New and Strange Sleeping Habits in a 2.5 Year Old

Updated on December 06, 2008
S.H. asks from Charlotte, NC
7 answers

My son and always been a great sleeper. He has slept through the night since he was 12 weeks old. He is now 2.5 and he has been getting up 1-3 time a night and walking into the hallway and crying. He has been in his big boy bed for about 6 months now, and nothing has changed in his schedule. He has also been getting up about an hour before we need him to, creating huge issues with getting everybody ready and out the door. Any thoughts? Is there anyway to keep him in his room and let him "work it out"? Do we just need to start putting him to bed later

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answers from Charlotte on

Hi S..
My daughter will be 3 in January and also was a great sleeper very early and now wakes up everynight like your son. I discussed this with the doctor he asked me if her eating habits have also changed and they have she went 3 days without wanting to eat just drinking water and maybe a few cheerios even lost 2 lbs (she had them to spare , she was weighing 42lbs). Well he told us that all those changes in her were due to growing pains, apparently they hurt more at night and what not (he didn't explain the change in eating though he didn't seem worried about it.) We just give her some water when she wakes at night and tuck her (and her baby) in again and she goes right to bed sometimes she'll get up again but we just go through the motions all over about 3days of doing this and then she'll sleep well or minimize the wakings for 2 days and then we go back but the doc said it should be over soon... Maybe talk to your pediatrician about it to see if they agree.
Oh and she also rarely naps...
Hope this helps and you find the root to this soon...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Greensboro on

this is the time of year that you might want to have those tonsils checked out. They may not be infected at all, but they may be huge and that could lead to sleep apneia, which will make him wake up during the night. My son just turned two and at his well visit, Dr. said his tonsils were huge, but healthy; he, too wakes up a lot and I've noticed he snores. My husband and two boys have sleep apneia and wake up often during the night, and my boys are 4 and 2. Unfortunately, even if that is the problem, an ENT won't even do anything about it unless it causes strep throat often, so we just deal with the sleepiness caused by waking up with two boys, putting them back in bed and eventually, hope they will grow INTO their tonsils. good luck, every child is so different, it could be anything!

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answers from Charlotte on

My first response would be to ask you is he still takes a nap? It may be time to make it shorter or try eliminating it all together or like someone suggested, make it earlier. I noticed that you are a working mom -- great job! However, if your child goes to a day care, they aren't as aware of your night time problems and really don't care as long as they get those kids to take long naps! Talk to them about it.

My second response would be that he might be scared of something. As kids grow they are exposed to so much and some of it as parents we know they shouldn't see, but sometimes when they watch a show like Power Rangers, which seems harmless enough, they develop fears of things. When my youngest was about that age he started watching Power Rangers and then started having nightmares about a "red bird". We had no clue what a "red bird" was and then one day my oldest told me it was on Power Rangers. We cut out Power Rangers for many months and his fears went away.

I know you said he has been in his big bed for a while now, but sometimes something in his room might trigger it. My children's nursery has been painted with Winnie the Pooh scenes since my oldest was born (12 years now) and my youngest is now 5, he, in the last 6 months, has decided that the smiling owl flying towards the really nice tree, is scary! won't sleep in his room with that smiling nice owl! So, we covered it with a poster of his choice! Now, he sleeps in there! Don't know why after 4 and 1/2 years he finally developed a fear of the smiling owl, but he did!

Also, he could be having night terrors. This is when they are not awake but having crying and screaming bouts. There is nothing you can do for them except be there. My daughter had them for a while and she would just scream and the more you tried to hold her the more she would scream and try to get away. We just had to sit her in the middle of the floor and let her work it out and just watch her. It was awful!

Good luck. It is just like everything else with parenting, try one thing and see if it works, then keep trying until you figure out what is wrong and how to solve it!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Goldsboro on

Is he napping in the afternoon and for how long? I have found that if I give my daughter (she will be 3 in 2 weeks) lunch eary (around 10:30) and try to have her down for her nap by 11:15 she wll sleep til 1:30 or close to it. I started her on this schedule when I started working 2-6 at a day care so she'd have her full nap before I had to leave for work, but I've found that she also tends to sleep better at night on this schedule. We do have some actvities that makes it hard to stick with this...mommy and me group at church on Tues mornings and story time at the library on Wed, but for the most part we stick with this as much as possible and it is working for us. Or it could be that if he is still taking an afternoon nap he may be outgrowing the need for it, although he does need at least a rest time during the day even if he doesn't sleep.

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answers from Raleigh on

Hi S.,

It's getting closer to his third birthday and developmentally things are changing for him - big things. This could be the start of what is referred to as his "awakening." Between 2.5 and 3.5 children will become significantly more aware of things. A child who has been dropped off for preschool will suddenly start crying or a child, like yours, who sleeps well, will suddenly feel insecure. He's entering into the world in a new way. It's as if he's been asleep, in a way through babyhood and toddlerhood, and entering into the preschool age with eyes wide open.

I wouldn't make him stay in his room or punish him for these changes. Your job right now is to help him feel more secure without making a big fuss about it all. When he gets up, firmly but lovingly take him back to his bed without a lot of fuss. Tuck him in and help him feel safe. In the morning, put out some toys for him in the living room to play with and let him know he needs to be quiet as a mouse because everyone is still sleeping when he gets up.

I don't know what time you have him going to bed, but I doubt a later bedtime would necessarily help. Sometimes an earlier one sets it right. But he just may have a new waking time and you set up some boundaries so he can do that without causing family chaos.

Hope this helps!

R., Parent Coach
"Providing Support For Mamas of Preschoolers."

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answers from Louisville on

We had the same issue with our son when he was 2 as well. I had just had our second son & our oldest was now getting up several times a night screaming & crying. We finally put a child gate up at his door so he was at least staying in his own room & not waking up his little brother. We also let him cry it out & if you can stand it do it, b/c it makes everything much easier when he can get himself back to sleep. Our oldest is now almost 4 & is back to sleeping through the night w/ no problems & no child gate.
Hope this helps.



answers from Louisville on

Your child is getting to the age where they start to experience very vivid dreams but don't have the ability to separate what's really happened and what they dreamed. Unfortunately, these dreams are often nightmares. I wouldn't let him work it out (if that means letting him cry himself back to sleep), I would be supportive, let him know you're available when he needs it, especially when he's scared. When kids are this age, we lay the foundation of trust so when they are teens they will come to us with whatever is bothering them. A night light might help, discussing dreams might help, and talking about nice things to dream about before bed might help.

Hope this helps.

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