21 Month Old Keeps Waking at Night!

Updated on July 14, 2010
K.C. asks from North Billerica, MA
8 answers

I have a 21 month old & he was the PERFECT sleeper since he was 4 months old! I know I'm pretty lucky, & I know that I'm fortunate to have such a sound sleeper...until NOW! For the last month my son has been waking up at least once a night! He is inconsolable at times (hysterically crying) & the only way to calm him is to either give him milk or put on one of his favorite tv shows. I know I shouldn't be giving him milk at night because of tooth decay, but I don't know what else to do! My husband tries to help, but all he wants his me! I'm a working mom & totally burnt out! Is anyone else going through this? Tell me it's just a phase....PLEASE! Any ideas or suggestions would really be helpful!


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answers from San Diego on

Hmmm....he's going through a lot at this stage. Does he have his 2 year molars yet? My son teethed without a problem until he got his 2 year molars and that was a rough time with lots of night waking.

Definitely do not turn on the TV! That is just not conducive to relaxing at all. If he is taking milk then he might be hungry? Maybe a last minute high protein snack before bedtime would help? A bit of peanut butter on crackers? Yogurt? String cheese?

It is a phase and one that will pass! I never understand moms who respond who will tell you that he should be trained to sleep....people (kids and adults alike) wake all of the time. We have the ability to go pee, get a drink, a snack if we are really hungry, or just lie quietly and think about our day, our stressors, etc....He doesn't have that ability and relies on you to help.

I work too and have 2 little ones and we NEVER sleep through the night at our house. It's par for the course with kids.

Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

it IS just a phase! although that doesn't help too much when you're an exhausted sleep-deprived working mom.
you're probably going to be sleep-deprived for a little longer while you work through this, because the alternative is to allow habits to develop that you really don't want to keep. DON'T give him milk at night. only offer water. while he gets used to this, stay with him, sitting calmly next to him, rubbing his back and humming to him. your presence is soothing to him, even if he's still shrieking. DON'T put on the tv, although a music box or white noise might be okay. (i never did white noise with my kids as i didn't want them to need it. we did do music boxes, and during phases like yours we wore them out.)
hang in there, mom. this WILL pass.



answers from Boston on

He may be thirsty. Do not give milk at night because it will rot his teeth. Leave a sippie cup with water in his crib. He could also be teething and may need some ibuprofin (lasts 8 hours) at night. Everything is a phase, he will sleep through the night again. My kids are 9 and 13 and at various ages things have hurt or bothered them. Mostly they are great sleepers, one falls asleep late and sleeps through everything, one has a hard time falling asleep and is a light sleeper (creaks in the house or birds landing on the roof will wake her). We bought a hepa filter so she can have that fan noise in her room and she needs 2 night lights since shadows scare her. Good luck.



answers from St. Louis on

All my children got up at night until they were almost 4. I wouldn't use a tv, but there is nothing wrong with some soft music. It can be very soothing. If you are getting your son up (holding him), there is nothing wrong with letting him have some milk. Yes, letting a baby sleep while drinking a bottle is one thing, but letting them sip from a cup of milk while they are awake in your lap will not hurt. This could be due to so many things: teething, too hot, too cold, growth spurt etc. You have to decide how you want to handle it. I never used CIO, but if you are a working mom and you absolutely do not want to get up with your son, then you may want to try it. Other wise, you may want to try to go to bed earlier to make up for the sleep you are loosing. This phase should pass if your son has always been a good sleeper. If you are concerned there is something really going on, you may want to talk to the nurse or pediatrician.



answers from Boston on

My 21 month old started doing this after my second baby was born. My husband had her coming into our bed to sleep (I was sleeping in a different room with the baby to help the rest of the house sleep). Once I was sleeping back in my room and the baby in the bassinet, my husband and I didn't want this to continue. It was too much to nurse the baby, have my 21 month old in the bed and me and my husband! At night when she would start to cry, one of us would go in there, rub her back, sing a song, then say good night and shut the door. I think we might have started rocking her, but that was a bad idea because she never wanted to get back into her bed! It was a rough week, but by the end of it she was sleeping through the night again.

And I see that people have asked if he is teething, but is there anything else going on at daycare? (I'm assuming he's in daycare since you are a working mom) Or is there anything stressful going on at home? Just a thought. Good luck! It is so tough being a working mom already, the sleep deprivation doesn't help it!



answers from Burlington on

I would advise you to do the night time routine, say good night, and close the door. You will have a rough time not going back in, but he needs to do this. Resist the urge to rush back in...it will only re-enforce to him that he just needs to cry longer and louder. More often than not, second night is easier, and done by third night hopefully. Then after things are good, you can feel better about actually going in and resettling him after he wakes from a bad dream or something. You can wait to do this, but you will kick yourself and be sleepless until you get him back on track. I waited until mine was 3! My daughter never got the chance (LOL)! Now both a decent sleepers.



answers from Boston on

don't worry, it will get much easier over the next year. ;-)


answers from Providence on

Went through this not long ago.

Co-sleeping for a while worked for my son and I.

It may be the only option you have for everyone in the house to get a decent night's sleep...and if so...nothing wrong with co-sleeping.

Your son could be having nightmares or even digestive problems (which he'll grow out of...as children's digestive systems are nowhere near as advanced as adults.

Good luck.

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