21 answers

15 Month Old Fighting Sleep

My daughter is 15 months old, and has fought sleep since she was about 5 months old... She will scream and cry and be inconsolible... She wants to be put down, but if you put her down, she wants to be held. She will cry, but end up falling asleep by herself for her afternoon nap, but REFUSES to fall asleep at night... We have tried to let her self soothe and cry it out at night, but she screams to the point of making herself sick... If we put her in our bed, she cannot lay still and is all over the place. She starts getting sleepy around 8:30ish, and is never asleep before 11 (if we are lucky)... It's starting to take a toll on us because we both work wierd hours and I am pregnant again (and EXHAUSTED!haha). It breaks my heart for her to cry so hard, and to know that there is nothing that I can do to fix it. Somehow, she fights sleep, but doesn't seem like she is intentionally resisting it. She doesn't hit us or herself, she doesn't pull her own hair or even try to escape off of our bed to go play. She just seems to be incapable of falling asleep without making a 3 hr production of it first! :o) Other than fighting sleep, she is such a good baby that I feel bad complaining about this but I'VE REACHED A POINT OF DESPERATION!! WHY DOES SHE DO THIS AND WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP HER??

What can I do next?

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My daughter did something similar around that age. I started her on a set schedule of bath (using the lavender/chamomile soap), read her a story while she was in her bed and then I played a CD with very soothing music. We started at the same time every night. It took about 3 days and she started going right to sleep. Hope this helps.

Maybe try getting into a bedtime routine like give her a warm bath and then lay her down in her crib and read some stories or put on some soft music and see if that helps her fall asleep.

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My daughter was the same way, except younger and we put her pack and play in our bedroom for a few months, that way she knew that mommy and daddy were both still there (i think hers was a separation thing) and she would go to bed just fine in that, it was difficult on us because that is less time to spend alone with each other, but after about 2 months, we put her back in her bed and my husband would lay in the hallway or on her bedroom floor until she fell asleep, which wasn't long since she knew daddy was there. Then we got her into a good bedtime routine, read a few books, get a cup of water, brush teeth, help daddy turn out the lights and then go to bed and that seemed to help tremendously, and now she is going through a stage again where she doesn't want to go to bed. I know this is bad, but we tell her "If you lay in bed and be very still and very quiet so that you don't wake up bubba, in the morning when you wake up, you will get a special" and that does the trick. I do not hear a sound out of her until the morning and she screams "MOMMY, ADDIE AWAKE, MOMMY, SPECIAL!" and then she gets her choice of a sucker, sticker, fruit snacks or a popsicle. I hope some of thses ideas have helped!

1 mom found this helpful

Unfortunately, my daughter, who is now 3, never learned to soothe herself to sleep. Every night she would fall asleep during a bottle, and then I'd put her to bed already asleep. We tried a few times to get her to go to sleep on her own, but she would just scream and cry to the point of making herself sick. My son, on the other hand, will only go to sleep if you put him in his crib awake. I know the books say to teach babies to self-soothe, but I firmly believe that this doesn't work for every child, seeing that not all children or circumstances are the same.
That being said, have you tried rocking her? Is your bedtime routine the same every night? One thing that has always helped my kids is we stick to a pretty strict bedtime routine. After dinner (which is about 6:30), the kids take a bath, get dressed for bed, brush teeth and hair, pick up any remaining toys, and then we read two books to them. My husband does the baths, unless he has to work, and I get them dressed for bed, etc.
If nothing else, just remember that this too will pass. Hope this helps!

Hi L.,
Your daughter sounds like she could be related to mine! She was actually worse I think because it got to the point where sh would wake every hour on the hour and never actually sleep more than 45 min to an hour at a time. Like your daughter, nothing was wrong although over time she became extremely grouchy and obstinate from the sleep deprivation. Looking back, teething was a problem.
We ended up giving her 1/2 a dose of benadryl for as long as she had the issue (meaning she hadn't been sleeping well for 2 mos so she was on it 2 mos) and it corrected. Occasionally it comes back and we give her a few nights of benadryl and she is on track again. I've also been more watchful of her teeth and if I see one popping up I give tylenol at night for a few nights -- I think it hurts when the child lies down and isn't doing anything.
All that stuff about sleeping in your bed and trying all sorts of things -- we did that and it only made things worse. The most important thing I did -- and hardest -- was to leave her in her bed until she went to sleep so that she understood that it was bedtime and sleeping time. Consistency is apparently VERY important for her, I also rigidly set her bedtime and wake up times and nap times and this has helped her tremendously as well.
I hope it ends soon especially when you have another one on the way!

Is it possible that your daughter is actually overtired? My oldest daughter (now 3 1/2) has always struggled the most at bedtime on days when she had not had a good nap. It seemed crazy to us but when she was about the same age as your daughter, there were many nights when we put her to bed at 6:15 pm!! Just something to consider...

L., first of all... HUGS to you!!! Man, that has to be a bear to deal with! I have a 13-month-old son and my daughter's due in a few months so I understand how exhausting it is to care for a young child while prego!

It sounds like she's over-tired. She's probably working on a serious sleep deficit and needs to catch up on much-needed sleep before she can even begin to think about "normalizing" herself. I'm speaking from experience - trust me! LOL!

Invest in the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Dr. Weissbluth. It's been my sleep bible since Evan was a couple of months old! It's not a one-size-fits-all solution (which is good) and it gives suggestions for different temperaments of children at different ages.

I wouldn't try to read it cover-to-cover as it has a lot of research in it & isn't the easiest read when you go about it that way. Just go to the chapters that deal with children your daughter's age.

I belong to a local mom's group and SOOOOOO many of us have used this book with GREAT success. The key for us has been consistency, consistency, consistency. Evan still has set-backs from time to time, but we just ride them out. For the most part his naps and nighttime sleep are very regulated & his overall demeaner has improved as a result. Again, this is NOT how it is all the time. But for the most part it's 150% better than it used to be!

I would definitely work your hardest to get it resolved before your next child comes, for your own sanity's sake! LOL! And if you're still concerned, ask your pediatrician if he/she can recommend a specialist.

If you need anything further, please feel free to email me!

Take Care & good luck,


my youngest has the same trouble, if we try to get her to self-sooth then she screams for 2-3hrs. but if i take her in her room, following bath, book, and putting sister to bed; we rock and she goes to sleep. if she wakes up then I can just pat her back and she goes to sleep. she also co-sleeps later in the night. we had trouble with our oldest sleeping also and told her that if she would go to sleep in her bed that if she woke up in the middle of the night that she could come in our bed. i hope this helps you.

As long as you have made sure that this is not some sort of chemical imbalance then I would say have you tried Cammomile tea. We had the same problem with 2 of our 4 kids and my mother in~law told me to get some Manzanilla (cammonile,spelling is off) make the tea as if I were making it for me and fill half the bottle with it then fill the other half with a bottled water and never let the children drink faucet water. We have had a few problems since, but rarely and usually due to a tummy ache,too much cake etc. Hope this helps.

easy sollution, pick out one of her favorite stuffed animals. have her name it, if she can't talk very well yet you name it. Then when its bed time tell her to put _____ to bed, and tell ____ to go night night. She will want to stay right there with her fav stuffed animal. If she starts screaming go in and tell her that she will wake up ____. Make sure you stick to a schedule, and make sure she has some light source in her room. This not wanting to go to bed only lasts usually until they are 2 or so.

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