22 answers

Waking up in a Bad Mood.

Hello everyone. My son is 21 months old. Whenever he takes a nap he wakes up in such a bad mood. He whines and does this fake cry thing. We try holding him, talking to him, give him as much comfort has we can it is horrible,it can last an hour or so. He has been doing this since he turned about a year. Has this happened to any of you and what did you guys do to make it stop.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

My daughter also wakes up in a bad mood occasionally. Not too often though. When she does this, I usually just back off. I don't talk to her much, and I don't try to pick her up or get her to do anything right away. I just wait for her to decide she wants me to hold her, etc. If she should have a fit upon waking... I treat it just like all of her other tantrums. I tell her that when she is calm down mommy will come back in the room. Then I leave the room and let her have her fit. It won't last forever...

frist how long is that nap? some chilrend need a little bit more time to get up also try some soft music that way he'll know it almost time to wake up I know I'm like that I need a little bit of time to get up I am one of those who loves too sleep

More Answers

Dear S.

my daughter (23 months) also quite often wakes up after her nap in a horrible mood - whining and crying. I guess it has to do with making the transition back from dreamland into the day, which is a much quicker one at daytime than waking up from a night of sleep - and it can become quite intense at that age as they start understanding much more of what is going on and are increasingly scared by dreams. I started giving her loads of time to 'get her bearings': I sit down next to her without picking her up from her bed (that seemed to make it worse) and let her stay sitting there talking to her in a low voice. She calms down much quicker that way and eventually decides for herself that it is time to engange with the world again. I pretty sure it is different for every child - for her it seemed to work best to leave her to find her own 'timing' and things have improved greatly since.


He may just be one of those people that until they fully wake up they are not in a very good mood. I would just give him the hour he needs to get fully awake and not make a big deal out of trying to make him happy. He also may act the way he does when he wakes up because of all the attention he gets from you guys trying to make him happy. Just let him have his time alone. I know how I am in the morning before I have my coffee and it ain't pretty!!! Good Luck!

Do you think he is getting enough sleep? How long does he sleep at night and at naptime?
Or if you know nothing is wrong, (like he's not hungry, sick or wet diaper), have you tried telling him to stop instead of comforting him? I know that probably sounds mean and insensitive...but my son does that too sometimes(he's 19 months) and if I've tried everything else and he is still doing that-I just have to tell him to stop it and if he knows I'm serious, he usually does. I know that sounds kinda mean but I can't handle the whining!!! If he can talk- try getting him to communicate with you.If anything else, maybe he just wants you to hold him. Try doing that when he's not crying so as not to reward behavior you don't want. Know what I mean?
I hope something helps. Let me know how it goes.

As a sleep trainer of infants and young children, I can tell you that almost always when a child wakes up fussy, it is because he hasn't had enough sleep. Your child should be sleeping about 10 hours at night (uninterrupted)and taking a nap of 1 1/2 to 2 hours every afternoon.

This same thing happened to our son at about that age, he grew out of it. We thought maybe it was low-blood sugar or something and when nap was over wed be armed with apple juice or a popcicle. Which actually seemed to help sometimes, but mostly he just wanted to be held and not talked to, just held as we went about our business. It would last at least 30 minutes. Usually with him crying full on. Being quiet seemed to help, not talking directly to him helped. Just holding.

My daughter (now 4) is the same way. We just let her "warm up" and shake off the grumps. She is fine by the time she gets to preschool, but it take about an hour. Hopefully she will outgrow it eventually as she matures. Her brother (2 years) wakes up happy and sweet. It is just a personality difference.

We had this problem with my little boy when he was that age. It was for a few months, it was in the morning and after a nap. We still had a monitor in the room at that time so as soon as i would hear him i would run in there and tell him its ok, we are right here. Besides probably being a phase he was going through. I kinda just tried to get his mind on something else, not ignoring his crying, but not giving him all kinds of attention for it. Bring up something like, asking him if he is hungry for his favorite food, or if he wants some juice, or if he is ready to go watch his favorite movie or show, or if is ready to go play outside with his favorite toy. Also, just be really happy to see him and give him a big hug. Thats what worked for me. Just don't really acknowledge his fake crying.

A question to ask yourself too, is how did he fall asleep? Was he crying? Because i always notice if he goes to bed mad or sad, thats how he wakes up. So i always give him a warm bath and read a book before bedtime. This tends to calm him down and relax. If he needs to calm down for a nap, i just read him a book or two.

You are a working mother, so does he go to daycare? If so, have you checked with them, how they do naptime and what time of day?

Hope i have helped somehow. Good luck, but remember, he won't do this forever, eventually he has to grow up!! :)

To begin with, stop rewarding his behavior. Speak to him in normal tones and tell him that when he can talk to you in a good boy voice and have a smiley attitude you will read him a story. You are trying so hard to meet his needs that you are not purposely trying to get him to continue this behavior but that is what you are doing. Then when he stops whining, offer to read him a book or a desired activity. You also may need to consider if he is needs a snack before nap time. Part of it may be low blood sugar upon wakening. See if not rewarding his whining will get rid of it. Don't be surprised if it takes about 3-4 weeks to accomplish this and maybe a little longer cause if you do it for 2 weeks then give in you will have to do it longer the next time to see results. Maybe keep a chart to document how long his behavior lasts before it changes. Theoretically it should start to be less time after a few days and less every day.
Good luck

is it possible to let him play in his crib or just lay there and wake up for a few minutes before you go get him?

I am lucky to have a 22 month old daughter that sleeps very well at night and for naps. Maybe your son actually needs more sleep. I've read a lot about kids and sleep, (probably because it's so important to me too). Most of what I've read says that kids who wake up whinny and crying may not have gotten enough. Most of the books and articles say that children in my daughter's age range (and your son's) need about 13 1/2 hours of sleep each day. She usually gets 11 or so at night and then at least two hours (sometimes more) during the day. Also, I give her a little time to herself when she wakes up. I don't rush in her room to get her up. Otherwise, he may just be a child who has a hard time waking up. I know I feel like whinning sometimes in the morning myself. And when I take naps I usually feel the same way. I'm just not good for much until an hour or so later. My husband has learned not to try talking to me about anything remotely serious or joking with me in the mornings. I'm just not in the mood.

frist how long is that nap? some chilrend need a little bit more time to get up also try some soft music that way he'll know it almost time to wake up I know I'm like that I need a little bit of time to get up I am one of those who loves too sleep

S., my daughter did this ALOT...i began laying with her JUST before she would wake up. i monitored her wake up times and began to quietly lay myself next to her, sometimes i would just kneel next to her bed. she would open her eyes and see me there and after a few times of doing this, she was fine. i guess she just needed to know i was around. of course, i stopped doing it once i noticed a change. she never did it again. good luck!

Hey There,
I agree with the ignoring. My son is 2 and still does that...sometimes he's fine, sometimes he is a real booger. You may want try the snack before nap time, though. I am trying that now myself, and it does seem to be helping!!!!

For starters, I'd stop trying to comfort him when he's acting like that after a nap. It could be that he's learned when he gets up and acts cranky, he'll be given lots of attention and be held and coddled. You're essentially rewarding his cranky behavior. Try ignoring it. He'll wonder what the heck is going on. If you can't ignore it, leave the room. He might up the ante and start other tyraids, but you handle it calmly and directly. Put him in time out. Put him back in his bed and say that when he can be in a better mood, he can join the rest of the family. It might take a few days, but he'll get the picture. If you give in just once, you'll set back the whole process and have to start over.

Do you think he's getting enough sleep? Maybe he's just not ready to wake up yet? You may want to read up on the proper amount of sleep a child should get at his age; perhaps he needs just a little more than the average 21 month old. I hope this helps.

My son was a cranky waker also. BUT, I had also noticed that the crankiness had increased at times where he was just on the edge of learning something new. He'd be extra cranky just before he got the walking thing down, then the talking part down etc. I had heard that they get frustrated when they know that they've just about got it, but can't get their act together to do what they want. On the other hand, cranky waking could be that he didn't get enough sleep, woke up famished or thirsty, or just wants that attention from those who love him. I guess what I'm saying is that, once you've tried to figure out if it is one of those other things, then maybe letting him know that you won't cater to his demand for attention with bad behavior and ignore him for a while.
Of course, we want to let our kids know that we love them so the time to do that is when they are giving you the behavior that you want.
Keep your chin up, I'm sure you're doing a great job. It will all be worth the tantrums and crying and stomping that we do while they're at this age. hahaahah.. Just kidding, but it is all worth it. You'll see.

My son did the same thing. I found it to be one of the following and sometimes a combination of these. Either he has awakened suddenly because of needing comfort and is still needing sleep or he is hungry. My son's comfort came when I would swoop him up and try laying him back down all the while telling him that I am here for him and that everything is okay. When that did not work, I found that he woke up hungry. I would either get him some milk or food to fill his tummy quickly. These two things seemed to be the problem solvers for us. The combination of these two would result in his crying till he got food then falling to sleep again shortly after eating a bite or two.
I know you will find the right thing for you and your baby. When my son turned one I had to remind myself that he is still a baby and needs comforting and love. Being able to communicate more and walk around tends to fool us into thinking they know exactly what they want. You clearly care enough to try and try.

I agree with a lot of the others. And the Ferber book is great! He may not be getting enough sleep but my guess would be he is getting too much! My neighbors daughter had a problem with night terrors and we did some research on the internet about sleep patterns. Very interesting stuff out there. Turns out she was too exhausted when she went to sleep and her body was not going through the proper R.E.M/Sleep pattern.


My daughter often wakes up in a bad mood (I think she gets it from me :0( ), and so I wondered what causes this when some kids wake up so happy, darnit! I read Solve Your Children's Sleep Habits by the Ferber guy and it explained the sleep patterns (as well as MUCH more). I can't recommend the book more.

Other than that, if he is still in a crib, I would try letting him cry it out a little or waiting on his wake up time. If he makes a noise, wait and let him come out of it longer before you go to him. This will give him more time to learn to wake up on his own. If he is not in a crib, you might try putting a gate on his door (making sure his whole room is safe) and that will give him the extra time to wake by himself as well. If he is whining, he is most likely OK and has learned that this works with you for attention or something. The bad mood from waking up from a deep sleep should only last 10 - 15 minutes.

Good luck!

My daughter also wakes up in a bad mood occasionally. Not too often though. When she does this, I usually just back off. I don't talk to her much, and I don't try to pick her up or get her to do anything right away. I just wait for her to decide she wants me to hold her, etc. If she should have a fit upon waking... I treat it just like all of her other tantrums. I tell her that when she is calm down mommy will come back in the room. Then I leave the room and let her have her fit. It won't last forever...


I have two girls one of which is 3 years old. She's a very intense child. Everything takes twice as long and is taken 100 times more intense. For instance, this morning she noticed a cut on her finger. Nothing huge and it appeared to have began the stages of healing. My youngest looks at it and pouts. She holds it as if it was going to fall off and runs around crying saying "I need a bandaid". Once the bandaide is put on she needs hugs, kisses and reasurance that everything will turn out fine.

I remember Jane Seymour saying that when her twins would be in a mood she would simply lay down with them until they were done. She also shared some technics that I thought were rather nice and I've adopted them myself.

When my daughter turned 2 every morning was ruff up until now. She wakes up in a happy mood but it quickly turns the minute she gets up. We've learned with her to let her get up on her own. We go into her room and say it's time to get up. Then we turn on the timer and let her know in 5 minutes it will buzz than she needs to get out of bed. Once the morning has started if the behavior continues, we simply put her in a quiet place to gather herself or to simply lay down.

With tantrums it's a little bit different. It's frustration that they don't know how to express verbally. So instead tantrums come about. Instead of holding, talking or any of the above you mentioned, my suggestion is to take him to HIS play room. Sit him down and tell him "I love you and I'm right here". Let him have his tantrums while you observe or read a book. Don't acknowledge the bad behavior. Once he has realized that his behavior isn't getting any attention or you're aren't fueling the fire, than he'll settle down and do something else. You can apply the timer to this as well by telling him "you have 5 minutes to have a tantrum and once the bell rings you're done".

It takes some practice and alot of patience. Trust me I know. I've been doing this, with some modifications at times, for a year or so now and it works. You just have to find out what fits but paying attention to it just makes it worse and he understands who is the boss and it's not you at this time.

Good luck!

HI S.:


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