11 answers

17 Month Old Waking Up

Ugh, it's 4:00am and I am at my wit's end. My 17 month has always been a great sleeper, but the past two months we have developed some bad habits we're having trouble breaking. He goes to sleep great on his own between 7:00 and 7:30 - we put him in his crib while he's still awake after a dependable bedtime routine and haven't had trouble with him getting to sleep for months. However, almost every night he wakes up at least once and we have gotten into a bad habit of bringing him to bed with us - usually around 3:00. I am due to have number 2 December 31 and am hoping to break this habit. I know we're supposed to go in and "reassure" him and then let him get back to sleep on his own, however he just stands in his crib and screams. This isn't one of those situations where we can let him cry it out for 10 or 15 minutes - he just keeps screaming, we feel bad, plus are exhausted and of course, the second he's in bed with us, he's sound asleep for the rest of the night. I was up with him for about two hours tonight, just trying to sit with him to get him to sleep but he wants held, so stands at the crib and screams for me to hold him, if I do, as soon as I put him down in the crib (no matter how asleep he seems) he wakes up MAD!! Mad and ready to keep screaming endlessly again....... Any suggestions??

What can I do next?

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Wow I'm sorry but I think that first response was a little harsh! I would try one of those projectors that play a light show on the wall or ceiling and let him watch it to see if he'll calm himself down and go back to sleep watching it.

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Wow I'm sorry but I think that first response was a little harsh! I would try one of those projectors that play a light show on the wall or ceiling and let him watch it to see if he'll calm himself down and go back to sleep watching it.

I always refer anyone who has a sleep issue, no matter how small or large it is to contact Nancy Birkenmeyer at St. Luke's Sleep Research Center. Pediatric Sleep issues are her specialty and she is wonderful.. She will give you a step by step set of instructions to carry out. My only regret was that I didn't call her sooner than I did. I would have saved myself a lot of sleepless nights! Oh yea...and it was covered by my insurance. Good luck. OH yea, and she doesn't tell you to let them cry it out...my daughter was one of those who would cry all night if I let her...using Nancy's instructions Amber never cried for longer than 90 seconds before we were to do somethng different.

Ummm...let him cry it out. YOU are the parent, not him. YOU decide when it's time to go to sleep and wake up, not him. If you don't get this nipped in the bud, he will forever rule your house be it sleeping or obedience or whatever. Kids are s-m-a-r-t. They know when they have you trained. Put him to bed, close the door and forget about it. It might be good to get one of those monitors with a screen just to make sure he's safe of course, but you are the mommy and you need all the rest you can get. He will scream and I'm sure it will be the hardest few days you've ever had, but he'll learn mommy isn't going to come get me, when it's time to sleep, it's time to sleep. Call me harsh but I've had my 20 month old sleeping through the night since 5 weeks and never waking up since...

Maybe try pushing his bedtime back to 8-8:30 or so? (I don't really like getting up at the crack of dawn either!) Maybe he's teething? Too hot, too cold? Sometimes it's just the little things that can wake them. I really feel for you and know how important your sleep and sanity are especially with another on the way. If you choose not to go in there, be consistent. Don't not go in for 3 days and give in on the 4th. It's only supposed to take a week to break, so give yourself some time and maybe invest in earplugs? I wish I could be more helpful. Best of luck!

Hi M.,
Well my advice is going to be more all around and cover your bases so to speak.

So I would say first make sure he is eating well everyday all the time, is he needing a snack before bedtime.
Next try pushing back his bedtime, like an hour later maybe even working up to a half hour or hour after that.
Is he to warm or to cold, with the weather the way it is it's hard to judge how to dress them to sleep. Maybe a onesis T-shirt and a blanket sleeper.
Now if all these things are not the problem here is what I have done with my own daughter she is 1 yrs old. She was waking up about 4 times a night, I'm a home child care provider so I stay home with her, anyway I started telling her during the daytime at morning nap and afternoon nap that it is "naptime". But then in the evening when it was time to go to bed I would tell her it's time to go "night, night" she then says "ni,ni" and I say yes. When she would wake up in the middle of the night I would lay her back down, cover her up and tell her it is still "night, night" time and she needs to go back to sleep. After checking the diaper and making sure there was no fever. She would fuss and scream for a bit but as we kept going she figured it out and she is now back to sleeping thru the night.
She has always been a good sleeper and at 6 weeks she was sleeping through the night, the reason I believe she started waking up in the middle of the night was because a few weeks ago she had Rotavirus and I was on alert evertime she cried not knowing if she had vomited or had a nasty diaper. So I would go in and check on her to make sure, I think that is what started, but I had no other options also. Also the other thing was when I laid her down in the daytime I would tell her in a high pitched happy voice, but when it was the middle of the night I would tell her in a stern voice that it was "night, night" time and lay her down.
So thats my advice. Oh and I had tried to cut my daughter down to only taking 6 ounces of milk 3 times a day and I think that had alot to do with it also. She eats really good and is on table food but she still wants her milk after breakfast and lunch and bedtime and she drinks 8 ounces everytime. I hope this helps you W..

P.S. when you go in there let him know he is fine and it is "night, night time".

Is it possible he is cutting teeth if so it could be why he is screaming. My son has been doing the same thing since hes been cutting teeth he aslways slept thru the nite since he was 2mths old and up until a few months ago and he is 21mths now. He is cutting alot of teeth, I give my son Hylands teething tablets and a little bit of tylenol at nite when I know he is grumpy, it normally helps, but then again I do take him in the sparebedroom with me he dont sleep in our bed. I have sat in the chair with him first to rock him if that dont help we go in the sparebedroom and as soon as I lay him down he is asleep, I think its just a phase and he will grow out of it eventually, my son has slept all nite the past couple of nites.

Hope that helps

I'm having the same issue right now with my 16 month old boy. Lucky for me, he doesn't wake up every single night - but he has the past two nights in a row and we're pretty tired today. He's usually awake for an hour and does go back to sleep. Yes-we've given in the last two nights and went to him, changed him and rocked him a bit. He also cries when we put him back down but seems to fall back to sleep within 10 mins or so. It's hard not to go to him when he's screaming his head off. Just so you know, he goes to bed between 7:30 and 8:00 every night and usually wakes up at 6:30-7:00. He is teething like crazy so I'm pretty sure that's part of his problem and hope this night waking will stop once his molars are in. Hang in there, hopefully this will pass and he will get back to his sleeping through the night routine soon!

He really has you trained doesn't he? It's really simple. Turn on some music in your room with your door closed and ignore his demanding crying. Turn on some music in his room with a soft nightlight and his door closed and do NOT go in his room at all, not even to "reassure" him. What the heck is that anyway? He isn't scared or sick. By your own admission he is angry, but I'll call it demanding. He is enjoying this control he is having over you. He wants what he wants and he has you manipulated and right where he wants you.

Our society is afraid to really discipline kids today. I shudder to think how things will be in another 10 years. If he is not climbing out of his crib yet, the crib is safe and he does not have any unsafe toys in his bed, he doesn't need to get up and be with you. If he wants to sit there, listen to music and self entertain, let him. He will scream so long as he knows he has you fooled into rushing after him in the middle of the night.

If you don't like this advice... Get a King size bed and accept the fact that you are about to have 2 children in your bed and it's going to be that way for YEARS!

I actually LOVE to sleep with my children and so does my husband. We sleep with them for as long as they want and still sleep with our 7 year old. It's OUR choice. We chose to sleep with our 3rd and 4th children because we just enjoyed them so much and were more mature and our own relationship wasn't as important to us. We'll get our own love life back soon enough as they grow up and move on TOO fast.

Our first 2 children did not sleep with us though and I did not get up with them in the night for anything other than a quick diaper change and bottle until they were maybe 6 months old or so.

Whatever you decide, live with it and be happy. Maybe you should be getting up at 4am and spending that time playing with your child. Maybe you should be going to bed early and then you would be ready to get up then. It's all up to you after all. Just decide what you are willing to do.

My first 3 girls woke up bright and early and with smiles on their faces around 5am every day of their young lives. I got up with them and enjoyed the early morning happy hours and toothless grins.


Hi M.,

My son is 18 months old and has been doing the exact same waking pattern (around 2-4am) for the past 2-3 months. It is very exhausting and aggravating. My husband and I both work full-time and we, too, have tried everything to get him to go back to sleep on his own... with no luck. I've heard that they will "eventually" outgrow this, but probably not before I lose my mind!

I don't have any quick fixes or cures, just wanted to let you know you are not alone. Hang in there and I guess just enjoy your cuddle time with your little boy. Best of luck with baby number two!


Is your 17-month-old teething? Try rubbing some baby Overnight Orajel on his gums before putting him down for the night. If he's teething, this could help him sleep thru the night. And we just went thru the same thing with bad habits in the middle of the night in order to get our 27-month-old daughter back to sleep. For close to 2 months, she would wake 1 or 2 times in the night and I would take her into our guestroom where we have a sofabed set up. The whole time, I left it made as a bed so that every night I wouldn't have to bother. Well, this became her bed, where she would want to go down for the night. She wouldn't even get into her crib. Finally, a few days ago, I made up the sofa once again so she sees there is no bed in the room anymore. We also changed her crib into a toddler bed, taking down one side of the rails. And either my husband or I lay on the floor next to her bed when putting her to sleep. I also had to do that at 4:00 this morning, but it was after I let her lay on the living room couch for awhile. (Along with the sofabed, she also had gotten used to falling asleep on the LR couch before we moved her to her crib. That was also tough to change on her.) But, rather than bringing him in bed with you guys, maybe try having him lay on a sofa (a temporary laying spot). Not sure if this would help or hurt, but just a thought...Also, is there anything you can do to change up his crib or decorations around it somehow? Our daughter really thought she got a new cool bed just by taking down the rail. Ok, she can get in and out on her own now, which I don't like, but I'm just happy that she is finally sleeping in her own bed again! Along with the option of nice sleepy relaxing music, is a natural sounds machine. We have one with sound options of waves, summer nights, raindrops, heartbeat, etc. (I think there are also cd's with natural sounds.) My daughter uses it every time she naps or goes down for the night. Good luck!

Wendi B had a lot of good advice and I'll just add to it a little bit. I found that playing a CD of relaxing music on repeat has been hugely helpfull. Overtime, it creates the mental cues for your baby (you too if you use one) to go to sleep. Also, try shortening his naps and putting off bedtime a little longer. In the last two months, you have probably been unable to keep him active enough to tire him out. Try getting a friend or family member who could take him out and play with him. Wear his little butt out and he'll start sleeping longer. We take our daughter to the park (bundled up when cold) to feed the geese and other birds. She plays, inspects the trees and walks around with us. And she went back to sleeping well. Also, try adding dark leafy greens to his diet. These are full of B Vitamins, Iron and Calcium that help to regulate energy and relieve stress as well as aid in relaxation. All of that adding up to a better night's sleep. You can also add chamomile tea to his diet. A nightlight with a dim, warm glow could help assuage any fears he might suddenly be having. I don't know where kids get the idea of monsters but it seems to come naturally, again the music seems to help with this too.

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