17 answers

17 Month Old Is Not Sleeping Through the Night.

My 17 month old baby girl does not sleep through the night. She wakes up every three hrs for milk. I have tried putting baby cereal or cream of wheat in her soy milk before bedtime...she still wakes up two-three times a night for milk. I've tried leaving her a bottle of water to drink and this worked only for one month. I've tried feeding her mashed potatoes to ensure that she is full and still she manages to wake up wanting her milk. I've tried simply consoling her and laying her back down. I've tried changing her diaper and laying her back down only for her to wake up 10-15 minutes later seeking milk. I try pushing the time of when I offer her the milk to where she doesn't get a bottle until close to 4:00a.m. or if I can push it, 6:00 a.m. If it's not the milk she seeks, she can't find her pacifier in the dark. Or, when she is sick...forget about sleep. I must awaken for some reason or another about 6-10 times during her periods of illness from a cold. HELP.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I left out a ton of other pertinent information about my 17 month old. First of all, her crib is in our bedroom. So, when she awakens, she'll stand up facing our bed and start making whimpering noises which subsequently grows into an all out cry. Obviously, it's hard to ignore this crying because she's right there. We need to get the vent fixed in her room as she currently has the coldest room in the house. Until then, we have to try ignoring the crys. My hubby usually can't take it and goes to take action.

Anyway, I have her water in a sippy cup, but she knows that it's not milk so she ignores it. Putting juice in her bed helped, but I was told to stop this because of the sugar and cavity factor. As of today, I'll start putting her milk in a sippy cup and see what happens. Otherwise, I do put more than one pacifier in her crib, but lately they have come up missing as she gives it to the dog or throws it out at the mall or just dumps it somewhere else in the house.

Her meals have been as such: She eats a hot cereal for breakfast and she eats at daycare for lunch and gets an afternoon snack after 1, two hour nap. When I pick her up she is hungry and in some cases sleepy. Sometimes, she has spaghetti noodles w/marinara sauce and a piece of meatball, but she'll spit meat out on occasion just wanting the carbs. I try giving her what is on our plate like fish or small pieces of chicken for protein or when all else fails, I'll give her almond butter, which she loves either by itself or with some crackers. I'll give her some of the graduates or earth's best 3rd stage foods, but it's not easy getting her to eat this. So, I've stopped buying them as it's become a wasteful food. She just really doesn't like them. Periodically, I tend to get where I don't know what to offer her. She loves it when I make steel oats oatmeal and give her scrambled eggs and cheese for dinner. She likes sweet potatoes,spinach,peas,carrots and rice. Anyway, getting her full at night is determined from what happens once she gets in the car. Last night, for example, after picking her up from day care and getting her in the car, I gave her soy yogurt. She said um, with each bite. She got her pacifier and went fast to sleep on the way home around 7:00 p.m. This is extremely early for a night owl who tends not to sleep until close to 10:00 p.m. Some nights it could almost be midnight if she was asleep on the way home and stayed asleep for an hour and then woke up to hang out with us around 8PM or 9PM...mainly to eat a real meal. Otherwise, I usually can give her whole grain goldfish until we get home and she'll stay up until she gets sleepy.

Her Gastroenterologist states that she should not be drinking milk every 2-3 hrs at night and says I need to stop this. However, he gave me no suggestions on how. Her Pediatrician is the one that suggested the water idea that only worked for a month. Nonetheless, thanks for the prompt responses and all of your advice. Now that you have a new perspective on her habits, do you have any more advice?

Featured Answers

Does she know how to get to sleep on her own? The awakenings are probably not hunger-related, probably just habitual. You might try simply refusing the milk at night. This may make for a few rough nights, but if you are committed and see it through, she will get the message. If she doesn't know how to go to sleep on her own (without rocking, bottle, etc.) you may need to teach her. Email me if you want more info on that, but we have used Baby Whisperer techniques and they have worked great. Also, with my sons, we put several pacifiers in their beds so they can always find one. Good luck!!

I know this sounds harsh but have you thought about just letting her cry it out and learn to sooth herself. I have been through it 3 times I am a 38 year old mother of 3 boys 18,15,13. It is always tough with young ones. You may have a week of crying then peace. Once they relize milk is not coming they won't even wake up...habit stopped.

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Here is my 2 cents on how to change your child's sleeping behavior. My son (now 2 1/2) is a beautiful sleeper & stays in his bed all night long without waking us up. I promise you, that was not the case for the first 17 months of his life! He used to wake me up at LEAST twice in a night to retrieve his pacifier & blanket he would throw out of his crib. I used to feel bad for him and thought he wouldn't be able to fall back asleep without his pacifier if I didn't give it to him, so I would go in there and give in every time. My husband and I finally got fed up with it after so many interrupted nights of sleep and decided to do the "necessary" and stop going in his room when he cried. Deep down inside we knew that we were reinforcing this behavior and the only way to change it was to give him a clear message that his behavior is not correct when it's time to sleep. I think you would probably agree (as would your pediatrician) that your child does NOT need milk at night due to hunger & it could also cause cavities in her teeth from the sugar sitting on them all night. She is playing you for attention - that's all. :)

Here's my advice:

The best way to get your child to stop waking up all night is to stop responding to it. Every time you go in & give in to the undesired behavior, your reinforce it. I learned this quickly with my son when I stopped responding to his negative behaviors. He realized that my husband and I did not support what he was doing, so he eventually stopped since it there was no more reason to wake up. I recommend waiting until a weekend to work on the change (if no one works then.

Plan A:

This plan worked the best for us and is the overall simplest (but not emotionally):

When she cries, do not respond. Do not go in her room. Let her cry it out. It should only take a few days, but she will learn that no one is coming in her room anymore and will get the message that there is no point in waking up anymore. It took my son approximately 3-4 days, then suddenly: NO MORE WAKING!!! It was beautiful!!

Plan B:

If you want to do this gradually (and I mean not more than a few days of this), then try this:

First time she cries, go to her room and state (in the dark without picking her up) "It's night night time. Mommy and Daddy are sleeping and you (her name) needs to sleep, too. Goodnight - I love you". LEAVE THE ROOM!

Second time (after she finally settles back down from the first time because she will cry since she's used to you coming in there & giving her milk), just state "Night Night Time". LEAVE.

Third time - DO NOT GO IN! :) It will seem very painful, but let her cry it out. Do this for any subsequent wakings.

I am not saying this will be easy, but who ever told us parenting would be easy? :) I just told myself that this will be the first of many times I have to take charge of the situation and do what may be emotionally hard for me, but what is ultimately best for our child. Don't feel guilty or worried that she is hungry - as long as you have fed her her normal meals in the day, she will be fine. It won't take as long as you think and you will look back on this and say "why didn't I do this earlier!"

I wish you all the best of luck. Be strong about it and don't go back on your old ways once you decide to do it.

Happy sleeping....

1 mom found this helpful

Your daughter is not spoiled.
People have already told you that her crib needs to be put back in her own room ASAP.

Your daughters schedule is out of wack. She is sleeping for an hour in the evening and eating a snack when she should be eating dinner.

When you pick up your daughter, do not allow her to fall asleep in the car. Turn on the inside light in the car if you have to. Sing songs with her. Ask her questions.

Do not give her much of a snack, this is interfering with her dinner. Just give her a small amount of watered down juice if she will not drink water.

When you get home, eat dinner as soon as possible. This means have food "mostly" prepared. This means you need to make out a menu for the week and decide what you will eat each night. Pop it in the microwave and eat. Feed your daughter what you eat.If your daughter will not eat what you all eat feed her oatmeal. DO NOT make her something special. This will just lead to another problem later. Make sure she drinks a big glass of milk.

Take her directly to the bathroom. Get her ready for her bath and keep her calm. Remind dad as long as he riles her up it will take double that time to calm her down. Children cannot calm down in a moment, just cause you say playtime is over. You have to allow them time. Turn down the lights, do not have the TV on very loud.

In the bathroom, do not play very loudly with her.
Give her a very warm bath and use strong strokes like a massage. Once bath is over, wrap her in her towel and carry her directly to her bedroom. Have the lights low. Have quiet music playing or a white noise machine going. Dry her off with very strong strokes. Speak in softer tones. Put her in pj's give her her binky and lovey. Sit next to her crib and read her a book. Do not engage her. We learned that on each page if we read slower and slower, our daughter would become very sleepy.

Do this EVERY night. Even on the weekends. This is why parents do not get to go out with young children, cause the babies do better with the same schedule. If you do go out. try to have the babysitter follow the exact schedule.

If she wakes up at night, let her cry for a while. I do suggest you put a ton of binkys in her crib so she can always find one. Do not allow the dog to go in her room at night. If you go in to check on her, do not speak with her.Do not turn on any lights even in the hallway. Lay her down give her the binky and cover her up. Try not to give her anything to drink at night. If you do, just a little bit of water.
Start this on the weekend so you will have a few days to get used to this routine.

1 mom found this helpful

Good morning C.,
you might try putting her to bed with a sippee cup instead of a bottle, and her favorite dolly to may need an empty sippee cup.

Dear C.,

You daughter is SPOILED. And she is spoiled because of your needs, not hers. At 1 year, she should have been off the bottle. She should’ve been on table foods and not an alternate meal than you and your husband. You have a lot of work on your hands. This transition will be harder on you than her but it’s vital to not only your relationship with your daughter but your relationship with your husband and his with her as well. I have a feeling that you’re also struggling with discipline, too. Take my advice, use what you will and I assure you, you’ll have a better family dynamic.

1. Get her off the bottle. She should have milk from a cup with her meals. For breakfast, it doesn’t take a lot of time to scramble eggs and I buy the mini pancakes by Kellogg’s and my kids eat them up. I fill their cups the night before and they’re ready to just grab in the morning. Lunch usually consists of leftovers from the night before and a cup of milk, and dinner is a hot meal (whether I prepare it from scratch, a box, frozen or take-out with the family. My kids get juice in a cup or a juice box with their snacks at 10:00am and 3:00pm. They drink water throughout the day when they are thirsty.

2. I can’t believe the hours of sleep she is losing by staying up to “hang out with you”. Get her out of your room. If it’s cold in her room, put her in footed pajamas and give her a blanket. She should be getting at least 13 hours of sleep including naps. Kids, like adults, thrive on a schedule. My kids have always had a schedule and they are a delight to be around. Our schedule for my 1year old twins: up around 7:00am, have breakfast, play, snack about 10:00 then down for a 2 hour nap. 12noon: up and have lunch, play, activities and nap about 2:30 for 30 min-1hour then have a snack about 3:00. They get nothing else except water until dinner which is around 6:00pm. As soon as they have their dinner, they have bath time and go to bed. They are in bed at or before 7:00 and they sleep through the night. My 7 and 2 year old are in bed by 7:30. My kids become BEARS if we deviate from routine. This may sound very strict, but my kids have set this schedule for themselves. Take a week to observe. Sit and watch your daughter. Keep a pad nearby to write down when she’s cranky, when she eats, when she’s tired. I promise you, she’ll be consistent with her behavior and actions which you in turn can adapt as her schedule. It doesn’t matter that she’s in daycare. At daycare, they are on the same routine every day and she does great…because she is on a schedule there…get it? Be consistent. The time we spend as a family is wonderful because my kids are rested, well fed, and content.

You can do this. It’s going to be hard because not only are you trying to handle a 17 month old and her normal pattern of development, but you now have to fix the things that should have been transitional over the last 17 months. I hope I have not come across as bitchy or snooty. I have learned from experience and I think sometimes it’s easier to just have it spelled out.

BTW I'm 39 with 4 amazing kids, my 7yo is profoundly handicap and I have an amazing relationship with my husband. He adores his children and his wife.

Hi C.!
I have 3 children and one on the way! They are 5, 4,(girls) and 2 (boy). I may be way wrong here..... But, some children are very, very bright. I would say the reason the water worked for a month was because she may just be testing her boundries, and toddlers generally do not like change. I know it sounds crazy. My children are constantly suprising me by how mentally aware they are. You may try either exchanging it for a soft tip sippy cup w/ extremely watered down juice or stay with the bottle depending on how headstrong she is (pick your battles). I would definitely cut off the middle of the night milk. She will loose interest if you don't back down of the no middle of the night milk policy. I always had a hard time at around 18 months they start transitioning into toddlers and I still see my newborn baby! They just grow up so fast mom! Don't worry though this is the funnest and cutest stages ever coming around 18 months - 4 years old are Awesome! Just get through this...

sounds like she's hungry...what, how often, and how much is she eating during the day?

Just read your update. The solution is quiet simple. Fix the vent and stop giving her milk.
If the problem is that heat is not getting to her room dress her very warm and put a heater in there (she's in the crib so she won't be able to hurt herself on it) If that's not acceptable then you need to fix the vent, whatever it takes. You will not be able to move on until you do.
Secondly, stop giving her milk. I have seen children whose teeth have all rotted out d/t juice and milk. Milk also has a ton of sugar in it (lactose?). Please follow the advice of your dr. it doesn't sound like she's hungry to me at all, just desirous of your attention.
Good luck.

Does she know how to get to sleep on her own? The awakenings are probably not hunger-related, probably just habitual. You might try simply refusing the milk at night. This may make for a few rough nights, but if you are committed and see it through, she will get the message. If she doesn't know how to go to sleep on her own (without rocking, bottle, etc.) you may need to teach her. Email me if you want more info on that, but we have used Baby Whisperer techniques and they have worked great. Also, with my sons, we put several pacifiers in their beds so they can always find one. Good luck!!

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