Waking at Night: Toddlers

Parent Q&A

  • Our daughter is 13 months and typically goes to sleep between 6:30 and 7 p.m. She has milk before bed, but we put her in her sleep spot still awake, and most nights, she is ok, rubs her eyes and falls asleep shortly thereafter. Some nights she awakes after about an hour and needs some TLC and sometimes milk to fall back to sleep. 

    She has slept all the way through until 6 or 6:30 in the morning on several occasions, but never consistently, and there is no singular factor that has determined it. Once asleep, she sleeps until anywhere between 1:30 and 4:30.  She wakes up and you hear: "eh, eh, eh".  Not really crying, but complaining.  I have waited to let this pass, but it persists, and generally rises in intensity, at which point I take her out of the crib, feed her and change her diaper.  She then will be awake for anywhere between 1/2 hour and 1 1/2 hours.  She falls asleep next to me in the bed (will NOT go back in her crib) and wakes anywhere between 5:30 and 7:30 thereafter, depending on her initial wake up time and when she was able to fall back asleep.  Because she has been up for so long overnight, she is still exhausted when she wakes up in the morning and struggles to make it through until 10 a.m. That is usually 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.  She is tired throughout the rest of the day, but, since dropping her second nap about a month ago, will not take another, and so the cycle continues. We have tried a gentle cry it out and the "no cry sleep solution", but neither one seems to do anything to alter the middle of the night waking or the length of time she will be up afterwards.
     How this is impacting our life: Because of our daughter's exhaustion level, she becomes fussier, and so even when she is awake during the day, it's not that much "fun!"(though whoever uses that word in conjunction with parenting has never had kids, IMO). Because she is ready for her nap no later than 10, it makes getting out of the house before 1 next to impossible, and leaves us without storytime options etc. in the early part of the day, as these all start at 10 or 10:30. The ability to get out in the early part of the day and then once more in the afternoon was *huge* for me with my first child and combatted the isolation of childrearing.

    In addition, I rarely fall back asleep after the middle of the night waking, and I am getting more and more worn down (I am no spring chicken!), prone to illness and stress, etc. There is no possibility of going to bed earlier for me (I do most of my own "work" from 8-10 p.m. and 4:30-6:30 a.m.), so that is not an option. But I am so tired, in a perpetual brain fog, and just becoming increasingly depressed about it all. I see a therapist and a psychiatrist, but I would not say that I am clinically depressed, just seemingly crushed by life circumstances!
     I know from having an older child that this too shall pass, but we were blessed with a much easier road in many ways with our first, and so it all felt as if it went by really quickly. Everybody said that the second would pass even more quickly, but I am finding the opposite to be true, and running out of steam and stamina. Any words of wisdom or concrete suggestions would be lovely. Thank you!

    First of all, I'm sorry for your brain fog -- it sounds as if BOTH of you are suffering from it! 

    However, your daughter is apparently a child who has a more dominant personality than your first, and you will have to just administer the "tough love" of letting your child TEACH HERSELF TO SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT.  Put on all-night diapers and let her cry it out.  

    No other solution will work.  If you don't do something now, she'll be waking up in the middle of the night -- and spending time in your bed -- until she's halfway through kindergarten.  I kid you not!  My cousin and my best friend both chose NOT to let their babies teach themselves to get back to sleep.  We discussed it at the time -- I recall well my friend saying "Oh, we don't like those kind of parents."  Well, neither my cousin nor this friend got a full night's sleep until somewhere between their child's 5th and 6th birthday.

    So... they wouldn't take my advice, but I sincerely hope you will.  And you must do it NOW, before she's old enough to get out of her own bed and crawl into yours.  By then it really will be too late. 

    (As you must know, there are many books and articles on this subject.  One common key is to MAKE A PLAN AND STICK WITH IT.  It's hard to be consistent, I know, but it pays such benefits!  Otherwise, you may find yourself back on BPN in 12 years, asking for help with a daughter who "WON'T" give up her cell phone, etc., even though she's abusing it.) 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

14 month old still waking twice a night

Oct 2004

hello, my 14 month old still doesn't sleep through the night. she sleeps next to me and i tryed to put her in her own bed. but she would wake up anyways. sometimes she'd wimper like having a bad dream and then she's passing out again without nursing, but it doesn't work trough the whole night. i sometimes feel so desperite that i think; perhaps a calming herb like lemon balm might work. i tryed heavier dinners and all that but it doesn't seem to help. at this moment i can only use one hand so making her sleep in another bed is not really an option for a while. thanks a mother who dreams of a solid night sleep

Dear Wakeful Mama, I have a two year old who woke up several times a night on and off until she was about 20 months. In our case there were two factors. Firstly, she was teething and that was quite painful for her at night so we would wake and give her tylenol and put her back in her crib. Secondly, as a result of being picked up due to the teething, she got used to be ''helped'' back to sleep and so after teething ended, she would continue to wake up. My recommendation may not work for you if you cannot tolerate your child crying, but I have found it to be the quickest method to good alnight sleep. Let your child cry when he/she wakes until he/she falls back asleep, however long that takes (unless sick, in need of diaper change or otherwise in physical pain). This usually took one to two nights after several wakeful weeks.

Now the mother of a night sleeping child (who still wakes up occasionally at night as she is now getting her 2 year old molars - oh well, full sleep every night will happen eventually...). Understanding Mama

At 14 months my son was also waking up 2x a night. Then I decided to wean him for reasons unrelated to his night waking. I was particularly worried about this because he shares a room with his sister - how was I going to get him back to sleep without a lot of crying or nursing? So, the first feeding I gave up was the one right before bed. That night and for the majority of nights since he has slept through the night! I think the feeding right before bed was keeping his metabolism going so he was nursing every 3 hours = waking 2x night. Now when I put him to sleep I put a sippy cup of water in the crib with him. In the middle of the night if he wakes up usually I can just help him find his sippy cup, cuddle him for a minute and he goes back to sleep. I do not know how you feel about weaning right now but perhaps try to pass on that before bed feeding and see what happens. Good Luck! Jennifer
Mine did this until about 16 mo -- don't worry, they will quit it eventually. I found it helpful to wear a shirt and to refuse to, ah, ''put out'' the first time she woke up. It took about a week of getting yelled at but she did finally start sleeping through until about 5...at which point I still let her nurse, and then we sleep for another couple hours, and then she nurses again. Now that she's quit nursing during the day I actually kinda enjoy the dawn nursing.... Sara
I don't have much advise for you other than telling you that it's normal. My daughter continued waking up twice a night until she was about 14 months old as well and then once for some months longer. Even now, at 2.5 years old, she will wake up if she is in bed by herself (fortunately she finally stopped crying when she does and comes to our bed instead).

The usual advise is to not nurse her when she wakes up. If she needs something to fall asleep try giving her a bottle of water. The idea is that if she doesn't get a treat, she won't be encouraged to wake up. This didn't work too well for us (she refused the water) but you can give it a try. Good luck! anon

15 month old awake 2:30-4am

May 2002

I have a beautiful 15 month old daughter who has never been the greatest sleeper. However recently she has started waking up about 2.30 am and pretty much screaming and crying until about 4 when we can get her back down. She takes 2 naps a day - the second one can sometimes be a little late ending as late as 6pm. Then she goes down about 9.30pm - I pretty much nurse her down as if I put her in her crib before she is asleep she screams until she vomits sometimes. When she wakes at 2.30 my husband comforts her periodically. She will fall asleep in his arms but wake up the second he puts her down again. He is stay at home dad and I work full time which is why he mainly comforts her at night as I have a high stress job which I need to be reasonably alert for. Any ideas or suggestions? We are desperately tired.

You may find some useful advice in Elizabeth Pantley's ''The No- Cry Sleep Solution.'' It's available from amazon. I used her suggestion for nap extension and some of those tips may help w/ your night wakings, except it would be hard to prewaken to anticipate the child's waking at 2 in the morning. I do notice when I race in after my daughter awakens mid nap that she is not fully awake and if I pat humm and shsh w/o lifting her out, that in about 5-12 minutes she's sound asleep again. She's whimpering but not full-on crying while I do this. taking your child out might awaken her more fully, despite her cries. it's worth a try. you can always take her out later. Jessica
I feel for you, as my daughter did the same thing! One thing to remember is that every child and family is different, and what works for one child may NOT work for yours. But, here is what we did. First of all, try to transition her into one nap a day. Both of my daughters began taking one nap only at 13 months. It is hard at first, but better in the long run (you might have to have an early lunch for a while). Second, what they say is true (despite the fact that we all fight it): Babies have to learn to fall asleep on their own. When she wakes in the night, she cannot put herself to sleep, because she does not know how. It was easier for us to teach our daughters to put themselves to sleep by themselves during the nap, rather than start it at night (but it might work better for her if you do it for both the nap and the night). We explained to them that we were not going to pick them up, but that we would be there to help them (for example, we would come in and rub their backs, but not pick them up. As hard as it was for everyone, they both learned within three days). When they woke in the night, it was the same thing. We never left them alone to cry endlessly, and always let them know that we were there for them. You have to be quick when you walk into the room to reassure them, though. Don't linger and drag it out, as this makes it worse. In the end EVERYONE sleeps well! This is the trade off. Both of our daughters like their beds, feel safe and comfortable there, and we are all well rested.

Our daughters also threw up; I think this is pretty common. Don't worry! If you are consistant, and really stick to your guns, they learn quickly and it gets better each night. We are working parents, so we did need our sleep, and could not hold our girls all night, or sleep with them (no one slept well the times we tried this). Good Luck! A well rested parent

You might want to make the second nap her bed time. I have read and seen with my own daughter that an earlier bedtime can often help a child sleep better. It prevents the child from getting overly tired which can make it harder to rest well. When she wakes up from that nap she needs to go right back to sleep. Of course maybe seven would eventually be better. There is a great book that saved my life called, Happy Sleep Habits Healthy Child. I forget the author's name at the moment. When she wakes up, the only thing that worked for us was to let our baby cry it out, which is really hard to do but it was either that or wake up every hour throughout the night. She got used to falling back asleep on her own and now doesn't wake up at all. Good Luck! Liza
It could be teething. Try some homeopathic teething gel. You can get it at many baby stores, El Cerrito Natural Grocery, etc. It works like a charm. Good luck. Dori

16-month-old Waking at Night

May 1997

I have a 16 month old daughter who is waking up between 3:30 and 4:00am wanting a bottle. How can I get her to start sleeping through the night again - HELP. The story goes like this: I have a elderly mother who occasionally (between 3:30 and 4am) talks and screams very loud in her sleep; One week three nights in a row. To make a long story short, my daughters sleep was disrupted and now she wakes up every night. Closing my daughters door won't work, because she can hear the screams, and my mom's too scared to sleep with her door closed. ANY SUGGESTIONS? Sleepless

We have a girl the same age who wakes up every night at least once. On our doctor's advice, we try to totally ignore her when she does. And eventually she calms down and goes back to sleep herself. We used to get up and give her a bottle and then put her back to sleep and sometimes we still do, but it's a miracle that she seems to know that her crying won't work anymore. Of course, I still try to sneak near the door to her room and make sure nothing is seriously wrong (dirty diaper, one time her foot was caught in the crib). I usually wait until she had quieted down again and then peek in.
Talk about the sandwich generation. What about dealing with the grandmother's talking/screaming in the night? Any chance of dealing with that? I don't have any very good advice re: the 16 month old. My own daughter (who is now 22) slept through the night from the day she was born until she was about 2 when she had an ear infection that woke her at night. >From then on she didn't sleep through the night until she was about 5. I know this is not an encouraging story. What does your pediatrician say? Good luck.
Re: the 16 month-old sleep problem. It seems like your daughter has come up with a good solution to her problem: to wake herself up before she is awakened unexpectedly (and kind of scarily) in the middle of the night, and she keeps you with her by asking for the bottle. Maybe you could find a way to reassure your mother -- why is she afraid to close the door? Maybe you could put a baby monitor in her room if she's afraid you won't hear her if she needs help. It seems like you need to find a way to get that door closed and try to reassure your daughter that she won't be awakened like that again.
To the parent with the 16 month old daughter who wakes between 3:30 and 4:00 wanting a bottle .. I have a similar situation. I'm not sure if it is helpful just to know you are *not alone* ... I don't really have any cures.

I am a fost-adopt parent through Alameda County and, although my daughter (now 21 months) has been with me since she was only 5 months old, there have been many complications, legally speaking. Due to the fact that this is my daughter's personal life, I'm not going to get into all the details. All the details are being managed and handled by Alameda County; suffice it to say that this process has caused my daughter a great deal of stress and so she too wakes up every single night. At six months she slept through the night, from 7 months to the present she wakes up at least once a night, and asks for a bottle. Thus far, the doctor has told me to keep letting her have the bottle and, in fact, to let her sleep with me. Young children who are very stressed just want to be reassured by their parent; there is no way around it. My daughter seems quite calm and happy during the day (her teachers say she's always all right!) so the night-time reassurance DOES seem to have a positive effect.

One thing that *might* help both your mother and your daughter is background music ... a soothing low-level music tape which runs all night long. Sometimes young children who hear constant background sound don't respond as much to the sudden, louder sounds. Also, can your mom's doctor do anything to help *her* sleep better?

I know at least one other person who's child didn't quit taking a middle-of-the-night bottle till over two-and-a-half ... what about other folks out there? Maybe even without stress, middle-of-the-night bottles *really* go on much longer than we *formally* admit?

-- Mary Carol

17-month-old wakes every night at 1AM yelling

Jan 1998 Help. I need advice. Our 17 month old son has been having a lot of trouble sleeping over the past month. He goes to bed fine, but wakes up *every night* around 1 a.m. yelling out that he wants either his mommy or daddy and to get out of his crib. If we don't immediately respond or just go in and talk to him without picking him up he starts screaming. He really works himself up into a frenzy and can't be settled without taking him to bed with us. It isn't the night terrors. I think it's mostly separation anxiety. So far, we've been bringing him in to our bed, but he's big and the bed's small and once he's in there we're up for the night. I don't feel particularly comfortable ferberizing him. It really goes against my belief that if he's yelling for us, he needs something. But I also don't want to instill any bad habits that we're just going to have to deal with later on. Christina
We practiced family bed with both our kids and, when they got too big and I wasn't nursing, we made them a bed on the floor next to ours and they were happy with that. Like the book, Family Bed, says - we are one of the few cultures in the world that insists that these tiny, relatively helpless creatures be independent and sleep by themselves in a room apart. I always thought it made sense to err on the side of love and warmth. When the kids were ready, they went to their own beds with no problem and I never regretted handling it that way. We were firm at some point that they couldn't be in the same bed with us because of their sleeping habits (kicking, snoring, moving too much, etc.) but they were welcome to be close to us otherwise. Hope this helps. Barbara
Christina asked for advice on her 17-month-old's sleeping problems, and worried about instilling bad habits that we're just going to have to deal with later on. I only have one child, who is about 2.5 right now, so I'm no great authority. But I used to worry about this myself, and I feel so completely vindicated that we didn't in fact screw my daughter up for life, that I wanted to respond... We (mainly I) did all the wrong things with my daughter. I nursed her to sleep from the beginning, then let her go to sleep with a bottle of milk until I became concerned for her teeth. We moved her out of her crib and into a double mattress on the floor *very* early on, way before she was able to climb out of the crib. This was basically because it was more convenient then to lie down with her until she went to sleep. For a long time she would wake up every night some time between 1 and 3 or something and I would just move in to her bed. DESPITE ALL THIS, she now sleeps through the night consistently, and goes to sleep quickly and easily (usually listening to a tape). So she doesn't rely on us either to go to sleep or stay asleep, as so many people and books threatened.

I'm certainly not advocating my particular methods, or lack thereof. And not everyone can take getting up in the middle of the night every night for that long. I know my husband, for instance, could not have stood it, though during the day he's very patient. So for heaven's sake don't sacrifice yourself for any principle. But I do think that it's hard to go wrong if you do *what you yourself feel is the right thing at the time*, without worrying too much about the future. Good luck! Tahani

Our family has worked out a solution to the middle of the night waking that works for us. for the last 2 years, my daughter will wake at some point in the night and call for me. I go and get her and bring her into our bed (which has been expanded by putting a twin bed right next to ours. Both beds are at the same level.) She will fall back to sleep easily and sleep until our usual waking time. The reasons that we like it so much are: I can respond to the crying, we grown-ups get some private time in the late evening, my daughter has gotten easier & easier to sleep along side of as she gets bigger, we have the best and funniest snuggle times in the waking moments of the morning. So even though this has developed into a routine, it is a wonderful one and not an undesireable habit. By the time a change is needed, we'll have figured out a way to approach it. Good luck!! Karen
We have an 18-month old son and we have been dealing with what you are talking about for a while. Jack goes down to sleep in his crib, then wakes up just about every night calling for us or just plain calling. I wouldn't say crying, although if we ignore it (and we have tried, briefly) he too will work himself up. I also do not think it is night terrors, but rather a preference for our bed. When he comes in with us, which was our MO every since he moved into his own room at 7 months, he goes right to sleep.

We are now expecting twins, and must try seriously to get him to sleep through the night in his own bed. From what I hear and read, there are two ways to do this: let him cry and don't go in, or let him cry a bit and then go in and comfort him, either staying in with him until he goes to sleep, or comforting him briefly, going back into your room, and them going back again in increasing lengths of time (i.e. one night, 5 mins, next night 10 minutes). When you do go in, try not to be too accommodating--you are basically reassuring him that everything is OK, you are near, and reminding him that he sleeps in his own bed, but not playing with him or letting him know it is OK. I heard someone say it is a good idea to be a little grumpy.

We are doing it the other way: going in once he has called for about 10 minutes, and then staying in until he goes to sleep. We have done it now for about 4 nights and the time my husband is in there is getting less (last night 1/2 hour). It is our hope that eventually he will know that he can't come into our bed any more, and simply put himself back to sleep, like he does at other times during the night.

Our main mistake in all this has been not being consistent--we have tried on and off to do this and I find I prefer my good night sleep and it has been easier to just take him into our bed and all go back to sleep. Also, I don't yet know if our method will work. Unfortuantely, there is no easy answer to this problem, unless you are willing to do the ferber method. Good luck! MPB

17-month-old's frequent night-time wakeups

October 2002

This is a long note, so please bear with me. Our baby, now 17 months old, has never reliably slept through the night. However, over time he has been sleeping longer and longer, so we've been willing to wait it out, hoping he'd eventually learn. Last month, he had reached a point where he was sleeping from 7:30 pm to 5:00 am, drinking one full bottle of milk, and then sleeping for another couple of hours - waking around 7:00 or 7:30. This was OK with us - and sometimes he would even skip the 5:00 am bottle and actually sleep all night. Then he got an ear infection, and now he's back to waking several times a night - often at 10:00, sometimes at 12:00 or 2:00, and again at 5:00. The first time he wakes up, at either 10:00 or 12:00/2:00, he wants a bottle, and then he wants another at 5:00. We've reached the end of our patience, and would like to more actively teach him to sleep through, especially since we know he shouldn't need the milk at night.

The thing is, all of the standard advice about how to teach children to put themselves to sleep doesn't seem to apply to our situation. First off, he knows how to put himself to sleep. We have put him in his crib awake every night since he was 2 or 3 months old, and 9 times out of 10, he falls asleep without a fuss. Second, what happens with our son when he wakes up is that he fusses and cries for around 5-10 minutes, then quiets if we don't go to him, then wakes up 10-15 minutes later and cries again. This goes on for hours - in fact, once it starts, I don't know when it stops, because I've always given in at some point - it's incredibly crazy-making. If we go in to him during one of the cry sessions to comfort him, he just gets very upset, so the 'go in every five minutes, pat his back, and leave' technique results in him becoming more and more agitated, and screaming louder and louder. Although this does eventually end up with him falling to sleep, exhausted, it makes me feel absolutely horrible.

I've never seen this kind of issue addressed in any book on sleep, nor on the website. Anyone else have experience with this? exhausted parents

This may not be what you want to hear, but I have a friend whose child did EXACTLY what yours is doing. She finally stopped the going in to comfort him part of the ''cry it out'' recipe. Her verdict: Ferber is a softie! The problem seemed to be that her child would be winding down and the comforting would just interrupt him and get him all geared up again. So she would tell you, if you can stand it - let him cry, alone. (It's not so much teaching him to fall asleep by himself, but teaching him to GO BACK to sleep by himself - a different skill, because you're in a different part of your sleep cycle.) If it helps - I can tell you my friend's child is an adorable, very well-adjusted, happy 2 and a half year old now. Good luck. Fran
Here's some advice from the alternative medicine world:

My daughter did not sleep soundly for a long time, and I found standard advice unhelpful as well. After combing through the Sears' Baby Book repeatedly, I finally came across something in the food allergy section that said basically, ''If you have a baby who has never slept soundly, you might look into the possibility of a food allergy.'' I had known that my daughter had a milk allergy as an infant, but I thought she had outgrown it since she no longer got the same distinctive rash when she had cheese or yogurt. As an experiment I tried eliminating dairy again, and it really did help.

Also, you mentioned that your child had an ear infection. I don't know how common that is in your family or what kind of birth you had (c-section, head stuck, smooth 'n' easy), but there might be a connection to the molding of your child's head and the sleep issue. I can't isolate the dairy/head molding variables in my situation because at the same time I eliminated dairy, I took my daughter to a craniosacral therapist. She did have a little head bruise when she was born after getting stuck in my pelvis. Osteopaths find a connection between the way the head molds and children's sleep. In addition, also related to the head molding, some kids, especially ones born via c-section, have higher incidence of ear infections which can also be cleared up using craniosacral therapy/osteopathy. I went to Barbara Newlon in San Rafael, and her work on my daughter seemed to help the sleeping issue too. -- Ilana

I have the same problem with my 16 month old. He is constantly waking up in the middle of the night and asking for a bottle. I was losing a lot of sleep especially since he was waking every night around 2AM and then again around 5AM.

HERE'S WHAT I DID - Instead milk (which can cause tooth decay) I starting filling up two bottles with ice and placing them by my son's bed. By the time he wakes up at 2 and 5 the ice has melted into cold water. And everytime he'd wake up - he could reach and grab a bottle on his own and would fall back asleep without waking up mom. In the morning (7AM), I'll find an empty bottle on the floor and a half empty bottle in the bed close to my son. He may be awake playing with toys or still sound asleep. And I also give him a big hug and thank him for not waking up mommy during the night.

Nightime is the only time he gets bottles, as he drinks out of sippy cups during the day. Hopefully in a few weeks, he will no longer require the nightime bottles, but until he reaches that point - there's no guilt about too much milk or too much sugar during the night.

HELPFUL TIP - If your son isn't too fond of water - add a tablespoon of juice to the ice.

I hopes this helps. Candace

My daughter was a nighttime waker, similar to your child. She was weaned at 16 mo., but would still wake at night and need comforting. I could tell that some of the wake-ups were due to banging into the sides of her crib. We went on a trip when she was 20 mo. and she slept on a full size bed. She didn't wake up the entire time. When we got back home, she woke up 10 times that first night in her crib. We switched her to a futon and now to a twin bed with a trundle pulled out in case she falls. She has rarely woken up since. Maybe you could try switching to a bed? I never suspected that would do the trick. hengel

22-month-old wakes 2-4 times at night

October 2002

Our 22 month old son still wakes up 2-4 times a night. He is in a regular bed and calls out to me to come to him. He wants me to lie down next to him until he falls asleep again. He often askes for a drink of water. (his sippy cup is next to his bed within his reach) I am 4 months pregnant and am concerned about how the lack of sleep will effect this baby and mostly I am concerned about after the baby is born. I have read the No-cry it out sleep book, but feel it is geared towards under one year olds. I am not willing to let him cry it out for 20 minutes or more. We have tried and tried and tried to have him attach to something else besides me in the middle of the night, but to no avail. Any suggestions on ways that you might have used to get your little one to sleep at least 6 hours long without waking up will be most appreciated. Thanks.

How is your child going to bed? If you are lying down with your son to put him to bed, he will want to go back to sleep that way every time he wakes up. When you get that in order the nighttime stuff will (slowly! or abruptly) fall into place. For going to sleep ritual is so important. We had a vague ritual with my now 2.5-yr-old, but things didn't fall into place until we made it an explicit ritual that we followed every time. Also, I would tell my daughter the whole ritual. First we'll put your PJs on, then you get your warm milk, then we'll brush your teeth, then I'll read you a story, then it's bedtime. After each step I would remind her of the whole ritual: we've put your PJs on and you've had your milk. Now I'm going to brush your teeth, then we'll read a story and then it's bedtime. When she started by herself to say ''then it's bedtime!!'' at the end, I knew that it was going to work. At first she would still cry when left alone, but I would go in and do the absolute minimum that was required to get her to stop crying. I found that standing outside her door and saying ''shhhh'' through the crack nipped the crying in the bud and reassured her that I wasn't far. Here was the added benefit --- when she wakes up at night I can often jsut say ''shhhh'' at the door and she'll go back to sleep. Now that we've been at it a while some nights when I put her down I don't have to whisper shhh at all and the nights when she doesn't cry and wake us are more frequent. Good luck! susan
I hear you. The only reason I feel qualified to post a reply is that I just dealt with this my second child who is now 19 month old. He was waking about 2-3 times a night. He was sleeping in his own bed (a trundle while his older sister is on the top bed) and coming in to our room in the middle of the night. We decided that he needed to learn to sleep through the night, so we simply closed his door. He's not able to open it yet, and I'm glad we did this before he learns!

Now, 3 weeks later, I'm happy to say that he only wakes maybe once a night...cries for a minute, then dutifully climbs back into his bed and falls asleep until morning. I feel he was ready for this sleep-training. Honestly, he never cried for more than 5 min (the first 2 days), and each night the minutes of crying were fewer and fewer. Good luck, and happy sleeping :) A

I know this isn't what you want to hear, but since I've walked a few miles in your shoes I have to tell you anyway: let him cry it out. It won't scar him. It will teach him to sleep well and you will be a better mother for it. A doctor friend of mine just told me that a recent study found that kids who had been ''ferberized'' or some variation had better sleep habits and less insomnia than kids who were allowed to continue being wakeful sleepers. After 18 months of interrupted sleep, my husband and pediatrician wore me down and I agreed to sleep training. My pediatrician said I would have to wait AT LEAST 20 minutes before going in or I was just prolonging the torture for both of us. I can tell you honestly that it was hell doing it -- I very clearly remember the sick feeling that I had the next morning. But, and here's the important thing: it doesn't take very long (4 nights, I believe) and it works. Not 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep: 10 hours. They just have to learn how to do it. We've had to retrain a few times since then -- recently after a long vacation where he slept in the same room with us -- but it never takes more than one tearfilled night to go back to a blissful full night's sleep. Go ahead. Try it. Your whole family will be happier if you do. nelly
You may already be doing this, but I make it a priority every day to provide my 22 mo. old son with as much outdoor playtime as possible. In addition, to get some of that toddler angst and energy expended, we walk up and down stairs at the slightest opportunity and have been known to ''walk the hills'' in the evening, if necessary, to tire him out. As a result, my son takes 3 hour naps, and typically sleeps 11 to 12 hours a night. By the way, the sleeping is just a great by product of this philosophy---I learned early on that he was significantly more happy on a daily basis if we employed a physically active strategy. Good luck-this sounds like a tough phase for you! Janice
I am so sympathetic. You must be very tired. My 21-month-old does not sleep through the night and we have also been unwilling to have him cry it out. I am now getting enough sleep because my husband gives him a few ounces of milk in a bottle at one of his wake-ups. The baby also is willing to go back to sleep with a little back rubbing or just by himself if it is my husband responding to him, not me. Good luck. Anon
How about having your husband or partner do the night-time work? If your son wants YOU, this may make him mad, and he may cry, but you won't be leaving him to cry it out. And he might just decide that if he can't get mom, then he may as well go to sleep. Judith
I've read the responses so far and I've felt so frustrated by many of them that I finally have to respond. I'm with Nelly - I have to say that nothing but good can come from ''sleep training'' your child! And I too was a hard sell, I promise you. My husband and I truly agonized (not to mentioned judged our friends, pediatrician and all other believers in sleep training harshly) over this issue. But when I had to go back to work and be able to concentrate, and was instead becoming depressed, short-tempered and anxious, I had a change of heart. But I can tell you, I cried more in anticipation of listening to my 6-mo old baby cry for me at night, than I actually cried when it finally happened!

It's hard to say how long it will take - some say 3 days, some say 3 weeks (with a really tough child - but that's very rare), but I believe that it is usually under a week, IF you start at that earlier window (5 - 10 months or so?) For us, it was 2 nights of on and off crying for about 2 hours, 3rd night 45 minutes, 4th night 25 minutes, 5th and 6th night under 5 minutes. I was told by many that we had it hard. She was about 6 1/2 months. I hear it gets much harder as they get older, BECAUSE they have been taught by their parents what happens when they wake up: They get mom. Or dad. And mom and dad get to be sleep deprived way longer than they ever needed to be. But it is still doable. Ask yourself: don't you want to help your child sleep? Teach them to help themselves sleep? You must teach them because it's not really an innate skill, and like many lessons, there may be some pain involved. But you will all be so much happier for it! I wish I could have been convinced about this earlier, myself! and really, what's a week or two (or even 3) of emotional pain (which neither you nor the child will remember 6 months from now) for years to come of blissful sleep for everyone?!

And I promise you something: Even after the worst night of crying, you will go in and find a smiling baby with his arms reaching up for you, happy and rested, in the morning.

I wish you patience, fortitude and a good night's sleep! Been there, glad I'm gone!

Hi, I do not really have an advice for you since my baby is still 8-mo old. However, I am afraid I will have to go thru your fate. He is still waking up every 2-3 hours, sometimes every hour. The last month (and still now) has been extremely hard because he has been sick-ish. Sometimes he is waking up EVERY hour. I read couple of the responses and some of them were not quite sympathetic. I know that for a lot of mothers, they have never realized how hard it is to have a baby who is a light sleeper. The other big portions of moms also had relatively easy crying- out method (or the lesser one of Ferber method). Or even the water trick.

I tried the Ferber method 2 months ago for TWO weeks. Everytime, it took about 1-2 hours crying. No improvement for 2 weeks. I tried the water trick for MONTHS now. Nothing there.

There was a response about the crib and the head molding. I am going to explore more about them. About the crib, I do not think so since my baby does not sleep better in our bed either.

I started the Ferber method again last Saturday night. He did not stop crying for more than 2 hours. Finally my husband took him and it took another 30 min before he fell asleep in the futon with my husband (he took it away so my baby can not see me). The whole day Sunday, he was extremely clingy to me and cried a lot (may be total of 4-5 hours). Last night I let him cry again. After an hour, we could not stand it anymore. His voice was hoarse and he had difficulties breathing because of the runny nose. My husband calmed him down, and for the rest of the night, my baby had a blocked nose. Go figure.

Anyway, I just want to drop a line so you feel better that you are not alone. Hang on there, I hope your problem will be over soon. And I sure hope that I do not have to wait that long. Mother who have tried a lot of ''tricks''

I read the original posting on this and also the response by the woman with the 8-month-old. I felt like I needed to respond to both of them.

I had a daughter who woke very often in the night, and did so for a long time (two years). She was an incredibly light sleeper as well; every creak of the floorboards was a terror because she would hear it and wake up. And we had a noisy bed.

We tried lots of things, and found that there was some combination that seemed to work. You just need to keep trying different combinations of things. Here are some of the things we found that helped:

-We didn't put her in another room, but did put her in a separate bed, right next to ours. We put our mattress on the floor (much quieter than the bed, and easily accessible), and put a little mattress next to it, with a bolster to keep her from creeping off in her sleep. We stressed to her that she was getting her big girl bed, with big girl blankets all her own, and tried to make it an exciting thing, yet we were still right there when she woke.

-We started making a bedtime routine that included ''hot chocolate'' right before bed (we use a mixture of plain and chocolate flavored soy milks, heated up in the microwave). This seemed to fill her up and relax her, and she slept better; maybe because she wasn't thirsty as well.

-I began telling her that soon we were not going to nurse at night any more because she was a big girl - then I did it, within a week or two: I told her, when she woke up and wanted to nurse, that we weren't nursing at night anymore, nursing was a ''daytime thing''. (This is not recommended for a young baby, because they won't understand). We also tried to let her cry it out, and were totally unsuccessful. When I read the post from the woman with the eight-month old, I cringed, because our daughter also refused to go back to sleep when we didn't respond, and cried herself into a frenzy every time we tried it. All I can say is please, please, don't do it to your child! If he is the kind of baby you are describing, who can't just cry it out, and especially if he is clingy and miserable the next day, you need to pay attention to what he is telling you and try some other combination.

I know this, because 1) my daughter would not forgive me when I did it, and became worse than ever as a result, for far too long; and 2) my brother was like that and ended up terribly afraid of the dark and had horrible night fears for many years because he was left to cry for hours.

Try picking him up for a few minutes (daddy can do it), or letting him sleep near you but not with you (same room), or sleeping with daddy all night, every night for awhile. Or even with you - after all eight months really is still an infant!

If he is crying that hard, that long, there is something going on. Listen to him, and listen to yourself. I know it's hard, because I spent two years totally exhausted; but my daughter now sleeps 12 hours straight, and sleeps through her younger sister's night wakings to boot. Some kids are just like that at the beginning. My heart goes out to you - believe me, it DOES get better. --Mother of a daughter who sleeps like the dead now

I have a 22 month old boy and am so sleep deprived that I thought your ad may have been mine, and that I had forgotten I had posted. BUT - despite being sleep deprived and feeling at the end of my rope because my boy still wakes every 2 hours during the night, I refuse to let him cry it out. I just don't have it in me. I have many friends who are wonderful mothers and love their kids as much as I love mine and they could stomache their child crying hysterically for up to an hour or more..........I can't and have stopped, long ago, debating whether I should. I've never let him cry for more than a minute. And when I left for that minute it was to collect myself so I could approach his needs in a loving way.ANd when I did return I was able to be calmer. I am a parent 24 hours a day and my baby really needs me in the night. So my advice to you is to make up your mind how you are going to approach this and stick to it. Go with what your instincts tell you to do, and live with it. I tell myself that I am closer to the end of wakeful nights than the beginning. I have a very busy life, working part-time share-caring and running the house. Also, I am reading a book called 'The no-cry sleep solution' by Pantley. I have yet to implement her plan (just got the book), but in reading her book it so validates how I feel as a mother. You should really read this book. I read a report the other day that said that women who are sleep deprived as mothers are sharper in their old age! good luck anon