11 answers

3 (Almost 4) Year Old Waking up Multiple Times During Night for the past Month

My daughter has recently within the past month or so waking up at night once sometimes up to 3 times to say she has to go potty (she sometimes actually goes or other times she plays in the bathroom) or she says she hurt herself, or comes into our room and tells us something that doesn't make sense. She used to be a good sleeper but she recently seems to be not only a very light sleeper, but finding every excuse to get up or not go to bed in the first place. She usually has a nap in the afternoon from about 1 to 2:30 or 3. Every now and then we don't get the nap in because we have been busy. Night time I prefer to get the kids to bed by about 9, but we have ended up having a few late nights (past 9:30) and you would think she is tired by then. We know she is tired. She doesn't act like she is afraid of the dark, when she was about a year or so ago, she would just turn on her closet light and crack the door open a little but now appears to be way past that. Any insight would be helpful

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The things kids eat and drink can affect their sleep, and also what they watch on TV. Maybe she's outgrowing her need for a nap.

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This may not be it, but when my daughter was young she used frequently to come down to our bed saying she had a nightmare. I was concerned about the number of nightmares she was having, until later she admitted that she had just wanted to sleep with us. Similarly, my son for years slept like Harry Potter--under the stairs (we have a spiral staircase, so it's not a closet)--just to be near us. In case that's why your daughter is up, maybe talk to her and possibly arrange a temporary sleeping place nearer your room. It didn't hurt my son any.

The things kids eat and drink can affect their sleep, and also what they watch on TV. Maybe she's outgrowing her need for a nap.

There might be different reasons for her waking up. Which you probably have done this but I'd ask her doctor. My niece did this until she was 4 years old. She would wake up not making any sense and it would take my brother about an hour to get her back down and asleep. I don't think they really did anything for it like meds. She is now 5 1/2 and sleeps great. She just grew out of it. I also would take her to the doctor and make sure she doesn't have an infection. Sometimes when girls take baths all the time, it upsets the bladder. She may be waking up and then feel she has to go all the time because of that. Also helpful info, is no drinking anything after about 7:30 at night. Her bladder should be empty by bedtime.

Do the missed naps and late nights go together with her waking at night? It could be that she is over tired, I know young kids are strange that way, but she could be waking because she is over tired, I know my 3(almost 4) year old was that way when she was a toddler (woke EVERY night 2-3x a night for about 3 mos 16-19 mos.) Is her waking up to go potty a new thing or has she been doing that for awhile? You may try something I read in a magazine, giving her a pass or a ticket to get out of bed once or twice and after she's used them she has to stay in bed the rest of the night she may be alittle young for that esp in the middle of the night, but depending on her maturity it could work. Also if she does potty the first time you can let her know she can't go potty again until morning, then if she gets up to go potty you can tell her she already used the potty and take her straight back to bed. My daughter sometimes comes in for whatever reason and won't go back to bed without a lullaby-it quick and easy but still frustrating if it happens several nights in a row or several times per night. May may just have to take her back to her room, tell her its time to rest and leave it at that-I'm sure this will pass. Just stock up on the coffee. Before I had 2 children I drank coffee on rare occasions-now its pretty much every morning!LOL

Hi Mandy-

I'm sure you don't want to hear this, but.... Your daughter is probably outgrowing her nap. That is a really long nap, considering her age. Don't get me wrong, I know of a few kids that are 4, 5,even 6 that nap and have no problems at bedtime. But most kids that age will be resistant at bedtime if they have a nap. My daughter outgrew her official "nap" at 3 when I was pregnant with our son. It was either A) she had a nap and finally fell asleep at 11:00 pm or later (our bedtime is 8:00 pm for kids) or B) she didn't have a nap, just quiet time with books, which meant we were able to stick to the 8:00 pm bedtime.

It will be painful at first, but she will eventually settle into the routine. You might try cutting her nap shorter each day until you have no nap, just quiet time. My daughter is 5 1/2 and still needs to slow down and watch a 1/2 hour-1 hour video when she gets home from 1/2 day preschool. It just helps her unwind while little brother is napping, plus it's a good chunk of time for me to get something done, and she's quiet while little brother sleeps. I have heard that there are moms out there who don't ever allow their kids to watch TV, obviously, I am not one of them!!!! LOL

Honestly, the hard work now will pay off in the long run, I promise. You will have more time to get a few things done, spend with your hubby, etc!!!

Good luck!

My son 3 1/2 is doing the same thing. He does sometimes have to potty, but he usually just wants to be close to us. When he crawls into bed with us(usually a few times a night), I just put him back in his bed and sit with him for a little bit until he falls back to sleep. Sometimes right at bedtime he stalls going to bed by going to the potty. We usually let him go to the potty twice and then it is lights out time.

I think he is sometimes having bad dreams also. He sometimes tells me he is afraid of robots, and we also went through a phase of being afraid of the dark even though he has a night light. We say prayers right before bed time and we have started asking for protection from bad dreams and it seems to be helping some.

I think part of it is that he is about ready to give up his naptime, but there are still days sometimes when he really needs a nap. It is so hard right now with this transition between nap and no nap, and dealing with nighttime fears.

I hope you find out some good answers and I will be looking also to see if anyone has any ideas.

possibly a bladder infection? Making her have to urinate more frequently, but at the same time not wanting to because it hurts, therefore holding it? Just a thought.

when a child gets older, they do change and become more alert of thier surroundings. just as my six year old grand daughter did. she also was fine til she reached four. and so when she stays the night here with us, i make sure i put a night light in her room and in the bathroom. cause she also gets up in the night now. and maybe to help her relax, read her a story when you tuck her in for the night and have almost a whispering voice when you read. and maybe try warm milk before she goes to bed. that might help too. she maybe going into being nervous at times like my grand daughter did and still is now. hopefully this will help some. grandma in oklahoma

Some children need less sleep at an earlier age. Is she still napping? You may want to cut the naps short or eliminate them and/or set back bedtime. I used to wonder why my daughter did not nap and I discovered she was ADD later. She didn't require as much sleep but when she did sleep it was very soundly. So I changed the schedule and she slept all night. Instead of putting her to bed by 8 when she was 4 I put her down by 8:30 or 9.

It doesn't sound like nightmares are her problem. Make sure you have a very predictable, strict routine. Then she knows what to expect and what you expect of her.

Wow that sounds frustrating. The only idea I had is that she is going to bed too late. Kids actually sleep better if you put them to bed before they are over-tired. My 5 year old goes to bed between 7:30 and 8:00. You can read more about this idea in Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth (sp?). I would try moving her bedtime up a little at a time until you find the time that allows her to sleep better.

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