The Gentle Sleep Book – 13-24 month (1-2 year) old toddler sleep Q&As.

On the first Wednesday of every month I run a free Sleep Q&A session on my Facebook Page for ‘The Gentle Sleep Book’. I often find that the questions that are asked are repeated quite frequently and there tend to be around five or six main topics that come up time and again.

In order to provide a more lasting resource I have decided to post a summary of the questions – and my answers – bi-monthly. This post summarises the questions asked (and answered) concerning 13-24 month old toddlers.

A quick note: I frequently get asked in excess of 50 questions during each session, meaning that I have somewhere between 1 and 2 minutes to answer each one, hence the length of some of my replies and sign posting to articles.

baby toddler asleep with teddy bear

13-24 month toddler Sleep Advice:

Q: My son is 15 months and still doesnt sleep through the night! I struggle to get him asleep before 10pm, he wont self settle and has to be cuddled to sleep! He then wakes around 1pm and 4pm every night! I always give him a bottle of cows to settle him back to sleep! He shares a room with his 7 year old brother so I can’t just let him cry! Im stuck in a rut and absolutely exhausted with going back to work 3 days a week.

A: Most 15mth olds don’t sleep through the night! In Asia most toddlers don’t go to sleep until around 10:30pm, we just do things a bit differently in our society. He may be overtired, so make sure you catch his very early sleep cues. Have a really good and consistent bedtime routine in place, no TV after 6pm, be mindful of the lighting in your home too. Look at his diet during the day, consider giving a pre-bedtime supper. Consider replacing one of the night milk feeds with water. Make sure you spend lots of quality one to one time with him, especially on days you work and most importantly get some ‘me time’ for yourself ASAP!

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Q: I have 16 month old twin girls. One has her sleep disrupted at the moment as she is in a hip spica cast, but the other still wakes anywhere between 2-6 times a night too. We have the odd days/weeks where they will both sleep better and we’ll be up 1-2 times with each but that’s quite rare. My husband is very helpful and does get up too but how can we improve this. It seems to be the later half of the night that is worse. Some nights we will be up every hour or 2 and sometimes i just give up and let them play for a while. Recently started trying to get them fed & calm earlier as i was missing sleepy cues (oops!) One is still bf’ing unless i am out working (3 eves a week) and then she will settle with daddy. Never left them crying I always get up. I work part time around husbands hours so I am home during the day with them and we go to toddler groups 2-3 times a week. Is there any reason why the 12-5/6am stretch is far worse than 7pm-12?

A: This may explain the latter half of the night: https://sarahockwell-smith.com/…/how-to-gently-night…/ with toddlers you should also look at their days too – diet, discipline, connecting/time alone with you, tv usage, other screens, plus bedtime routine and ideally treating each twin as an individual – if they sleep in the same room consider separating – and vice versa if they don’t they may be happier together!

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Q: my 14 month old daughter bed shares with us, as from the moment she was born it was clear that it was either that or have no sleep. She will sleep in her cot – next to our bed – for the first couple of hours in an evening, but she then wakes up and will not settle without coming into our bed. I would like any advice on how to gently encourage her to sleep in her cot for a longer period of time with the ultimate goal of her feeling reassured enough to sleep in her own room.

A; The tips here will help – ignore any references to feeding:https://sarahockwell-smith.com/…/how-to-gently-night…/ If she does still feed at night I would work on reducing those before moving to her own room.

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Q: My son is 1 year and 5 months. He has never been a good sleeper and wakes regularly in the night. He can wake up to 5 times and sometimes will stay awake for 2 hours. We rock him to sleep during the day and at night I feed him from the breast. Currently we try to put him back to sleep by patting his bottom, however when he gets really upset we rock him back to sleep. Any help would be very appreciated.

A: Staying awake for 2hrs in the middle of the night is very normal – albeit infuriating see http://slumberwise.com/…/your-ancestors-didnt-sleep…/ – his sleep is normal for a breastfed baby, so the question is whether you are happy to wait for him to grow and for it to naturally improve. If not, have a read of this: https://sarahockwell-smith.com/…/how-to-gently-night…/

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Q:  I’m currently night weaning my 23 month old. We co sleep and we have been doing it for about 2 weeks now. He has “me milk” before he goes to sleep and whilst he understands and is happy now to fall asleep without boob, just mummy cuddles, he still wakes up throughout the night. 

When he wakes he automatically asks for mummy milk, but mostly he will go back to sleep with some reassurance. Other times he will cry and forcefully try to get milk, scratching at my neck and t shirt. Firstly, what can I do to stop him physically trying to get milk. I already wear t shirt and wrap duvet up high around my neck when reassuring him? I do talk to him and tell him he is hurting me and it makes me sad and that I understand he is angry and frustrated because I won’t let him have milk.

Secondly, how long will it be automatic for him to want milk upon waking? I feel like it will be forever as his memory for everyday things is amazing. Some nights we can go until 5 or 6 am before the milk revolt takes places, other nights it can be totally different.

A:  Is there somebody else who can take him when he does this? to comfort him. If you have a partner can he sleep next to them and not you? What would happen if you *did* let him feed on these rare occasions? Does he have anything else to reassure him that he is attached to (aside from another person) when he wakes? Some children seems to forget really quickly, others can take a *lot* longer – years to ‘forget’ (it’s not unusual for school aged children to still want to stroke/touch breasts when they wake at night!).

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Q: I am still breastfeeding my 20 months old daughter. She still wakes up 3 or 4 times during the night. I am considering some sleep training and/or night weaning. But would you consider safe to give melatonin liquid to see if it helps?

A: No, I wouldn’t. I’m really not convinced about melatonin supplementation – but most importantly I don’t like the position that it comes from – i.e “this child’s sleep is abnormal so therefore they must be lacking in melatonin, if we give them more of it they will sleep better”. She probably wakes 3 or 4 times a night because that’s what breastfed toddlers do – and actually that’s also what non breastfed toddlers do too.

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Q: My 14 month old boy sleeps in my bed. We used to go to bed together at 9/9:30 when he was younger but since dropping to one nap we now go to bed at 7pm. I bf him and then stay with him in bed. (I read, watch tv on iPad). He still wakes 1-2 times and sometimes 4-6 times. Not always for a bf but often needs it to fall straight back to sleep. I’m too scared to leave him unattended on my bed since he can stand up if he wakes and the bed is high. Any tips on how to move him to his own room and at what age? Then I could have some kind of evening with my DH! I’m happy for lo to come in to my bed later. I’m worried he won’t sleep well on his own since I’m his sleep association. We even nap together in the day. He’s not used to sleeping on his own and I’d never consider sleep training.

A: How about moving a single mattress onto the floor in your room and going to sleep with him on that in the evening, then you can leave him. This is a good way to transition to him in his own room as he first gets used to his own sleep space. Also, keep any screens out of the bedroom – they inhibit sleep horribly, so leave the IPad elsewhere!

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Q: Sleeping beyond 1. When is it reasonable to expect a child to get into bed awake and fall asleep? Is this called self soothing?  Currently cuddling to sleep in the nursery chair. Transfer into cot when he is asleep. If he wakes in distress in the night he comes into our bed (safely co sleep). What’s the next stage to progress ‘skill’ of being able to sleep alone?

A; Self soothing indicates that the child is regulating their own emotions – so if they are scared they can remove the fear, if they are angry they can calm themselves down, if they are sad they can cheer themselves up. Anyone with a toddler will know that they can’t do this – a baby/young child who gets into bed awake and falls asleep happily without parental input is not self soothing, they are just likely in a happy/chilled state and feel safe/secure enough to just drift off to sleep. Some do this naturally from a young age, but it’s important to differentiate from putting them to bed and leaving them with whatever feelings they have and trying to regulate those themselves. The next stage – gently – would be the methods here (ignoring the feeding bits) https://sarahockwell-smith.com/…/how-to-gently-night…/

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Q: My LO (19 months) will be having his first overnight with daddy shortly. What’s the best way to ensure the my LO has the same sense & feeling with this bedtime routine as he does at home. I breastfed until he was 6 months old and have virtually always co-slept until he was a year.. He still has cuddles and gets in my bed if he wakes during the night & will sleep through from that point. (I think that is due to the closeness / comfort) I’m worried that his ‘comforts’ will not be there as it’s a different environment, different setting and I will not be there (this will be the first time we’ve spent a night apart) I just don’t want him to have a traumatic restless night.

A; It depends a little on your relationship with his dad and whether you are amicable enough that you can meet to discuss well in advance – plus also whether of course you agree on parenting ethos. I’d be explaining his routine to dad and asking him to stick to it rigidly – times, order this are done, even down to the book that is read and the product you use in his bath. Taking comfort objects from home too – plus his own pillow and duvet (that aren’t clean on, so they smell of home). You can give him something of yours to take too, like an old t-shirt and talk about it in advance with him. It would be great if dad is happy to cuddle in bed when he wakes too.

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Q: What age do you recommend to wait before night weaning? My little girl is just 1 and I would love her to learn to sleep without such frequent night feeds (regularly every 2 hours) but I don’t want to cause her distress. Is she too young to begin night weaning and how do you recommend starting this?

A: I don’t really, it’s such a personal decision – and also individual to each child. I have night weaned mine between 6months and 4yrs! In generally I wouldn’t recommend until after they turn one though and it’s a decision you have to weigh up in terms of the pros and cons for your family. My night weaning tips are here: https://sarahockwell-smith.com/…/how-to-gently-night…/

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Q: What would you say is the optimum nap time for an early riser? 17 mth old wakes everyday between 04.30-05.30, he just has one daytime nap (1.5-2hrs). Would it be better to nap early (11.00/11.30 ish) or later (12.30/12.45 ish). Can’t seem to get the right balance in order to push out the wake up time. Bed every night at 19.00.

A: I don’t think there is one – they are all so different! Some children at that age need loads of naps, some need none. 1.5-2hrs sounds fine to me for his age. I’d be looking at when he needs the nap and following his signals – i.e: when he’s showing you early signs of tiredness (not crying, that’s too late). When he naps is probably unrelated to when he wakes up though.

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Q: My nearly two year old used to go to sleep by herself but she now needs our help to get to sleep again. We either cuddle, or rock her (my husband’s preferred method) or sit by her cot holding her hand. It can take an hour or more to get her to sleep, which is exhausting after a long day. She then wakes up in the early hours and we’re so tired that we just bring her in bed with us until she wakes at 6ish. Any tips? In particular, how do we help her to go off to sleep by herself again?

A: Firstly the 6am waking is really normal, we as adults who sleep later than dawn are abnormal, so I’m afraid I can’t help there beyond suggesting black out blinds and leaving a beaker of water/a toy for her to play with for a few minutes when she wakes, and/or embracing the early starts for a year or two yourself, or doing as you do now, bring her in for a cuddle – at least you don’t have to get out of bed that way. In terms of getting to sleep I can’t be much help as there are 101 reasons why she’s doing it, the top of the list being she’s a toddler and that’s just what toddlers do, so much changes at this age for them and they tend to need the extra reassurance. You need to check her days – what’s happening there that could impact…check her diet, check her room for things that could inhibit her sleep, check her evenings for things that could impact, check she’s not going to bed too soon or to late, check her bedtime routine is really good and consistent and 30min-1hr long. If you want to stop doing it I would go with only sitting at the side of the cot and holding her hand as that will be the easiest to stop doing.

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Q: Hi my dd is nearly 20m, up until she was 1 she went to bed with no problems, since turning 1 it can be 2 hours easy before she is asleep, I’m loosing the will, please help!

A: So much could be going on here. It could be related to what’s happening in the day, toddlers need control/need to make sense of the world and if they can’t do that in the day they often do it at night. She could be going to bed too early – or too late.She needs to have a solid consistent bedtime routine 30mins-1hr every night. No screen time for 2hrs before bed, no lighting in her room pref. wind down time before bed, no playing/splashing around in the bath etc…sorry, it’s not simple answering toddler questions, much more complex than baby sleep!

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Q: my 14 month old has only slept through the night 3 times. It’s incredibly hard now I’m back at work. He cries as soon as he wakes up no sitting up looking around before crying out I’m not sure what to do for the best? I often bring him into our bed but is that a bad thing does it mean he’ll always want that? Thanks very much

A: Most 14 months old don’t sleep through the night, so he’s not alone.  First of all you need to ask yourself how you feel about sharing a bed with him. Don’t worry about tomorrow, right now you need to get through today. If that works for him and works for you, go for it – you don’t have a problem anymore. If it doesn’t work for you then you need to work out ways that he can get comfort from things that aren’t you – comfort objects/blankets/toys, music, smells. A really good bedtime routine etc.. If he’s waking up scared see if there is anything obvious causing it and try to stop that. Omega 3 is looking quite promising for children with nightmares. Most importantly though you need to look after yourself and try to find a way that you can get some R&R, working and mothering are hard, even harder when doing both and you need to look after yourself.

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Q: we have a 14 mth old who has a confirmed egg allergy and possible dairy intolerance. We have appt to get him referred to dietician next week but his sleep has been awful since birth. Wakes at night every couple of hours with what I believe is tummy ache/uncomfortable. Any ideas if food allergies/intolerances can effect sleep?

A: Yes, very much so! Especially the lactose intolerance. Imagine if you had a constant tummy ache, you wouldn’t be able to sleep very well. Other allergies can impact sleep too – this is old, but you get the gist :http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3399783

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Q: We have recently transferred our 1 year olds cot into her own room, and she is doing really well, mainly managing to sleep for 10 hours at a time. Now that she seems settled in her own room we want to try the next step, so we now need to know, how do we get her to fall asleep without rocking her in our arms?

A: It sounds like she’s sleeping amazingly for her age! You are looking at introducing her to other things that she associates with you to provide her comfort, see this post (ignore references to feeding/weaning – effectively you substitute ‘rocking’ for’feeding’). https://sarahockwell-smith.com/…/how-to-gently-night…/ Having a good bedtime routine is really important too. Often though nothing is as magical as rocking. I miss those days

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A: follow the tips in this article – but ignore the night weaning/feeding references. You will need to do all of the other steps though.https://sarahockwell-smith.com/…/how-to-gently-night…/ Also, make sure he loves his room/cot, you may be better with a toddler bed. Let him choose the decor, buy a really soft fluffy blanket. Right now probably isn’t the best age, he’s still in separation anxiety. My preference would be to make the move sometime in the new year.

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Q: Any tips for a new baby coming into the family? I have a 15mo daughter who will be 20mo when her new sibling arrives. I stopped bf 1 month ago and intend to bf the next if possible. I’m really scared of her feeling left out and not sure how she will cope with mummy adoring someone else too. Any tips gratefully received!

A: Check out www.lovebombing.info – new baby in sling for naps so free to play with toddler. LOTS of one on one time with the toddler when your partner/friends/family are around.

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Q: Due to being able to get herself out of the crib, we want to move our toddler of 21 months to a mattress on the floor. Would you recommend this if she is still bf to sleep? I would like to be able to put her to bed awake but have not been able to do it thus far. Would being in a bed instead of a crib be harder to teach her to fall asleep on her own?

A:  if you want to night wean I would always recommend that you do it first before moving from a cot/your bed to own bed. Here’s my night weaning advice: https://sarahockwell-smith.com/…/how-to-gently-night…/

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Q: My extremely intelligent and strong willed 16 month old has only slept through the night 5-6 times in her life. She typically wakes at least 2-3x per night for upwards of 2 hours each time. Sometimes I can nurse her back and other times, she cannot settle down and wants to play. This is starting to affect my health and ability to function. I’m in the process of trying to night wean but it is not going well. Any suggestions on gentle ways to settle her back down?

A: look at her days, do they need scaling back, what about her food, look at culprits like caffeine, salicylates and colourings. Consider giving an omega 3 supplement. No TV/screens/artificial lights after 6pm. Make sure bedtime is not too early/too late. Condition some sleep cues – sound/smell/touch that she can start to use without you and most importantly look after yourself, go to sleep at night when she does, nap when she does etc..!

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Q: I have a 13month old daughter who is still very keen on the boob. She goes to bed at about 7, and I feed her until she’s drowsy, then more often than not she goes into her cot and falls asleep. Whenever she wakes in the night (which I know is normal, but which can still be 2hourly) she is beyond upset and cries horribly, and if she is not latched on immediately she screams at the top of her lungs and gets so distressed. She seems to absolutely hate being comforted in any other way (singing, touching, cuddling, holding, rocking) and screams herself silly for the entire time she is awake and not nursing. She will nurse back to sleep, but then getting her back in her cot is touch and go. I haven’t minded feeding her whenever, but I’m really struggling that no one else can comfort her in anyway, and I have an overnight stay coming up that I’m really worried about. I don’t know what to do with her. It’s awful for both of us, and for my husband who can’t do anything with her at night. We’ve tried the Jay Gordon method, which worked well for a week and then deteriorated. I can’t bring myself to let her cry it out, even though my presence seems to just aggravate her crying unless I’m nursing.

A: check out the first section of this – https://sarahockwell-smith.com/…/how-to-gently-night…/ I would bring her back into your bed/room until she can settle with something other than your breast.

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Q: I have a 21 month old bf toddler. She sleeps 9.5 hours to 12 hours but can wake 1 to 3 times a night. Currently I just bf back to sleep, taking 20 mins each time. She will fall asleep in the car or stroller so bf is not the only way for her to fall asleep. But when I try to just put her in the crib she protests so much that she’ll either climb out or scream the house down. How can I change the sleep association with bf? Is that the problem?

A: have a read of the first section of this:https://sarahockwell-smith.com/…/how-to-gently-night…/ (you don’t have to wean – just read the sleep associations bit).

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Q: My 19mo sleeps pretty well but wakes around 5 then again an hour so later for the day. How can I encourage her to drop the 5 am wake up? I think I’d actually prefer her to wake in the middle of the night rather than so close to getting up as I often have to bring her in with me to settle her and then I don’t really get back to sleep properly myself.

A: That’s tough as hr 5am waking is more normal for humans that our 7/8/9 waking! Blackout blinds, a drink and snack and quiet toys left out for her and encourage her to give you mummy hugs while you sleep as it’s still night time. Beyond that it really is all about waiting for her body clock to be more in sync with yours, going to bed super early yourself and embrace the early starts!

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Q: my LO is 1 and consistently wakes at least twice a night but very often up to about 5 times. She goes to bed around 7.30pm and wakes up about 6am. She naps 2 hours after she wakes in the mornings for about 90 mins then she has another 60mins in the afternoon. At night she cries as soon as she wakes up and doesn’t stop til one of us goes in to her. Sometimes a back pat or rub will sooth, or a dummy. Lately she’s hysterical til she comes out the cot for a cuddle and needs to be distracted to stop her. But we’d love to be able to help her settle back herself without leaving her to cry herself back to sleep. Please help!

A: this is really normal. You need to introduce some sleep cues that will be there for her when she wakes up – a comforter, special sleepy music, sleepy smells etc..you may also want to google night terrors, just in case that is what she’s experiencing.

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Q: my 19 month old stopped falling asleep when he turned one. He used to have a bottle then cuddle up to us and drop off, then we would put him in his cot. Now, it can take several hours for him to fall asleep. We don’t know what to do! Mostly he just potters/plays in his cot, but that’s interspersed with periods of whingeing or crying. One of us is next to his cot all the time until he drops off, because if we leave he cries. We sometimes try cuddling him again but that just makes him super-playful and it takes much longer.

A: this sort of question is almost impossible to answer without much more time/info, as it could be so many different things. I would make sure he is not 1. overtired or 2. not tired enough – this means watching him closely for *early* tired signs rather than the clock. make sure he has no screen time 2hrs before bed, no chocolate or things with lots of sugar, no artificial light after 6pm unless it is a dimmable red bulb. A good bedtime routine *before* he gets too tired.

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Q: My almost 2 year old is a frequent night waker, and she relies on breastfeeding to fall asleep and re settle. This doesn’t bother me, except that it means I can’t go out for an evening as no one can settle her but me. Tonight I was at a work meeting and came home to hear her screaming and crying as my husband spends hours with her trying to help her settle down to sleep. Any tips for what a Dad can do to help get a breastfeeding toddler to sleep?

A;  see the tips about conditioning sleep cues at the beginning of this article (ignore the weaning info) https://sarahockwell-smith.com/…/how-to-gently-night…/ – secondly I would remind your OH that it’s OK if she cries in his arms, he’s not doing anything wrong, he loves her, she loves him and he’s there for her – Yes she is sad you are not there, but she is with somebody who loves and is supporting her.

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Q: I have a little boy who is 23 months and has never been a good sleeper. We have a good bed time routine to ensure proper calm down time and use the Toddler Calm CD but often he does not drop off until 8 or 8:30 taking up to an hour to fall asleep. He will then wake frequently through the night and comes into bed with us. He is a very disturbed sleeper wiggling around, groaning, shouting out words now he can talk and never seems to get into a deep sleep. He is wide awake by 6:30 and will only have a 30ish minute nap in the day. He is not getting the amount of sleep I read toddlers should have and it worries me. He can get a little hyperactive if really tired but I don’t actually see any ill effects. I am however like a zombie and I have had enough if the constant waking. He will only allow mummy to put him to bed and mummy to cuddle him at night and I am exhausted. I like co sleeping as I thought it would be a solution to getting him to sleep but he is still waking throughout the night. How can I get him to like sleeping and not wake so frequently. I have tried the no cry sleep solution and followed things from the toddler calm book, I have seen a cranial osteopath and a homeopath but nothing seems to make a difference! The HV says to CIO and I have been to the doctor as was worries there was something wrong and all they said was that they would prescribe tranquilizers which is a no no as far as I am concerned. I just want him to fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer. Everyone I know has a toddler that sleeps 12 solid hours and I worry he is being held back mentally and will suffer due to his sleep issues. Thanks for listening,

A: most sleep guidelines – ie how much they should have – are entirely fictional (even the NHS website!) based on nothing but opinion, no reasearch was done on this until last year which showed that actually children generally get less than theadvocated times and the average bedtime for a child your son’s age is 8:15pm – so he’s spot on normal. 6:30am waking is totally normal too (as adults we’re odd for naturally waking so late as we’ve overiden our natural body clocks). There’s so much that could be involved here/suggested and I’m running out of time. One quick thing you may not have tried is an omega 3 supplement, which has recently been proven to aid sleep. Try one called omegaberry.

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Q: I’m wondering whether you have any advice/tips on night weaning my 15mth old? We co-sleep and still wakes and feeds/comfort feeds regularly through the night, and I’m back doing my PhD now and finding the nights more difficult. Not sure whether night weaning is possible with co sleeping? Any advice would be great.

A: here are my nightweaning tips: https://sarahockwell-smith.com/…/how-to-gently-night…/

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Q: My 18month old was exclusively bf up until 10weeks ago. He has always woken several times (usually 5plus) a night. He slept through in his cot at 4months but having several food allergies and breathing difficulties, spent time in hospital on/off. From 6m onwards he’s never settled in his cot-screamed- even if I physically got in too! He co-slept for a long time then moved to a mattress on floor next to me. He is now in his own room in a toddler bed but will not go to sleep unless I am in the room. He is settled but if I leave he stands at the gate crying, even if his dad goes in. We did try leaving him to cry (reluctantly!!) and returned, increasing the time each time but 3 hours later he was still upset and not asleep. By the 3rd/4th time in night, I sometimes end up co-sleeping to try and get some sleep myself. Not sure what else to do! Any ideas?

A: I wonder if there is some residual trauma from his time spent in hospital/away from you – hence the cot aversion and being so desperately upset when away from you now (which will have been aggravated by the controlled crying possible). I have to say, with this in mind I would be trying to reassure him as much as possible, which invariably would mean staying with him, perhaps moving his bed back into your room for a little while until he is more settled. When he is a little more settled you need to work on spending as much time in his room as poss with him in the day, role playing putting his toys to bed, speaking positively about bedtime and introduce some sleep cues (music/sound, smells, comfort objects) that remind him of you. I think really you need to do a lot of trust work with him though. In the future when things are calmer try saying to him “oops, I left the tap on – be right back” literally walk out and go straight back in, then say “oops I forgot to flush the loo, be right back”, then go straight back in – what you are doing is reassuring him you will ALWAYS come back (which is perhaps what he’s been missing with the hospital/sleep training).

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Q: I have a 22 month old who still wakes every 3 hours cycle. He’s really hard to go down and wakes at 4.30 wanting his breakfast. I’ve cut out bf through the night and it hasn’t helped. I don’t want him to cry in his cot but it’s really taking it’s toll on me. I’ve tried good routine and winding down to no avail. I give him his breakfast at 4.30 because he seems genuinely starving and is on 0.4 percentile for age so never wish to deny him the opportunity to eat. He’ll usually nap 45mins in the morning and 1hr in the afternoon.

A:  toast and banana? You could try delaying his bedtime a little if it is too close to dinner. Otherwise you may find introducing a night feed helps, I know that may feel like a step backwards but if he’s hungry that might just be what he needs. If you are working/away from him in the day he may be storing up his milk needs for nightime too or waking early to get some time in with you. (ditto if he has siblings)> Otherwise he may just be a natural lark. There isn’t much you can do apart from blackout blinds and encouraging him to lay with you cuddling, stroking and eyes closed, slowly nudging up time/breakfast back by 5mins every day.

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Q: Can you recommend some good night time books to encourage my 22 month old son to sleep? We seem to have most of the gruffalo et al collection and whilst he loves them, they get him quite excited. We are trying to play the toddler calm cd in the background and then white noise.

A: yes I love this :http://www.amazon.co.uk/Night…/dp/1904292887/ref=sr_1_2… and this one:http://www.amazon.co.uk/…/0312673361/ref=as_li_tl…

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Q: My 20mo daughter has had reflux since birth (she is still taking omeprazole though we will soon be weaning her off it). She starts the night in her own bed (mattress on floor in her own room) and then either comes in with us when we go to bed or I go in with her.
She rarely sleeps longer than 1.5 hours without waking. Once or twice she has slept 4-5 hours at a stretch but she usually wakes 1-1.5 hours after sleeping and then at 2 or 3 hour intervals in the night. I nurse her back to sleep and in the main I am absolutely fine with things as they are. Her sleep has got better since she was little (wakings used to be much more frequent), but sometimes she still wakes crying. It’s hard to figure what wakes her – her tummy, being too hot/ cold, nightmares, all of the above. I also travel a bit with my work and luckily I have managed to bring her with me on all my trips so far. I suppose I just wanted to see if you think her sleep still within the bounds of normal or if we should be worried.
Also, there is a chance I will have to be away from her for a night soon (for the first time) – I am worried about this and wonder if you have some suggestions as to how I might best manage it.

A: yes definitely normal! As you say – so many things could be causing it, so much goes on in a little person’s life at that age. Does she have a comforter? special bedtime music? special bedtime smell? (basically lots of things to comfort her), what’s your bedtime routine like? A nightly massage with chamomile in a carrier oil could be helpful (when you’re away whoever is taking care of her can do all of these things to comfort her, but you must build them up in advance). You might try an Omega 3 supplement as recent research has shown it can improve sleep.

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Q: My 17 month old currently is co-sleeping with us. I would like to get her back in her own bed and room. She was sleeping in her cot until 10 months but we went away for 3 weeks and then she got a bad chest infection and has been in our bed since. She will sometimes go to sleep on her own in our bed but usually she will wake up if one of us is not with her. Otherwise she sleeps through. She breastfeeds in the morning and evening. Any tips on how to start/handle the transition?

A: firstly how much time does she spend in her room in the day – you need to play with her regularly in there (1hr per day min), role play putting her teddies to bed in her cot etc…make sure she loves her room (redecorate with her choice ifyou need to, however hideous it may look!), make it as cosy as possible. Then start introducing things like a comforter (it needs to be an extension of you), special bedtime music, special bedtime smell, special bedtime story, a made up song you sing etc…once she has a real routine going with them in your room and you’ve spent many hours in her room and role playing then I would make the switch to her room.

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Q: I have a 21 month old little boy who goes to bed between 8-9pm but then wakes between 11-2 and will only go back to sleep in bed with me then if I try and put him back in his bed he screams the house down until I get him out again. I’m so exhausted from so many nights disturbed sleep,I also have a 13 year old and 3 year old who get woken up too,so we are all tired! How do I break the cycle? He is a very clingy little boy bless him

A: can you just embrace it and let him sleep with you for the second half of the night? It can makes things easier for everyone in the long run! Or alternatively move his bed into your room for a while until he feels more secure. Do you get lots of one to one time with him in the day without his siblings? If not I would really up the time you spend alone with him too and try to spend as much time as possible playing in his bedroom in the day too.

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Q: I have 15 month old twins who have been exclusively breastfed. They wake often in the night, which is taking a huge toll on me! I have to stay away soon overnight and don’t know how I can prepare them?? They’ve never had a bottle and won’t take more than a few sips of milk from a cup.

A:  try the tips in this article. Please ignore the fact I’ve written it specifically for weaning – it’s still applicable for helping babies to settle without you at night when you want to carry on feeding. The earlier you can start it before your trip the better: https://sarahockwell-smith.com/…/how-to-gently-night…/

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For much more information on sleep in newborn to six month old babies check out gentle sleep book, gentle sleep training, gentle sleep expert, baby sleep expert, toddler sleep expertmy new book ‘The Gentle Sleep’ Book‘.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About SarahOckwell-Smith

Sarah Ockwell-Smith, Parenting author and mother to four.
This entry was posted in Toddlers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Gentle Sleep Book – 13-24 month (1-2 year) old toddler sleep Q&As.

  1. Celine says:

    I thought I might share a success story when it comes to early waking. My daughter is now nearly 3 and always has been an early bird. that being said, it was worse during the summer. She would frequently call out before 5am, and the daylight did not help. I tried black-out blinds (no great success on its own), and even a later bedtime (bad idea, as it made the problem worse). then once, my mum babysat and she pointed out that my DD was sleeping with bare arms and it probably was why she would wake up so early. Indeed, when I put her to bed, it was usually hot in her room and it was easy to forget that it did get cooler over the night. I then tried adding a long sleeve top on her before going to bed myself. Since then, we have had no more awakenings before 6am, usually 6.30, which is just perfect, as she goes to bed at 7.
    Otherwise, if they still wake up too early for your liking, please bear in mind that this too shall pass. I have a goddaughter who as a toddler would wake me up with tickles at 7ish when I visited. That same girl is now nearly 17 and sleeping in till like 10 if she can. x

  2. rina says:

    Hi I have a 14month year old. She starts off sleeping in her own cot for few hours then wakes up and I put her in my bed. I thought by bringing her in my bed it would help her sleep but she keeps waking up at 2/3am . I dont feed her she eventually settles and then I feed her at 430 am.

    I dont know what to do.. whether I should move my cot back in her bed or what.

    I feel so exhausted.

  3. Ashley says:

    My son is 1 year and 7 month he falls asleep everywhere while he is playing ot eating food in the table i mean everywhere but its not for long periods us that normal to have that sleeping problem because. He sleep throughout. The night he wakes up around. 10 am or so since we go to bed at night

  4. Lizzie says:

    My 19 month old daughter has slept through the night in her own bead approximately 15 times in her life. More recently she goes to sleep by herself at 7.30ish (either with or without a fuss depending on her mood), but she keeps waking at about 1am.

    At the point where she wakes we pick her up and co sleep with her, as we only have a 1 bed flat and both myself and my husband work full time and need our sleep. Plus I hate to hear her cry (she had acid reflux as a baby that was not diognosed until 3 months as the NHS did not take my worries seriously, and we had many nights and days of crying with one of us staying up all night to sooth and rock her) and also do not want to disturb the neighbors with a crying child. waking in the middle of the night and coming into our bed seems to be becoming a bit of a habit and I would like to steer her away from this. We have tried sitting with her quietly and offering words of reassurance – but she only gets upset that we are not picking her up and having her with us. We have tried patting/rubbing her back and/or picking her up and calming her down and then putting her down, but she clings to us like a limpet and it’s difficult to put her back in her cot. We are of course all in the same room – so any night disturbance affects both myself and my husband, so we all end up exhausted.

    Do you have any ideas/advance that can help us through this, as we would love for our little angel to be able to have a full nights rest in her own bed!

  5. Sarah says:

    My 21 month old had always breastfed to sleep at night. For his day naps he may fall asleep in the car or buggy but otherwise I would feed him to get him down. He will not take a bottle or dummy and he is not attached to any comfort blanket or toy.
    I really want to break the association and gradually lead on to weaning him totally. I thought it would be kinder to tackle the sleep issue first rather that take everything away at once.

    For the last 2 weeks we have getting him to sleep after a feed but off the breast. Initially my husband rocked him to sleep, after 4 nights of this I rocked him to sleep, now he hates the rocking so I sit with him until he eventually falls asleep but this takes an hour. During the time he occasionally tries to feed and gets angry but it is short lived and for most of the time he is playing about. We haven’t changed his routine (supper, bath, story & feed) before the point of lights off when I now stop breastfeeding him.

    However during the day he has become very intolerant of ‘no’, very clingy and wants to feed a lot of the time. He also screams if I leave him with my husband. I understand this is a reaction to the bedtime change. I’m happy to reassure him in the day if it’s all part of working through this change but i’m worried I’m doing something to make the transition harder or more confusing for him.
    Any advice would be much appreciated.
    Thanks

  6. Veena Glover says:

    my son is 2.5 years old, he drinks milk before bed, and was sleeping maybe 6 hours straight, but recently he keeps asking for a couple of bottles during the course of the night. Any ideas how to stop (we tried watering it down and decreasing amount of milk in the bottle) but no luck 😦

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