17 Month Old Toddler All of a Sudden Cry's to Sleep in Crib

Updated on October 22, 2008
M.H. asks from Las Vegas, NV
16 answers

I have always had a hard time getting my son to sleep on his own, but at about 12 months old he would finally go down in his crib without to much of a fuss. I dont know what worked but I tried everything, crying it out, sleeping on the floor in his room...It has been so nice the past 7 months, I lay would lay him down at 8pm and he would just go to sleep with no problem, unless he was sick or teething. For some reason last week he stopped, he now scream's and cry's to go in his crib! I cant figure it out! He freaks out and will not stop screaming until I pick him up, which I do after an hour or so of trying to let him cry it out. I am so upset over this as I went through a whole year of trying to get him to sleep on his own and now its gone. I am having to hold him until he is asleep and then lay him down in the crib.

The only thing I can think of is he is scarred of something is his room, I got him a new night light last night, he has his Elmo stuffed animal but he just screams.

Has this happened to anyone else, where all of a sudden kids do this?? Any advise would be greatly appreciated. I am so tired :(

2 moms found this helpful

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So What Happened?

Again, thanks for all the advice! I really appreciate it.

So, last night did not go so good. I followed his normal routine of bath, brush teeth and reading books and after the books were done I could tell he was getting a little fussy. I turned on his night light and explained to him that it was time to go to bed in the crib and that I would be right here with him but as soon as I got close to the crib he started to cry. He wont even go in the crib anymore! I slept in his room last night holding him on a chair we have...I tried 3 or 4 times to lay him in his crip after he was asleep and he would wake up within 5 minutes or so crying for me. I dont want to let him cry it out but I also dont want him to get used to sleeping with me, then he will never want to go back in the crib. I am still not sure what to do since he freaks out just getting near the crib.

I have tried asking him to show me what he wants or if something hurts on his body but he doesnt respond, he just wants me to hold him. I am sure it will get better some day,I just want to do the right thing and get his sleeping again...


UPDATE: 10/22 1:30pm - To answer the last comment, I dont think he has an ear infection since he is fine when he sleeps with me, he just doesnt want to get in the crib. He does sleep on a cot on the floor at school with no problems, but he has other kids in the same room...makes me think that I should try a toddler bed, even though I really dont want to.


Well, it got better last night, I tried a few different things so I am not sure what really worked. I will now need to do a process of elimination to find out what seemed to help.

Last night I had my husband give him his bath (normaly I do) since my husband has been working alot at night he hasnt been around as often at night to play with my son. I also tried this bedtime lotion from johnson and Johnson which smells really good. I followed his normal routine and then gave him some tylenol (incase he does have an ear infection) then read his books and went to lay him in the crib. He started to cry, but I moved him over on his stomach and started to massage his back, he started to calm down after a few minutes and just fell asleep!! I was so happy and tip toed out of the room. He slept until about 12 midnight and then woke up with gas crying, this is another issue but I think if he didnt have the gas he would have slept longer. After the gas issue was better, I layed him back in the crib asleep and he was still sleeping when I left for work at 5am! Woohoo!!! I now need to figure out what really worked, I will continue to try only some of these things tonight, I am not going to give him Tylenol for sure... I will post an update tomorrow. Thanks again to everyone!! I love this Mamasource site!

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answers from Las Vegas on

I went thru this a couple weeks ago with my triplets. It is not uncommon for toddlers to have sleep issues at this age. My one girl was hysterical for a week and I was soo tired. She would not cry out, tylenol out, benadryl out etc...
I had to get her to sleep next to me in my bed and then put in her crib without waking her. They can have a bad dream, "feeling" etc... It will pass. Please be patient and good luck.



answers from Reno on

He may have an ear infection or something. Babies don't usually change their habits completely when nothing is wrong. You may want to call the doctor to have him seen, and go from there.

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answers from Los Angeles on


It's so tough when you think you've done everything and all of a sudden it's not working anymore!! My son is two and we went through similar patterns of sleep 'issues'. First, I will tell you I don't believe in "CIO" as a form of HELPING kids LEARN to sleep. This is just my opinion, but when you utlize this method, there is a detachment that occurs and evidence shows if not used properly it can do harm to a young child psyche.

If your little one is waking, he may be trying to tell you something. HE IS NOT TESTING YOU...he's a child, he doesn't know those kinds of limits yet and that his something he will learn from you. You've said you think he's afraid of something, and it's great you've tried to address that! At this age, kids are going through huge developmental changes, and again becoming aware of the absence of Mom and Dad. If anything changed around your house, in his daily routine, the absence of someone or something...the smallest things can trigger sleep 'issues'.

My son, at 19 months (adjusted 16 mos. for preemie) went through a period when he would not let me exit the room before he was up and calling for me. Ultimately, it was my sister was very ill and couldn't be around as much for about a month that was our trigger. For us, I took to sitting on the edge of the bed until he fell back to sleep and talked to him about what was happening. We'd call my sister before his bedtime routine to say goodnight and I love you. Some nights were harder than others, but you little one needs to know you are there. Those night when it was really bad, I would rock him in the rocking chair and sing to him. I would calmly explain what was happening, and how I needed him to be brave and that I would be there if he needed me. But, most importantly the thing I think that got us past it quick was, when he would call for me I did a gradual progression of being there by his side and rubbing his back, and started moving further away. I would put my hand on his back without motion, then I would just sit there and speak softly to him in reassuring words and finally we made it to me being at the door to the bedroom, and saying are you okay or Mommy's here do you need me. Now, he will wake up and say 'Water please' or 'Diaper change' and we do our business and get right back to bed.

It took us a few weeks total, to get back to sleeping 'well' but, of course that changed again recently when his schedule changed AGAIN. Leaving your child responsible for feelings that he doesn't understand yet, in my opinion is unfair and mean. As Mommies, we're responsible for helping them understand the changes and making it okay. While our kids are super smart, it's our job to guide and take away the confusion.

You really just have to roll with the punches and not worry about the 'work' that has been 'done' or 'undone'. Our kids are always evolving and growing, and this means we have to stay on our toes.

Be patient, loving and tender with your little one, and do what feels right...your gut instinct will be your best friend.

Best wishes!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Deanna is right.
Also wanted to add, that both my kids did this too, at about the same age. It's not just your son.

You said you "are trying to think of something that changed...." But remember, it is not always just something in the environment that changes...it is also that THEY themselves are changing... and this in itself, can be the cause. It's all about ages and stages.

For me, and per our Pediatrician, babies and toddlers go through various stages of "separation anxiety" at different ages, and YES, even when they "should" go to bed and sleep. It's a phase and will pass.

Each child is different. And, at this age, they are changing so much... it's hard on them too. Not just us Parents. Comfort and soothe as you see best... ALSO keep in mind, kids/toddlers begin to get "fears" about night time or of the "dark." This too is developmental. They don't do it on purpose, to "control" us. At this age, and onward, they have "night terrors" and then later, "night mares." These are 2 different things. Both are developmental. Look it up online, and you will see lots of info. on it. And when he hits the 2's age... more will come. It's normal. But they need understanding.

ALL kids have different stages they go through and when they will sleep through the night. AND, sleep patterns are NOT static. They change. Even for adults, our sleep patterns vary and we don't sleep the same time, the same way, the same pattern every night. I don't think any grown-up has slept the SAME way since they were a baby. We all change, whatever the reason. A child is going to have "problems" sleeping here and there throughout their entire life, at various ages. Not just this age. At all ages. No child, and no age is "exempt." Each age has it's own "issues" and challenges. Sleep, is one of them. It not only makes us tired, it is for them too.

I think, personally, it is too young to put him in a toddler bed. And when it is time for this, this is another transition, and they have to get used to it. And by this time of toddler beds... they will climb out, dilly dally, want to come see you, play, and have time of difficulty sleeping too. So make sure, when and why you will need him to be in a toddler bed, and go according to his readiness....

Your son is also approaching 18 months old... this is another time of many developmental changes... and growth spurts, and their "emotions" are developing too. They are experiencing a lot more, and in different ways. It throws a kink into them, and in us, and we need to help navigate them and re-align our previous thoughts about them. Also, for some toddlers, from about 18 months old an onward.. .they are approaching 2 years old... and some kids, really go through changes at this time.

Maybe, try and get a book on the "2 year old" stage as well. Since this is coming up.

Just keep consistent and comfort him as you see fit. Kids need regularity to feel secure.

Does he get regular naps as well? If kids are over-tired or over-stimulated before sleeping, this also makes it hard for them to unwind and go to bed. My son gets clingy when he is tired, and just wants to stick to me like a crab on a rock.

Sorry for rambling, all the best,

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Hi M.:
I believe Deanna said it best.May I add,that all we have are our instincts,until our toddlers are able to communicate verbally with us.Those who are (GUESSING) their babies have no issues,CANNOT be without DOUBT.Its a fact,that while a toddler may seem fine during the day, when they're busy and entertained, issues, such as teething pain, ear aches or tummy aches are MORE previlant at night. Laying prone is when they are better able to concentrate on a particular problem.. Leaving a child to cry,in my opinion, is merely A rationalzation,of ones enability to cope. They become frustrated, not knowing what to do, feel defeated,and so the baby is left, feeling abandoned,because they are'nt able to tell you whats troubling them. Your son, is probably feeling insecure right now, in that he questions wether you are there for him. You need to reasure him,as you've told him your there for him but made him believe otherwise, by not answering his cries for an hour. I'm not trying to be critical,of you,Your request,tells me, that your a caring compassionate mother, whos seeking answers to help her son.I simply think it important, for mothers,to follow their instincts more, instead of giving in to their frustrations,or listening to those who made poor choices,and continue to pass those ideals on to unknowing young parents. I wish you and your darlin son the best.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I went throught the same thing with my daughter.
At first I let her cry or I would sit/stand next to her crib while she wrapped her arms around mine so she could feel me if I tried to leave. My back would sometimes bother me because the waiting game would last anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. The whole time I would be thinking about how that time could be used cleaning or getting ready for the next day.
After 2 weeks of this I decided to give her a little credit by asking her to tell me what she wanted. She would stop crying and in her baby language she would make great effort to let me know what she needed.
At first, it took a while for me to get it so I asked her to show me. She would point to different objects (usually an empty bottle). One time she pointed in different directions until we ended up in the kitchen. I opened the refrigerator and grabbed the milk carton and she clapped for me. Now whenever she cries I ask her to "tell mommy what's wrong." It's usually that she wants her milk or wants to get down from her high chair to play or walk around. So next time your baby starts to cry, give him/her credit and see if you can communicate in other ways.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Hey M.,

Try "silent nights" homeopathic sleep spray. It is AMAZING! Two squirts in your toddler's mouth (taste like water) and he should be sleeping within half an hour, if not sooner. It is the safest thing you can use on a child. For more info and to order, go to Lifewave.com/kherihealth or call me ###-###-####

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Just my opinion, but crying it out creates insecure babies who don't think their needs will be met. He just needs reassurance and I am sure things will get back on track. If you thought you would have to sit and cry, you probably would not want to be left either. Again just my opinion, but I strongly oppose crying it out. Out of 7 friends with babies under 2, 2 of them do that and their babies cry over everything. The rest of us have really happy babies. It is hard in the beginning on you, but it pays off ten fold. Good luck mommy and I hope you get some sleep soon.



answers from Los Angeles on

IMO letting your child CIO isn't the answer for the reasons other moms have already expressed. I have two kids that are 3 and 4 and during different stages of their lives, from birth to now, they have gone from sleeping in their crib, toddler bed or with us. Routine has always been important and it does alter their sleeping habits when we disrupt this routine, and that happens often because we don't run our house like clockwork 24/7/365, that's impossible!
Certainly before they were 2, they'd still spend many a night with me, all night, in my bed. Of course, my hubby and I are ok with that. When one of us, for whatever reason isn't around at bedtime, then the kids most especially miss the parent that is gone and want to spend the night in bed with the parent that is home.
Sometimes they just ask for "five minutes with you mommy" and we let them stay ten minutes and then they're fine. Other times they want an extra bedtime story or two.
Your child needs you and always will, in different ways. Right now, when they're still this young, enjoy the fact that they don't want to leave your bosom.



answers from Los Angeles on

Probaby just wants to be held and wants more attention. I still do this with my 22-month old daughter. We go down to sleep in the recliner next to her crib. When she's asleep, I put her in the crib. Also, she's aware of shadows so a lot of times I have to take the nightlight out when I put her down to sleep.



answers from Los Angeles on

Yes! This has just recently happened to us too. My daughter has always been a good sleeper, we put her down at 7:30 pm and that would be it for the night. Well, about a month ago, she started screaming her head off when we put her down and we couldn't figure out why. We would go in her room, pick her up and comfort her, then put her back down. This didn't work at all, as soon as we put her down, she would start screaming again. We knew it wasn't an issue with her health either, because during the day, she was in great spirits. This went on for 6 nights until we did the crying out method. It sounds like you have tried this too, it is heart breaking, but by night 3, she was back to going to sleep, on her own, at 7:30 pm. When I say crying out method, we go back in every few minutes and comfort her, pat her back, etc. then leave, we just wouldn't pick her up. I know some people may disagree with this method, but hey, moms need there rest too! Good luck to you!



answers from Las Vegas on

Hi M....I dont have any exprience with this yet, but some thigns I have heard are night terrors can start about this age. So he might be scared or be having some bad dreams. If thats the case all you can do it comfort and tell him that you will protect him and not to be scared. He could be testing you and if thats the case show him you love him but be firm. I usually let my boys Cry it out. If one starts crying I go in immediately to make sure he doesnt need anything and then put him back down after he is calm. I leave and if the crying presists I go in 5 minutes later...and I slowly add 5 minutes to the time. Its hard to sit through, but if nothing is wrong then there isnt anything you can do unless you want to sit there with him all night.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi M., Hang in there. I have a similar situation with my daughter who will be 3 in December. She was very hard to get to sleep on her own, but we had almost a year of bliss. Then for no apparent reason she started either fussing alot (I being nice here, I really mean screaming her head off) when we would put her in her crib and did not want to fall asleep, she also suddenly wanted a light on in her room (after months of just a nightlight) or she would go to sleep fine and then wake up around 1am screaming. It has been so hard because as far as I can tell there is nothing wrong. We usually spend about an hour getting her back to sleep. It's been really hard, but I'm trying to be consistent about soothing her but putting her back to sleep in her own crib instead of our bed. I don't have a solution for you, but just wanted to let you know that you were not alone.



answers from Las Vegas on

Hi M.,

i dont know if is your case, but my soon did the same thing around that age. Guess what he was getting the eye teeth and have a mild ear infection! I feel awful letting him cry!
Took him to the doctor after 4 nights off hell, give him some ear medicine and all went back to normal!
Those lil teeth hurts!
Now he is getting molars a whole new thing! Ugh!
Check his teeth!

Good luck



answers from Los Angeles on

Is it screaming like in pain screaming? Could he have an ear infection? My DD had so many ear infections and she hardly ever complained until she was lying flat on her back in bed. Also, check for any new teeth breaking through the gums.



answers from Los Angeles on

i have a 31 month old..and they go thru phases..just when u think you have it down they start crying again..make sure your son isn't sick..and start sleep training again..also it could be time to move bedtime back..and do u still have a routine? I let my son take books and his dinosaur toys to bed and when he fusses about going to sleep i say..."well your babies are all in there sleeping waiting for you" there's this stuff called kid's calm by hylands..you might want to try some of that before bed..or a nightlight...i had to have my son CIO a few times and at 20 months they stop napping for a couple weeks a lot of parents think that's the end of napping but not if u stick with it..now my son goes to bed at 9:30pm and wakes at 8:30am..oh and the poster below me says it creates insecure babies to let them CIO but my son is super confident ..and very very happy.

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