15 Month Old Inconsolable After Nap

Updated on June 28, 2010
K.W. asks from Wilmington, DE
17 answers

Hi all,
My 15 month old has had his share of ear infections, but he got tubes in a few weeks ago and I am still dealing with a lot of the same issues. He is also having some trouble transitioning himself from two naps to one. I just try to read him for that day to determine if he needs one or two naps. He is also getting his molars. The problem is that for a few months now he will often wake up inconsolable from his nap. It takes me 20 minutes to calm him down and then he just kind of snaps out of it. We have tried stopping dairy and reflux medicine, but it is happening more and more. I always thought that it was the fluid in his ears that was bothering him, but his tubes have resolved that issue. My pedi pretty much told me he has done everything that he can and that I should accept that my child is just intense, but my gut is telling me that something is physically bothering him. My little guy is not the most easy going baby, but I don't think it is normal for him to be waking up so upset! He sleeps 10.5 to 11 hours at night and wakes up cranky some mornings, but never as upset as after his nap. Has anyone else experienced something like this?

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answers from Philadelphia on

The molars can effect the ears. Are you giving him some infant tylenol or motrin for the pain? Another thing to help him sleep,try some hylands teething tablets. They seem to help when the teeth come in and they are cranky. They dissolve right in the mouth. DO this after you give him some teething tablets before bed. He is having teething issues is what my gut instinct tells me. The tablets are available at pathmark,walgreens,target and walmart. See if it helps. Good luck, hope he feels better soon.



answers from York on

Sometimes when my son is teething, he wakes up earlier than normal from his nap and is very cranky and hard to console. It takes about 20 minutes of carrying him around and cuddling him till he fully wakes up and I can put him down to play on his own. I should say that he doesn't necessarily scream the whole time, maybe for the first 5-10 minutes and after that he just freaks out if put down to play. This usually passes after a week or so, and then he'll sleep fine and wake happy. Hopefully, this has something to do with teething and changing over to one nap, not more medical issues. Good luck!

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answers from Honolulu on

It is developmental based.
It occurs at this age.
Look it up online.
Very common.

Next, over-tiredness actually makes it HARDER for a child to sleep, fall asleep, to stay asleep.
I would... NOT switch him to only 1 nap a day.
My kids at that age were napping 2 times a day.... they needed it.
Is there a reason you are trying to get him to only 1 nap a day????
He seems tired and needs to nap.
Granted, each day is different... but regularity and consistency is important. For sleep/naps.
If there is no reason to take away 1 nap... then I would not.
Just my thoughts.

15 months old is ALSO a "growth-spurt" time... and a time in which MANY developmental changes are occurring. So there are more than 1 'reason' many times, as to the tweaks in a baby's/child's sleep.

He sounds normal to me.
I believe, it is night-terrors. And lack of sleep/over-tiredness can exacerbate it. And no, it does not only happen at night.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Reading on

Both of my kids have done this as well. My 4 year old still wakes up from naps crying! I have come to the conclusion that it's normal. Though I'm a big believer in mother's intuition, so if you think something is bothering him, I'd just watch him carefully. But what he's doing sounds like my kids.



answers from Philadelphia on

My daughter does the same thing, and has no other health issues. She is now 3 yrs old and still occasionally wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. I think its a kid thing... although I notice that sometimes if I get lucky enough to take a nap I feel more tired and drained when I wake up... so maybe adults just learn to stop crying about it!



answers from Philadelphia on

Yes, you are describing my child. My child also had chronic ear infection. My baby is very intense. I try not to wake him up, instead I may turn the white noise off in his room and turn the light on hoping he will wake up naturally on his own. He also intense about every thing. He has gotten a little better. But I try to maintain a schedule and have everything he needs avail. I can tell you just make sure you have your Zen. I exercise a lot at ymca so I can get a break and I am much calm with dealing with him when I am physically strong mentally.



answers from Harrisburg on

All my kids have been like this after naps and I think it's totally normal. In fact, my 3 year old twins are still like that sometimes! She'll eventually outgrow it!



answers from Philadelphia on

I'm sorry for not reading the previous response, so this may be a repeat. My kids all had episodes like this when going from 2 naps to one and again when tapering off naps completely. With us it was night terrors (yes, even in the day time/after naps). Basically, their eyes are open so they look like they are awake, but they're really kind of stuck between being asleep and awake. Usually the kids will scream like someone or something is really hurting them and do not really respond to your presence (except maybe to be more agitated). They do not remember the episode once they snap out of it (unlike a nightmare, which they usually have some memory of) and won't even realize they were upset. My kids often made nonsensical comments and flailed around as well, but then eventually just stop like flipping a switch and either wake up or roll over and go back to sleep.

Google sleep terrors and see if it makes sense. They are more common when children are overtired, which explains why those nap transitions are prime times for them. Basically all we were able to do was do make sure they were safe (i.e. they weren't going to fall out of bed or hurt themselves if they were flailing around) and wait it out.

Good luck!



answers from Philadelphia on

The fact that this is only happening when he wakes up from his naps makes me think it has nothing to do with his ears or reflux (he would probably complain when being laid down, not just upon awakening, if it was something like that). He could be having nightmares or night terrors which are causing him to wake up upset. My daughter will sometimes wake up from naps happy as a clam and other times she is miserable. There seems to be no reason to one versus the other- just a good day versus a bad day. She has started waking up during the night crying hysterically and only settling down if I sit in her room in the chair with her for long periods of time which makes me think she may be having nightmares. Is your son verbal enough to tell you what's bothering him? The guessing game is so hard! Good luck! Sleep issues have been the biggest source of stress for me as a mom.



answers from Philadelphia on

Just another mom who has and continues to walk in the same shoes. My three year old has NEVER woken happy although now if we are going somewhere fun after her nap and I tell her, she will wake up excited and raring to go but otherwise she still screams and whines. It is easier now though. When she was little it would take 30 minutes to calm her down and now it only takes 5 or so. My 15 month old used to wake happy and talking but for the past month or so she also has begun to wake whining and crying. Fortunately, she is much more easily consolable. I know it was/is not night terrors for my two but just part of who they are. If you truly think something is wrong, take him to a sleep specialist for a consult. They have a team of doctors and psychologists to determine if it is physical or behavioral. I had to take my oldest to children's hospital of philadelphia for other sleep issues (we did discuss her wakings as well though) and although frustrating, I felt much better knowing it was behavioral for her and that she was not suffering from any physical ailment. My insurance also covered the cost 100%. Ask your pediatrician or google it to find a sleep center for pediatrics near you.



answers from Reading on

Yes, we deal with the same thing. Sometimes he wakes up so happy and other times he's miserable and won't snap out of it. One thing that you might try in order to see whether it's behavioral is to make a favorite treat so that it's ready upon wake up, plan a fun outing or to let her watch a favorite video (if you do tv), or anything else she truly loves. If she stops the crying when you present her with something fun then chances are it's just a behavioral thing. If not, maybe something more serious. When asked if he wants banana bread or to watch Thomas the Train my 2 year old will stop immediately in the middle of a wail and say, "okay" with great cheer--truly amazing. Not that we do this every day, but it's a nice break from a half hour of misery for everyone!



answers from San Francisco on

one of my girls fit this description and it was just a phase (that seemed to go on for a loooong time when it was happening!). She just really needed more sleep than her twin sister and was one unhappy camper when she didn't get it! And the wake-ups were always worse if she was the slightest bit sick or teething, or if she fell asleep in the car and didn't get as well rested as she would have liked. She's also always been the super-observant kid and we finally concluded that she would go through what we called "cognitive growth spurts" where her ability to notice things in her surroundings leaped ahead of her ability to process all the additional input - after a few weeks she'd settle back down again.
She *did* eventually grow out of what we called "rocky/bad boot-ups" - they became less frequent as she got older, and also it became easier to distract her and help her snap out of the wailing (funniest incident was one time when she had fallen asleep in the car and we got home - she was just waking up and making that sputtering sound that usually precedes her wake-up bawl, and then she caught sight of one of the neighbor kids and it was like she turned her "mood switch" from "fussy" to "friendly" instantly, said "Hi!" and ran out to play.)



answers from New York on

Yes, I deal with this with my son too, and I know how stressful it can be. There are days when he wakes up from nap and is Mr. Happy Go Lucky! Then there are days when he is a complete terror!!!!!! During those days I literally have thoughts going through my mind that there is something terribly wrong with my child.

Have you noticed any sort of pattern with your little guy? It took me a while but I finally noticed that when he gets woken up, he will scream and cry and rant and rave for up to 20-30 minutes. But if he is able to wake up on his own he is just fine.

For us I found that if I hold him he will calm down, but I need to hold him for 20-30 minutes. I think he just needs that time to "wake up".

I'm not sure if that is what your LO is going through, but I wanted to let you know that you are not alone...and other kiddos certainly go through this.



answers from Phoenix on

I have also experienced this. When my oldest was easing out of naps, I still tried to get him down and when I did, he woke up in the WORST mood ever. Crying inconsolably. I finally figured out it wasn't worth the naptime for the crying afterwards lol.

I sometimes wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle and fill my body struggling to wake up and it doesn't feel good at all. If I was a kid, I would probably be crying too. Wonder if this could be happening to him? That would be something physical.

My kids were probably all down to 1 nap at that age, but kids are different and each day is different. Maybe he needs consistently to be at 1 or 2 naps, instead of switching day to day. Maybe instead of the second nap, he just needs some quiet time spent in his room reading books and lazing about? I don't know, but good luck. :)



answers from Philadelphia on

My son went through a phase like this as well. He's 2 now and still does this sometimes if we're visiting my parents and he's sleeping in a strange place or is woken up. When he was about 15 months, he transitioned from two naps to one. He goes to daycare 4 days a week and so they started him at 1 nap when he moved to the toddler room at 12 months but I was able to keep 2 naps at home for a few more months. What I figured out was happening with him was that he was hungry. He was getting so tired and cranky by 11:00 and then I would try to feed him lunch and when he's in a mood like that he won't eat. So then I would put him down for a nap and he would wake up miserable! I would try to get him to eat lunch at that point but again when he's in a mood like that he will not eat. Basically his whole eating/sleeping schedule was getting thrown off and he didn't handle it well. There may be something physically wrong but it also couls just be that this transition phase is really tough on him. It's hard for me to say but I thought I would share my experience and let you know that you're child is not the only one!


answers from Nashville on

It's as if you took the words right out of my mouth!! I also have a 15 month daughter who does the exact same thing. I have no idea what is wrong or what to do about it. Nothing I do ever makes things better for her. She has even just recently started sleeping through the night, so I know she is getting more sleep than ever before. I talked to her doctor about it as well, but we don't know what else to do. She has had two ear infections recently and she is getting molars, too, but other than that, she is a perfectly healthy little girl.

I'm sorry I can't really help much, but I wanted to let you know the same thing is happening here. I hope another mom has a good answer, because I know we could use it! It is just terrible! I used to dread her waking up from naps because it meant my free time was over. Now I dread it because I know I will have to deal with an inconsolable toddler (which usually ends in me getting a few new bruises on my legs as well). Good luck momma! I hope it gets better soon!


answers from Williamsport on

Kids do this even without all the problems you mention. My 2 1/2 year old is never allowed tantrums, he has a sweet cheery disposition having been disciplined away from them a long time ago, and the ONLY time he might fall into a truly traumatized (I might even think something was physically wrong with him if I didn't know their wasn't -and he's always fine an a half hour) is occasionally after a nap. My best friend's son that waty after all his naps-as if he just got badly injured or is completely terrified out of his mind. The is NO consoling him. We call him Dr Jekyll at that time, and we call my son "The Tyranosaur" until it passes.

I let it go with my son for a certain amount of time until I see he's sort of regaining himself and then I start to warn him he needs to stop and enforce it, and thankfully it happens rarely. I just want you to be assured that you sound like all the real ailments have been addressed and he's having the "nap meltdown", so you can react-or not- how you see fit. It's such a weird phenomenon!

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