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Do you want more sleep?   Yes! I need more sleep.

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  1. Lauren says:

    For about the last 3 months my 2.5 year old has been waking up 1-3 times a night and it’s becoming so exhausting as she was sleeping soundly through the night before this. Sometimes when she wakes up she screaming like she’s terrified, other times she seems to be crying in her sleep. I go in every time and comfort her, but just can’t seem to figure out how to make the waking/dreams stop. Nightlight or no nightlight doesn’t seem to matter, whether she’s hot or cold, light snack before bed or not – nothing makes a difference. Obviously we’ll continue to comfort her no matter how long she goes through this, but I’d love some insight or other suggestions as to what else may help.

    • Janelle Reid says:

      Hi @Lauren, thank you for writing to us. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been struggling so much with wake ups from your little girl! It is always sad to think they are having scary dreams that are keeping them up at night. Be sure to read the rest of the article series to see if there are any tips in there that can help, but unfortunately there’s not a cure all if she is having nightmares/night terrors.
      I will also mention that around 2 years old (which you mentioned this started happening shortly after she turned 2) separation anxiety spikes in the child and they often go through a sleep regression (the last one!!!) around that age. I just want to mention this is a thing in case she is not waking out of bad dreams but in case it started with the sleep regression and now has become a bad habit she’s continued so she can see you. I’m not a sleep consultant as I work on our Client Relations Team, I’m just trying to give another suggestion in case you want to look into that as well. Here is a link to download a free guide which will give you tips on toddler sleep and how to handle these wake ups: https://www.babysleepsite.com/toddler-sleep-tips
      Of course if you need more help getting through this, let us know! We have a team of sleep consultants that would be happy to help you all get through this. To read about options working with a sleep consultant you can visit here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-toddler-sleep-consulting-services/ or contact us directly at contact@babysleepsite.com and we can help from there! Hope this helps!

  2. Melissa says:

    I enjoyed reading about this up until it used co sleeping as an example of ‘bad habit’. People choose to do things differently, doesnt make it a bad habit. This post went from helpful to judgemental in a nanosecond. I scimmed the rest. You can guarantee someone old wrote this. Bore off i say.

    • Janelle Reid says:

      Hi @Melissa, thanks for writing to us and for visiting the Baby Sleep Site. I am so sorry you were upset when reading our article but I wanted to chime in on this, in hopes to clarify a bit better. 🙂 Here at the Baby Sleep Site, we understand that all families and babies are different and will need different things. We’ve worked with many families who need help with their co-sleeping baby that is not sleeping but they want to continue co-sleeping, and we help them. We definitely support co-sleeping when it’s done safely. 🙂 Here is an article we have about co-sleeping where we lay out some pro’s and con’s so you can get an idea of our perspective: https://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/co-sleeping-with-baby/
      I believe the writer of this article was just saying that a toddler experiencing a nightmare or scary episode may want to come in the parents bed afterwards, and that could develop a bad habit if done regularly – meaning the parents do not want their child sleeping in their bed (at this point in their life) and the child was sleeping independently prior. I hope that helps clarify a bit more. Thanks again for visiting!

  3. Simona says:

    Hi, my 16month old son wakes up screaming, twice sometimes 3 times a night. We have the same bedtime routine every night. He goes to bed by 6:30pm and falls asleep on his own but for the last 3 months he will either go to bed screaming until he falls asleep (sometimes 30min of crying/screaming) then he will wake up around 10:00/11:00pm screaming again and trying to go back to sleep and you can hear him throwing himself in the crib while screaming & crying. Seems to me that he wants to fall back asleep but wakes suddenly as he falls asleep screaming. If I take him in bed with me he can’t settle. So if I let him cry it out he can cry/scream between 30min to 1.5hr. It’s been going on for months. During the day his restless cause hes not sleeping at night. He wakes up between 8-8:30 in the morning. Takes 1 nap during the day at noon that lasts between
    45min to 2 hours if a pooh dissent wake him. Then bedtime by 6:30pm. What is happening???? Please help.

    • Janelle Reid says:

      @Simona – Thank you for writing to us, I am so sorry to hear you are struggling with your son’s sleep! Here is an article with some tips for night wakings with toddlers (and more related articles linked at the bottom): https://www.babysleepsite.com/toddlers/toddler-night-waking/
      It is hard to say for sure what is causing these night wake ups – but if he is fully waking up it likely isn’t a night terror / confusional event. It may just be him trying to learn how to put himself back to sleep. Have you tried giving him milk/formula in the night to see if he seems hungry? I usually wouldn’t suggest this because at this age they are fully capable of sleeping through the night, but perhaps he needs more food during the day to keep him full through the night? Here is a link to a toddler schedule that includes feedings if you think this may be a cause: https://www.babysleepsite.com/schedules/toddler-schedule/
      I hope you see a change soon! If not, come back and let us know so we can point you in the direction of more resources! Thank you for using the Baby Sleep Site for help!

  4. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Nora — so, is she actually awake when she’s crying? Or does she seem asleep as she cries? If she’s still asleep, then this could very well be some kind of nightmare or confusional event.

  5. Nora says:

    My 9 month old granddaughter just recently started waking up crying a couple hours after going to sleep. Just rubbing her back and talking softly to her used to work to help her get back to sleep. Now she sits up and cries and I have to pick her up and rock her back to sleep. This morning I woke up to a quiet sobbing type of noise. It sounded like the hiccup sound kids make after having a severe crying spell. She was still asleep and it went on for about 15 minutes. I picked her up and rocked her and even tried to wake her up a little but it didn’t work. I put her back down and covered her up because I thought she might be cold, but she still continued for a little while, although it had slowed down. Any idea what could have caused this?

  6. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Txbirdlady — interesting! It’s definitely possible for an infant to dream and have nightmares, since they spend so much time in REM sleep.

    Thanks for sharing a bit about your experience!

  7. Txbirdlady says:

    I am quite certain my son started having nightmares before he was even four months old. His daycare even independently confirmed the observation. He would twitch and wriggle and then wake up screaming. All that from all accounts “one of the happiest babies” in school (and home). And no pregnancy or delivery trauma.

  8. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Ronit — I love this story! What a sweet (not to mention effective!) way to banish your little girl’s bad dreams. So glad you found a strategy that worked for you! Thanks for taking the time to comment, and to share this little tip with the rest of us. 🙂

  9. Ronit says:

    My daughter (now 2 years and 3 months old) started suffering from nightmares a bit before her second birthday. It was obvious they were nightmares because she would wake up terrified, confused, and wanting us to comfort her. She had been on a sleep plan since she was 2 months old, so this was very irregular.
    We tried to deal with these new awakenings in a bunch of different ways- imaginary nightmare capturing boxes, talking to her about what her dreams could be about (since she was mostly unable to communicate to us in so many words what happened in these dreams), hugs, sitting with her for longer, I felt completely lost. One night I decided to try to stand at the entrance to her room with her after her bath and with our back to her door say “bye-bye bad dreams” and explain to her that all the bad dreams have now left her room and will not be able to disturb her tonight— and it worked! Ever since then she hasn’t seemed to have any more nightmares, has even begun thanking her father for taking the bad dreams away and really enjoys that one last burst of energy she gets out when she shouts “bye-bye bad dreams!” down the hallway!

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