Ultimate Guide To Toddler Night Wakings

When babies become toddlers, parents believe that their nights of waking up several times with their little ones have come to an end. But just when they begin to settle into a new schedule where toddlers go to bed, sleep through the night, and wake up at the same time like clockwork, a wrench gets thrown into the situation. Suddenly parents find themselves shuffling down the hallway, bleary-eyed once again to see what it is that has woken their toddlers up. For many, it is the result of toddlers experiencing night wakings.


The problematic thing about night wakings is that toddlers lack the vocabulary to tell their parents what it is that is keeping them up. As such, parents are forced to guess in some instances what the underlying problem is that is interrupting toddlers’ slumber.

Because if a cause is not discovered, the cycle of waking up in the middle of the night will continue, something that is not healthy for parents or toddlers as all it does is cause drowsiness and irritability. And no families want to deal with this combination from their toddlers or themselves for days to weeks on end.

RELATED: How To Get Your Toddler To Stop Waking Up So Early In The Morning

Here is everything you need to know about toddler night wakings.

Toddler Night Wakings Explained

After sleeping soundly for months through the night, toddlers can suddenly find themselves wide awake in the wee hours of the morning. And when they are awake, they are sure to let their parents and everyone else in the house know that a good night’s sleep is not going to be happening. This is known as toddler night wakings.

According to The Baby Sleep Site, toddler night wakings are a totally normal part of toddlers’ development. Much like when babies would be working on new skills and reaching milestones, toddlers experience something similar several times from the age of 12 months old through 24 months old and sometimes beyond.

It is during these night wakings that toddlers’ brains and bodies are wide awake. As such, just like it took some time to get infants back to sleep with their developmental milestones being reached, the same will have to be done with toddlers. Unfortunately for some, however, it is not as easy a process as it was when toddlers were younger.

What Causes Toddler Night Wakings

The root cause of night wakings will vary for toddlers. This means that parents will have to become detectives to determine why their once well-rested toddlers now have a pinchant for waking up in the middle of the night. Something that would be made easier if toddlers could simply express what is causing them to be roused from their deep sleep.

According to Sleep Advisorthere are some common reasons that toddlers will suddenly start waking in the middle of the night. Those reasons include:

  • Snoring
  • Pediatric sleep apnea
  • Sick with a cold
  • Ear infection
  • Influenza
  • Molars erupting
  • Hunger pangs in the middle of the night
  • Constipation
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Nightmares
  • Night terrors

According to Little Ones, Being over or under tired can cause disturbed sleep as well. This can result from taking naps too late during the day, taking naps that are too short, or going to bed too late in the evening.

With the number of reasons behind why toddlers could suddenly be dealing with night wakings, parents will have to do their part to help remedy the situation. Then and only then will the toddler night wakings begin to subside, and the household will have uninterrupted sleep during the night once again.

How To Respond To Night Wakings

The way that parents respond to toddler night wakings will determine if toddlers finally begin to sleep through the night again or if night wakings are going to be around for an extended time.

According to What To Expect, when toddlers have not learned to fall asleep on their own, they call out to their parents to help them get back to sleep. If parents do this too often, they become a crutch. As such, per the publication, there are methods to respond to night wakings that help toddlers without making them completely reliant on their parents to get back to sleep.

The methods for helping toddlers fall back to sleepaccording to What To Expect include:

  • Waiting a few minutes to see if toddlers will fall back to sleep on their own without support
  • Keep interaction with toddlers to a minimum when going into their room by providing short, but reassuring phrases
  • Explain to toddlers why their bad dreams are not real and that they are safe
  • Keep the response to the night wakings consistent to help toddlers learn to fall back asleep on their own

Parents have to remember while in the throes of night wakings that just like babies waking up in the middle of the night did not last forever, the night wakings will not either. And with a bit of patience, quiet evenings will again return to the home with everyone being well-rested as a result.

Solutions To Toddler Night Wakings

In order to help bring toddler night wakings to an end, parents have to make sure that they are setting their little ones up for success. And when this happens, toddlers will not only have learned how to put themselves back to sleep but any tweaks that need to be made to routines can be made to ensure that sleeping comes easy to toddlers for whom it is so very important.

According to VeryWell Familysome strategies that parents can put into play to help bring their toddler night wakings to an end include:

  • Use devices like a sleep clock or white noise machine
  • Use a chart as motivation for a good night’s sleep
  • Put toddlers in sleep sacks versus using blankets, so they stay comfortable while they sleep
  • Keep nap times and bedtimes consistent
  • Make sure nap times end before it gets too late in the day
  • Consider dropping a nap if toddlers are still taking two
  • Have a bedtime routine
  • Make sure toddlers get enough activity throughout the day
  • Keep distractions out of the room when putting toddlers to bed

By using these helpful tips, toddlers should end waking up during the middle of the night in a short period. However, if it appears that a medical condition is the culprit of toddler night wakings, seeking out the assistance of a healthcare professional is recommended to finally give toddlers the good night of sleep that they need.

Source: What To Expect, Sleep Advisor, Little Ones, The Baby Sleep Site, VeryWell Family

Leave a Comment