16 Month Old with Sleep Issues

Updated on June 21, 2007
M.L. asks from Cranston, RI
11 answers

Hi Everyone,
I have a sixteen month old boy who we are having major sleep issues with. He has started to wake up between midnight and two in the morning and refuses to go to sleep in his crib again. Out of sheer exhaustion, I have been bringing him into my bed after trying several times and sometimes a few hours to put him back in his own bed. I will not let him cry it out as many suggestions in other posts recommend. I am not comfotable with this method and feel there has to be another way! My husband and I are becoming very frusturated with the whole situation! He had started sleeping through the night a few weeks ago, but then I had to go away and my husband was with him and when I got back, everything was worse! We have established what I think is a good bedtime routine (video, bath, stories, bottle, bed) and we try to get him in bed by eight o'clock at the latest. I just can't seem to figure out what we are doing wrong! Please help!!

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answers from Bangor on

Some children do not sleep much. My 15 year old hardly slept when she was a baby. She was good about bed and would stay there. I did let her cry it out for a couple of nights, and she was fine about staying in bed after that. I checked on her every few minutes to make sure she wasn't hungry, sick or in need of a change.

She just never slept much. Unfortunately, I am a person who needs sleep, or I am cranky. So she learned to keep herself busy quietly when she woke up at night, staying in bed. I was right across the hall, so I heard her if she came out.

She rarely ever took naps, either.(So I couldn't nap when she did!) When she was real little, we brought her into bed with us when she would wake up, but not after her 8th month.

She still does not really sleep much. She just cannot seem to do it. If I didn't sleep at night, I would have been cranky all the time, and we all would have been miserable because of it. Like I said, I need my sleep.

Her dad died when she was 8 months old, and a few weeks later I let her cry for a couple of nights. After that she was fine with being quiet. I left the night light on so she could see her sister. I left the door open so that I could hear her (I wake up at the smallest noise to this day!), I would let her have a toy/book (best to put this in the bed after she is asleep the first time). I still checked on her when I got up to go to the bathroom (about 4 times a night due to potty training).

She still reads when she wakes up late at night/early morning. After she is up for a couple hours, she goes back to sleep. This, of course, means that she is still not getting the sleep she needs. We have spoken to doctors and a psychologist, and there is really nothing to be done about it.

Since you are married, here are my suggestions:

* Put a rocking chair in the bedroom.
* Take turns with your husband getting up.
* Mmake sure your son is dry, not hungry and not sick.
* Maybe do the video earlier in the day, and add something else to the bedtime routine. Something that is not very stimulating: looking at the stars, coloring, telling stories...
* Let him sleep as long as he can.
* When he wakes up remember, it won't hurt him to cry for a couple of minutes. But I would do this slowly. The first time, let him cry for a minute, then a minute and a half.....
* When you go in, check on him and pick him up and sit in the rocking chair. Sometimes I would pretend to go to sleep, my face close to hers, and she would (on ocassion) fall back to sleep sooner. Make sure his head is near your chest (heartbeats are relaxing, reminiscent of the womb), and just rock him, without talking, quietly with soft lighting.
* Some children sleep better with soft, slow, classical music. Some do not.
* Some need a night light, some do not.

Whatever you do, just be sure to have lots of patience. They cannot tell us why they cannot sleep, but sometimes (or with some children) they just cant.

Remember, they may be cranky, but it is from lack of sleep.

Also, if he naps during the day, ths could be a problem. Though my daughter never really napped, some children that age do.

Maybe you could start cutting back on naptime. Say, if he naps for two hours, get him up half an hour early. When he is used to that, try for another half hour.

Everyone I know has tried putting their children to bed later to get them to sleep longer. This did not work for any of us! Their internal clocks automatically wake them up! And sometimes they are up even earlier.

At any rate, that is all I know. Letting them cry it out seems mean (it did to me!), but it does not harm them none in the long run. They won't even remember. And it will not hurt your relationship with him.



answers from Boston on


First off, I don't think that you are doing anything wrong! Motherhood is not for wimps and the sleep issues just proves that. My son has been a horrible sleeper since birth and it is just recently that I get a full night sleep (he's almost three). When he was about 18 months and in his crib, he started almost reverting to newborn sleep! I was back to work so at my whit's end. I stayed up a couple of nights (over the weekend) and noticed that Jr. would hit the side of his crib which made a loud noise and that would wake him up. Since he moves a lot in his sleep, this was happening about 4-5 times a night! I remembered that when he was only two weeks old, he would cry and cry in his bassinet. He would cry and cry in his pack and play. So, I moved him to his crib and his sleep improved slightly. I thought that maybe he felt like he was being cramped. My husband and I decided to move Jr. into his big boy bed shortly thereafter.

What did work during the time it took us to decide to go to the big boy bed was Nanny 911 advice.
1) First time you go in to the room, if baby is standing, say "night night", lay him down and walk out
2) Second time + you go in the room, lay baby down and walk out with out talking.

Big boy bed did open a whole new can of worms which ended up with me 'rewarding' Jr. for staying in bed all night long. (trips to the park, even a lolipop!)

Good luck



answers from Boston on

M., the cry it out method is hard, but did you try to modify it to fit your comfort level?? Let him cry a few mins, but not to a point where it streses you out - just cut back on the times.. I made the mistake with my daughter that I jumped at every noise and ran in there, but with my son, I didn't jump so fast and he learned to go back to sleep most nights.. I still have to go in there, but not every night. You can also try putting him to bed 15 earlier - that will change where he is in his sleep cycle if there is an outside source waking him - if the birds wake him or a car driving by etc... Try to get him out of your bed though.. easy solution, hard habit to break!!!



answers from Boston on

So I browsed through your post and the first thing I thought was, "Oh mama, you're gonna hafta let him cry"...then I read the part where you said you won't do that. Because we disagree on this, I just deleted the email with the post and kept going, thinking I don't have any advice for you. But then I got an email from ParentCenter.com and the lead article is "how to keep your kids in their own beds". Maybe something there can help. Here's the link: http://parentcenter.babycenter.com/refcap/preschooler/psl...




answers from Boston on

Hi M.:i too have a sleep problem with my 22 month old daughter, I think i can count on 1 hand how many times she has slept all nite. I blame my husband more than myself as this is his first child, we adopted her, when my 25yr old son was a baby i had no problems with him, but this little scoundral, will not sleep all nite. i tried the let them cry it out, but my hubby paces the room, and paces the room, so he goes and gets her, and I look like the bad guy. She has never been put in her crib awake, she has always fallen asleep in my arms, and she gets up everynite for milk. In fact last nite she was awake 3 times for milk, now thats she is very verbal she yells' milk until you get it. We just moved to MA, so we put her into a big girl bed, we have no schedule whats so ever right now, we put her in bed with us, til she is asleep then move her to her bed, and then when she wakes up we bring her back to bed with us as its easier, so I blame no-one but ourselves for the situation we have caused



answers from Boston on

maybe try putting a pack and play in your bedroom, so when he wakes up and you cang get him settled down you could have him sleep in there? atleats he won't be in your bed.

good luck, thats a tough situation.



answers from Boston on

Ohhhhhhhhhhh, much as I hate to say the only thing you're doing "wrong" is bringing him into your bed :( however, this is a matter of preference. Quite honestly, my son slept with us until nearly 3 years old as he had bad seizures all the time and it was easier to know if he was ok by having him with us. My last child never slept with us...our first child did and let me tell you, it was forever and a day to get her out of that habit...took until nearly 4 years old! Like you, I'm not fond of the screaming until they fall asleep, albeit, they say that is the better way....but "ohhhhhhh" that is hard. Another thought is to put a small lamp on low or TWO nightlights in his room. It's possible he is just afraid of the dark. (My middle child was from birth till 8 years old!) best of luck and remember....they don't stay small forever and they will adjust at some point...but now is the time to set what you really hope to achieve. Take care.



answers from Boston on

Hi M.,

Sorry to hear that you are having such a hard time. My daughter is also 16 months and we only recently got her to sleep through the night in her crib. I am totally with you on not letting them cry it out, I can't do that! We actually have our daughter in her crib, in our bedroom. She used to sleep in bed with me, but once she turned a year, we started her in her crib. We had a few tough nights in the beginning and she will still occasionally wake up during the night and need to be soothed a bit. I find that having her crib in our room allows me to get up and rub her back and talk to her and relax her then I can go back to bed and if she starts to cry again, I can just talk to her from my bed. We have had good success with this. I do not take her out of her bed or back to my bed. It was hard in the beginning to control myself and not bring her to bed, but I think that has made the difference. She sometimes takes and hour or more to fall back to sleep, but at least she is in her own crib.

I hope this helps. It is so frustrating when kids don't sleep through the night. We struggled for a while, but now our daughter will go to bed by herself and most nights sleeps straight through till 7 or so in the morning. Good luck and I hope things get better for you soon. :)



answers from Providence on

I will let you know that I had to let my kids cry. They need to be able to self sooth it's important for them to learn how to control their own emotions, however I also know it's a very hard thing to do. I am going through it with my 8 month old. He's 16 months, have you thought about moving him to a big boy bed? Maybe being able to get up will make him feel better. I put a door gate on my kids room so if they wake up they can't get hurt wondering the house. My daughter was in a toddler bed at 14 months. Your son may not be ready but it's something to think about.



answers from Boston on

I have a 10year old and a 9 mth old and I hate to be the one to tell you but the self-soothing method works. I did not let my 10yr old son “cry it out” ,as you say, and he slept in my bed on and off until he was 6 yrs old until I had to make him stay in bed. I made him “cry it out”. I can tell you that the older they get the harder it is to fix it. It was starting to affect my marriage and my career. I used the self-soothing method for my 9mth old and she was sleeping through the night in a week. I know no one likes to listen to a baby cry but this is a learning method, they do not feel abandoned or love loss. You need to follow the method to the note and it works. When you first put your child in his crib he needs to be a wake. This will let him know where he is and also that when he wakes up in the middle of the night he is frighten, he is in the same place that he was when you laid him down. If he does wake up and cries or whines give him 3 mins to start then go and so that he can see you but don’t touch him stand by the crib just so he knows that you are still with him. Leave the room and then wait 5mins…continue this until he falls asleep. Increase the time by 3 to 5 mins every time you go in. I know it sounds like a lot but after a week he should be sleeping through the night. The other suggestion that I have is removing the bottle before bed. Two things are happening, 1. Your child is associating this with a bedtime routine and is finding that he may need this again to fall asleep. 2. is that at 16 mnths his digestive system might be telling him that he is hungry and need this again to fall asleep. Bath, stories are great idea I would slowly removing the bottle or give it to him a hour earlier. So you don’t think that I am making this up, I did some reading and also spoke to three sleep specialist from Harvard and Boston Children's Hospital and this is what they recommended. They also gave me the above self-soothing routine (with a little more detail) but if you are not into letting him do this than I can only suggest removing the bottle. Let me suggest to you one of the books that I read “Solve your Child’s Sleep Problems” by Richard Ferber M.D. I know everyone talks about how cold some of his methods are but if you actual read the book it is not it has scientific studies behind it and I actually spoke to him about this and my 9mth old and I left his office thinking why did I not like him before (talking about what people told me when my son was born). Dr Ferber was very accommodating and is a very nice person he over explained things to me and was very patient. The other place that I spoke to was the sleep center with Harvard Medical and although they are rivals of Dr. Ferber they said the same things. I can only tell you what I went through and hope that is helps you or someone else. Good luck with what ever you decide to do.



answers from Springfield on

I have a 10 and a half month old son. From about 2 months, we started to form a bed time routine. When I say bed time routine, I basicaly just mean putting him down to sleep. We put him down wide awake in his crib at 7:30 each night and within 10-15 mins. he is asleep. For the most part, he doesn't cry. The few times that he has cried (when he started sitting up by himself, pulling himself up), I let him cry for a few mins., go in and tell him it is bedtime, lay him back down (I don't know if your baby uses a pacifier, but our son does for bed time) and give him his pacifier. We also have the Fisher Price Ocean Acquariam and will turn it on and it helps sooth him to sleep. Good luck!!! And you aren't doing anything wrong, each baby is different and do things differently.

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