15 answers

19 Month Old Does Not Sleep

O.K. here is the thing. My 19 month old has never slept through the night. It has been 19 long month and just recently he started sleeping better :). But we will have one good night and then the next two to three nights he will be up screaming and it's bloodcurdling screams. I have gone in to comfort him and the only way is for him to settle down, because he gets so worked up, is to let him sleep with me, then after a few hours I can get him back to bed. We have tried to cry it out, which can last up to an hour of screaming. If it was just crying it would be one thing, but the screaming is very hard to listen to at night. My concern is my older son since they share a bedroom and my husband who is becoming stressed with the bar soon. Has anyone else had this issue with there child? If so, what have you done to correct it. Thanks!!!!

What can I do next?

More Answers

Dear D. - it seems as if your son has already shown you the answer - let him sleep with you - there are so many amazing gifts yet to be experienced from this arrangement. He will come to love sleep, connect with you and best of all everyone will get a good nights sleep. Don't worry - it won't last forever - surrender to the natural wisdom of your son. Good luck

Hi D.,
You sound like me! My kids are less than 2 years apart and share a room. The older one slept through the night since 8 weeks old, the younger one didn't really do it until 2 and a half. I would bring her into bed with me, but then my husband couldn't sleep because it was too crowded (and he's got a pretty stressful job as well).

The bottom line is that everyone needs and deserves sleep, and that all phases will be grown out of. So we bought her a twin bed with a railing and I would sleep in her bed when she was upset. After a few months of that I would tell her that I can't sleep there, but I would sit with her and rub her back. Or if I'm too tired I could fall asleep if I needed to. Eventually she has stopped waking up at night. I try to look on the bright side - she's such a poor sleeper that she'll definitely have an easier time overnight potty-training than my older one who wouldn't wake up if a train drove through his bedroom.

Good luck finding the patience reserves, but on a dour warning note, the stress doesn't really end with the bar being over. There will be job interviews, and stressful career days to come. But it's all part of what makes life interesting, so hopefully you can both learn to take it all in stride!

It could be night terrors or teething. Getting molars in are very painful and the pain really ocurs at ngiht. Try giving him a dose of tylenol or teething tablets before bedtime.
I would maybe put your older son in your room or on the floor in another room until your son starts doing better. Having two tired grumpy kids isn't good for anyone. Is he waking his brother up?
At 19 mos he should be sleeping all night and there is that fine line if you continue to go into him it will be habit which will be harder to break.
Rule out that it is teething, maybe switch up bedtime routine with funny books and a lavender bath or something.
Good luck, I am sure your hubby will do great with the bar!


Have you had him checked for an ear infection? Is he getting enough sleep? I think 12 to 14 hrs total between night and naps is the norm for a baby that age (or something close). If there are no health or sleep deprivation issues, I would trust that he needs to sleep with you right now and just go get him or let him start out in your bed. You can change things later when he is a little older. Can he tell you what is going on? during the day you might ask him what happens when he wakes up in the night? Is something hurting? is he scared, etc.? and just see what he is able to communicate. Reassure him that you'll be there and he can sleep with you if he needs to. I never did the cry it out thing with my son, but i know if i had he would have outlasted me. some babies/kids just need to be with their moms at night. My son didn't sleep through the night until he was 2 and a half. He always slept with us, is five now, and sleeps like a log in his own bed. Hang in there.

While I absolutely respect everyone's opinions on letting your kids sleep with you - that arrangement is not for everyone. If it is for you, it sounds like you've got some great advice. If you are one of those people, then I might have another perspective for you. A great resource for me has been "How to Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" by Ferber. It has been a life-saver for many parents & kids I know - that have been in situations similar to yours. Ferber is a sleep scientist and explains how kids' sleep patterns are formed and how to adjust them. He's all about routine and he has a kinder, gentler version of sleep training that doesn't involve letting a child cry forever by themselves. If you want more specifics on his methods, please send me a message & I will be happy to expound on the details. The bottom line is that all of you - you & your child need a good night's sleep to be healthy. For some that is best achieved through having their children in bed with them. For others, it comes from establishing independent sleeping arrangements for the family members. Neither one is wrong - you just need to figure out which works best for you & your family. Good luck!

That's a tough situation. When my son was about the same age he wanted to come sleep with us. Not blood curdling screaming, but crying and whining, and he'd just show up at my bedside trying to climb in with me. Since my husband and I did not want to encourage a "family bed" we had to find a way around this. What I did was take my son back to his bedroom and stay with him until he fell back to sleep. I told him I would stay with him until he fell asleep and that once he was asleep I would be going back to my bed -- I told him that so he wouldn't wonder where I was if he woke up again. Since he was in a twin bed at that point, most often I just curled up on the end of his bed and fell asleep for a couple of hours. If he's still in a crib, maybe you could have a blanket and pillow on the floor by his crib then gradually move it further and further away toward the door to wean him off this kind of comfort. Good luck to you!


The book on that web site changed my life. My DS1 didn't sleep through the night 'til he was 15 months old. It took less than 2 weeks working at it and suddenly he would sleep 11 hours STRAIGHT!! And we didn't have to make him cry it out. He cried a little, but I was right there to calm him down and teach him how to go to sleep on his own. (We've still got some issues--he's 3 1/2 now--but this book seriously made things manageable.)

I've had a couple of friends use this book... one got her co-sleeping, nurse-through-the-night 18-month old to sleep through. I think everyone I know who's used it has had success.

Best of luck!

Hey D.!
Just want you to know you are not alone - my 27 month old has slept through the night about 5 times in her life. When she was a few months old, when she would wake up, she would be up for hours. I gave up and started sleeping with her. She now sleeps in her own bed, and when she wakes up I go in and rub her back to get her back to sleep. It's rough, but my hubby was the same way - didn't start sleeping through the night until he was 3. Here are some websites for moral support. Dr. Sears has many books and articles about this subject. Good luck and happy sleeping!


Your concern seems to be that you need everyone to get a good night sleep. Your son sometimes sleeps okay, but more often than not, he's really upset at some point during the night. I wouldn't think now would be the time to add sleep training to your life, as I know many people will suggest, especially if it hasn't worked so far. Some kiddos need their parents more than others during the night. Your son may be one of them. It sounds like he's fine when he's sleeping with you. At least until the bar is over, you may want to consider letting your son sleep with you, just so you can all sleep. Then, after the bar is over, but before your oldest starts back to school, you can either continue that until your son is ready to be on his own at night, or you can begin the sleep training and separation again. Do what you need and can do to ensure that your family gets a good sleep.

As far as my experience with this goes: My 20 month old son still doesn't sleep through the night. He just recently got better, too, giving me a 4-6 hour stretch before the first wake up. I know he'll scream, and sleep training won't work for him, because he's such a people person, so my husband and I let him continue to sleep with us and know that he'll make the move to his own bed when he's ready. He's already started beginning the night in his own bed on his own, but then he wants to be with us after the initial wake up. I'm not willing to give up my sleep yet (because I actually sleep very well) to do sleep training that will most likely not work for my son, so I have developed patience and enjoy the time he wants to snuggle.

Good luck to you and your family, and your husband on the Bar exam. That's a big deal! Congrats!


Wow! I feel your pain! My 10 month old was a great sleeper, then had a two month "bad" sleeping spell and is now getting back on track. My husband is a lawyer and I know all about taking and studying for the BAR. God bless him! I can't imagine him doing it and having kids! Has your baby always screamed like this at night? Maybe you should talk to your doctor about this to see if you should run some tests. My friend's baby ended up having an ear infection and had to get tubes in his ears and now he sleep soundly! For the mean time, you should do what works, especially since your husband is studying for the BAR. Maybe take the baby in the room with you when you go to bed and then put him in his crib later. I wouldn't even let the baby get close to the point of screaming. After yous husband is done with the BAR, the you
guys can both focus on the screaming and it will be less stressful for him and you.

Hope this helps,

Let the 3 year old sleep in your room for the few nights it will take the younger one to learn to sleep from crying it out. The screaming won't last forever, but as long as you give in, he will keep doing it. You have to be strong.

My girlfriends son was that way, they took him to the doctor and found he had something going on, anyway, sorry, I wrote her to ask will get back to you.
They use to take him driving and he would go back to sleep. This went on for a along time. But either way, have your doctor check him out.

My daughter is especially sensitive to artificial dyes, and when she gets them (especially when she was around your son's age) she would wake up in the middle of the night and go screaming across the house. (She sleeps with us so she would just get out of our bed.) She would scream for a while and wouldn't even let us get close. Cutting out the artificial stuff (which she RARELY got - any small amount would do it) reallly helped. The other thing that helped was stopping dairy (although she still gets cheese and butter). It helped enormously with her behavior as well. One indicator of a dairy sensitivity is if they can't get enough milk/cheese/yogurt/etc.

Also, personally I don't think there is anything wrong with letting them sleep with you. They feel more secure, you feel more secure knowing they are OK, and if they do have night terrors you can calm them down a lot faster and everyone get a lot more sleep.

Hope that helps!

My daughter is 19 months old also, and does not sleep through the night. What has helped is routine, doing my best to make sure we do the same things at bedtime each night. I also have a lullyby CD that is classical music with no words, this helps to calm her. I also rock her to sleep on nights when she is fighting sleep.

Hi D.,
My first daughter didn't sleep through the night on her own until she was 3 or so. Our problem included the lack of a consistant routine. She also had some food allergy issues that made her uncomfortable but once we put a bedtime routine and a consistant bed time in place things got a lot better. I used to let her fall asleep to a DVD, but once we stopped that and read to her or told her stories in the dark she slept much better. We had to teach her how to be okay alone in her bed and how to soothe herself to sleep. Once she was okay initially falling alseep without the TV or me then I think she wasn't so scared when she woke up in the middle of the night and instead was able to go back to sleep.
Believe me, this whole thing was exhausting and time consuming. It took months to teach her to sleep after the 3 years of just doing whatever worked in the moment. But, for the last 9 years she has been a great sleeper with no bedtime struggles at all and that has been very worth it.
Good luck to you. Take care,

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