Crying/Hysterical After Naps

Archived Q&A and Reviews

13-month old is inconsolable after naps

April 2008

lately my 13 month old baby wakes up crying from her regular afternoon nap almost every day. sometimes she is inconsolable for 15-30 minutes or more. i don't think it's due to hunger or lack of sleep (she eats at 12/12:30 and is crying by 3:30 and sleeps 30-45 minutes in the morning and at least an hour of the afternoon nap, sometimes 1.5 hrs). any idea what could be going on here? rae

Your child may be getting too much sleep. After 1 year alot of children transition to one nap. You may want to skip the morning nap, keep your child up and then move their afternoon nap up an hour. See if that helps. mom of many
Your child is possibly still tired. My son awoke naturally in 45 min. cycles (pretty common) and I had to let him get himself back to sleep on his own in his crib. He'd flip around for a while, babble quietly, and go back to sleep. This was around 10 months, however, so give it a try, hopefully your daughter can put herself back to sleep. Make sure she has her blanky and animals, etc...Make sure she gets to sleep a little earlier, too. mommy c.
I would encourage you to make sure that your child gets a good lunch when she is still awake say between 11 and 11:30 or so. Make sure she eats well and gets plenty to drink. After she wakes up have snack ready because she may be hungry and if she is too tired or too hungry it may be hard for her to calm down first. If that is not so much the issue it could be the diaper needs to be changed right after the nap. It could be that she just wants to be held close for a few minutes to slowly wake up. Since she is going into the longer afternoon nap I would strongly advise that she get a good lunch and before she gets too tired to eat. Nanny in the know
Our son used to do this - Every day he would wake up after nap screaming hysterically and crying. We figured out that he was hungry/thirsty. We finally decided to have a sippy cup ready for him RIGHT away - often it was a challenge to get him to start drinking, because he was too busy screaming, but as soon as we could get it into his mouth, and get him to start drinking, he calmed right down The good news is that he did grow out of it - eventually Lee

17-mo-o crying really hard for 30 min. after she wakes up

Oct 2006

For the past few weeks, my 17 month old daughter has been crying really hard for at least 30 minutes after she wakes up from her nap, or in the morning after a good night's sleep. At naptime, it doesn't seem to matter whether she's slept a short time or a good long nap, she's still super upset, won't eat anything and just wants to be held. As far as I can tell, she's not sick, although the teething thing is always a factor. I'm mostly looking for things that have worked for you or stories about your experiences. Am I just going to have to wait this one out as she grows out of it (like so many other things)? jen

My son is about the same age, and this has happened to us a few times in the last month or so. It sometimes helps to offer him a popsicle. I tried this once on the theory that it was teething, and it's the only thing that's really ever worked. Part of it is the cold, but I think the novelty of it confuses him enough to break the crying cycle. He still wants to be held while he's chewing on it, but at least it stops him from wailing. anon
Is this a sudden, very unusual thing (i.e. did she never do this before)? With my son, this was always a symptom -- often the only symptom -- that he had an ear infection. It go so that if he cried for more than a few minutes after waking up from nap, I immediately made an appointment with his pediatrician. I was only wrong once in more than a dozen times Karen
It might mean she isn't getting enough rest from her nap. You could try putting her down for a nap when she is less tired. See Healthy Sleep, Happy Child.

13-month old is a crabby mess after second nap

Dec 2005

For the past 6 months, my 13-month old son has been a crabby mess after his second nap. He's whiny/cries, eye-rubs and clings for a good 1/2 hour after waking up. The few times I've rocked him in a rocking chair after he woke up he has fallen asleep on me. The obvious conclusion is that he needs more sleep during that nap. But he seems to get a lot of sleep overall; he sleeps 10.5 - 11 hours at night, one hour to the minute in the morning and afternoon. It seems that most kids take longer naps in the afternoon (especially at this age).

Should I have him ''cry it out'' after the nap to see if he eventually goes back to sleep? (We already did for night and naps 6 months ago, so he theoretically knows how to soothe himself back to sleep. But maybe he needs a refresher?) Or could it just be the case that he needs a long time to ease himself awake? (I know I do.) Should I just work on ways to help him cope with waking up (how??), or should I try to get him to sleep longer (how???) Crabbed

My son started the same thing around 12 months of age. He would wake up crabby and extremely clingy after his second nap. Of course he needed more sleep in the afternoon as he was only taking a 30 to 40 minute nap. I started putting him down earlier for his second nap, at 12:45pm or 1 instead of 1:45pm and it worked like a charm. He instantly started sleeping for 1.5 to 2 hours and woke up refreshed and playful. I was putting him down later to try to stretch out his good mood until bedtime but it backfired. His internal clock is to take the second nap around 1pm - 3pm. Occasionally he wakes up after 30 to 40 minutes and I let him cry for a little bit to see what he will do and more often than not he will go back to sleep for another 45 minutes! A friend of mine who had a similar issue had to shorten her child's first nap to 30 minutes to get a nice long afternoon nap. That was going to be my next plan of action if the earlier second nap didnt work. I really hope ! this helps because there is nothin christy
maybe he's ready to transition to one long nap, which will be more restorative than two naps even though the actual sleep time is the same. Try keeping him up in the morning and see if he sleeps longer. It will probably make your life easier too! been there
We had a similar problem with my now 22 months old son, when he was around 14-15 months old. He would nap from 10 am to 11 am, and then a second time- around 3pm, when he would sometimes wake up miserable and tired. Our solution was to switch him to one- nap-a-day schedule. It didn't happen quickly. He would start being cranky at the usual time of his nap - 10am and continue until we put him to bed- around 12:30 pm. Hovewer, then he would sleep for 3-4 hours, which not only made him significantly more rested and happy than before, but also allowed me to get things done around the house. Hope, it helps and Good luck! been there
well, allot of children wake up ''crabby'' i think it's ok. havent you ever just woken up on the wrong side of the bed? try being really positive when he wakes up or try picking him up and sitting quietly with him and cuddling him. this helps our 27 month old. she gets crabby too. mostly for no reason i can tell. sometimes she gets allot of sleep and some times not enough. i think shes ''moody'' which as soon as i accepted the crabbyness didn't seem too bad. good luck. anon
I know that when my 18 month old wakes up crabby, it's because she needs more sleep. With mine, though, it is an occasional thing. If I were in your shoes, I would probably try letting him cry to see if he would fall asleep again. It wouldn't have to be for very long. If he hasn't fallen back asleep in 5 minutes, he's probably not going to.

Before you invest too much energy in fixing his naps, though, keep in mind his age. 13 months is right around the time that a lot of babies start to give up their morning nap. Once you start that phase, everything is going to be a bit topsy-turvy for a while until he settles into a new pattern, and you figure it out. It might be that as he gives up his morning nap, the afternoon nap will straighten itself out (either that, or the problem will continue and it will be that much more urgent that you fix it). Carrie

2-year-old so upset after nap he's hurting himself

February 2004

My 2 year old child has his share of tantrums but the other day he woke up from his nap and was so upset/frightened/mad nothing could calm him down. If i picked him up he started kicking and screaming...same thing if i put him on the floor. I finally left him on the floor UNTIL he started scratching his face and his eyes. He scratched himself so hard that he drew blood. I got really scared and tried to pin him down which was also awful. Has anyone else experienced this? A friend of mine said he may be having a 'night terror' during the day as he woke up and didn't really know I was there and started flailing around and nothing could calm him down...does this sound familiar? I'm beginning to wonder if he is normal!!!

A few years ago I worked as a nanny for a two year old child who would wake up in the middle of the night screaming and clawing at himself because his feet fell asleep and he couldnt wake up all the way to tell us what was going on. We would hold him with one arm wrapped tightly around his hips and use the other hand to lightly slap and rub the bottoms of his feet. After a few minutes (of him screaming and arching out of my arms, even clawing his and my face- which could only be prevented by tucking his arms between our bodies) the blood would begin to circulate back into his feet and he would fall back to sleep. He would never remember the episode in the morning and it happened as often as two or so times a week until he was almost 4. Wish I could give you a ''current sleep status'' but I lost touch with the family. I just thought I'd share that in case your kid is kicking becasue his feet are asleep and he is in pain but isnt awake enough to tell you. H
Lots of toddlers do this to some degree. When it's minor, I let it ride. When he's hurting himself, I restrain him as lovingly as I can. Better he rail against me than himself. Put on earplugs to spare your sanity, grab a big blanket to protect yourself and him, wrap him up and hold him firmly until he finishes his cry, talking to him when you feel it's helpful. He will finish it. Good luck

20-month-old inconsolable after nap

February 2004

My daughter has always been a great sleeper. At 20 months, she sleeps 10-12 hours a night and 2-3 hours every afternoon, at pretty much same time every day (give or take 30 minutes). The problem is that lately she has been waking up from her naps screaming and crying. She is normally a good communicator and can express her needs quite well, but I cannot figure out what is wrong. Nothing seems to make her happy! The only thing that does seem to work is Sesame Street, but that doesn't feel right to me. I am sure there is another solution! If you've been through this or have any suggestions, please let me know. Thank you!

My 2 year old has also gone through a phase of going straight into a tantrum after nap (and on occassion when waking up in the morning). It felt so chemical. After talking with our pediatrician we figured out that her blood sugar was low. We make extra effort to make sure she has had lots of protein (milk, beans, meat etc.) before going to sleep/nap. When she wakes up, I'm there with a cracker. It has improved things quite a bit. No telling if this is what's going on with your kid. Maybe worth a try. Lori

27-month-old is hysterical when she awakes from nap

December 2002

My 27 month old daughter takes a 2 hr afternoon nap. She wakes up from this nap, calls for me, and as soon as she sees me starts a hysterical 30-60 minute tirade. She screams for a drink and as soon as I give it to her throws it down, asks for TV but screams that I should turn it off and immediately after it is off, she wants it on. This can go on for a good 20 repeats. It invovles everything from wanting hugs, to food, to TV, whatever and then being hysterial at getting them. I dont just mean grumpy, I mean hysterical, pounding the floor, throwing things... It has started scaring me. And then it stops kind of by itself sometimes it is when I try to engage her; other times it is because I ignore her; at times it is because I put on music;yet other times it is because I make it mellow. I ask her afterwards why she was sad and she doesnt know or doesnt know how to communicate it at her age. She sleeps10-12 hours at night with maybe one waking in which we go in and pat her or sit with her. In the morning she is in a great mood. We thought maybe it was low blood sugar because once she settles down and has a snack, she is fine (though that can just be because she has settled down BEFORE having the snack). The only thing that the books I have consulted even come close to suggesting is night terror. It is that kind of not knowing what she wants, not wanting to be held or comforted, being angry at getting what she asks for ... Does anyone have experience with this? I should mention that two months ago I weaned her and nursing was the way she 'woke up'. I tried to replace it with snuggling, warm milk, books... to no avail. I guess I thought she would be grumpy for a while but it is getting worse not better. (this all could be coincidence) Should we rush her out to see a specialist? an MD? If she were sick would she not be sick the rest of the time? Am I overreacting? Thanks for any input. a concerned mom

This has happened with all my kids (4). Unless I held them the entire nap (I usually do this til about 18mo) it happens. I try to diffuse the situation with juice (low blood sugar), reading them a book while I hold them or (last resort) a video.

I jsut re-read your post. Does this happen if she wakes up and you're out and about? What if she slept in the car (nap) and woke at a playground? What if you held her for her nap? What if you slept with her during her nap? Have you tried nursing her during the tirade (cringes at the thought of a chomp, but my 3yo has never chomped during a tantrum)?

If none of the above work, I'd simply ''be there'' - let her know you're available to her and give her words for her feelings. Let her know you support her and that it must be overwhelming being so out of control and try to give her the words she needs.

This must be so hard for you too. (((hugs)))) Kathy

My son did EXACTLY the same thing. I imposed a rule that after three NO! YES! NO! repetitions (the conflict-o-change-o man, as his sister dubbed it) I gave up and told him I wouldn't talk to him until he could calm down. Letting it go on after three reversals seemed to just make it worse. Can you put her in a place where she can't hurt herself or anything else, and let her be? For me, TV and a snack were the usual solutions. After a while, though, I got so sick of the post-nap freak-out scene that I stopped the nap. I think what is going on is that they are still so tired after a late p.m. nap, sort of ready to go to bed for the night but not quite yet, that they become unable to deal with themselves. Skipping the nap and moving the bedtime much earlier seems to work a lot better. Good luck - it's hideous, I know. Fran
My son used to sporadically wake up cranky and would cry inconsolably for up to 20 minutes. We finally figured it out that it was reflux. Now he takes prescription Tagamet 3xs a day and is much better. In hindsight, there were symptoms all along such as spitting up a lot as an infant, easy gag reflex, gulping and burping. We didn't take him to the doctor until it was really bad and he was waking up in the middle of the night - coughing and gagging until he threw up. I believe that the reason he cried when waking up was because laying down exaserberated the condition. Helena
My 31-month-old daughter has always been a good sleeper, but since becoming potty trained wakes up very grumpy -- although not hysterical. She seems mad that a full bladder has woken her up and either calms down or goes back to sleep after going to the bathroom. Maybe your daughter is waking up with gas or is hungry -- both of which could have been been alliviated by nursing. Maybe try giving her a snack or milk before her nap, or giving her gas drops or getting her to go to the bathroom soon after she wakes up. Liz
How long does your child sleep? I've experienced that my daughter sleeps 2 hours in the afternoon. If she wakes up after about 1 hour she is hysterical and unconsolable unless I lay down with her and she slowly goes back to sleep. This realization came with her transition from two one hour naps per day to the one two hour nap. For awhile I figured that because she was up that she was done with her first nap so I just got her up and she went crazy. It took a few of these sessions to realize that if I just layed with her she fell back asleep....Perhaps your child is just still tired? nicole