaming and unable to be soothed without a bottle. She definitely has night-terrors, of which I can only imagine they stem from the horrible situation she came from. Sometimes she is still sleeping but screaming and it is challenging to get her to calm down.
We recently decided to just stop the bottle all together since our “weaning” method was unsuccessful. Going on week 2 now and no bottle but we still have the nightly wake-ups which are WAY more dramatic since she does not have the bottle to self soothe… and nap times on the weekends, forget it. She has to be dog-tired and just fall asleep in the car or drop wherever she is to get a nap. The idea of her going down in her room… not happening.
Much of what I have read in blogs really applies to children that come from stable homes and in our circumstance with foster children, this is the not the case. Of course, she is now in a stable, loving home with a schedule and consistency but How do you change the course of behaviors of children coming from such strenuous environments? Do the same rules/principles outlined for children coming from normal parental environments still apply? I love some feedback and WELCOME any suggestions to helping this little angel get the sleep she deserves.
Hi I’m after some much needed help, second baby just turned 1 has been waking every two – 4 hours for the past weeks very rearly will settle just by putting dummie back in the only thing that settles him is a bottle (cows milk) was even doing this on formula. I’ve tried giving him water he won’t drink it I’ve watered the bottles down he will drink it but still demanding more he will scream until he gets that bottle I’ve tried just putting dummie in for 1 min leaving the room, 2 min leaving, 5 min 10 etc.. He doesn’t self sooth and put himself to sleep it’s extreamly tiring as you can imagin I’m waking up a moody grumpy mum in the mornings due to broken lack of sleep. I scheduled in a maternal health app but it’s in 2 weeks I never had an issue with my first she always slept through. My son was sleeping through from newborn to 6-7 months and since then it’s changed the environment hasn’t changed there’s no noise room is dark temperature in the house is always sutable his warm,
he wakes 7:30
breaky at 8
Bath play, go out if need be (supermarket etc)has a snack in that time
Bath after dinner as normally messy bed bottle at 7pm sometimes 7:30
Then will either start waking at 9:30 or 11:30 and will wake all night what am I doing wrong please help!
My daughter is 14 months old, she keeps waking up in the middle of the night and she screams and has to sleep by me i try to lay her down in her crib when she wakes up but she keeps screaming till she gets to my bed then falls asleep so i dont know how to keep her in her own bed
I have a 2.5 years old daughter and she use to wake up at midnight and start crying without opens her eyes, some time up to 30 minuets she will cry after she come out of that she will come back to us and sleep, while crying she will not respond to us at all if we try to interact she will raise her voice more, really I am upset and sleepless nights, I don’t know what to do in this case.
Our 3 year old is having trouble getting to sleep at night. Last night he was awake until 2am and then woke up this morning at 8am. He was an excellent sleeper as a baby; the sleep problems didn’t start until he learned how to climb out of his crib and we switched him to a toddler bed. His after bedtime activities include completely destroying his room every night. He unloads drawers, pulls clothes out of the closet, plays with stuffed animals, takes off his diaper/pull-up, etc…We put a big strap on his dresser to keep it closed and tension rods in the closet doors to keep him from getting in, but he is still awake late into the night. We have also been putting one piece zip up pj’s on backwards to keep him out of his diaper. We have tried melatonin which seemed to work for a while, but now is not working. We have had a pretty consistent bedtime routine with bedtime around 7:30-8. I put him down for a nap every day around 12 or 12:30 and get him up at the 2- 2 1/2 hour mark. He doesn’t always fall asleep for nap and I don’t push it though make him stay in his room for that time (we have a childproof door knob cover on the inside doorknob that he hasn’t figured out yet). He had been sharing a room with our 7 year old boy, but was disrupting him too much so we moved him to his own room about a week ago.
My son is 2 years 2 months old. As an infant he slept early on and all through the night. At bed time he would sometimes go right to sleep in his crib and sometimes he would cry & we would let him cry it out. BUT THEN he climbed out of his crib (at just under 18 months). We had to transition to the toddler bed for safety reasons. The moment we switched him he flipped and would lose it of we out him down and went out of the room (closing the door as we always had). He would scream like he was dying, he’d never done this and so I naturally went in to soothe him. That turned into staying with him until he fell asleep (could be up to 2 hours!). We tried putting a tall gate up and leaving the door open… TERROR screams- it was awful! THEN Be started having night terrors. I remembered from my first child that I learned if they were screaming uncontrollably to lay them right back down, don’t say anything, don’t turn any lights on etc. this often worked & he was right back down. We moved him to a regular bed (in part because I was tired of laying in the floor to get him to sleep). Then I found myself in his room for 1 to 2.5 hrs each night. He was also waking up and would scream like he was being attacked until I laid down with him. I tried sitting in the hallway, with the door open & hall light on to get him to go to sleep on his own, but again SHRIEKS OF TERROR! I did this for a few days until I was so frazzled from it not working and him screaming for hours straight. If I leave the door open he will run out. If I close the door he will panic and throw toys into the door, kick the door (I’m surprised he hasn’t busted a hole in it yet). I AM EXHAUSTED, like all of these other parents! All I wanted is to sleep. I want to be a good mom, not stressed and frazzled because I’m not sleeping. I don’t want to be on edge and our entire family suffer from this any longer. He is a VERY active ALL BOY & when he doesn’t sleep good (which is most every night) he is rougher with his sister, more whiney, mean, disobedient etc.
I just found out I’m pregnant with our third child. THIS HAS GOT TO STOP before 1. I get too big & uncomfortable to get up and down throughout the night & 2. Before his new sibling arrives.
My husband can’t fit in his bed to lay with him so his method is to put our son in bed with him (we sleep in separate beds because he snores SO LOUD & yet somehow my son will pass out with him!?!) which just creates the same issue- STILL NOT SLEEPING IN HIS BED & STAYING ASLEEP!)
I will try ANYTHING!! He has his 2 year check up later this month, but I need help sooner than later. Hormones are kicking in, this baby has zonked all energy out of me so I am doubly tired and this has to get fixed.
Any help or advice is greatly appreciated.
Jessica Kuntzman says
I have a 2 and a half year old daughter who I’ve unfortunately allowed to watch videos on her tablet to fall asleep which was fine when she was in a crib but we recently took the rail off and she gets up multiple times a night to come climb in my bed and after about 5 or 6 times telling her to go back to bed she eventually sleeps a few hours until morning when I normally wake up with her asleep next to me I know she should have the tablet but when I say go to bed she just picks it up and happily goes no fuss whatsoever without it she would scream for over an hour
Heidi Knight says
Thanks for the nursing info..both my girls woke up every 2 hours to nurse …it is/was agony to night wean.
I am surprised that needing to go potty is not one. My 3byear old is now a great sleeper, but if she does wake up its to go potty… often in the early hours of the am.
My almost 3 year old (in October) will not sleep through the night and it’s starting to become ridiculous. He goes down at 7pm, falls alseep by 8pm and then is up by 11pm, again at 2am and then up for the day at 6/6:30am. He wakes up wanting juice, but we don’t give it to him. We offer water and he throws a fit which wakes everyone up. It takes a long time to get him to go back to sleep. This has been going on for months. We don’t know what to do.
My lo is 18 months old and slet through for about 2 weeks when he was about 6 months old and then teething hit and ever since then he has been waking up every night and won’t go back to sleep unless he is with us! He is a very clingy child and only sleeps through every now again! I am at my wits end and don’t know what to do I have tried cio but it doesn’t work he just keeps on crying and gets himself all worked up! My husband and I both work full time as well but I am the one getting up with lo in the night as husband doesn’t hear him, I also suffer with depression so sleepless nights really are not helping me get any better! If anyone could offer me some advice I would greatly appreciate it?! From a very tired mummy
Andrea B. says
My daughter is almost 14 months old, and has historically been a good sleeper. She has consistently slept through the night since about 3 months old. We have a good bedtime routine-supper, play a little, bath, read a book and bedtime and we put her in her crib awake and she’s able to fall asleep without problems. In the past few weeks, however, she wakes in the night. It’s usually around 1-2am and the only thing that gets her back to sleep is me holding her. Which has now transitioned to mean me putting her in bed with me since this is the only way to hold her and still have me get some sleep. Otherwise we are awake fussing for 2 hours. She did have teeth coming through, but they’re through now. I understand waking at night, but why can she not get herself back to sleep at night the same way she does when we put her to bed? Is it separation anxiety? Any other thoughts? Any suggestions on what we could try?
Same my little girl is almost 13 months and we only have 4 teeth 🙁 I would love to hear advised and helpful tactics.
We’re at our wits end with our almost 3 year old! Since she was potty trained 4 months ago, nighttime has become a nightmare! She was starting to do a little better, but then we had to put our 7 month old in the same room. We put the baby to bed first and take R up around 8. We always do the same routine, get into pjs, brush teeth, potty, read story and pray. She has been having trouble falling asleep and then she’s up many times a night. Sometimes the baby wakes her, but usually she wakes up on her own and runs immediately to our room. We’ve tried everything it seems, even closing her door if she gets out of bed more than once. We do rub her back, but just a little not until she falls asleep. We’ve tried a sticker chart, but she doesn’t really care about that. I think it’s just a bad habit! As soon as she’s awake she runs to our room! I’m absolutely going crazy! The other night I barely got 4 hours of sleep. It’s worse than having a newborn! This cannot continue!
Hey dear.. My baby is 2 and half years old and he doesn’t sleep properly till date. He is a hyperactive baby, who doesn’t even sit when he is awake. He sleeps only in my lap. It’s so tiring and I’m super tired always as I don’t get rest at all. I hope this terrible time will end one day and me and my baby will sleep peacefully.
My baby girl is 13 months and is waking up through out the night and nursing a lot.
I’ve tried carrying her more during the day, cutting her nap shorter, feeding her solids that are easier to digest. All the things that worked for my son he was a “Hangry” guy. Lol
I find nursing as I lay next to her helps. The mattress on the floor in the girls room for nap time is great. I try to do the 5 love languages for them.
Maybe it’s just a growth spurt.
I can not thank you enough Dr. Todd!!! You were right, letting the spell run its course and not worrying about it, I got Victoria back into my life! This is more than I could have hoped for. If the spell wears out, I will contact you again, THANK YOU!!! (manifestspellcast@gmail. com)
17 months up at 12am ready to party
We saw that our daughter had a 45 minute fuss, and if we left her alone she really would go back to sleep, and sleep for hours. Now I know why! Thank you.
My daughter is 3 1/2 years old. She will randomly for about 2 weeks out of every month wake up screaming bloody murder. “the beds too hot, The beds too cold” nothing makes sense. She does watch kids youtube and i am wondering if it is due to over stimulation? She co sleeps and that started at about 2. I have a baby as well. The baby sleeps better than her. Last night i offered to take her into another room where my baby was so my husband could get some sleep at about 1 and by then she was wide awake. Would not quit talking. Would not quiet down and was wide awake. She was up every since then. She finally passed out at 7:16 am. I am exhausted both of us work full time and need sleep. Other than over stimulation and limiting phone time what can i do?
Anne Bourbonnais says
My daughter is 18 months old. She regularly wakes up in the middle of the night (1-3 am), sits in her crib and starts playing with her doll, singing songs she learned at daycare, etc. She does not ever call for us, only plays. She can carry on for two solid hours before going back to sleep. Some weeks she’ll do it every day (we noticed it happens more often if she’s teething). My husband and I lie in bed terrified that she’ll be sleep deprived the next day and do not go back to sleep before she settles. When she started daycare, we grew worried that the lack of sleep would affect her development and noticed that if we went in her room as soon as we heard her and gave her water, she’d go back to sleep much faster. What should we do, Doctor? My daughter usually takes one short nap during the day (1 hr to 1.5 hr from 1 to 2:30 pm), is always in a good mood, doesn’t seem sleep deprived. Are we doing more harm than good by insisting she go back to sleep quickly? Should we just let her be as long as she doesn’t cry? Can we stop worrying that there is anything wrong with her? Is she normal? Thank you 🙂
Anne Bourbonnais says
I forgot to say that my daughter goes to bed awake since she is about 6 months old. Before she goes to bed, she has a bath, a massage with lotion, we read a story in the living room and allow her to have a little milk in a sippy cup. We offer 12 hours of sleep time from 7 pm to 7 am.
GAURAV MISHRA says
There may be many problems with the baby when he cry and parents must understand the problem. Some parents do not able to understand the issue with the babies. For this you can also concern with your family doctors for your baby cry problem at night.
Bernadine Williamson says
I have a 5 year old that has only slept through 4 times in her entire existence. she tosses and turns and talks a lot in her sleep. she finds me wherever I am during the night. I have tried to hide in every room to get a good nights sleep with no success. Once she finds me she climbs into bed and goes right back to sleep. However, I still don’t get a good nights sleep and she kicks and tosses a lot during this sleep. Just a bit of a history: I was 40 years of age when I had her, she is the 3rd child, with the eldest being 19 and the middle one 17. She was breastfed for 3 years. I know this might be the attributing problem, but I need sleep and fear that it is affecting her school day as she is not properly rested. Please help.
My 2 year old wakes up at 2 am usually after sleeping from 830 pm and is full of energy will not go to sleep he will throw fits and kick and yell and laugh and do anything just to get up. I am exhausted nothing I do can get him to sleep. I have a 5 month old as well so I bring him downstairs so he dont wake her and he eventually falls asleep by 7 am I need help????????
Kerry Porter says
i think we have a learned hunger issue? … i have twins that are one year old tomorrow. the boys would usually each go through 3-4 6oz bottles throughout the night which is more than they consume during the day. Recently, Scott has only been going through 2. Charlie on the other hand wakes up at about 2-3am, doesn’t want the bottle, but wants to sleep with us. if he doesn’t get to sleep with mommy or daddy, he will cry until he throws up and then cry some more. we have to separate him immediately otherwise Charlie will wake up Scott and then i have double the problem. we now take one nap instead of 2 during the day around 11am-12pm and they still wont go to sleep until after 10pm. since infancy they always went right to sleep at 8pm on the dot, naps consistent as well. then one day it just stopped.
.. idk how much more of this i can take, having a sleep disorder myself (narcolepsy).
Kerry Porter says
I have twins that are one year old tomorrow. the boys would usually each go through 3-4 6oz bottles throughout the night which is more than they consume during the day. Recently, Scott has only been going through 2. Charlie on the other hand wakes up at about 2-3am, doesn’t want the bottle, but wants to sleep with us. if he doesn’t get to sleep with mommy or daddy, he will cry until he throws up and then cry some more. we have to separate him immediately otherwise Charlie will wake up Scott and then i have double the problem. we now take one nap instead of 2 during the day around 11am-12pm and they still wont go to sleep until after 10pm. since infancy they always went right to sleep at 8pm on the dot, naps consistent as well. then one day it just stopped.
.. idk how much more of this i can take, having a sleep disorder myself (narcolepsy).
Sam SAHD, CEO of HH says
It definitely gets emotional. We’ve dealt with so many issues with our DD. The only advice I can give you all is to try various techniques on the weekend, in case you need to get your sleep during the day and hopefully you’ll have more help available to you as well. Good luck and stay the course, the night is always darkest before dawn.
Hello! I have a 5 year old son that sleeps 12 hours without an issue. My boyfriend has a 4 year old daughter who is with us 2 nights a week. She sleeps with her mom, still nurses at mom’s house. She has her own bed at our house and we talk about big girls sleeping in their bed (and how my son sleeps in his own bed)… daddy lays with her until they both fall asleep, he wakes up and comes to bed in the middle of the night. She ALWAYS wakes up at least 3 times after that screaming for him.
Let me add that mom doesn’t want her sleeping in bed with us because that’s inappropriate.
I feel bad for her because she has 2 different environments to adjust to… but we have set the expectations at our house and she eventually will get there.
How can we help her adjust to the different households?
Hi i have a one year old boy when it is bed time me or my partner puts him to bed at half 8 he will sleep to half two or half tree and some times he will go back to sleep quite quickly or other time it will take me or my partner hours he has his own room and the temp for the room is not to hot but not to cold but with out a dout he will wake up once a night or 4 times a night we just dont now what to do know more please help.
My son do wake up 12am an not be able to sleep again until 6am. At times he do wake up by 2am an not be able to sleep until 7am, sometimes he even find it hard to start sleeping at night. Pls what can I do? We have been on this since 3years ago, his 3years 6 months now. Pls help
So I’m a young mom I have currently lived with my mother in law since my 2 year old was a baby and he would get colds alot as a baby. So he would sleep on couch to be able to breathe easier and that’s where my mother inlaw sleeps cause she gave her room up for all.of us. So anyways my question is. My 2 year old has never slept good at all. About a month and half ago I removed the crib rail to try and help him sleep better he did amazing so I got him a toddler bed once again he was doing amazing. But lately it’s been bad. Hes been fighting me to go to bed. I sit in his room with him. But he just screams and I’m talking full lung scream. He will start to shake and freckle out so bad. He accully pulled the other night. It’s been 4 days and I just dont know what to do and it’s so hard listening to your little one scream like that.and of course threw the night he always ends up.down stairs worry grandma. I dont know if maybe its just an attachment thing to grandma or if he has sleeping problems.or if hes scared of something.
My son (18 month is waking up every around 1 hour,
Many times he will wake up after every 1hrs. and feeding so please tell me what I do
I am very frustration
I have been reading through site after site to see how I can help a friend who’s toddler is sleepy for only a few hours at night, but I noticed that the University of Utah published your work on their website as if someone intereviewed an expert. Please check the link below
They have used the same words in this blog of yours.
My name is ben Yosef Margaret. I live in Israel. I have eleven grandchildren. Yesterday my younger son who has two sons one is four years old and the second is three years old. My son is a bit worried he told me that he got up at night and noticed his son sitting with his eyes wide open. He tried to wake him but his son did not respond and he sat there with his eyes wide open not responding to him just glaring at the wall. This happened at 01:00 morning. My son was terrified and he pinched him so that he would get some response only then did he response to him. My son was scared of this so he slept next to him. Does science know this. would appreciate your response
Brittanie McCracken says
Please help. My son is 2 and a half and have NEVER slept well. When he was a baby he had days and nights mixed so it took me forever to get him on a proper schedule and he was EBF. So he would only sleep attached to me. Which made my sleeping next to none existent. And as he’s gotten older it’s not changed. I’ve tried the oils, the bath time soaks, the calming lotions. I literally have a store worth of Products I’ve bought and tried to soothe him to sleep and NONE of it works. His pediatrician recently told me to try Melatonin. Starting at 1mg. It does nothing. He still wakes 2-3 times a night sometimes he just screams and cries for no reason. I go in and sit with him and it changes nothing he just screams. I read it could be night terrors and I followed the dont touch or talk to just check him. And offer comfort if hes awake. Even right now he’s screaming for no reason. I’m at the end of my rope. I don’t know what else to do. I feel like I’m failing as a mom. I also have a daughter that’s 15 months older then him and she slept great from the beginning. But now not so much. I know there’s sleep regression but it went from her sleeping a solid 10-12 hours a night to her waking at least once a night. And when he’s extra fussy like tonight it wakes her up and she gets upset that she was woken up. Please help me. I’ve been surviving off of 2-3 hours of sleep a night for the past almost 3 years with him.
Does anyone want to chat about this? My daughter is newly 2 and shes very active and will not sleep. She throws tantrums and cries for 2 hours straight, every single night. I need advice or someone to talk to about this.
mary leyja says
I currently live with my boyfriend and he is raising his grandson who recently has moved in his own room but granddad has to lay down with him until he falls asleep, then somewhere in the middle of the morning the grandson will end up still in bed with us. Any help would be appreciated
My Granddaughter, that’s 20 months, goes to bed at a certain time, but she wakes up 2-4 times times through each and every night and I would like to get a good night’s sleep sometime very soon….I’m definitely not getting any younger, lol. I do have a fan that’s on nightly, since fresh circulation of fresher air is better anyway, but not helping her sleep nights, obviously. I thinking of trying to use Lavender essential oils to see if that will work. I think it is definitely way over due for us both to get a good night sleep. Maybe all ya other Parents out there, should try lavender essential oils, lavender air freshener, and lavender baby night time body wash. I’m gonna also try the body wash also. Wish u all well and hope things work out for the best, very soon! We all need our sleep, including our lil ones (Whether child or grandchild). Good Luck, I would love to hear the results from some of u, if u do try any of lavender products and if they help or not.
Abdul Nafay says
My six year child wakeup at 3am and saying
I am scared
i have a 3yr old now.. and sense he was a baby he has never slept through the night.. we get him to bed around 9 then around 1am he wakes up and comes in our room and climbs into our bed.. but when his head literally his the pillow he is out cold again.. when he falls asleep he is downstairs watxhing tv.. and i have to point o ut we sleep with the tv on in our room.. so if there is any advice to keeping him in his bed that would be great.. we habe no room in our bed with him getting bigger so its really effecting our sleep…
Hi, my son, 1 year old was good sleeper, but these days, he wake up so many times. When he wake up cry, then I touch him he go back to sleep. But few minutes later wake up again. Any has this issue and solved, please share me
I am going through this as well my 2 year old keeps getting up 2 or 3 times at night yelling and crying very uneasy, takes me or her father 5 to 10 minutes to calm her down back to sleep sometimes even a little longer what do we do?
First off, I would like to say that this article is very well written.
On another note, I feel the biggest mistake mothers make is the Learned Hunger. Sad to say, it is the easiest way to make babies stop crying and the biggest mistake I can say I’ve made. My son is 15 months and I’m slowly trying to ween him off of bottles before bed. Between 9-12 months, he would probably wake up maybe once, if not at all. Now he is waking up to 3 times a night! Since he’s between that time when babies lose the most weight, I can say he’s only 26 lbs (considering he was 28lbs 3 months ago). It’s really hard at night because since he’s so depended no matter what I do, he won’t go back to sleep without a bottle
I never got sleep since the day my little one was born she’s a year and wakes up 10 times at night.im so exhausted please help.im so stressed out cause of the lack of sleep.
I have a 15 month old who falls asleep just fine on his own for nap and bedtime, without any props either. He is still waking religiously at night and gets a bottle bc i feel he really is hungry. He is a picky eater so i also wonder if he is getting enough food throughout the day? My other thought was about his napping? daycare has them sleep from 1140-145ish and then hes up until bedtime? seems like a realllly long time to be awake??
My son is 4 1/2 now and I am sure the inappropriate onset started this. I rub his back after reading each night and have fallen asleep many times in his bed because i am exhausted. He has woken up every night of his life since birth. I have autoimmune challenges so not getting sleep for me is a health hazard and I think at some point in this 4 1/2 years I just gave up and said however I can get sleep that’s how it will be. That led to me not walking him back to his bed the multiple times every night he would wake up and Id escort him back. It was never ending. Now he can climb on our bed himself. At first I thought this was grand because maybe he wouldn’t wake us up but for the last 2 years he fig-its like no other all over the place kicking both my husband and I or laying on us or squeezing us out of bed because he spins like a tornado. Then one of us gets angry and goes to another room to find rest and peace.
We tried a strategy at 3 because he loved jake the pirate that if he slept in his bed the entire night jake May have something for him in his treasure chest. It worked a few times but as I tried to continue to lengthen the nights. Ie you have to sleep 2 nights in a row or a week, it didn’t work as well. Maybe the chest didn’t have anything he liked or wanted to pick from or he expected to hit the treasure chest every morning he slept through the night. He also could not understand days and weeks at that time. But we had a little success initially.
The challenge now is we are still not sleeping because he’s now waking up and coming in our bed every night, but because he’s so restless we don’t sleep well. I was all about he’ll eventually grow out of it but my health and quality of sleep is so important. My husband just went through renal cancer surgery and I was in the hospital recently with potential signs for ms. My immune system has struggled ever since we had our son. Now with that being said we had him in our 40s later in life and now are heading on 48 but still too young to be in all of these health challenges and not able to sleep. We want to be good parents and around a long time for our son and need help to resolve this so we can rest better. Thanks for listening.
This is super crazy my son will be 2 in March an he’s been the same way I’m a single parent I did let his father stay an he would continue to baby him an I’m a type 1 diabetic so it makes it hard for me as well when I don’t sleep
Mallory D says
My daughter is a couple months over the age of three. She has never been a great sleeper but for the last month, it’s been a nightmare for her father and I. At first, (about six months ago) we were having a rough time getting her to go to sleep on her own.. her pediatrician recommended Melatonin. I bought some but we never used it. Once we got her to sleep, she would sleep all night so it wasn’t necessary. Then, a little over a month ago, she went and spent the night with her grandma while my husband and I celebrated our anniversary. I don’t know what happened but since that night, she WILL NOT stay in her bed. She will go to sleep just fine.. which is weird because we struggled with that previously.. but within two hours she is awake and completely inconsolable. She says she is scared of cars going by (we live on a busyish street) but she has a fan for white noise and you can’t hear any cars in her room. IF we can get her back to sleep that first time, usually she is up again in an hour or two doing the same thing. Eventually, she ends up in our bed and I head off to hers because it’s way too crowded and hot. I know… I know.. allowing that is a big no-no… but we were so exhausted from trying over and over and over to get her to stay in her bed that after two weeks of this behavior we gave in just so we could SLEEP. We have since tried Melatonin at bed time, it doesn’t do anything but make her sleepy at bed time. We have a calming bed time routine with calm music and books. We have tried a weighted blanket. I DO NOT KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO!!!!!! This is seriously effecting our relationship, our sleep, her sleep and everything in between.