Almost 3 Year Old Waking up 2-3 Times Every Night for a Year Now!

Updated on September 21, 2009
H.L. asks from Alexandria, VA
7 answers

My daughter will be 3 in September. She has always been an excellent sleeper - slept thru the night at 8 weeks. She continues to fall asleep right away and doesn't fight going to sleep for naps or bedtime. However, every night, she wakes up 2-3 times a night crying and running or just quietly walking into our room. We do not want her to sleep with us so every time, we pick her up and take her back into her bed and leave her room where she easily falls back asleep. I do not know if she is sleep walking or having a bad dream or if something is waking her up like a noise or a sensation of going to the bathroom in her pull up. It has become exhausting. She began doing this at age 2 when we moved her from the crib to the bed. I read that awakening can be due to taking out of crib too early. We did make that mistake but needed the crib for new baby. However, can the effects of moving out of the crib too early still be going on after 1 year? We are desparate. Does anyone have any advice?

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answers from Norfolk on

Maybe she is having nightmares. My son started having that problem at 18 months and I couldn't figure out what to do until a friend of mine suggested taking him off sugar at night and other possible food sensitivities. It turned out to be a combination of things I took him off sugar at night and it made a HUGE difference and then I tried taking him off milk and it stopped completely with only rare times that he wakes up anymore and almost always it's because he ate something sugary too close to bedtime. It may not be the answer for you but it's certainly worth trying out.

Good luck, I hope those sleepless nights end very soon.


answers from St. Louis on

First of all, I do not think that your daughter is waking up and coming into your bedroom because you moved her out of her crib too early. It could be just that she's waking up and wants reassurance/minimal cuddling. My daughter was a pretty good sleeper until 12 months (waking sometimes at night). Then from 12-17 months she slept great - going to bed on her own, not really waking up, etc. Then around 17 months, it all changed. She started waking a lot more (this was before we moved her to a toddler bed). She still occasionally wakes up 1-5 times a night. For the past week or so, she has either slept through the entire night or woken up only 1x. But before a week ago, she was up 2-3 times a night!!

I would suggest one of two things - putting a gate on your daughter's door or just shutting her door so she cannot get out. If she can't get out, she may just go back into her bed and fall back asleep. We still use a monitor for our daughter (2) but that is also because we have fans running on both our rooms and could not really hear her otherwise (plus baby #2 will be here soon and eventually they will share a room).

Good luck and remember that one day, you'll look back and remember the time when she used to wake up during the night....but you'll do so after sleeping 8 hours and waking up refreshed!! It'll happen eventually!



answers from Norfolk on

Hi H.,

This sounds exactly like my 3yo son! It's so exhausting, but we are at a loss as to what to do. We've tried locking his door and it was very traumatic (for all of us). If you find a solution, please let me know @ [email protected] I think our son is having nightmares or night terrors because he wakes up about an hour or two after he goes to sleep and then it's 3+ more times every night!



answers from Washington DC on

I think this is pretty normal and has nothing to do with when you moved her out of the crib - my DD didn't move out of her crib until she was almost 3 and she still does this occasionally. One thing that has helped us as my husband didn't want DD in bed with us either, but DD was looking for company, reassurance, etc, is that we set up a "nest" in our room for her. Some pillows or blankets in the corner that she can come in and lay down on. She comes in with her pillow and security blanket and cuddles in. Then she is with us without actually being with us :) She still has yet to just come in and snuggle into her next without waking me up (which is what I was sort of for!), but she likes it and knows that its her spot whenever she needs it.



answers from Norfolk on

I feel for you. Is it night terrors? Does she say she's had a bad dream? If not it may just be her rhythm. My son did not sleep through the night until he was 5 1/2 YEARS OLD. For a while we just put a sleeping bag on the floor next to our bed and told him if he woke up and came to our room he would have to sleep there. He didn't like that so he started staying in his room. He would still wake up but he would stay in his bed. Good luck.



answers from Washington DC on

Just some considerations...

keep her sugar intake low and no sodas especially-specifically caffeine. absolutely no caffeine! I can proudly say that even my six year old (my oldest) does not have any sodas or caffeine at all...

also, make her have some vigorous (but fun, of course) exercise everyday.

and maybe she doesn't need naps anymore... I took away naps from my oldest when she was about 2 1/2, she did not need them at all... and also my current 2 1/2 year old does not nap anymore (it is still debatable whether or not she needs naps, though). only my 1 year old still naps. my 4 1/2 year old could easily still nap (everyone is different, is my point) if given the opportunity.

maybe your three year old doesn't eat any sugar or caffeine, exercises all the time and doesn't nap... just some thought, though. It sounded to me like a situation where she isn't very sleepy at night, especially from a girl that had good sleeping habits before. All mine are good sleepers (once I figure out how much they need) as well.




answers from Washington DC on

i don't know if you are still having this problem but my daughter also has parainsomnias twice sleepwalking but we have confusional arousals up to 2 times a week. reading about what to do and not do while they're happening and how to avoid triggers has helped. now they last 5-10 minutes instead of almost 30. not sure if this is your problem. these are in the same category as night terrors and many parents confuse them but night terrors are much more rare than confusional partial arousals. if it wree terrors she would look petrified. my daughter usually looks agitated and may even be crying but never terrified.

you can google confusional arousal, parasomnia or partial arousal. here is one site, not the best:

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