20 answers

What Happened to My Good Sleeping Baby?

Hi, mamas,

I have a problem. My baby is now a 14 MO toddler. She has always been a GREAT sleeper. We've been able to put her down awake at 8:30 pm and she just goes to sleep, and doesn't wake until morning. For the last week, she has been not wanting to go down, and then she doesn't stay asleep when she finally does fall asleep. She screams terribly - worse than she's ever done before, so I have a hard time having her "cry it out." Some situations going on lately - she has a molar coming in. She had a cold a couple days ago.

So we've tried the rocking back to sleep, letting her lie in our bed until she falls asleep and even nursing, but she's so restless, she has the hardest time falling asleep. We thought it was teething,so we've given her tylenol, teething rings, etc. She is obviously tired, but struggles.

What happened to our good sleeper, and now what do we do about it?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks so much for all the advice! We started putting our daughter down at 7 pm, and gave her a bit of motrin about an hour before bedtime. She's gone back to sleeping through the night! Her molar is just about popped all the way through, so hopefully we'll have a break from the teeth for a little while. She's almost through her cold - just has the boogie-woogies now. Thanks again!

Featured Answers

Here's an idea, what is she sleeping in? Last winter when my little girl was around 13-14 months she started struggling with sleep. I discovered that I was not dressing her warm enough for the cooler nights. Since she wasn't able to keep a blanket on I ended up buying some of those sleep bags. She has slept well ever since.

It sounds like she might be over tired. Try putting her down earlier. My 2 year old goes down about 6:30 or 7 and my 5 year old goes down between 7 and 7:30. Both sleep until about 7:30 in the morning. She might be growing and need a little bit more sleep. It could be due to teething. Molars are painful. But trying moving her bedtime up, even to 8 might help. When kids get over tired they wind up and have a really hard time winding down.

More Answers

I would check into any possible medical issues and then when those are ruled out, I would get the book, "How to Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" by Richard Ferber. It is fantastic because he explains why these things happen and what to do to help fix them. It is well worth reading. Good luck!

It sounds like she might be over tired. Try putting her down earlier. My 2 year old goes down about 6:30 or 7 and my 5 year old goes down between 7 and 7:30. Both sleep until about 7:30 in the morning. She might be growing and need a little bit more sleep. It could be due to teething. Molars are painful. But trying moving her bedtime up, even to 8 might help. When kids get over tired they wind up and have a really hard time winding down.

My kids had cold symptoms when they teethed, every time. Molars are especially painful. Give her motrin before bed or natural teething tablets. Motrin helped my kids more then Tylenol and stays with them longer. Give it to her a half hour before bed. Also I may say 8:30 is a little late for a 14 mos old. My 7 year old goes to bed at that time.
I would put her down earlier, as being overly tired can cause things to backfire too.
Being too tired can cause the restless behavior. Make sure she takes a good nap during the day and I would say a bedtime of 7:30 makes a lot more sense. My four year old is in bed at 7:30 and doesn't wake until 7am.
They need lot's of sleep at this age.
Kids will change up sleep patterns a ton, growth spurts, teething, even bad dreams start kicking in a lot between one and 4. Hang in there but don't start a habit you are not willing to have to break like rocking, letting her sleep in your bed and so on. Crying it out isn't going to hurt her.

I agree with PP; you don't want to create bad sleep habits just because she's not feeling well. It sounds like she still wants to fall asleep on her own anyway. My daughter went through a phase similar to this around that age after being a wonderful sleeper. It was a rough time for all of us, but my thought was it didn't seem to help if I tried to rock her to sleep anyway. So we had to let her self soothe. I never let her cry longer than 10 mins without checking on her. Pretty soon she fell back into her regular routine and is still a good sleeper and we don't have fights at bedtime like a lot of parents do with their preschoolers.

Hang in there, and check to make sure there are no other underlying medical issues just to be safe.

You have already received great advice, and I would agree with all of it. I just wanted to say that my twins are 15 months and just went through this stage. You are not alone and it, too, will pass. My biggest recommendation besides giving them motrin would be to not develop bad habits at this time even though it is really hard. The first few nights of this we let them sleep with us (and they NEVER have) and we paid for it. Go in, give them motrin (if it is time), rock them for 10-15 minutes to let the motrin kick in and put them back in their crib. Don't go back in unless you can tell there is something really wrong with them. That saved our lives. Now our son every 3 or 4 nights wakes up (he is still teething) and we follow this routine and he goes right back to bed. Someone told me that if adults went through teething, we would need opiates. Good luck to you. I totally understand where you are coming from.

Your baby has become a 'toddler.' Around this age, her brain starts hitting some major growth spurts - they will last until she's about 3 (hense the terrible 2's. It does affect her sleeping. And, as she begins to experiment with independence, she may resist sleep more.

So what to do ... I agree with other posts that she may be getting overtired, and that she might be coming down with a cold, and that she might be teething. So try to avoid/deal with those sleep issues. Also develop a routine, that you follow firmly (if she's really sick, there will need to be some adjustments, but otherwise, stick to it). It should be short (15 min or less) and can include stories, rocking, time in mom's bed (with the lights off!) or anything else that has helped her in the past. Just be patient and tell her "It's time to sleep now." She may wiggle (you can't really stop that) but she must stay lying down (just calmly and gently lie her back down if she gets up and tell her "its time to go to sleep") She may not 'get it' at first, but as long as you are patient and calm, and don't let her control you at bedtime, you'll be setting up a good standard so that when those 2's start and she really tries to assert her independence, it won't be a new thing. And in time, she will grow out of it and develop sleep habits and routines that don't need you right there.

Boy, don't kids grow up fast! :)

My guess is that the 'cold' is just because your baby is teething. My son gets that way when he is cutting teeth. Cold like symptoms and then just cries. We have found that orajel teeth swabs do the trick, along with tylenol. About a half hour before bedtim we would give him a little dose of infant tylenol, and then rub his gums good with the orajel swabs. He sleeps like a baby. :-) It is just that pain I think that keeps them restless.

I would have her ears checked. Sounds like my son. HE slept from three weeks old all night. When he got an ear infection at three months old, he didn't sleep through the night again until he was over two years old. Hope it's something easy like that!

I have a 17-month-old who is going through a similar stage. I, however, sit in the camp of not letting them cry it out. I have a 3-year-old who is an awesome sleeper and goes to bed on his own with no problems so know this is just one more stage that the toddler will outgrow. One book you might find helpful is Elizabeth Pantley's "No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers". It's not a magic "3 days and they are great sleepers" book but it is very helpful and, for me, affirming that I am making the right choice for our family not to let our kids cry it out. You'll need to decide what works best for YOUR family. Good luck!

If she does not have an ear infection, I would gradually put her down to sleep earlier and earlier until you get closer to 6:30 or 7:00. She sounds overtired. Try the book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, by Dr. Mark Weissbluth. It is very helpful!

You're right that she is tired. In the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child" it even tells ya that when the child is fighting going down for sleep, that the reason is usually overtiredness. The recomendation is to put them down earier for bed because the child is needing more sleep. I have a 4yr. old and a 2yr. old who used to go to bed at about 8:00 or 8:30 and we slowly started putting them down ealier until their bedtime has gotten to now 7:00 or 7:30 and I have seen benefits from the ealier bedtime. One is that they are a little better rested and for the most part they don't fight the going to sleep as much either.

Once you've made sure she is not sick, and is feeling well, I'd recommend "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child!" I LOVE this book. One of his big things is that it actually helps children to go to bed earlier. We put our 19 month old down between 7:30 and 8:00 and it makes a world of difference. Some children go down earlier. My friend's 22 month old goes down at 6:30. I know.. sounds crazy, but she sleeps all the way through until 8 the next morning..and still has her nap. Anyway, I think it is a cool book that helps to solve a lot of problems.

Here's an idea, what is she sleeping in? Last winter when my little girl was around 13-14 months she started struggling with sleep. I discovered that I was not dressing her warm enough for the cooler nights. Since she wasn't able to keep a blanket on I ended up buying some of those sleep bags. She has slept well ever since.

#1 - Don't create sleep habits (like rocking and laying in your bed) that you don't want to keep up. Doing it once in a while when they are sick is one thing -- but if it starts being every night... well then you are teaching them a new way to go to sleep.
#2 - Keep up with her regular sleep routines as much as you can. Giving her ibuprofen (it lasts longer and has been clinically proven to relieve pain better in kids) about 30 mins before bed (so it has time to kick in) will help with the teething pain.
#3 - Take one day and do everything you can to help her get caught up on her sleep. This should solve the problem of being overtired. I know if I do this when my kids get out of whack on sllep that they can get right back to their regular schedules.

Hang in there!

I would definitely get her ears checked out....ear infections are very common after having a common cold and her not sleeping at night can be a huge indicator....good luck!

go have her ears checked by the pediatrician to make sure she doesn't have an ear infection? It sounds like she is just really uncomfortable. Could just be the teething, but it could be an ear infection too....

Could very well be that your baby has an ear infection, especially if she had a cold a few days ago! When babies lie flat that have an ear infection, the pain is sooo great they scream horribly. I would take her to her pedi to have it checked out. Elevating the crib mattress or having her as upright as possible while sleeping may help relieve some of the pressure. U could also ask your pedi for analgesic ear drops for pain relief if it does turn out to be an ear infection. Also, keep her little ears covered outside in the wind!
Good luck...!

Our Pediatricians recommended Motrin over Tylenol for teething and/or achiness from colds, etc. You might try that. If she isn't napping as much during the day you could have a bit of sleep deprivation going on as well. My twins were not napping during the day and then they would wake up through out the night too, so now me let them cry it out in cribs morning & afternoon for a nap and they always nap now and then again in the middle of the night if one wakes up, they are learning to self soothe and go almost right back to sleep, thank God!! Good Luck!!!

I'm wondering if she has an ear infection from the cold she had. It seems to hurt their little ears more when they are lying down, and this also might be causing her not to stay asleep. Maybe you have already had this checked, it's just a thought. Best of luck!

One thing that really helps my kids calm down when they're having a tough time settling down to sleep is talking about their day. You'll have to do most of the talking, of course, but run through everything you did.
I agree with the previous poster. Let her cry it out, but only for a few minutes at a time. Don't pick her up, though. If she's standing in her crib, give her a hug and rub her back, then help her lay down again. If she's laying down, rub her back and if you can, lean over and give her a kiss. Anything that gives her some love and reassurance.
If she's totally frantic, like trying to climb onto you when you give her a hug, pick her up until she can calm down, then put her down again.
Soemthing that helped with my son who wouldn't cry it out is sitting in his room, on the floor near the crib. I could gradually scoot toward the door, and after a while, he'd be so sleepy (or asleep) that he didn't care that I got up and left. He only needed that a few times, and I usually only needed to do it for 3-4 nights each time.
Good luck!

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