Almost 3 Year Old Wakes Multiple Times Through Out the Night

Updated on August 27, 2014
B.S. asks from Topeka, KS
13 answers

I was googling this question and found somebody with my EXACT question on here..I wanted to ask them what they ended up doing, but they haven't posted since 2012... So to anyone else!!
My son will be 3 in October. He has not been sleeping well pretty much his whole life, which we didn't realize til just recently. It's funny how you get in the just survive mode and don't realize how long it has really been! He goes to sleep by himself just fine w/out any help at 8 pm. Then every night around 10ish he wakes up crying and almost always with a stuffy nose. We go down, comfort him, give him a drink....and from about then to 2 am he wakes anywhere from every 15 min to every hour! We have tried everything! He has a night light, we've snuggled him, spoken sternly, played music, left the door open, etc. etc. I don't know if the stuffy nose is related to his sleeplessness or not but he goes to bed with no stuffy nose and wakes up with one. We have propped him up and used a humidifier to no avail. However, after 2 he conks out and doesn't wake the rest of the night. He does this anywhere he is sleeping, not just his room or our house.
Has anyone experienced anything like this?!

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answers from Denver on

None of my kids slept through the night by my definition until they were 4 or 5. I'd try to find out more about the stuffy nose (see an allergist), but keep in mind that it might just be what he says. For about a year, my youngest "needed to tell me something" every night around 10 pm.

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answers from Dallas on

My son has sensory issues - minor, but they affected his sleep. He hardly slept through the night at all unil he was 6 years old. Then my sister made him a weighted blanket (it's a "heavy" blanket) that gives extra pressure to his body when he sleeps - like a constant hug. BOOM - he's slept through the night ever since.

If he loves to get input, hugging, jumping, all that kind of thing - he may need some extra pressure to sleep - like some people HAVE to have a blanket on no matter what the temperature. If you think that might be it, PM me and I'll find the pattern for you. If you can sew, you can make it for less than 20$ (buying on can cost almost 100 or more).

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

1. What's the temperature in your house at night? Optimum sleeping temperatures are COLD. So be sure it's not too warm in his room.

2. When's the last time you changed the filter on your HVAC? Change it. Dust and pollen come in your house, and your filter needs to work to get rid of them.

3. Talk to the pediatrician about seasonal allergies. If he's JUST having problems recently, it sounds like perhaps some seasonal allergies are bothering him. The doctor can prescribe a great once-daily chewable that will get him through allergy season comfortably and stop the stuffy nose. Since he's just a little guy, I don't recommend just going to Walgreens for an over the counter med. Get him something that the doc thinks is appropriate for his weight and condition, and at that time they'll also check to ensure he doesn't have a sinus or ear infection.

Best of luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My guess is that he can't settle down enough and he's so used to waking up with some interaction with you, it's a totally ingrained habit. He needs more uninterrupted sleep to a) make him tolerable and b) have healthy brain development, so he has to learn to self-soothe. Yes he has some stuffiness but it doesn't stop him at 2 AM so it shouldn't stop him at 10. I'd say no drink of water, no talking (stern or otherwise), no snuggling, no music. White noise, maybe, if he's used to it. But the problem isn't that he wakes up - we all do. The problem is, he can't settle down on his own. If it were allergies related to the room or pillow or whatever, the same problem wouldn't occur like clockwork at other locations, would it?

Have you done any type of sleep training, Ferber, anything like that up to this point? Those techniques tell you to engage as little as possible, speak just a few words with a little back pat, then leave and let the child settle himself down. (No food, no snuggles, no lying down, no stressing out with stern warnings, etc.) Read up on them and see if you can agree enough to be consistent.

Allergies can be a factor, don't get me wrong. But there's nothing you can do with pharmaceuticals short of reducing symptoms and inducing drowsiness, but there can be a rebound afterwards, negative side effects (including dehydration, daytime grogginess, and dependency). I went through this my whole life and I was given everything, given nothing, the whole roller coaster you're on. For me, exhaustion actually makes allergies worse, so there's a vicious cycle that you can get into too. I finally got rid of all my symptoms using food science. That's an option for you but I think you'll still need the behavior modification piece to get him back to sleep - he really needs it. We did it with our son, and it was hell for about 3-4 nights, but then it solved the problem. He was younger than your son so there was no reasoning with him, we just did it on the advice of the pediatrician. He wasn't in the habit of getting up and engaging with us for as long as your son has been though, so it could take longer with you. I'd say to do it over a long weekend (such as Labor Day) so you at least have 3 days when you don't all have to get up and function. And, as you've noticed, YOU need your sleep too - I realize the 10 PM session doesn't mess with your schedule too much, but the 2 AM thing has to go, for everyone's sake!

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answers from Chattanooga on

I wonder if he has allergies? Perhaps a hypoallergenic pillow, and regular, thorough cleaning of his mattress will help. Also make sure to be changing your ac/heater filters. My cousin's allergies are so bad that he has to have extra filters put on the vents in his room so they don't set him off while he is sleeping.

You might also try an unmedicated saline spray in his nose before bed- in addition to inclined sleeping and the humidifier- maybe that will help a bit.

If that doesn't help, I would ask the pediatrician about it, and maybe push for allergy testing.

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answers from Miami on

Have you taken him to an allergist to get tested? I would do that immediately. I would also take him to a ped ENT and ask for a nasoendoscopy so that they can see down in his nasal passages to see if there is an abnormality.

This child is not getting quality sleep. It's certainly bad for you guys, but he needs to be able to sleep properly so that his brain can grow.

There are certainly ways to help a child sleep train when it's just an ingrained behavior and habit. Reading about the Ferber method would help. But I really think from your description that there is so much more to it. I would worry about sleep apnea as well. The doctor could order a sleep study.

I would start with the ENT, then go to the allergist and then ask for the sleep study, in that order.

PS - I like what Patricia said. If he has sensory issues, this is a great idea with the blanket. I would try it even if you don't know about sensory issues. It might just tell you that he has them if this works...

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answers from Springfield on

I would guess it's allergies. Talk to your ped about this first, but my son has allergies. Last spring we began giving him Zyrtec every morning. We also put a hepa filter in his room and run it at night. This has made a HUGE difference. Much happier kid!!!

One thing to know about Zyrtec (and maybe Clariton?) is that it can take a few days, even a week, for it to build up in their body. So if you don't see any changes in the first couple of days, that is normal. I didn't know that. We had actually tried Zyrtec a couple of years ago, and I stopped giving it to him because I didn't think it was helping. Last spring someone told me to give it more time. Turns out the Zyrtec really is helping him.

But definitely talk to ped about this first.

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answers from Washington DC on

It is possible he has a deviated septum, so he's not breathing well. Does he also snore? Perhaps a sleep study would help diagnose. If he can't breathe, that may be bringing him to wakefulness and no amount of discipline, redirection, or water restriction is going to stop it from happening. Our nearly 4yo still wakes at night ... But now, he just comes into our room and snuggles in for the rest of the night ... Sometimes it's at 2330; other times, it's 0630 ... But we don't hear him most of the time.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Just wanted to suggest a few things....
Could it be the furnace/AC waking him?
Sometimes a kid with allergies will experience negative effects with a humidifier. Try bagging that for awhile.
White noise machine?
Have you tried propping his crib/bed at the head for stuffiness?
Air purifier?
Is he full when he goes to bed? Really full?

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answers from Chicago on

Get him allergy tested. Find out if he is allergic to Mold, dust, trees.. ect. I would also test his room for mold and other allergens. It could be his pillow, mattress, general house dust..

Get a clean air Purifier! keep it on in his room at all time. (it cleans the air. we have an Austin- yep expensive but completely worth it)

If he is waking with a stuffy nose, it could be allergy, sinuses or something else. Speak with the Dr and get him checked out.

I know my kids when they have a cold, they do not sleep well.

Good Luck

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answers from Detroit on

I would prop up, still. It makes a big difference for the nasal passages. And humidifer for sure.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Ask the pediatrician if he may be allergic to something.
Ditch the humidifier.
Does he eat well in the evening & before bed? He may be waking up
because he is hungry. Be sure each night he's had ample food throughout the evening & before bed.
Make sure his bedroom is not too hot & not too cold.
Be sure not to put him to bed too early.
Is he too far away from you that he's waking up & scared? If so, try to
address that.
don't close his door, don't play music.
Good that he has a night light.
Be sure he's not allergic to something in his room & like I said be very
sure he's not hungry before bed AND that he's not going to bed too



answers from Oklahoma City on

Keep him up a bit later and see if he falls asleep and stays sleeping longer.

Ask a family style pharmacy if they can order from Rugby.

If they can ask them if they'll order you some Children's Liquid Sudafed. NOT THE FAKE STUFF but real sudafed.

Then give kiddo 1/4 dose. See what that does to him. If his nose stays clear he doesn't need more than those few drops. If that doesn't work give him half a dose.

I wouldn't give him more than half a dose ever. It's just not needed. If half a dose doesn't work then the med isn't what he needs.

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