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How do I get a toddler back on track for sleep?

My 19-month-old started waking up in the middle of the night about a month ago. Prior to that she would sleep from 8 pm until almost 7 am....truly a dream. We've tried letting her cry it out and go back to sleep, but this has not worked. The only thing that gets her back to sleep is for us to bring her in with us--something we really don't want to make a habit. When she cries, though, it is not the normal cries of protest or attention. She actually shrieks and sounds very frightened. When we eventually give in and pick her up, she clings to us and will not let go (or let us let her go) until she's asleep.

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Asked by newmommy0409 at 11:20 PM on Oct. 31, 2010 in Toddlers (1-2)

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Answers (3)
  • she may be having nightmares... that has happened to my son before.

    Answer by Lynnsae at 11:25 PM on Oct. 31, 2010

  • I say do what the baby might be nightmares (like the pp said) or it could just be some kind of developmental leap that is stressing her. Both of my girls (easy-peasy sleepers through the night-mostly-from about 6 weeks) went through a similar thing at around the same age. After the real fearfulness stopped and it seemed more habitual, I tried a night light and a cuddly toy and that seemed to ease the transition from falling asleep on me. But I did get them and snuggle them until they fell asleep at first.

    Answer by stacymomof2 at 11:32 PM on Oct. 31, 2010

  • She is waking (you) up now because she needs something. If she didn't need anything, when she rose to the lightest part of her sleep cycle she'd do what you do: scan yourself and your environment to see if you need anything and if not, go back to sleep without ever being aware that you were ever nearly awake.

    Her need for your comfort isn't a 'habit' and it is quite disrespectful to suggest that meeting her needs is giving her some mental illness or addiction. If she's terrified in the middle of the night, how would 'crying it out' help? If she's hungry, how is being left alone, and hungry, going to make her stop being hungry?

    Your goal is to get as much sleep as possible. If taking her into your bed puts her (and you) back to sleep the fastest, yay. Struggling about it in the middle of the night doesn't get you or her enough sleep... I promise, she will not want to sleep with her mom and dad when she's 14.

    Answer by LindaClement at 11:56 PM on Oct. 31, 2010

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