Is your 15 month old awake for hours at night crying and not going back to sleep? Learn how to get your child to sleep through the night!
You know you have a problem when your 1 year old wakes up every 2 hours and doesn’t get much sleep. After well over a year of first welcoming him home, you’re not exactly in the mood to revert to the newborn days of sleep deprivation.
Here’s the thing: I’ve learned that a lot of our good intentions can cause more harm than good when it comes to helping our kids sleep well. Other times, we’ve grown used to past sleep habits that, at this stage, are no longer necessary. And sometimes, trying new techniques can be all it takes to get the rest you need.
Take a look at these tips to help your 15 month old sleep once again:
Table of Contents
1. Don’t nurture habits you don’t want
When you hear your child cry in the middle of the night, your first instinct might be to comfort her. You may have even gone so far as to lie on the floor next to her so she knows she’s not alone, or rubbing her back so she falls asleep.
But this only reinforces the very habits you don’t want. Rubbing her back rewards the wake-ups, and cuddling her in your arms encourages more fussiness down the line. The attention enables behavior you’re trying to get rid of.
Instead of fueling the fire, check on her briefly to make sure all is fine and let her know that it’s time to sleep. Keep your energy calm and confident, not pleading or upset. If she continues crying, check in again in 15 minutes with the same brief message to go to sleep.
This encourages her to soothe herself to sleep, especially when she can’t fall back on old habits any longer.
Free resource: Interested in learning about teaching her to self soothe? Join my newsletter and get a preview chapter of How to Teach Your Baby to Self Soothe (works for toddlers, too!) This chapter is all about the mindset needed for successful self-soothing and helping her put herself to sleep:
2. Transition to one nap
Does your toddler still take two short naps? Many kids transition to one daytime nap around 14-18 months old, so there’s a chance he’s at this stage.
Unfortunately, nap transitions can be tricky—kids don’t just go from two to one without hiccups. Often, this process is marked by sleep regression and many hits and misses before they finally settle into one nap.
Still, if being awake for hours at night is becoming more common, you might want to experiment with putting him down for one nap instead of two. With one long nap sandwiched with more time awake, he can be better rested to sleep through the night.
3. Adjust naps and bedtime
One factor to think about is how long your toddler has been awake between his last nap and bedtime.
If he wakes at 5pm from a nap and goes to bed by 7:30pm, two-and-a-half hours may not be long enough for him to be tired to sleep well. Similarly, if he’s taking one nap a day from 11am-1pm, that might be too long to be awake before bedtime, leading him to feel overtired.
Aim for an early bedtime, both as a one-time fix and as a consistent practice.
If he skipped a nap, put him down for a really early bedtime (like 5:30pm) to catch up on sleep and prevent him from being overtired. And if you had been putting him to bed late in general, consider a regular bedtime of no later than 7:30pm every night (especially if he’s only taking one nap).
4. Have a consistent bedtime
Any time your child’s rhythms and routines start to get strange, double down on consistency, including at bedtime.
Follow the same routines and rituals for bedtime every night, from the time you start to the order of the activities. This might mean running the bath promptly at 6:45pm every night and turning the lights off by 7:30pm.
This also means doing the same activities in the same order. Don’t start the routine with a bath one night only to start it with brushing her teeth the next. A good bedtime routine helps cement the predictability of the early evening and sets clear expectations.
5. Use white noise and blackout curtains
I’m a fan of creating the right environment to help kids continue to sleep, including white noise and blackout curtains.
You see, total silence can invite disruptions, whether it’s the sound of a passing car or the creak of a cupboard. And while nighttime is darker than the day, light can still stream through the window.
A white noise machine (or a fan, heater, or app) muffles sudden sounds that can startle your child awake. Most noises can blend right in with its constant hum. And darkening curtains can keep his room dark at all hours of the night.
6. Give your child a chance to practice new skills
Sleep disruptions can often happen because kids want to practice new skills they’ve learned. Yup, even if that means doing so in the middle of the night. You might find your child standing in her crib in tears because she has learned how to pull herself up, but hasn’t learned how to get down yet.
To prevent her from waking up to practice these new skills, make sure she has opportunities to do so during the day.
For instance, don’t feel compelled to strap her into the stroller or carry her in your arms when she would rather walk or crawl. Give her plenty of downtime to move and explore. And start giving her more autonomy, from letting her feed herself to playing more independently at the playground.
Not only might she feel less inclined to play at night, but she might be tired enough to sleep through it as well.
Getting a full night of sleep is a top priority for both you and your child. Hopefully, with the tips you learned, you can help him sleep through the night once more.
Don’t nurture the habits you don’t want to continue. Consider transitioning to one nap if he’s still taking two. Adjust nap and bedtime to allow him enough time to be awake, but not overtired. Have a consistent bedtime, both with when he sleeps and the rituals you do leading up to it.
Use white noise and blackout curtains to extend his sleep and prevent it from being interrupted. And lastly, give him plenty of opportunities to practice new skills when he’s awake so he doesn’t feel compelled to do them at night.
No more sleep deprivation, friend! Now he can finally sleep through the night—instead of waking up for hours on end.
Get more tips:
- Examples of a 15 Month Old Sleep Schedule
- How to Handle 15 Month Old Separation Anxiety at Night
- How to Deal with the 12-15 Month Sleep Regression
- Toddler Waking Up at Night and Not Going Back to Sleep?
Don’t forget: Join my newsletter and get a preview chapter of How to Teach Your Baby to Self Soothe below—at no cost to you: