19 answers

Growing Leg Cramps & "Can't Sleep"

My son is 5 and has been waking in the middle of the night ALOT lately. He is either saying his legs hurt, with his big tears rolling down his face, or that he cant sleep, 5 out of 7 nights. I give him some tylenol when he says his legs hurt and wrap them with a warm wrap. Is there anything else you can suggest I do, while we work through the growing process?
As for the "Can't Sleep" have any of you had that problem? It is becoming a regular issue on a weekly basis it seems. He says maybe 1 out of the 5 nights he had a bad dream, but the other times, it is just a whining I can't sleep...while he walks through our room. Says it is not fair that he has to sleep alone. What do I do?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Use Motrin, Tylenol has never worked very well with my sons for real pain. Growing pains are normal, but uncomfortable. If it does not go away take him to the pediatrician.

More Answers

Keep up with the good nutrition suggested and know that growing pains are normal. Unfortunately they bother us in the middle of the night! Be thankful your son is growing and give him some Tylenol or Motrin. As for sleeping alone, don't bend on this one. He needs to maintain his independence. You'll both be happier in the long run.

1 mom found this helpful


My daughter gets growing pains quite often and they are quite painful, the best I could ever do is give her the Motrin or Tylenol. As for the not sleeping through the night, my oldest daughter has a tough time getting to sleep so I bought a bottle of Melatonin at Target and give her 1/2 of one about 1/2 hour before bed and she has a much better night sleep and the Melatonin helps her to keep in a regular sleeping habit. I don't have to give it to her every night, just when she seems to be getting out of sync.

1 mom found this helpful

Yep. Been there. When our son was going thru that, we taught him how to stretch his muscles before bed. During the day, in the summer, his muscles were getting more of a work out than they were used to. In the night time, he would get cramps. The good news is, this too will pass.

Good luck!


Dear Nicole A.,

We experienced the leg cramps and terrible pain with our now 12-year old granddaughter when she was around your son's age. I gave her a low dose of ibuprophen and it would last for 12 hours or so. As for the not going to sleep, perhaps you could provide a stereo and allow him to play some type of soothing music around bed time and tell him he must stay in his room except to use the toilet. Give him some type of reward that he would really like to receive. Sounds like he is scared and lonely.

Our grandkids have to be in their rooms by their designated bed time, but you cannot FORCE your son to fall asleep. If he continues this lack of sleep very long, I would take him to the doctor and ask that some tests be run to find out if there is a physiological reason for this. If that is all ruled out, then it is a mind thing.

I also pray that God gives me ideas when I am stumped. He has the best mind of all. I am learning more and more that I know nothing and He knows everything. I have no better ideas than others and can often learn something that God put in my life to be learned.

L. C.

The old wives tale about warm milk at bedtime is really true. Calcium is a relaxer. If he doesn't want warm milk how about a calcium supplement about an hour before bed. That works also. Growing pains are real, but I would be careful about giving him tylenol every night.

I am not sure what you do for your Spa Business, but a good massage for your son's legs and feet may do wonders? I always give my son a good round of Reflexology and a lower leg rub (and myself) before bedtime. There are many good oils out there to get as long as you purchase the correct / cold-pressed kinds as these have safe properties for you and your son.

As for sleeping alone: we are still working on this one ourselves!

I have a little sister who, too would complain of that problem she has flat arches in her feet which was causing her legs to hurt when she was lying still. She has to wear special arched shoes or inserts.

Another thing I was thinking - I have Restless Leg Syndrome and my mom told me that when I was younger it would act up at night and I would tell her my legs hurt and feel funny (if you aren't familiar with RLS, it's an uncontrolable urge to move your legs, it's not fun!), I was too young to really put into words what was wrong. That may not be the case with him but it's a though.

Good luck!

My mom always made us drink milk and it ALWAYS HELPED!!

I had these legs cramps as a kid too. They were located behind my knee. I stll get them every once in while as an adult. It is a dull achy hurt, completely tolerable for an adult, but painful for a child. Don't think he is faking or being a baby. AS a kid my parents rubbed bengay on the back of my legs. It kinda worked. I would take him to the doctor have him looked at. My parents told me they were just growing pains, but I don't know if I believe that because I am done growing and I will get those same pains maybe 6 times a year if that.


My daughter used to have this problem and it ended up being flat arches in her feet. She used to wake up in the middle of the night with leg cramps. The doctor had us buy speciaol shoe inserts to better support her arches and she was much better! So you might want to take him in to the doctor and have them check his feet.

My son (4) gets horrible growing pains. It seems to me that they are worse in the summer when he is more active. He will usually start complianing around dinner time. I give him an extra long warm bath and MOTRIN. I've found that Tylenol just doesn't cut it. Try to give him the Motrin before he goes to bed so the pain doesn't wake him up. (I realize you can't do this every night...). Calcium is suppossed to help too. Check with pediatrian about a multi-vitamin. Mine told me not to give my son once b/c he is a good eater and just be getting all the vitamins he needs...but it is an option.

As for the sleeping alone, we got my son a "guardian angel" statute. The angel protects him and keeps him company at night. It was my Mom's idea. It worked awesome. We also emphasize that big boys sleep alone (which raised the question of why do you and daddy get to sleep together...kids are so smart...).

Music is always a way to go to sleep. Or record yourself reading a story and play it for him when it's time to sleep. Or get to one of those shops where you can buy lifesize cardboard images of basketball players or something like that that would make him feel his hero is keeping the 'baddies' away.

As for the legs, Tylenol is really not good for anyone, but that's not the issue here. There are those PM pain relief products. Another possibility is if you go online and type in MIGUN, there are infrared warmth pads that might help with the legs. Put it under his bottom sheet and turn it on. It is very relaxing when I go to acupuncture. They run about $300, and that's the down side, but anyone can use it. You'd get your money's worth. Especially if this would help your son's achey legs, and you'd get some sleep.
I would also have his legs problem checked out.

Good luck and hope you get some shut eye! I know the problem of that!

Hi Nicole
Leafy green veggies are the best source of calcium (cows get theres from grass). Here's my way of getting them into my 5 yo.

In the blender
2 c filtered water
1/2 lb organic spinach (high pesticide crop)
blend smooth
Add 1 c blue berries blend smooth
some organic strawberries (high pesticide crop)
some raspberries (high pesticide crop)
1 banana
add more water, rice, or soy milk to make it the right constancy child likes. I also have to strain out the seeds for mine.
It's a great source of antioxidants, calcium, potassium
I use frozen berries they tend to be cheaper.

Good luck, A. H

I think there's some kind of disorder (nothing serious, I don't think) like that. I can't exactly remember what it's called. "Something" leg syndrome. You should consult your pediatrician. It's better to be safe than sorry. Poor baby! Good luck.

My son went through this too. He is now 7 and sometimes he still has growing pains and says he can't sleep. I would give him a heating pad, sometimes a warm bath, read to him and sit with him and comfort him. I would also pray about his pain and sleep problems. You could also make sure he gets a multi vitamin everyday.

Hi Nicole, Just wanted to suggest a glass of warm milk for
those growing pains. Milk also soothes the weary soul and helps to put us to slept. Dr. Kevin Leman has written quite
a few good books raising children. He is a Child Physiologist, has five children of his own and is a Christian. It is a funny, delighful read. Enjoy and Best to you and your little one, God Bless, K.


Hopefully your son is just going through the phase. Bad nightmeres can be very frightening!

As far as the leg pains go do you think they may be caused by a shortage of potassium in his system? I know that I have experienced leg cramping and pain because of it. A doctor recommended I eat bananas and also suggested gatorade.

Perhaps talking to your Pediatrician will help you uncover the source of the leg pains and the problem with sleeping.

Have you tried a night light for your son? If it's just whining could there be something else besides just not being able to sleep? Is he afraid of the dark or monsters?

A suggestion I have for monsters it to tell him you're giving him an invisible basket. Inside of this basket are special cookies that only monsters like. Let him know he should put the basket in his room and at night to let all the monsters know it's there. When the monsters eat the yummy cookies they'll know that your son wants to be their friend and they won't scare him anymore. (I know it may sound different...but it's worked!!!)

Chammomile tea is also a good idea. It's warm, caffiene free and very soothing and calming. Perhaps this with a well established routine before bed will help. Also, avoid exercise or eating an hour or so before bedtime! :)

Good luck!

Use Motrin, Tylenol has never worked very well with my sons for real pain. Growing pains are normal, but uncomfortable. If it does not go away take him to the pediatrician.

Wow ......we have this problem at my house both my children a son and daughter. Bananna a day and water. If my kids don't have enough water during the day they get cramps at night. As a child I got wicked leg cramps tears and all especially at night. So now with my kids I do the water and bananna. I now notice a problem only if they haven't had enough water or if they have gone one or two days w/o a bannana. Works for us! Good luck.

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