15 Month Old Won't Sleep

Updated on January 03, 2008
E.S. asks from Lafayette, CO
13 answers

My child has always been a pretty consistent sleeper. She started sleeping mostly through the night in her crib at around 3 months. We have had a few tough nights around travel or teething, but usually she has been a great sleeper. About a month ago she stopped wanting to nap in her crib - she would fall asleep nursing or rocking, but pop up and cry as soon as I put her down. So, I started letting her sleep next to me on the couch, figuring a napped baby was better than an over-tired one. Now, for the last few nights she has been waking up several times at night (like every 45 minutes) and having a hard time putting herself back to sleep. It doesn't seem like there is anything obviously wrong like teeth or gas.

Has anyone else had this happen? It is a phase for the age? I am worried that she has slowly been developing bad sleep habits during the day and now we are paying for it at night.

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So What Happened?

Thanks so much for the advice. It is good to hear that other parents have had to work through this too - somehow it just makes it more bearable knowing you aren't alone!

I considered the options and decided to try a plan to help her nap in her crib. We rock to sleep when she looks tired and I put her in her crib, but do not let her cry it out during the day (so she doesn't start associating her crib with negative feelings). If she decides not to nap in her crib when I put her down, we get out and go on with her day, and then repeat when she looks tired again. So far she has napped in her crib for 4 days!!

And we saw the Dr for a check up today -- looks like molars could be part of the issue!!

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answers from Phoenix on

When my kids won't sleep through the night anymore, the first thing I try is a sound machine, or a cd with lullabys on it, or something quiet and soothing. My daughter actually has KLOVE on her radio at night right now. This usually helps my kids. Good luck!

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answers from Phoenix on

You will get different answers from different sources on this one as it is a cultural issue.

In some cultures (ours), sleep training is the norm and babies are trained to sleep thru the night at very young ages and co-sleeping is discouraged as the goal is for the baby to associate objects with sleep, not people (ie: crib, blanket, pacifier). If you subscribe to this philosophy then yes, you are allowing "bad sleeping habits" nuring naptime, which are being transferred into the night. BTW, co-sleeping on a couch is dangerous, you can only do this on a flat mattress.

In other cultures, it is recognized that babies were not intended to sleep thru the night consistently until they are 3-4, and night waking is completely normal. It is also assumed that a baby sleeps next to mother, as this is best for both (reduced possibility of SIDS, better temperature regulation of infant, more opportunity to night nurse, and for the mother more sleep, more opportunity to night nurse providing natural birth control when baby is young and also lowering of estrogen levels/raising of prolactin and oxytocin levels thus reducing risks for certain cancers). If you subscribe to this philosophy, then what is happening is that your baby has gotten a taste of doing what comes naturally at naptime and is showing her preference to continue this at night.

The only person I know of who devoted a career to researching breastfeeding, sleeping thru the night and cultural influences on both is retired researcher Kathryn Dettwyler a former PhD Anthropologist at Texas A & M University. You may want to check out her website: http://www.kathydettwyler.org/dettwyler.html


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tucson on

She might need to give up her morning nap. Try skipping that (with a small snack instead for energy between breakfast and lunch). Then put her down earlier for her afternoon nap. If she has a good solid nap during the day, she'll probably sleep better at night. Try the nap in the crib, though. If she just has the one nap, she might be tired enough to fall asleep there again.

I don't really have a problem with holding my son to sleep for his naps when he needs it, such as when he's sick or didn't sleep well the night before. It doesn't make him forever attached to sleeping in my arms. When he feels better and has had a good night sleep (or just gets through the developmental phase he's in that's making sleep difficult), he goes back to napping in his crib. Don't feel guilty for holding your little girl so that she can get some rest. Just figure out what's going on (or wait it out, if it's a phase), and things will get back to normal or be a new normal.



answers from Denver on

Most people think that seperation anxiety only happens at 9 mths. However, the monster rears it;s ugly head again aroun 15 mths. This time....it is even worse. As a Montessori teacher of toddlers..I tell my parents to do whatever gets them and babe some sleep. This too shall pass! You're not going to create any bad night habits by being there for you little one during the day. Maybe leave your baby something that smells like you ( a blanket or toy) to snuggle at night. If they can smell you...sometimes that's all the reassuring they need.

The other thing...it could be teeth. Those back molars come in at about this age too. They are harder to notice because the drool gets swallowed more. Feel around the back gums for any swelling. Keep in mind, that these teeth are flat, not pointed, and hurt like the dickens. I have survived three kiddos. My 16 mth old is currently doing the same thing. Grin and bear it. This too shall pass! Good luck!



answers from Albuquerque on

I'm sure it's just a phase - both my kids went thru this AND all the other posts - all after a year old it seems. Try white noise/music (we use both a fan & classical music) & a soft blanket/pillow. Taking out the morning nap seemed to help us a little. Although, my kids naps are pretty short (45-75 mins). My daughter started taking longer naps after 2. Well, anyway - I just keep on with same old routine. Getting out of a routine, just seemed to make it worse - AND last longer. But I would maybe get her ears checked. My son seemed fine otherwise, but had an ear infection & my dr. said not sleeping well is one of the things to look for. Oh, and my daughter never liked napping in her crib. She always took naps on our bed - so I could roll away. Then she moved her naps to the couch. Now at 4 - she still prefers either over her own bed . . Nothing wrong with a different nap area. Good Luck!



answers from Denver on

Hi E.,

My son is 20 months old and I've been dealing with the same thing these last few days. I was really starting to worry. I decided to put a pillow in his crib and IT WORKED! He cuddled up with the pillow right away and went right to sleep!

Edited response: Then a few hours later he woke up screaming again. I went in his room and let him know I was there and he would be okay. I tried laying him down and he completely resisted. He was standing up in his crib screaming when I kissed him and said good-night and I left his room. I would say it took a good 20-30 mins for him to quiet down (and hopefully he went to sleep).

This morning I took him into the Dr. to see if he had an ear infection or another medical reason to the problem. The Dr. could not figure out what the problem was. My son does see a chiro. regularly for chronic ear infections, so I am going to have him adjusted and see if that helps at all tonight. I am ABSOLUTELY exhaused.




answers from Denver on

We had the exact same issue when my son was 13 months, he had always been a great sleeper with the exceptions of teeth, growth spurt, sickness, etc. He was waking in the middle of the night and it was taking 1-2 hours to get him back down. We tried skipping the first nap with no success, going to bed earlier or later, nothing worked.

I took him to a chiropractor, willing to try anything, and he slept SO GOOD that first night. The second night, he woke once. Night 3 was better, day 4 he had a second adjustment and since then he has been a dream. He had a few spots in his back, hip and neck that were 'out'. I honestly think it is worth a try, they are so gentle with babies.



answers from Phoenix on

Seems like you got some great advice! I would stay away from CIO... your not going to have a 6 year old who will only go to bed when you are holding them, know what I mean? We co-sleep, and really like it, but I know that it doesn't work for everyone. It is probably a phase, and will probably be short lived, so hang in there!



answers from Phoenix on

I wish I had advice for you but my 15 month old daughter is doing the exact same thing. Just in the last couple of weeks she has had a hard time sleeping through the night. She goes to bed just fine but then wakes up a couple of hours later. Part of the problem is that at first we were having come into bed with us just so we could all sleep but that has become what she wants and she will not go back to sleep. She is attached to me like glue at this point. If you hear any good advice let me know!



answers from Phoenix on

E., this soooo sounds familiar! I am a mom of five kiddos, and my older three were all like this! I tried everything from trying to let them cry it out, trying to warm the crib before I laid them down, and even just letting them sleep in their swing. I eventually took them to bed with me, as that was the only way I could get any sleep. Only problem was that they got attached to that and it took a long time to get them in their own beds. Hopefully it is just a phase, but you could try calling your pediatrician for some tips.

Alison SAHM w/ a 12, two 11's, 7, and a 4 year old.



answers from Las Vegas on

My kids have done that when it's either teething or an ear infection. I have no idea if that's what your child is going through, but it's a possibility. My daughter is going through that right now in the night. She wakes up screaming, I nurse her, I put her down and she screams again until I pick her up. She's working on her top teeth, but if I didn't know that I'd pobably take her to the Dr. Good Luck!




answers from Denver on

They go through periods of seperation anxiety as well as it could be teething. You letting her fall asleep anywhere but her crib will set her up for bad sleeping habits. I know it is hard as a mom as you want the peace of sleep and you hate hearing her cry but do not let her get dependent on you to sleep. Teething can happen under the gums without being visible and can be painful even if we don't realize it. Try a little bit of tylenol at night if she continues to wake up, always put her down before she falls asleep in her crib only, even if she cries, let her calm herself down and cry it out. If she is awaking several times a night, do not rush to her, give her at least 10 minutes to try and get herself back to sleep. She can very easily start depending on you as her soother and you will never get any sleep. Try getting her a sound machine, so when she awakes and fusses it comes on an makes soothing noises for her. That worked wonders with both of my kids. Put her down for naps at the same time every day, in a quiet room and let her fall asleep herself. Rocking her to sleep is another way to get her dependent on you. Hugs, it is probably a phase and she will settle in, the most important thing we can teach them at this age is to self soothe and fall back to sleep without our interaction. It is one thing to jump for an infant and comfort them but when they are past one it is important to be consistent and help them have good solid routines in sleep habits.



answers from Reno on

My littlest one did that too. At first I thought it was teething because he wouldn't stay down for more than an hour 1/2. It went on for a few weeks though and finally I took him to the doctor. He had ear infections in both ears and had to be put on 2 antibiotics. It cleared up in a week. It took him a while to get back to his old sleeping routine, but he's there now and it's great. It is worth having your little one checked out to be on the safe side. At 15 mo they can't tell us what's wrong. Good luck.

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