Why Won’t My Toddler Sleep At Night?

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  • February 11, 2015
Question of the week-toddler sleep


Would you like me to answer your toddler sleep problem in my next video? If so, post your question on my Facebook Page! I will pick several questions a month to answer and post them here on the blog!


Hi, Kim West, The Sleep Lady and in today’s vlog, I’m going to answer Summer’s question:


“Our 2-year-old is the youngest of five and hands down the worst sleeper in the world ever. In his life, he’s only slept 10 consecutive hours at night, 12 times over a 24-month period. We have followed all of the typical rules; baby whisperer, baby wise, cry it out…everything. But our baby seems to not be able to hit that restful sleep stage. He’s very active while sleeping, tossing and turning all the time. He dropped from two naps to one at just 9 months old.

“He now naps from 1 to 3:30 p.m. every day which is fine and has an 8:00 p.m. bedtime. But he wants to spend time with daddy and siblings who don’t go to bed until 8:30, 9pm. So, he’s in this room talking, yelling, and saying, ‘Mommy out,’ for 30 minutes before the house quiets down. Please help me. I’m exhausted as my husband can’t hear him wake up between two and four times nightly, so the burden is completely on me. Thanks so much.”


I am happy to hear that he’s still napping especially since he went down to one nap at just 9 months, and that his bedtime sounds pretty reasonable. He should be getting about 11 hours of sleep at night. You didn’t tell me what time he starts his day or what you do when he wakes up during the middle of the night, or what you do when he cries out, “Mommy out” at bedtime when he hears all of his siblings, however.


Use White Noise


Depending on your family routine, you could get a white noise machine and put it in his room by whatever door or wall the sound comes through. You could also try to see if you can get the rest of the family to do their bedtime routine in another part of the house that’s further away. I know that might not be realistic, but you could try.

Question of the week-toddler sleepTurn up his white noise machine just until everybody is finally asleep and see if that helps a little bit. Otherwise you just have to power through. Tell him everyone is going to sleep, and tryto keep the other siblings as quiet as possible.


Respond Consistently


You need to have a consistent response to all of his night wakings. I would look at what you do after that 30 minutes of crying while he’s going to bed; are you consistent or are you teaching him that “If I continue to yell at you, you will eventually get me out.”


Talk to Your Pediatrician


And then finally you told me that he’s really never been a good sleeper, and tosses and turns all of the time. Basically a super active kid. I’d like you to talk with your pediatrician. We want to make sure that he doesn’t have signs for obstructive sleep apnea. One of the top three signs is tossing and turning or very, very restless sleeping.

He also would need a few other symptoms for a diagnosis, of course. Sweating during sleep is common, as are snoring, mouth breathing, and a child who is frequently congested during the day. With children his age, it could be caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids.

Again, go back to your doctor. Make sure that part of your son’s long history of not sleeping well isn’t because of an underlying medical problem.

Video filmed by In Focus Studios

If you have experienced a similar situation, please share! 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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