What to Do If Your Kids Keep Waking Up At Night
By Sarah Parker Ward
If your child is in the habit of waking up in the middle of the night, you’re likely both suffering from a lack of sleep, which, in turn, can have a negative impact on mood and productivity. You can compensate with some extra coffee the next day, but your little one cannot. For both of your sake’s, try these tips targeted at some of the common reasons kids wake up at night. Once you’ve discovered the source of your child’s night awakenings, you can work to help the little one to overcome the challenge.
And a quick pro tip: Instilling a regular nighttime routine can help nip some of the following problems in the bud.
Problem: Children typically begin experiencing nightmares between 3 and 6 years of age, when their imaginations and capacity for more complex thoughts broaden. Causes of nightmares can stem from watching scary movies, feeling stressed about a life change or a general lack of sleep.
Solution: Talk to your child about his or her nightmare and try curbing whatever may be the source of the child’s fear. Be patient and reassuring, and consider giving the child a stuffed animal, blanket or other comforting item to help him or her feel less alone. Instead of waking your child during a nightmare, try gently coaxing them back into a peaceful sleep. If they are sleep walking, quietly guide them to their bed.
Problem: While children should be encouraged to drink often and stay well hydrated, overdoing the liquids in the evening can cause your little one to stir because the child needs to go to the potty.
Solution: Skip the evening drinks for at least the hour before the child falls asleep and, just before your toddler hops into bed, make a quick pit stop by the bathroom as part of their process for getting ready for bed. If the child must get up, try using a nightlight in the bathroom so that the full overhead lights won’t turn on and wake the little one more fully.
Children Sleeping With Parents
Problem: If your little one is in the routine of falling asleep with you outside of their bedroom, waking up in his or her own bed without you may cause a disruption. Similarly, the child may be afraid of the dark and wish to find you for comfort and reassurance. Or maybe for no particular reason they just want to be closer to their parents while they’re sleeping.
Solution: For this tough-to-break habit, you can set the stage by helping your child initially fall asleep in his or her own bed. When the child wakes up and comes into your room, provide the toddler comfort but — this is the hardest part! — walk the child back to his or her own bed and get the little one settled in again. Repeat if necessary until the child finally falls back asleep.
High Fives for Success
Patience and diligence are key to getting your child to successfully sleep through the night in his or her own bed. For parents, following a nighttime routine and staying consistent, even when you’re tired may be hard in the short term, will get you to the end goal of a full night’s sleep sooner. When your little one does successfully sleep all night in his or her own bed, be sure to start the next day off right with ample praise and possibly even small rewards. Before the child goes to bed the next night, remind the little one of the success he or she had the previous night and encourage repeat behavior. Find more information on kid’s healthy sleep schedule habits here.
Find more health and wellness information for you and your baby in the Baby & Child section here.
©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2016