Is your 1 year old waking up at night and not going back to sleep? Learn how to get your child to sleep through the night once again!
Sleep deprived and going crazy—not exactly the best combo, but here you are. For the last few weeks, you can’t figure out why your 1 year old wakes up crying hysterically at night. And these are real tears, not simple whimpers or fake cries.
Every time you come in, she’s standing in the crib (even though she knows how to get down during the day). The worst part about her waking up is that she absolutely won’t go back to sleep on her own. In fact, she won’t even stop crying unless you pick her up.
What do you do when your toddler has stopped sleeping through the night all of a sudden?
Handling 1 year old waking up at night and not going back to sleep
Going back to middle-of-the-night wake ups, especially after months of your 1 year old sleeping so well, can be shocking for many parents. Just when you think sleep will be a breeze, you’re hit with a sudden sleep deprivation you’d forgotten all about.
Rest assured friend, you’ll get through this.
The biggest challenge of course is that you can’t get into her head to ask her exactly what the issue is. You’re left guessing the cause of the sudden wake ups, and can’t seem to convince her to fall back asleep.
To top it off, a combination of issues could be contributing to the wake ups. She might be overtired from a long day, uncomfortable from teething, and hungry to boot.
So, what will it take to get her to sleep well again? Take a look at these tips to get you back on track:
1. Don’t give in
The middle of the night isn’t exactly the best time to make coherent, smart decisions. So, if you’ve ever allowed your 1 year old to climb into bed with you just so everyone can finally fall asleep, you’re not alone.
Still, it’s in enabling these very habits that extend the lack of sleep even further. Rocking her to sleep, fetching her a bottle of milk—anything that isn’t sustainable in the long run will only continue the longer you allow them to.
Instead, don’t give in to the changes in her sleep patterns. Of course, you’ll want to make exceptions should she be sick, and you should always be compassionate as you reassure her of her anxieties.
But so long as she has no fever, vomit, cold, or other ailments, keep your middle-of-the-night contact minimal. Be consistent and this will likely resolve in a few days (rather than extend for months on end).
2. Sleep train
Many parents worry that a sudden change in sleep patterns means they’ll have to go back to square one with sleep training (or start at all). Rest assured, if your 1 year old had already been used to sleeping on her own, re-sleep training will go by much smoother than when you had first started.
So, how exactly do you teach her to sleep on her own at this stage of the game?
First, be intentional and have a plan. You should know exactly what you’re going to when she wakes up, the words you’ll reassure her with, and when you’ll check in on her again.
Then, don’t think of sleep training as ignoring or letting her cry for the night. Instead, you’re allowing her the opportunity to fall back asleep on her own (instead of having to rely on you to do so). How else will she learn if she hasn’t had the chance to do so?
Once you start with a method, be consistent. Flip flopping, especially based on your mood and sleep deprivation, will only lead to confusion and poor results. Set aside a few nights, knowing that you’ll be waking up more often in the short run, but are setting her up for better sleep in the long stretch.
This also means not getting upset, even though you feel like she should be getting this by now. The more patient and compassionate you are, the more confident she’ll feel about sleeping on her own.
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3. Add white noise
I don’t know about you, but I hate having to tiptoe around the house for fear that my kids will wake up. And personally, any jarring sound I hear when I sleep will easily jolt me awake if I’m in a silent room.
That’s why one of the best tricks is to add white noise to your 1 year old’s room. This can be a fan or heater, an actual white noise machine, or an app or audio. The white noise will muffle any sounds that can startle her awake.
In the middle of the night, she’ll also feel less alone when she has a reassuring sound to keep her company.
4. Practice milestones
You know how falling asleep can sometimes be difficult when you’re excited about something? Maybe it’s the anticipation of a new job or the fun conversation you had a friend over the phone. Any time our minds are preoccupied, falling asleep becomes harder.
The same is true for your 1 year old, especially as she practices milestones she’s now learning.
From crawling to pulling up, she uses her sleep time to “practice” these skills, eating up the time she should be asleep. Then, when she wakes up in the middle of the night, she’s already overtired, making it harder to fall asleep once again.
Or maybe she’s practicing how to pull herself up on the crib, but feels frightened when she realizes she doesn’t know how to get herself back down.
While you can’t stop her from practicing, you can ensure that she has plenty of time to flex her skills during the day. Maybe this means letting her roam the room instead of keeping her in the infant seat, or encouraging her to clap her hands or speak new words.
Not only will she have had time to practice these skills, she just might be tired enough to sleep through the night.
5. Reassure your child’s anxieties
One of the biggest culprits with 1 year olds waking up at night and not going back to sleep is separation anxiety. Your child may have had a long day filled with new experiences, making her wake up at night to check that you’re still there.
As distraught as she might be, feeling just as anxious yourself will only make her feel worse. Rushing into the room as if she’s in danger sends the message that she’s not safe being alone in the room.
Instead, go in when she cries and offer a kind yet quick reassurance that you’re still here. As we discussed, don’t enable habits you don’t want, like picking her up to rock her to sleep. Let her know that it’s time to sleep, and that you’re in the next room.
Set your timer for a few minutes and check in on her again should she still be crying. Keep these brief, reminding her that you’re still here and that it’s time to sleep. The more consistent you can be, the more she’ll get the message that it’s okay to fall asleep.
Another tip is to offer her a special stuffed animal or lovey to sleep with. Having an attachment item is a healthy way to soothe herself without you in the room.
There’s nothing like being woken in the middle of the night to hear your 1 year old crying uncontrollably. Thankfully, these sleep problems are temporary, especially when you address them the right way.
To start, don’t give in to unsustainable sleep habits you’d rather not continue. Instead, sleep train in a consistent yet compassionate way to reassure her that it’s still time to sleep. Add white noise to the room so she’s not startled awake, and spend plenty of time during the day to practice new milestones.
And lastly, soothe her separation anxiety while staying consistent with her sleep patterns. Reassure her that you’re here, and that she’s safe to keep sleeping in her room alone.
No more being sleep deprived and going crazy, friend—get the sleep you and your 1 year old need!
Get more tips:
- Toddler Fighting Sleep? 5 Tips You Haven’t Tried
- Why Your Toddler Is Going Through the 1 Year Old Sleep Regression
- 1 Year Old Wakes Up Every 2 Hours? Must-Know Tips for Moms
- 1 Year Old Nap Schedule: Examples that Actually Work
- Top 6 Tips to Get Through the Toddler Sleep Regression
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