3 Year Old Wakes up Several Times a Night Still

Updated on October 29, 2009
L.J. asks from Vancouver, WA
8 answers

Our 3 1/2 year old has always woken up at night. We thought we were past it right before he turned 3. But now he's waking up anywhere from 1-5 times a night. Most of the time he just cries until we comfort him. But sometimes he asks to go to the bathroom, other times he'll say he can't find his blanket or needs to be covered up. Our other two kids sleep through the night no problem, but he is exhausting us! He shares a room with his brother and we worry about him waking him up. His sister is in the room next door and if he wakes up after 5:30 or so, sometimes it will wake her up and she can't go back to sleep. Any suggestions for us? We've tried all sorts of things already and it seems to work for a few weeks and then he's back to waking up throughout the night again...

2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers



answers from Portland on

it sounds like he is not getting night-frights, so that is great (my Mommy-Rx for night frights is to have the opposite-gender parent go in to comfort the child ... because usually the things frightening them are things they cannot instinctively see how to trust, but the opposite gender usually can)

basic things like making sure he wears warm enough jammies so that if his blankets get kicked off he won't wake up from cold ... (eliminate as many understandable wake-up cues as you can)

per the asthma idea, get him a chiropractic checkup and adjustment ... random pain (especially neck pain if his pillow is holding his head awkwardly?) can easily break up sleep for all of us ...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

My 3 1/2 has been waking up during the night also. First it was leg aches, then bad dreams, and sometimes, he doesn't even know why. He also sleeps with his two brothers and they often get woken up by his crying as well. My doctor said he had very large tonsils and asked if he snored at night. I didn't think so, but when I started going in every night at different times, he did snore quite often. I took him to the ENT and he felt that it was a slight case of apnea because of the tonsils being so big. He's scheduled to have them out on the 21st so we'll see. My oldest son had his tonsils out when he was 4 and it made a huge difference with his sleeping. In reading the other posts, I agree with the one and rule out any physical reasons, then move to the behavioral rewards for sleeping through the night.



answers from Medford on

Hi L.,
this might help but I'm not sure. My 3 yr old and 2 yr old still wake up sometimes at least once. Last night my 3 yr old woke up at midnight crying and crying. I gave him children's tylenol, vapor rub on his chest the heater on low and he went back to sleep right away. He never told me what was wrong but I was sure that something hurt.

One time I gave both of them sleepy herbal tea in their bottles. Perfectly warm. worked like a charm.

Well, hope to hear from you soon!

M. Macias


answers from Eugene on

Hi L.

You are describing me as a child. I woke up from allergies and breathing problems that did not fully develop until I was in my 30's. After many years with asthma I went to a homeopath who cured me and now I have not had any problems in two years.

Take your child to an allergy specialist or a homeopath and you will have done him a great favor.
Above all relax there is no way parents can know everything. My children got the benefit of my experience but my parents knew nothing about allergies or breathing difficulties.
I will say one thing do not let anyone smoke in the house or around your little boy for that can cause him more harm than it does to other children.



answers from Portland on

I agree that you should rule out any medical problems that are causing his night waking. When my daughter was nearly 3 she had her tonsils and adenoids out because she had sleep apnea that was waking her at night. I had always just thought she was a terrible sleeper until we had her evaluated and found out there was actually a reason for it. There are also lots of books out there about helping your kids get healthy sleep, so hit the library and see which ones are right for you. I also had good luck with sticker charts. We had fun making it a big art project together, and when they earned 10 stickers (for good naps and good nights) then they could go out for ice cream, or whatever prize you choose.



answers from Seattle on

i agree with all the other responses...especially to get him to a Good chiropractor..my son sleeps SO MUCH better after an adjustment! =) good luck!
I used to work for one around here and know the GOOD ones..if you want a recommendation from me..let me know! =)



answers from Portland on

two suggestions that have worked fabulous for me are

1. twilight turtle - projects stars on ceiling and lights up room a little bit 30$ and worth every penny. My daughter has been in love with it since she turned two and I was having problems with her sleeping. Now when she wakes up in the middle of the night she just turns it on and looks at the stars and falls back to sleep. Very nice. And every once in a while when she falls into the habit of mama mama mamaing me in the middle of the night I tell her the lights must be keepin her awake and perhaps I should take it out of her room...works like a charm and she rarely calls me unless she really needs to go to the bathroom. :) http://www.amazon.com/Cloud-Twilight-Turtle-Constellation...

2. The other thing I bought really helped with naps is tot clock. It stays blue during nap or bedtime and turns sunny yellow when it is time to get up (there is also a red time out light)



answers from Portland on

I don't have other kids but I have had this problem with my 3.5 year old off and on. When it first started we practiced going potty turning on lights, putting covers back on, etc... then started talking to her about why it was important that she only call for mommy for certain things (sick, bed is wet, etc.). At that time I gave her a reward of some jello (homemade) if she would sleep trough the night and this worked great and she didn't need the reward after a few weeks. Now we have a night time routine that always includes potty and a glass of water by her bed and nightlight and something to go back to sleep with if she wakes up. We tuck different layer blankets in so she can adjust herself and she can reach all the lights, etc... So now my husband and I both just keep reminder her that sleep is important for everyone and that she shouldn't call out for certain things (like blankets). We also checked out a book at the library that has the character Caillio in it and it is about him having a bad dream and figuring out that mommy will come every night if he calls... it talks about how he learned to self sooth with a teddy and this helped us explain things to our daughter - so many look up books about dreams or waking up and see if there is something you can use in the night time routine to help everyone understand how important sleep is for the whole family.

Next question: 3 Year Old Waking up in Middle of Night Screaming