Toddler sleep concerns: wakes at night
Why does my toddler wake in the night?
We all wake briefly a few times a night as we naturally go from deep sleep to light sleep. We don’t usually remember it though. We only wake up fully if we need something.
Night waking is common among toddlers. Up to half of under five-year-olds have times when they don’t sleep through.
There are a number of possible reasons for waking at night. It could simply be that your toddler’s going through a developmental leap, in which case her sleeping patterns should soon get back to normal.
However, it could also be down to any of the following:
- being over-stimulated or over-tired at bedtime
- nightmares or night terrors
- snoring or sleep apnoea
- being too hot or too cold
- a wet nappy
- poor sleep habits
- hunger or thirst
How can I help my toddler sleep through the night?
Some issues have simple solutions. For example, if your toddler seems hungry when she wakes, an extra snack before bed could help. If her room’s a bit too warm or chilly, simply adjust the temperature or change her bedding. Or if she always wakes with a wet nappy, try an ultra-dry variety, or a different brand .
You can also learn what to do about toddler teething, nightmares, night terrors and sleep apnoea.
However, if none of these seems to be the problem, you may need to adjust your toddler’s sleep habits.
It’s important that your toddler’s able to go to sleep on her own. If you start bringing her a drink of milk or staying with her until she falls asleep, she may get used to this. This could make her night-waking worse as she’ll need the same thing to drift back to sleep in the middle of the night too.
One of the most important things you can do to help your toddler sleep through is to establish a regular bedtime routine. Choose relaxing activities such as a warm bath, a cuddle and a story. Doing this routine at the same time every night will help to establish good sleeping habits.
Be consistent if you go into your toddler’s room during the night too. Talk in a calm and quiet manner, and reinforce the idea that it’s a time for sleep.
Strange though it may seem, if your toddler’s too tired when she goes to bed, she may actually find it harder to sleep through. A nap after lunch and an earlier bedtime could both go some way towards preventing her from getting overtired. Try not to let her get over-stimulated either.
If nothing you try seems to have an effect, speak to your GP. She’ll check for any other reasons that your toddler’s waking in the night. In most cases though, the issue will resolve itself in time.