21 month old sleep ... heeeeeelp — The Bump
Toddlers: 12 - 24 Months

21 month old sleep ... heeeeeelp

OK, so my 21 month old son has been sleeping peaceful 11.5 hour nights for ... so long now I can't remember. Bedtime routine has been the same also for so long I can't remember. Now all of a sudden, starting Saturday night, he wakes in the middle of the night screaming bloody murder until me or my husband goes in. He is wide awake (so no night tremors) and as soon as he is picked up he is fine and cuddly. So this makes me think he is not in pain or sick because in the past when he is in pain from teething, even if picked up, he continues to cry. I brought him into bed with me, rocked him. Last night he was fine during bedtime routine, and as soon as his head hit the mattress he started the wailing with my husband. Cried for one hour until he gave up. Then 1am, same thing, screaming, standing up in the crib. I went in, put on his music, laid him back down and told him it was time to go back to sleep, and he bounced right back up and wailed. We let him cry for an hour before I couldn't stand it anymore. Went in and got him. Soon as I picked him up, he was calling for the dog. I brought him into bed with me and he fell asleep instantly on my chest. After a half hour (I am not a co-sleeper, I need my space and I know he has the ability to sleep in his own space), he was out cold, I crept into his room and gently lowered him ... and he stayed asleep until his head hit the mattress and started screaming again. He only lasted 20 minutes this time because he was so tired and crashed ... but what the what, child??? I know I am lucky that I have a little guy who generally sleeps, but am I all of a sudden getting majorly played here? Or do you think something else is up? Heeeelp. Zombie mom today.

Re: 21 month old sleep ... heeeeeelp

  • This has been happening at our house for MONTHS. My little guy was a perfect sleeper, but then he got sick, cut five teeth, and got sick again and has been in our bed ever since. He starts out in his bed, then wakes up screaming bloody murder and ends up in our bed for the rest of the night. He too calms almost immediately when held. I asked the pediatrician about it, and she said he may actually be kind of achy, because he has been going through a major growth spurt (2+ inches in 3 months). She recommended putting a cup of Epsom salt in his bath water to help relax his muscles before bed. It seems to help some with actual bed time, but not middle of the night. Hopefully, someone will have answers for us! Hang in there!  
  • Maybe something is scaring him? My friend's LO, little older than yours but recently became aware of monsters/ghosts, etc and is getting scared of them....maybe he thinks he sees something when he wakes and and its dark, and he remembers??


  • I have two daughters (one 4 years old and one 17 months) and they sometimes go through periods where they are up at night. My 17 month old has actually never slept through the night and comes to bed with me sometime every night, but there are definitely times when she sleeps okay and then periods where she is just upset at night. My older daughter has always slept pretty well but will every now and then have a phase where she wakes up at night even now. I think sometimes things are just going on with children (be it growing, teething, mental development, etc.) that makes it hard to sleep. In our house, whenever it was over, they went back to their normal sleeping habits. Sometimes I think it just takes time. Not too helpful an answer, I'm afraid.
  • Possible ear infection? Could be separation anxiety or a nightmare. You might not ever have the answer and this will probably pass but I would just give him what he needs right now. My 18 month does this occasionally and I can tell by her cries and behavior that she is completely terrified so I don't leave her to cry. I'll rock her or sleep with her until she calms down and then she's good to go.

    Something is bothering him so if he's not sick, not teething (which are both worse at night, laying down), just give him some love. Don't leave him to cry for an hour. I know you're tired but this will pass.

    xc1148crsanchez87
  • Thanks, ladies. The day I posted this, he went back to his normal sleep. Last night, though, he woke up screaming again. He has had his fingers in his mouth much more than usual lately, but I can't feel anything in there. All he has left are his second molars. I am thinking maybe he has had some pressure in his gums even though I can't feel anything yet??? Not sure. I feel so bad because he is so exhausted in the morning.
    TwizBeans
  • I could've posted this exact thing. My DD just turned 21 months. She has been a wonderful sleeper since we brought her home. Just recently she wakes up in the middle of the night screaming. I accidentally turned off her monitor the other night and I think she cried for 2 hours. When I finally realized she'd been crying I went to get her and she had thrown up from crying. I felt so awful. Soon as I pick her up she immediately falls asleep in my arms. Soon as I put her back in her crib it's a crying fest again. I'm so sleepy. I hope she outgrows it soon. 
  • wow, I just posted an almost identical post!  My 21 month old, who was mostly a good through-the-night sleeper aside from his ear infections, all of a sudden screams when we just PUT him in his crib!  he never did that before...he only will fall asleep if someone sleeps on the floor next to him HOLDING his hand through the bars of the crib!  It's nuts...esp. since he has HARDWOOD floors in his room....AAAH!  sooo sleepy.  Not sure why, and he also wakes up during the night, and won't fall back unless someone is with him...so concerned about why this is happening, and how/when this will go back to 'normal'!  I'm doing my/our BEST to not initiate any NEW bad habits/behaviors, but at the same time, we just want everyone to sleep!  HELP!
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