My Toddler Wakes After an Hour of Sleep At Night Acting Like It Was a Nap!

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  • June 19, 2014


Would you like me to answer your baby sleep problem 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


Hi, Kim West, The Sleep Lady and in this vlog, I’m going to answer this parent’s question: “My 16-month-old goes to bed but wakes up after an hour or so and wants to play. How do I help her realize it’s time to sleep?” It almost sounds like your daughter is acting like she’s taking a nap and she’s ready to rock and roll and do some playing. Knowing that, here are some of the common questions I want you to look at:

Is She Well-Napped?


Remember that a 16-month-old needs 11 ¼ hours of sleep at night and approximately 2 ¼ to 2 ½ hours of sleep over the course of two naps. It’s possible to do this in one nap, although I want you to be careful. I don’t really want you to transition her to one nap until she’s sleeping through the night because that will cause her to be further nap-deprived her, which in turn will cause more night awakenings.


Use an Age-Appropriate Bedtime


If you’re already firmly there with her nap schedule, and have been for several months, then go ahead with one nap and make sure bedtime is between 7 and 7:30 p.m., period. Make sure that she’s wide awake when you put her into her crib. This means that you have the comforting bedtime routine (whatever you normally do whether it’s any kind of feeding, snack, bath, book, then kisses in to bed) where the light is on and then in to bed, light off, and an “I love you.”


The Shuffle


If you notice that when you start to do this, putting her down more awake causes her to cry, then go ahead and stay with her. You can sit next to the crib. Follow the rules of The Shuffle as outlined in my book and my courses. Basically, you’re slowly going to move your way out of the room over the next couple of weeks and of course, you’re going to respond consistently with each awakening at night.


Night Wakings


If you find that when she wakes up at that 1 or 2-hour mark, and she wants to play, sitting by the crib may be too stimulating. If she’s trying to engage you and play with you, then I would first start by just closing my eyes, encouraging her to lie down by saying, “Shh shh, night, night.” Basically, not a playful response from you. If that seems like too much, then go ahead and either move your chair further away from the crib (and again close your eyes and respond intermittently, verbally) or lie in the floor and say, “Shh, night, night.” And then eventually, you can move to the door after a couple of nights. Again, don’t do anything to reinforce the awakening or give her the message that it’s worth staying up or that you are going to get her out and play with her. You’ve got to be consistent at each awakening for long enough until she starts to learn the skill of putting herself to sleep and back to sleep.


Video filmed by In Focus Studios


If you have experienced a similar problem, please share your experience on The Sleep Lady’s Facebook Page. Supporting each other makes parenting so much easier!

Kim West
Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 24 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. She is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight, its companion Workbook and 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. Click here to read more about her.

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