• Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

2 year old is still waking up at night? Advice from a Pediatrician


Aug 5, 2023
2 year old is still waking up at night? Advice from a Pediatrician


Several years ago, when our child was still waking up at night (two years old at the time), I went into our Doctor’s office with this complaint…  “My 2-year-old is still waking up at night .”  Her advice changed our nights!

I was recently talking to a friend having the same issues, so I decided that if she needed some encouragement, others might, too.

2, 3, 4 year old waking up at night

I wanted to share this with you because our son was the BEST sleeper.
He came home from the hospital and slept through the night.   
Let me hold you longer - daddy & ethan
At one year of age, he continued to sleep all night long.  He did this until he was about two years of age and then it started.  He started waking up at night, and it was happening every night.  He was waking up not feeling rested… even, might I say… “Crabby”?

not happy

Once we started watching his patterns more often, we realized that it was around the same time every night.  He was going to bed around 7:00 every night (6:00 if he didn’t nap at all) and waking up in the morning around 7:00 or 8:00.  If he goes to bed at 6:00, he wakes up between 6:50 & 7:30 – he always gets at least 12 hours, sometimes 13, which is about what he needs.

He started waking up at midnight, too.  He would wake up and cry.  We would go in, cover him up and he would go back to sleep.  Sometimes he wanted a drink or different pajamas (not sure about this one, he just liked to change his pajamas – haha!)

It was impacting his mornings.

He wasn’t acting like himself because he was waking up and not getting his much-needed rest. After a few weeks of this, I was exhausted (We have three other kids, and one was a baby at the time.)  He was exhausted, too.  

This photo was taken around that time…  

Four children posing for a professional photograph.

I wish I could say it was a short phase, but it continued.  A few months later, I was even more exhausted.  When his 3-year well-check came around, this was brought up, and we received great advice!


2, 3 or 4 year old waking at night

What you need to do:

She told us that when WE go to bed, go into his room first, hug him, kiss him, lay with them, cover him up…. all things to rouse him just a bit.  Wake him just enough to break him out of his sleep a little.  What this does is that it breaks up his sleep cycle.   He was waking when he was switching from his REM sleep.   Do not wake them up! Just make them stir a bit.

Don’t lie down with them or talk to them.  Just rub their back, tuck them in, kiss them on the cheek… just enough to make them switch sleep cycles.  This brings them out of their sleep slightly, which is just enough to make them fall back into a deep sleep and hopefully sleep through the night.   I studied child development in college, so this makes complete sense to me once she said it.

I wish I would have thought of it sooner!  
It worked PERFECTLY!  He no longer woke up at night and he sleeps the full night.  I was so excited the first night, and I have been happy ever since!  So the key is just to ‘stir him a bit’ before you go to bed.  That was it for us!  I hope that it works for you, too!

For more sleep tips, you are welcome to sign up here for my free email series called “Helping My Child Become a BETTER Sleeper.”

I will also send you a sample sleep schedule.

Ps- just for a little “inspiration,”… our kids are now much older, and everyone sleeps through the night… most nights. 🙂  It gets better- I promise.
These are the faces of well-rested kids. 🙂

A group of people sitting in the grass.
More posts you might like:

sleep disorder disguised as ADHD

why I still carry my kids

Kids waking too early

in bed by 7:00


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