Why is your child waking up at night and having disturbed sleep? We take a look at some of the reasons behind it and how you might help your child get better sleep.
Toddlers are all different; sometimes we just can’t figure them out and so it’s impossible to list all the reasons why your toddler might be waking up at night. Let’s face it, we all wake up during the night and the only difference between kids and adults is that we can get back to sleep by ourselves.
It’s a good idea to look at some of the reasons why your toddler might be waking up and learn about the things you can solve quickly in the hope of a better night’s sleep for all the family.
Here are just three of the reasons why your toddler wakes up at night - and what you can do about it.
Your toddler is hungry
Toddlers can be fussy eaters most days. If their toast is not perfectly spread with all crusts removed, it just won’t be considered. A toddler’s favourites can change daily and it’s hard to keep up. As a result, toddlers can refuse to eat, leading to a hungry tummy when it’s bedtime.
Experts agree that allowing your toddler to try new foods is the best way to get them to eat a varied diet but we all know that it’s not as easy as it sounds. If your toddler refuses to eat anything but breakfast cereal for all meals, it might be best to go with the flow for now. A good rule to remember is that something in the tummy is better than nothing. There are some foods you should avoid before bed; steer clear of sugar, processed and greasy foods that could give your toddler a tummy ache. Make sure you offer lots of small meals and snacks though the day and don't worry if your toddler won’t sit down and eat with the family at dinner time. If you offer enough food in alternative ways, you should be able to keep hunger at bay. Make sure they have their regular milk, especially under one year and plenty of water too.
If you're concerned that your child is waking up at night due to hunger, we don’t recommend getting them up for a full meal; but a quick cup of milk or a breastfeed might just help them get back to sleep. If all else fails, a quick snack might be needed, then put them straight back to bed.
Your toddler is not tired enough
Toddlers let us know when they no longer need an afternoon nap. Some will refuse to entertain the thought of a nap, others will start to nap for shorter and shorter periods of time and others will take longer to fall asleep at night. Then there are those who wake at 3am, raring to go because they simply aren’t tired!
The best course of action is to monitor naps closely and take a good look at your whole daytime routine. Make the tweaks that you need and hopefully the night time sleep will catch up.
The older children get, the more aware they are of everything around them, including concepts such as danger, monsters or separation. Some toddlers will wake up at night due to nightmares and this can be really hard to deal with as a parent.
If you think that your toddler is waking due to nightmares, there are a few ways that you can help:
- Remember that your toddler’s fear is real and should be respected. Reassure your child and be there to provide comfort when it’s needed.
- Don’t overreact or become upset, no matter how distressing it may be to see your toddler hysterical. This only adds to their fear and won’t help in getting everyone back to sleep again. If you remain calm and positive, your toddler will pick up on this and they are much more likely to calm down too.
- Resist the temptation to bring your toddler into bed with you. I know you want to cuddle them and keep them safe; and, of course, get back to sleep. However, this might start a new sleep issue that you need to deal with!
What is the top reason your toddler wakes at night?