Baby Sleep Problem: My One Year Old Is Awake for Hours at Night!

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  • July 24, 2012


Would you like to have me answer your sleep question in my next video? If so, scroll down and submit your question in the comment section below. I will pick several questions a month to answer and post them here on the blog!


If you would rather read than watch my above video then here is the transcript of this week’s baby sleep problem video:

Hi. Kim West the Sleep Lady. And today, I’m going to answer Michelle’s question. She wrote in and said:

“My daughter is almost a year old. And for the past couple of months, wakes up during the night around 3:00am and is wide awake. It can take up to two hours to get her to sleep again. We tried letting her cried out with intervals to no avail. I’ve tried nursing and co-sleeping, and it doesn’t work on these nights.

She seems wide awake, but doesn’t want to play, doesn’t ask to be nourished, doesn’t really engage us, just super awake, doesn’t seem like it’s teething either. So, we’re just lost. She does go consistently down at 6:30, has a bath, a book routine and sleeps until 5:30am. If she doesn’t have that two hour waking during the night. (Sleep Lady note: which by the way, is still early rising in my book and too early to start the day, 5:30am. And so, we’ll have to do some shifting there too).

If she is co-sleeping with me, sometimes she’ll sleep until 7:30. So, it feels like our nights are all over the place and fairly unpredictable. I just don’t know what to do with that two hour wake up and how to get her the sleeps she actually needs. If I leave the room, she screams and cries, but nothing seems to help, expect holding her or padding her until she eventually tires again.

She is still having two naps a day, usually an hour between 9:00 and 10:00am and half an hour around 2:00pm. Help!”

Michelle, you gave me a lot of great information. One of the most powerful pieces of information was in the last sentence when you told me she only gets half an hour nap at 2:00.


Know Your Child’s Sleep Needs


baby sleep problemsA one-year-old needs 11 1/4 hours of sleep at night, uninterrupted, usually if they’re growing well and healthy, and two and a half hours during the day for their naps. So, if she has an hour in the morning and half an hour in the afternoon, she’s way under. If she goes right to sleep at 6:30pm and sleeps until 5:30am, that’s 11 hours, not too bad. More than likely her early rising and the waking at night is, believe it or not, due to the fact that she is nap deprived!

You will need to work on lengthening her afternoon nap. And then making sure that she goes into bed awake at bed time– you didn’t mention that. And I also would be really strict about 5:30am and not get her out of her crib until 6:00am or later.

So that means if you go in to her room when she wakes you would either stay and reassure her or do timed checks until 6:00am. Pick the method you can follow through with. I don’t want you to start the day until 6:00am. 5:30am become’s 5:15am, become’s 5:00am, become’s 4:30am really quickly!


Could This Be a Sleep Regression?


Now, just a couple of other little tidbits of advice. You wrote that you put her down awake at bedtime and at naps but you don’t know “what is going on here”. I find that this “wake up in the middle of the night and they’re happy-go-lucky” issue can often be caused by nap deprivation which we know is an issue. But the other culprit can be developmental milestones. And the big sleep wrecker I find is walking, which commonly happens at 12 to 15 months old. (Some times super alert kids walk early.)

So that could be happening also, not that you should do anything differently, but just know that a milestone like learning to walk can disrupt sleep. If you stay on course, you should get her sleeping through the night and taking good naps. I hope that was helpful.

Sweet dreams,

The Sleep Lady

Video filmed by In Focus Studios

If you have successfully conquered nap coaching and early rising, please encourage Michelle to keep up the good work she has started! Please feel free to click the “reply” link under this article and leave them a comment. Supporting each other makes parenting so much easier!

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