Help A Reader Out: Toddler Sleep Problems


I know I said I was going to do this once a week or so, but I was answering questions today and found this. She has been dealing with the issue for so long, I couldn’t see any good reason to wait for Saturday to post it!

Bradysmom and Janelle have similar problems. Here is the background:


bradysmom said…
I need help! Has anyone else experienced sleep problems at 16-18 months? Brady was ALWAYS an awesome sleeper at night. The only time he’s had issues is when he was teething, he would wake an hour early in the morning. But for the past month or so, he’s been waking somewhere between 5:30 and 6:30 everyday and not going back to sleep. And the last month I’ve also heard him throughout the night. At night he’ll go right back to sleep, but I hear him wake up with a cry throughout the night.

I have tried changing bed times and that didn’t seem to make a difference. His room is pitch black. I know that his diaper had been pretty wet in the morning, but he’s already in a size bigger-overnight diaper.

We have had some changes – about a month ago we went to 1 nap a day. 3 months ago we got a new nanny. And 5 months ago I went back to work full time. Although that shouldn’t really matter because before I was only off every other Friday.

I really don’t know what to do and I am extremely exhausted. One of my friends told me that her pediatrician said to put them on Benedryl for 2 weeks at night and that would solve it. But I don’t really agree with that.

So- does anyone have any advice as to what to do? Should we go back to 2 naps a day? Is he not getting enough food during the day? Should I drop his last bottle (he gets at 7:30 before bed). He is 18 months, and goes to bed between 7:30 and 7:50 everyday. He used to wake no earlier than 7:00, but usually at 7:30 sometimes 8:00. Oh, and he’s not teething. He’s got all his teeth in now – except the 2 yr molars but wouldn’t expect him to get those, especially since he was a very late teether.

Please help! … Thanks for the help!

August 21, 2009 4:40 AM

[Yes, that is the correct date]


Plowmanators said…

My guess is that he might need two naps again. It can take some time for the sleep deficit to catch up to him.

If you don’t do two naps, I would move bedtime up 1-1.5 hours.

September 5, 2009 9:59 AM


Janelle said…

I am in the same boat you are. At around 18 months, my son started taking a while to fall asleep. Then at 19 months he started waking early in the morning. Like your son, mine used to wake up around 7:30 am but now he wakes up at 6:30 crying. I think it might be too late to go back to two naps for us (he’s been on only one nap for 3 months) but I’m trying an earlier bed time this week. I guess this really isn’t any new advice, I just thought I’d let you know that we are going through similar situations. Good luck with your little one and your full time job!

November 30, 2009 1:11 PM


bradysmom said…

Janelle – has anything worked for you? We have been dealing with this for so long now I have no idea what to do. Brady is now almost 22 months. It’s 6am and I have been awake since 4:20am with him. The thing with Brady is that he goes to be just fine – no matter what time I put him down. I’ve tried changing bed times. Currently his bed time is 6:45, which my husband thinks is too early. I’ve tried to go back to 2 naps, but if we put him down in the morning, he rarely ever sleeps in the afternoon. Which then leaves me with a toddler that has been awake from 11am – bed time. I am really just completely stressed and sleep deprived. I’m not enjoying this much because all I do is try to figure this out and stress over it. I really don’t know what else to do. We did move about a month ago – so I’m sure that adds to it. Today is Wed, since Monday his nose has been stuffy. But I think he’s starting to teeth with his 2 year molars – he takes FOREVER to teeth. and when he’s teething his nose gets really, really runny. I just don’t know any more. I feel like I’ve tried everything. I’m sure that all of the lack of sleep is causing this cycle now – and he’s not sleeping because he’s so over tired.

So this is his “normal” schedule – up at 7, which until he was 10 months old was always 7:30. Eats, independent play time, free play time, structured learning time, coloring time, music time, lunch at 11:30, nap after that at 12:15. I would like to put him down later for his nap, but he can’t go that long. So he usually wakes up from his nap between 2:30 and 3:15. Then we get ready for bed around 6:20 and he’s asleep no later than 7.

So – do I need to change his schedule around? I just don’t know what to do. The pediatrician isn’t any help.

By the way – if anyone out there lives in Maryland and has suggestions for a pediatrician let me know.

I’m completely at a loss, and this has been going on for so long that I’m so frustrated and upset that I can’t figure it out and get it under control. This coming from a baby that we never had night time issues with!

December 2, 2009 4:10 AM


Janelle said…

Unfortunately we haven’t found anything that really works yet. My son is also teething and this might be causing the problems. We did let him CIO one morning when he work before 6:00am He cried for about 20 mins. then stopped crying but never went back to sleep. He just laid there. (We have a video monitor so I could see that he was awake) Your schedule looks a lot like mine. Logan is in his crib for his nap by 12:30 and is almost always awake by 2:30. Then bedtime is at 7:00. Letting him CIO that one morning did help a little because he is now sleeping until around 6:30am. It’s just frustrating because no matter what time I put him to bed at night, he always lays awake in his crib for about an hour. So even if he is in bed by 7:00pm he doesn’t go to sleep until 8:00pm. But he’s not talking to himself or playing with anything. He is just tossing and turning so going in to him would be a bad idea. I wish I had more suggestions for you, but I don’t. Just know that you are not alone!

Maybe Val will have some more ideas for us!

December 2, 2009 1:14 PM


Plowmanators said…

Bradysmom and Janelle,

I am posting your questions for the next “help a reader out” segment.

Some things to consider are the basic…hot or cold? Do you need to dress them differently at night? Is there some noise waking them? White noise might help.

Teething can do it as can moving–and those 2 year molars take forever (Kaitlyn has literally been getting them in constantly since the end of August).

Hopefully some readers will have some experience/advice for you!

December 14, 2009 9:12 PM

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