My 1-Year-Old Won't Sleep

Updated on September 17, 2009
M.L. asks from Emmaus, PA
14 answers

I'm really at my wit's end. My daughter is 14 months old and she's still waking up several times a night. We've tried and tried to let herself cry herself to sleep. The problem is that she will cry herself to sleep, only to wake up a couple of hours later and start crying again. If we let her cry herself back to sleep again, she'll wake up anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours later and cry some more, and that happens all night long, for several nights in a row until my husband or I end up sleeping with her. I don't mind staying with her until she goes to sleep, but she won't stay asleep! As soon as she feels the bed move as we get up to leave she's up and crying again. And even when we are sleeping with her she wakes up and cries every few hours, but if we're with her she'll cry for a minute or two and go back to sleep. When she wakes up and cries she arches her back and kicks her legs and seems (in my opinion) to be uncomfortable, but she's already on Prevacid for acid reflux and our doctors keep telling us that there's nothing wrong with her. Then why won't she sleep?

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So What Happened?

Thanks, everyone, for your advice. We started the Ferber method Friday night and it's going well! Someone told me that the Ferber method worked better for her kids than the cold turkey method of leaving them to cry themselves to sleep, and that made me try it. I used to think that if we went back in her room when she was crying that it would make it worse, but it's actually going much better. In the middle of the night she used to wake up and cry for 20 minutes before going back to sleep--sometimes only to get up 30 minutes later again. Now I go to her and comfort her for a few seconds and then leave and she's going back to sleep after two minutes and sleeping much longer before getting up again. It may still be a while before we're getting a full night's sleep again, but I'm feeling much better about the situation. Naps are going much, much better, too. Thank you!

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answers from Allentown on

She has formed a bad habit. She knows what it takes to get what she wants. At 14mo there is no reason that she shouldn't sleep through the night. I would recommend the Secrets of a Baby Whisper. It helped me when I had my first child. It will be a long process but you have to be consistent it only takes 1 night to undo weeks of progress. I hope this works for you.

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answers from Philadelphia on

hi My grandsons mother has another little boy. not ours he is now 6 but he was not sleeping as an infant. well when he got to around 2 he was up all nite and she knew something had to be amiss and she fought with doctors. they told her eveything is alright but she knew in her heart something wrong and as it turned out he is autistic adn not sleeping and acid reflus which he has since birth are symtoms. he was not talking either. he will only eat certain things whioch is also symptom. he is in mainline school now, special classes and doing alirght. good luck./ bless yuor heart. J.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Make sure you're doing a set bedtime routine. That will signal time to SLEEP is coming. Bath, snack, brush teeth, book, prayers, etc. If you don't have one, get a nice night light, play either white noise, a humidifier, or soft music on a CD (with the player set to repeat) and make sure she's going to bed early enough. You have an older child, so I'm sure you know that when they are overly tired or over-stimulated, you'd think they would zonk out and crash, but it's the opposite! Make sure you have a quiet play period before the bedtime routine starts. My son (6) still sleeps better if he goes to bed before he feels REALLY tired.
I'd watch the laying down with her part--unless you want that to be part of your routine.
We did CIO and it was about 3-4 mights of torment, but it did work for us. Good luck!



answers from Philadelphia on

Hi M.,
I know what you are going thru. My son did not sleep thru the night until he was 3. We tried crying it out.staying in the room ,he would just wake up 2-5 times almost every night.After feeling like I was having a mental breakdown ,my husband and I discussed having him sleep in our bed.So when he woke up I was able to give him a bottle which I had waiting at my bed side.He would fall back to sleep in seconds.He needed the extra comforting. It helped us as a family to function better in the day time.
I think your only alternative is to let her cry it out and stay out of the room.. The method did not work for our family dynamic but I hear alot who do use it and eventually it works.

Good luck!


answers from Williamsport on

She needs to eat more during the day. She may not seem like it, but she will eat more. Offer her more feedings and snacks all day long, not just a bigger feeding right before bed. After 3 days or so when it registers with her body that she is truly more full, she will sleep all night.

I woke up with my daughter twice a night until she was 1 and then learned this from my step sister, mother of 12. It ALWAYS works barring medical issues. Suddenly after a few days of increased feedings, she started sleeping through the night always, and my son has slept through since 3 months with this technique-my daughter, 2 1/2 months is only waking up once at 6am after a10pm bedtime. I feed everyone to capacity all day. Good luck!


answers from Pittsburgh on

I'm not saying that your son's reflux problems may be worse, but here are some things we've experienced with our son, who has GERD from his hiatal hernia (from being premature):
- 'cry it out' doesn't work when crying causes vomiting
- smaller meals/more often meant feedings in the middle of the night, at least once. The peeds insisted I stop, but he was incapable of tanking up during the day, never able to drink more than 5oz at a time.
- just as his reflux started improving at 11mos, he got a stomach flu; a week after the flu was gone, it was like we were at day #1 with his reflux, projectiling 5x/day; I kept insisting to the Peed that it was worse, they said he was fine, I went to a different Peed, they doubled his Axid, that didn't work, so they referred me to Children's Hospital and switched him to Prevacid.
- the pharmacy sticker on the Prevacid said to give before a meal, and that's exactly what we did. However, at our appt with CHoP 2mos later, we find out that it must be given on an empty stomach. We started giving it to him as soon as he woke up for the day, and waited 30mins before feeding him. HUGE difference with the next 10 days.
- also, we learned from CHoP, that he has a super sensitive stomach (and probably will until kindergarten); that he had abrasions and ulcers from the flu, and they'd take 3-4mos with Prevacid to heal; that he'll have several reflux setbacks until he's at least 2yr
- that Prevacid should never be taken more than 3mos, total (they let him take it for 4mos, since it wasn't properly given the first 7wks)

Once his tummy had healed up again, there were major improvements, his appetite returned, we were down to 1 dose of Axid every other night (as opposed to 3x/day). I've also learned from watching his symptoms, that he has worse reflux and burping acid when he eats meat. So, he rarely gets meat, and when he does, I give him an extra dose of Axid to help.

He's 16mos and just now sleeping for 3-4hrs (as opposed to 30-40mins), the projectile has decreased greatly, the raspy voice, painful hiccups/burps and other pain symptoms have decreased greatly.

But it was only from us insisting on more help. If I had just taken the first Peed's info that he was 'fine', who knows what kind of boat we'd be in.

Also, my son's developmentalist went to a Good Night Sleep Tight seminar recently - the speaker/author said that the most important thing of all, was that the baby wake where they fell asleep. So, falling asleep with you won't work if you're moving her.

She also talked about cases, like ours, with reflux and pretty much said that you do whatever you have to do, to get your child to sleep during their illness - then you can incorporate other tactics later.

I wanted to hear some wonderful answer so badly and was disappointed not to hear it :) But at least I'd heard from two other professionals that I was doing everything I could and that's what mattered. We'll work on the rest later.

Good luck!!!!!



answers from Philadelphia on

M., Sorry to hear that you are having a difficult time. Is she hungry? Try giving her a snack b4 bed. My doctor always said if they wake up duing the night they are probably hungry and that protein is what will get them through the night. We give both our kids a yogurt about an hour b4 they go to bed. They both are sleeping through the night. Could she also be reaching a milestone like walking? That could get her up also. Good luck



answers from Philadelphia on

Good Night, Sleep Tight - The Sleep Lady ( worked great for us. Its a version of cry-it-out, but it walks you through a specific method where you need to be consistent in your routine. It worked great for our daughter, hopefully it will do wonders for yours, too.

Good luck.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I agree you need to find a sleep training system (I like Ferber's Solving Your Child's Sleep Problem) and stick with it. It is going to take a while because you have been inconsistent in the past and she knows that if she keeps it up long enough, you will cave and come sleep in the room with her. You and your husband need to be on the same page on this, and maybe clear your schedules for a couple of days because you are not going to get any sleep. But it is pay now, or pay forever, and she needs to learn how to sleep.

I don't think there is anything wrong with making sure she is not hungry, but I have to disagree that stuffing her to capacity is the best idea. First, it is going to make her reflux worse, and second, we have enough problem with obesity in this country without using food as a way to fix sleeping problem. JMHO.



answers from Johnstown on

Have you tried a night light for her? What about a cuddle toy (teddy bear, etc.) There's a really good chance she's teething as well with her first molars. You might want to check her gums out.


answers from Allentown on

Hi, M.:

Does your baby have gas pains?

Just want to know. D.



answers from Nashville on

Get her on a bedtime routine. Dinner, bath, bedtime lotion, book,bed. If you fall asleep with her, leave at exactly 10 min. of her falling asleep, while she is in her deep sleep stage. If you do a routine, keep it up every night, children like routine. You can also try shortening her nap in the day. Hope this works!



answers from Philadelphia on

We've gone through the sleep issues and have had luck with CIO (we used Jodi Mindell's Sleeping Through the Night version) - it takes about 2 weeks of consistency for them to really get it and stay asleep through the night. However, we have also dealt with reflux, and until that's well controlled any of the "sleep training" methods are unlikely to succeed. How does your daughter's reflux seem during the day? What dose and form of prevacid is she on? Does she take it on an empty stomach? It's possible that it is just a habit, but I would be sure that the reflux in under control before working on the habit - if they're in pain, it's not they're fault they can't sleep. You might also try raising the end of the crib where she puts her head, though mine always ended up at the other end.

We've gone through reflux with all 3 kids, and my second (who had it the worst) never slept more than 3 straight hours for well over a year. Once the reflux was improving and better controlled, though, the sleep followed. I'd be happy to discuss the reflux stuff if you think that's part of it, as there are other treatment options. Good luck!



answers from Pittsburgh on

This is your actual problem:

"until my husband or I end up sleeping with her. I don't mind staying with her until she goes to sleep, but she won't stay asleep! As soon as she feels the bed move as we get up to leave she's up and crying again. And even when we are sleeping with her she wakes up and cries every few hours, but if we're with her she'll cry for a minute or two and go back to sleep."

You need to set a firm limit. What you've taught her is that if she cries, you will stay with her and comfort her. When she wakes, she expects to find you there. If you are there, she goes back to sleep right away. If not, she's awake all night.

If you want this to end, you need to NOT sleep with her. Period. Use words she will understand. Tell her about her new routine. Set a routing, bath, books, etc. Set an EARLIER bed time. Do the routine, put her down, say goodnight. Give her a lovie and leave the room. You can use "The no cry sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley. Check in on her, but only tell her it's bed time, good night. Walk back out.

If you cave in and sleep with her - all she's learned is that she has to cry really hard to get what she wants. Caving in teaches her that she will get her way eventually.

It will suck for a few nights - maybe a few weeks. Your daughter will learn. But you MUST stick to your plan.

Best of luck,
D. - mom to Owen, age 4.5 and Elaine, age 5 months

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