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Toddler Sleep issues


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My daughter is has just turned 14 months. She slept through from 8 weeks until around 7 months when her first teeth appeared & hasn't slept through since. I've got used to it & just take it as it comes.

The last few weeks though she's got really bad. I put her to bed & she wakes a couple of hours later & moans & groans the rest of the night. It's really getting me down now as I am getting NO sleep at all. It's almost like she's uncomfortable. I give her Stopayne some nights & that works (makes her sleep too) but I can't give it every night.

My question to you is have any of you used a sleep clinic? Or seen a doctor to help your kids sleep? Or can refer me to a paediatrician that will see me without a referral?

I need help here as I'm not coping. My son is almost 5 & I never had a sleep issue with him. I've done all the same things with her so I'm at a loss here.

And I do all the things according to the book. I don't talk to her or look at her or turn a light on or pick her up... And I'm tired of blaming teeth. Yes, I know teething causes sleep disruptions but at some point I have to stop blaming the teeth.

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Hi Sandi,

I know soooo how you feel. I also have two little ones and being sleep deprived is soo bad especially if you have to work the next day.

I haven't really had issues with my boys regarding sleep but I know that there are places that offer sleep training. My friend took her son for it

and it works apparently. Try the careforkids website. www.careforkids.com.au. They have all sort of info on raising children etc etc

All I can say is good luck and hang in there.

Take care


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It seems to me this little one is using sleep as a method to manipulate. All of them has some thing they pick as a manipulating tool. My girl did that as well, we plainly disciplined her. Some children does that if they feel deprived in some way, for example mine must have felt insecure or left behind on busy days when hubby and I was running to and fro for something to be done. We started to concentrate on having a short but definite family time each morning, having breakfast and praying together. When he come home from work, we immediately sit down for a talktime, about ten minutes or so. This gave our kids the feeling of 'we are a family', our unit is strong and safe, we belong together and although dad is gone for the day, we love to be together. This had a remarkable effect on her nighttime sleep and -behavior. Daddy also pray for her before bedtime. It takes but a few short minutes out of the program, with wonderful results for everyone. You might like to try it - your girl might have sensed a space she could use to focus attention on herself, in order to have more time with you. Give it to her before bedtime and she might sleep through again shortly. And be strict about being silent in her bed during sleeptime.

All the best, this is all temporary, but very important issues that can have long lasting effects if not addressed.

I could recommend you a few books to try first before you spend too much on doctors. If your'e interested, PM me.

Sleep tight !

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Hi Sandi

My princess is almost two now also went thru this - I used advice from a book called toddler sense - you also get baby sense... I would advise elimination - is something wrong fever? Wet? if not she probably just feeling lonely and wants mommy - you have to be strict, go to her check if al ok tell her you love her, give her a hug - and tell her to sleep - she'll cry for a bit - but WILL sleep eventually - you do this for about a week, then they figure out its sleeping time now and stop waking for you.


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Hi all,

I have no advice I'm afraid, as my 4 year old is still doing the same thing!!!!! Have tried most of the above advice, none of which has helped...so now I just allow her to climb into bed with her sister, they both get to sleep, and so do we!!!!It's not ideal, but for now it's the only solution I can come up with.


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And I do all the things according to the book. I don't talk to her or look at her or turn a light on or pick her up... And I'm tired of blaming teeth. Yes, I know teething causes sleep disruptions but at some point I have to stop blaming the teeth.

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Thanks so much for all your responses.

I'm already doing what some of you suggested. Right now I'm leaving her to cry for a short bit (like 30 seconds) & then only go in to her. And I only respond when she's crying. I don't respond to the moans at all - otherwise I'd be up 100 times instead of 50 times :rolleyes:

My concern is that perhaps she has some sort of reflux that I don't know about. She really does look uncomfortable. It's not like she's lying there awake & waiting for me when I walk in. She's usually wriggling around half asleep & seeming frustrated coz she's trying to sleep properly but can't.

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Hello! My eldest boy woke 6-7 times a night until he turned 4! I can really sympathise with you! Now he sleeps solidly all night! The pead told me that sometimes sleep patterns only get established by the time they turn 4. My 18 month old has slept through from a few weeks old.

I tried everything and nOTHING worked but time!

Good luck, hope you find a solution!!!

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Hi Sandi - I had a similar problem with my son when he was 7 months old. :)

After about three months of getting up 5 times a night I took him to Anne Richardson (who wrote babysense, sleepsense and toddlersense). Two weeks later (after an increase in iron, protein and some sleep training) he was sleeping through. He has been ever since. Why dont you give her a call if you are in the JHB area? Phone 1023 and ask for the Lonehill Dispensary... her consulting rooms are there. Otherwise buy Toddlersense and Sleepsense.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

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Hi. This is my take on it.

My kids all went through phases like that. You can blame the teething ;) What I suspect is happening is their teeth hurt. SO then they don't eat well. During the night they are tired and sore and then end up a little hungry too around the middle of the night. My daughter is now going through the phase again. She is 16 months. I try to keep to a routine during the day so she gets enough sleep. I have also changed her diet a little. She eats less if she has to byte a lot, so I have started giving her a lot more pasta and rice (not together ;)). Soft, filling things that will keep her stomach full during the night. During the day I give her bits of fruit to chew on so she gets liquids, vitamins and a workout for her gums. Once the last teeth are out, I think I will be able to feed her more normal stuff again.

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It feels so good to have some support. Thanks guys!

Kirsty - we're in Perth so can't get hold of the lady. The iron info is interesting though as I've heard of this before.

Just to let you all know we had an excellent night last night. She woke at around 3 wanting a bottle which I gave her. Took a little while to settle but I just left her to moan for about 15 minutes & then she went back to sleep & is still sleeping. It's 7am.

We've had nights like this before though so I won't get too excited & expect too much from tonight.

Just a question. Could it be that eating alot at night could cause her sleep issues? The nights when she sleeps really well seems to be the nights where she didn't want to eat much. Last night she had 1 toast soldier & a yogurt for supper. This leads me to believe that it really could be some sort of digestion problem.

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Sounds like it. Try and get her to eat long before bedtime, at least three hours I think it is... I think you have solved your problem ;)

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Hi Sandy,

Also in Perth (SOR) with a 5 month old who sleeps terribly, so I do commiserate.

Don't know if any of the others suggested this BUT what formula is she on? Try changing to one for reflux. You can also try Infant Gaviscon if you suspect refluxy issues.

Saw something on TV this am about all the problem dairy allergies can cause so maybe try a lactose free formula and a dairy free diet for a while too?

Where's your nearest Child Health Clinic? Give them a ring. Our one at Yangebup is great - the nurse there is a sweety.

Child Health Centre locations:


You can also phone Ngala for advice: http://www.ngala.com.au/index.php

Let us know how you get on. I'm takin mine down to the clinic today to weigh him and get some advice about going onto solids. Hopefully he sleeps better then............!!!

Trust your instincts and follow your gut.

Let us know how you get on.


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Hi Sandi!

Re-read your initial mail.. and you mention Stopayne.

Maybe you do this anyway and it's a silly question/suggestion, but do you put something on her gums - like a power to numb the pain.. or something?

How about putting it on the gums before she goes to sleep.. ?

And also.. try waiting longer than 30 seconds of crying before you go in. I know it's hard and a couple of minutes sound cruel, :ilikeit: but they often settle

back to sleep during that time. Look at your watch.. it feels longer when you listen to a cry.. when you watch the time, it's actually not long at all.

Seeing that she had such good sleeping habits before, I'm sure she'll go back to it again :whome:

Ps - soup is a good filler too... with no chewing!

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Polly's suggestion re softer foods is a great one :ilikeit: had not thought or heard of it!

The suggestion regardign the teething powder at bedtime is great too.

According to Gina Ford (mentioned earlier) feeding a larger lunch and snacky dinner is the way forward.

According to Anne Richardson a toddler needs an iron supplement and one teaspoon of protein per kg of weight per day to eliminate night wakings. Expect a change in diet to take 2 weeks before it positively affects change in sleep.

If I were you i would do all of the above :whome:

Softer, snacky foods at dinner, big pasta lunches, iron with breakfast, and teething powder at bed time.... see if it works and keep us posted.


All the best

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My daughter usually doesn't sleep well when she is teething. You don't even have to go the Stopayne route. What about a bit of Paracetamol syrup before bedtime? It's not as strong as Stopayne, but that even helps them settle. How late does she go to sleep? Is she really tired enough to sleep? In other words she wakes up because she has taken a "nap" rather than sleeping for the night. Does she sleep a lot during the day? Since being in Aus our little one goes to bed perhaps as much as 2 hours later in the evenings than in SA, but I know she will have a good solid nights' sleep and we are on only one nap during the day, not 2 anymore. You can't expect her to have a nap say at 4/5 pm and then has to go to bed at 7pm (example only).

They also get nightmares. When our daughter says she wants to sleep with us when she wakes up in the night I always tell her that we have to all sleep in our own beds. It's like she really understands. She likes to put tons of teddies in her bed. We also still give her bottles during the night as she require as this is her method of soothing herself to sleep. We have the odd bad night too, but most of the time she sleeps well.

Good luck, it's hard and they are all different!

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Hi there

I think everyone has given really good advice, and with a bit of trial and error, you will find the solution! I understand your problem, my 2 kids only really started sleeping through once all their teeth were out!

My 2c is - I would recommend you take her to the doctor and get a clean bill of health before trying anything (don't know if you have done this already).

I hope you come right, give a shout if you are really desparate and need a babysitter to get some sleep!


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I haven't' read all the answers, so maybe someone has already mentioned this:

The fact that she does go to sleep and then wake up a few hours later is not something she can "plan" only to get attention. Something is waking her : either discomfort (cold, heat, noise - maybe a neighbour returning late at night etc, sudden silence - everyone else going to bed, TV switched off etc, pain, thirst or hunger).

If it is hunger, maybe give her a more filling meal a bit later in the evening. Don't give her anything other than water to drink when she does wake up, because her body get used to the milk/snack and will wake up for that. Have a bottle of water (about one third full) handy in her bed within her reach, so that when she wakes, she could reach for it.

If she wakes due to a regular noise or sudden silence, try to either move her to another room, or rearrange her room so she does not hear what's going on around her so much. If you have any control over the noise, do something about it : talk to the neighbour, limit your own noise etc, if it is a barking dog, move the dog to another part of the yard during the night or talk to the dog's owner etc. or in the case of sudden silence, quiet things down progressively during the evening so that it's not all noise the one minute and all silence the next. If she's a light sleeper, even something like a toilet being flushed could wake her if the rest of the house is silent...

If it's discomfort due to cold or heat, make sure she's comfortable before going to bed yourself. She might have kicked off the blanket etc. by the time you settle down and if you take a minute to check in on her and make sure she's comfy, she might not wake later.

Make sure she's relaxed before settling her down for the night as a stressful bedtime could also make her restless. A hot bath with lavender and a bit of lukewarm milk before bed does wonders. (You could even put a few drops of lavender oil on her pillow corners...)

If she wakes for no other apparent reason it might be that she gets too much sleep during the day. If she's at home during the day, try to cut out the afternoon nap and increase physical activity such as outside play in the afternoons. If she's in daycare, ask them to not let her sleep in the afternoon or if they have to sleep (some daycare centres enforce an afternoon nap for all children up to school going age, which in my opinion is ridiculous, but that's besides the point...) ask them to limit sleeping to earlier in the afternoon and to decrease the duration. If they're not willing to accommodate you, maybe it's time to find someone caring enough who will. After-all, it's affecting your sleep and the relationship with your daughter too.

Whatever is causing her to wake, the golden rule in how you deal with it is to not allow anything once, that you won't allow all the time. Eg: Don't take her into your bed to comfort her if you're not willing to do it every-time she wakes. Do not pick her up if you're not willing to do it every-time etc. Be very consistent in how you interact with her when she wakes. Worked for me.... :unsure:

Hope this helps! I always say : a tired mum is a cranky mum, (and that makes life miserable for everyone). Not everything works for everyone - hopefully you'll find something within all these answers which does. Good luck!!

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Thanks again for all your replies & suggestions. I really do appreciate it.

I think they should put a Mommy section for us on the forum for us Mom's to chat about these types of things & just general Mommy things?

Kirsty - you mentioned protein powder? Where would I get something like that for a 1 year old? And maybe I'll get a general vitamin with extra iron in the mean time too.

Regarding the Stopayne. Panadol doesn't help & Nurofen seems to make the problem even worse (I think it makes her hyper). I only give the Stopayne when it's really bad as I don't really like giving it - sometimes it's for my own sanity too so I can get some sleep. I do rub stuff on her gums before sleeping too.

I'll keep you all posted as to how we go. I'm going to give it another week or so & take her to a doc if there's no improvement. She had a light supper again tonight so here's hoping we get some zzzz's tonight :)

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Hi there,

we had a similar thing with my daughter, who is a very headstrong, determined, master manipulator. She slept through from 8 weeks, then from about 7 months and after any major disruption, she would wake in the night and cry and whinge. Eventually I realised that despite however many times I went to her and checked her, nothing was actually wrong. Children (and adults) naturally wake during the night and should go back to sleep again, mine was deciding that she wanted me to do it instead of doing it on her own. THey have to be taught to go to sleep on their own (we dont sit with her at night, we leave when she's sleepy but still just awake). Then after she got the hang of that I stopped going at night. I knew nothing was wrong, and after 3 nights of whinging she stopped all together. sleeps like a dream now.

Although I must say the bedtime routine is vitally important for the headstrong toddler - any change in our routine and bedtime is shot. So keep the routine!!!

Good luck.


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Well, I have three kids and they all woke up all night. Tried the leaving the child to cry for XX amount of time then XX amount of time with the first one, but after sitting in the passage outside his room sobbing, I decided he could get into bed with us and we'd all go back to sleep a lot quicker. Same with all three of them, and they all eventually sleep through in their own beds. You have to do what works for you, and my boys have turned out fine, actually better than fine so far..... The best piece of advise someone gave me regarding parenting is ignore what everyone tells you and do what feels right for you! :thumbdown::ilikeit:

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Well, I have three kids and they all woke up all night. Tried the leaving the child to cry for XX amount of time then XX amount of time with the first one, but after sitting in the passage outside his room sobbing, I decided he could get into bed with us and we'd all go back to sleep a lot quicker. Same with all three of them, and they all eventually sleep through in their own beds. You have to do what works for you, and my boys have turned out fine, actually better than fine so far..... The best piece of advise someone gave me regarding parenting is ignore what everyone tells you and do what feels right for you! :D:)

I just want to support Eva. I know it doesnt work for everyone but i put both of my boys into my bed with me and i have slept very well. When Gabriel was was two and a half i just told him that we were moving him to his own bed. Bought a new duvet and made a big deal of it and had no problems as he understood what was going one. Did the same with Seth and will move him shortly to his own bed. I also may just push the boys beds together and let them sleep together.

It really worked for me and i didnt have any sleep problems. I was lucky in that i have a very supportive laid back hubby who doesnt mind a little foot in the ribs! It means a bit of work when they move over but that was fine too as i felt that he was ready. Just a point: It is only western cultures who advocate for small children to sleep seperately from their moms. I actually like sleeping with them and as a working mom it was very comforting to have that close time. It had no negative effects on my marriage at all (Its called creativity! It forces you to sneak around and spice things up! :) ) If we have a third i will do it again.

BUT, it is an individual choice! Do what works for you!


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I had exactly the same problem with my daughter at the same age, but not with my son. I really believe that some children need to be taught to sleep - I would suggest go to a book shop and buy any book on sleep problems that feels good to you and follow it to the letter. We used ""Solve your child's sleep problems" by Dr Richard Ferber (on Amazon), but there are many others that will work as well.

Mostly it is about establishing a routine (regular nap, sleep eat times), not letting them sleep to much during the day, no bottles at night (they get used to waking up at night to drink) etc (like Riekie said). What I also learned from the books is that all people, kids included go through cycles when they sleep, ranging between deep and shallow sleep (where they can be noisy) and if one goes in too soon they will actually wake up and then come in a bad habit of waking up every time they are in a shallower part of the sleep cycle. This is why most books suggest that you wait a little longer every night before you go in to them so that they learn to fall asleep again without waking up 100%, and make their bottles a little less every day for the same reason.

I would also be carefull of some meds like Stopayne as they can interfere with the natural sleep cycle, so they have to relearn to sleep on their own.

We solved the problem within about 10 days, and had to go back to the books sometimes after holidays etc. She now sleeps VERY well and wakes up friendly every morning.

Hope it might help


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