15 answers

1 Year Old Screaming for an Hour Before Going to Sleep at Night

My daughter (13 months old) is really fighting going to sleep at night. She screamed for almost an 1 1/2 hours last night before I finally got her to sleep. She has been doing this for almost three weeks now, some nights are worse than others. I try and keep a routine. We have dinner, play for a while, take a bath, read a book and then go to bed. She refuses to let me rock her now, but she crys when I put her in her crib. I have tried everything from laying beside the crib and singing to her, to leaving the room and letting her cry herself to sleep - which by the way doesn't seem to work. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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So What Happened?™

I just want to say thanks for all of the advice the past week. Last night I got Avery to sleep at 8:30 with only 5 minutes of crying! I actually discovered a specific type of blanket at her daycare that she was napping with. (much more course/textured than anything I was giving her) I started reading to her on the couch with her blanket and milk sippy cup to get her to calm down for the evening. Then we head up to bed and I put her down. After that I never touch her again. I peak my head in every 15 minute and tell her "night, night, mommy loves you" until she goes to sleep. The first night took an hour - which was extremely painful for all parties involved! The third night daddy put her to bed and in less than 10 minutes she was asleep. (I think daddy putting her to bed part of the time is key)

She actually took a nap on her own yesterday, blanket & milk in the floor. She curled up and went to sleep! First time ever.

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I am going through the exact same thing with my almost one year old. He been fighting sleep all of a sudden (for about a month now) and screams when I lay him down at night. He used to go down so easily and sleep through the night but now he is even waking up at night and repeating the same behaviors. Like you, I have tried letting him cry, staying in the room, and I usually break down and pick him up (which I know is a no no). I am exhausted and frustrated and feel better I am not alone.

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Just hang in there. This age has separation issues and if you intervene just to keep it quiet then it will continue. Be calm and cool, continue your routine, tell her it is nite-nite time and Mommy and Daddy are going nite-nite too, and leave the room. She will eventually get into the routine and know that you are not going to give in to her desires.--------------From a mother of 2 and grandmother of 4 (1 of which went through this same thing).

I had the same problem with my son when he was small. I just let him cry and he got the message that I wasn't coming and it only took a couple of nights and he got the message. Don't go near the room just tell her goodnight and I love you and go to bed yourself. Start early in the night to get this started. Just stick with it and she will get the idea soon.

Hi T..

I just wanted to lend some support. I have a 15 month old who does the same thing and have also been married 7 years come Monday (just went back to work part-time). Like you, we keep a routine, but one thing that has helped is reading the same book everynight b/c it allows her to hear the same words and develop an understanding that when I hear this it's time to wind down for bed. We do dinner, play, bathtime and straight from bath go to our daughter's room where the lights are turned down a bit and I have soft music playing (usually classical). I let her roam around her room a bit before getting her dressed and then rock her and read to her. It's helped a bit, but we still have our issues. Another thing that has helped is giving her a very soft teddy bear for snuggling - she also likes to hold our hands to fall asleep. Find out what comforts her.

You might also consider that she has teeth coming in or a possible ear infection. Especially since she cries when you try to lay her down. That's one thing we found with our little girl - she had chronic ear infection when she had spent several nights screaming. There aren't always tell-tell symptoms. Just watch her cues.

Hope this helps. Feel free to e-mail me if you need some support - we all need that sometimes! And trust me, I can totally relate to what you're going through. :o) Good luck!

Hey T.,

I know how frustrating it can be when your child doesn't want to sleep. I have two boys and neither needs a lot of sleep. Sometimes if they took too long of a nap in the afternoon (and for them it means anything over 1 hour!) they were not sleepy at their regular bedtime (8.30pm). What worked for me was making sure they didn't nap too long during the day, and got plenty of physical activity. Toddlers have so much energy that they really need to burn it off. Even working full time, when you get home going for a walk, making her climb the stairs, playing outside with a ball etc. I used to try to put my youngest (almost 13 months old) to bed earlier, but he would scream for over an hour if you'd let him. It was just too early for him, so I pushed his bedtime back an hour. Avery may just not be tired when you try to put her down... I hope this helps, let me know if you have any questions!

I am going through the exact same thing with my almost one year old. He been fighting sleep all of a sudden (for about a month now) and screams when I lay him down at night. He used to go down so easily and sleep through the night but now he is even waking up at night and repeating the same behaviors. Like you, I have tried letting him cry, staying in the room, and I usually break down and pick him up (which I know is a no no). I am exhausted and frustrated and feel better I am not alone.


She may be ready for a "Big" Bed. One of our children was like that, and once we changed the bed from a crib to a big bed, the problem went away.

If you are afraid that she may fall out of bed, you can get those guard rails...I think we got ours from Fischer Price.

Hope that helps. C. Freeman/____@____.com

We've been having a similar problem with our almost 14 month old. We used to be able to bottle and rock her to sleep, but now she won't have it! She squirms and fights. I am certainly not claiming to have the answer...but this is what seems to be working for us. First, I tried letting her do the "cry it out" with checks at 5 min. etc. just for one night and it took a week for her to get over it. She was so upset and ended up terrified if I even tried to take 2 steps from her crib. It did more harm than good for her. It just doesn't work for her...she gets herself worked up and sick.
So, now...what I've been doing...she gets her bath, bottle (yes, we're working on letting that go), then her book and cuddles in her rocker, and when she starts squirming, I ask her if she wants her bed...she usually nods. I put her in her bed with her bink (and one for her hand) and her "puppy", rub her back a minute and say "goodnight, I love you", and walk out quietly. She starts crying and then will stand up...I go right in, help her lie down, and tell her "goonight, I love you"...over and over and over. It started out taking about 10-15 times before she'd just stay lying down and whimper a bit and fall asleep. Last night it was only 1 time...and we even had a nap or 2 that I didn't have to go back in! A couple times I've even gone back in and she lays back down by herself and I just rub her back a minute. So it seems to be working. I do the same thing for naps and if she wakes at night. It's harder at 3am, but I'm trying to stay consistent. I feel the need to respond to her...I can't let her cry and cry and feel helpless and hopeless that I won't come in. Good luck and let me know if you have any other tips that seem to work! I'm all ears!
And to tell you the truth, I just realized when I just put her down for her nap...I already miss rocking her to sleep...and just having her sleeping on my chest and feeling her breathe...I guess I want her to stay a baby a little longer...

How late does she sleep in? Mine goes to bed late and sleeps in because I work at home. At one some don't need as much sleep. I can agree that maybe moving the bedtime later will help. I think it was right around 1 year that she switched to one nap and 7:30 wasn't cutting it anymore. We moved to 8-ish. When summer lighting hits, we moved to 9pm with no problems.
I wanted her to sleep 11-12 hrs AND take a 2.5-3 hr nap but she's not into it. I also agree that outside time helps, especially SWIMMING!! :)
She goes to bed between 8:30-8:45ish (plays in her crib with kitty for 15-20 min). Do you have a "lovey" in the crib? If so, they can get used to playin for a bit in the crib before going off to sleep.

We'll probably sneak it back to 8-ish when it gets darker.

Always adjusting!!

It took us until 22 months to get our stubborn son to go to sleep on his own at night. We were advised, over and over, to let him cry and he went on for hours. We actually had to change our routine to get him to change. Turns out, "Mom" was a major part of the problem. I was told to leave the house every night an hour or more before bedtime and Dad put him down. Within 5 nights, he was going down silently for Dad (1st night only 15 minutes of crying and every night after was less). When I came back into the bedtime routine, he was so happy to have me in the picture he decided not to fight the new system. It may be painful, but I bet you too will find a solution, but it may require a group effort like ours. We used Nancy Berkemeier at St. Luke's sleep center to set up a sleep plan. She is a nurse who specializes in pediatric sleep problems. I believe a basic visit with her is covered by most insurance plans and she is very, very sympathetic and patient. We thought it would be a waste of time and money but it certainly wasn't. (Sorry to go on and on, and good luck!)

You read her story before she goes to bed and tuck her in and say all girls need there beauty sleep because it makes them grow stronger and prettier everyday. You could also sing to her a song. My niece loves singing and it quiets her down and she almost goes to sleep.

Hi there!
I normally don't post but since I have been in the same boat, thought I might offer my two cents. I strongly disagree about the later bedtime. Especially at that age, while they are going to one nap, they need a much earlier bedtime. She may be "overtired" which makes it much harder for her to get to sleep. Also, it is a myth that keeping little ones up later will make them sleep longer and/or later. There is a book called "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" that someone recommended to me. I love it because it explains the brain science as it relates to sleep and one of the biggest things I learned is that "sleep begets sleep". My son just turned 17 months and he is in bed by 7 at the latest. Most nights he is in bed by about 6:40. He sleeps until somewhere between 6:15 and 7:00. He goes down for nap about 11:30 or 11:45 and sleeps for 1.5 to 2.5 hours. He has bad days too like when he is teething or if we alter his schedule. We just got back from vacation and he only got 40 minutes of sleep during travel time in the car so we put him to bed at 5:50 that night and he slept until 7:30 the next morning! Anyway, I highly recommend the book. It has chapters all the way through adolescence. I'll still be using it then because just when you think you've got it all figured out....they change everything on you!
Good luck!

Try reading "Good Night, Sleep Tight: The Sleep Lady's Gentle Guide to Helping Your Child Go to Sleep, Stay Asleep and Wake Up Happy" by Kim West. Good suggestions for different sleep issues that arise at different ages.

Sorry to hear about your sleep fight. I have a 2 1/2 year old girl and her dad and I struggled with sleep from day one, nap and bedtime. Took me till this Memorial Day to get her off the morning and bedtime bottle. After that, we had to let her fall asleep on the couch then carry her to bed. And only in the last month we just achieved success laying her in bed awake after night time books and she puts herself to sleep (YEAH!). One thing I realized with her, is that she really responds to a count down or advance notice. So we'll tell her 10 min to naptime and keep repeating (8 min, 6 min and so on) until times up. Also, at bedtime, she gets 4-5 books and I start telling her 3 more books then its bedtime, 2 more, last book and then you off to bed like a big girl. Seems like the reminders help her to expect it and prepare herself.

Good luck! In the end you really need to do what works best for you, and what your daughter will respond to. So give new techniques a good try until you find on that works.

A lot of kids will fight sleep and because of this bounce off the walls until they just crash someplace. What we did with our children is just let them stay up until they crash. It worked for us because my husband likes to stay up late and since he gets home late he likes spending his own one on one time with the kids.

On nights he works late I just put them to bed and they cry for awhile but go out. Each of our children learned to stay up late or go to bed earlier with me. But I will admit that once they turned about 2-3 years I had no problem with falling asleep on the couch and make a pallet on the floor and let them watch some cartoons or a video while I doze. But then again, I'm very strict during the day. None of my kids ever snuck up and got into anything. I've had a few daycare kids that couldn't be trusted and I couldn't doze with them awake.

I know that a lot of people seem convinced that children need to have this amazingly price schedule. But my 3 daughters that have grown up and moved out are successful, hard working girls with good heads on their shoulders...even if the 18 year old is not all the way there yet :) She's wonderful compared to most kids I see at her age.

Have you tried moving her bedtime an hour later?


My kids both went into a toddler bed at 12 months... I figured if they can walk they can climb out and feeling restrined is the worst for kids their age. They walk themselves to bed everynight and lay down on their own, sometimes they get up and play but they usually go to bed without a hitch. Some people may say this isnt the best way but its what worked for us. Good luck!

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