Nighttime Awakening: Toddlers
If your toddler is awakening at night, I suspect he wants you to rock him, walk with him or lie down with him. He's become dependent on you to get back to sleep following normal awakenings. Here are some suggestions:
- First: Teach your toddler how to put himself to sleep at nap times and the 8 p.m. bedtime. When he looks drowsy, but before he's asleep in your arms, put him in his crib, or bed. His last waking memory needs to be of the crib and mattress, not of you. He needs to learn to put himself to sleep.
- Second: He's going to protest. Crying is a normal reaction to change. If he doesn't cry now, he's going to cry more later. When he cries, visit him every 5 to 10 minutes, but make it brief and boring. Stay for less than 1 minute. Give him a hug but don't lift him from the crib. If he sleeps in a bed, don't let him leave his bedroom.
- Third: After he's learned to put himself to sleep at bedtime and naptime, start working on the middle of the night awakenings. Expect him to use his new self-comforting skill during the night, and phase yourself out.
Remember: Unless you bite the bullet now, your child will probably continue to awaken you at night until 4 years of age. If you have other questions about sleep problems, consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.