3 Year Old Waking Up at Night, How Can You Help?

Why is my 3 year old toddler waking up at night? This could be the question on your mind, especially at night. Furthermore, your three year old toddler’s inability to sleep through the night may disrupt sleep for the rest of the family. Many parents face the same challenge as the toddler grows and unconsciously searches for his/her own sleep routine. So how can you fix your child’s sleep problems? 


Why Do Your 3 Year Old Wake Up at Night?

Waking up at night occurs at some point in about 50 percent of children below five years of age.

There are many possible explanations for this phenomenon. The child could be going through a developmental phase. Many parents discover that as their toddlers learn some new skills, they experience sleep regression which may cause the children to wake up suddenly. Experts recommend that you let the child be, as he/she will generally get through the sleep regression phase within a few weeks. After this phase, your child’s sleep routine will go back to normal.

Other factors that can lead to 3 year old waking up at night include the following:

  • Over-stimulation or excess tiredness at bedtime
  • Wet diapers
  • Terrifying dreams or nightmares
  • Irregular sleep schedules including varying napping time and going to bed at different times
  • Snoring and sleep apnea
  • Temperature extremes – either too cold or too hot
  • Poor sleeping habits
  • Thirst or hunger
  • Teething discomfort
  • An ailment such as ear infection or fever

What to Do When Your Toddler Wakes Up at Night

In case your toddler wakes up at night, what can do to comfort him/her and get him/her back to sleep?

  • Avoid going to the toddler immediately you hear him/her crying; give your child time and wait till he/she calls out for you. Even if you hear the child talking to himself/herself or moving around, resist your urge to respond. Give the child time to deal with the issues for as long as possible. Your toddler might just comfort himself/herself enough to go back to sleep.
  • When he/she calls out, go to the child and gently say that he/she is supposed to be sleeping and then leave the room.
  • In case your kid cries, give a cuddle and then settle him/her in bed. If the toddler is too upset, avoid engaging him/her. Sitting on the edge of the bed, comfort her by patting the back or holding the hand, but avoid talking or making eye contact. Leave the room when your child is calm enough.
  • In case the child comes to your room after waking up, get up and lead him/her back to bed.
  • In some instances of your toddler waking up at night and finding it difficult to get back to sleep, you may consider having your child share your bedroom; not your bed though. Let him/her sleep on a nap mat on the floor or a sleeping bag. 

How to Help Your Toddler Sleep Through the Night

Some of the issues that may lead to your 3 year old waking up at night have straightforward solutions. For instance,

  • If he/she seems hungry when waking up, giving an additional snack before going to bed can help.
  • In case your child's room is too cold or too warm, adjusting the temperature or changing the bedding may resolve the problem.
  • If the diapers are wet, try another brand or an ultra-absorbent variety.
  • In case you suspect that your toddler is waking up due to illness, consult a pediatrician.

You can also help your toddler sleep through the night by following the tips:

1. Have a Nice Nap

Work to establish a consistent napping routine so that your baby gets plenty of daytime sleep. Daytime napping contributes to sleeping better at night and sleep-deprived babies are more likely to wake up at night.

2. Address Fears

Sometimes, fear can cause your 3 year old waking up at night. While it is normal for children to fear the dark, you need to assure them that they are safe. Parents need to encourage their babies to express their fears by talking about them. Discuss things like monsters and ghosts and even check for them before going to bed. This will help them sleep better knowing that these things are not present in the bedroom.

3. Establish a Bedtime Routine

A well-established routine can help your baby sleep through the night. You can choose various activities to include in your child’s routine, but you need to pick things that have a calming effect rather than exciting. Following are some ideas that you can try:

Give Your Child a Soak

A warm bath cleans and soothes your toddler in readiness for bed. However, in case your baby dislikes bathing or it makes him/her excited, consider bathing at other times of the day and only wash the hands and face before bed.

Brush Teeth

Your child’s bedtime routine should include brushing teeth to establish the habit of taking care of teeth at the earliest age.

Get Changed for Bed

Changing your child for bed signals it is time to sleep. Give diaper change or encourage him/her to visit the toilet before putting on his/her pajamas.

Have a Chat

Take advantage of bedtime to talk with your baby. Discuss the day, how the experiences made him/her feel; things that he/she enjoys and fears, etc. Having your full attention may be good enough to make your child feel good and ready to do as you wish, including sleeping.

Read a Bedtime Story

Reading for your baby and making voices for the story characters will help your toddler develop a love for reading. And don’t turn your child down if he/she wants you to read the same story several times in a row.

Sing a Song

You can soothe your toddler with a sweet lullaby. Remember that your voice and that of your partner are your baby’s most popular sounds.

Say Goodnight

Saying good night is a popular part of bedtime routine. But don’t let the toddler waste time while saying night to every toy in the room.

In case your efforts don’t seem to bear fruit, consult your child’s pediatrician who will check for other possible causes of your 3 year old waking up at night.

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