Help with Toddler and Sleep

Our little girl is just shy of 14 months. Up until her 1st birthday she had developed a great sleep routine. 1.5hr nap between 10.30am-noon, 1.5hr nap between 3.30pm-5pm and 12 hours of almost always uninterrupted sleep between 8pm-8am. Since her 1st birthday she’s started to go off the rails and it’s become pretty bad this week. At first the naps were ok but she started becoming extremely fussy when put down for her overnight sleep. Instead of self settling like she previously did she started standing up in her cot and screaming till her mum came in again. This process would go on for anywhere between 15mins to 2 hours. Her mum had to resort to rocking her to sleep. On top of this she’d wake up multiple times during the night needing to be settled to sleep again.

This past week she’s started refusing her naps too and barely managed 1 hour nap during the day which ultimately makes her over tired and things get worse at overnight. We tried dropping the morning nap and bringing forward the afternoon nap to 1pm but she still resists. The nights are getting worse too. She was awake till 5am a few days ago..

We started 1 day a week of daycare after she turned 1 so not sure if that might be impacting her. Appreciate that there’s a lot going on in her brain at the moment with learning to walk and talk and I’ve read up all about sleep regressions etc and I’m sure this is all normal but it’s causing me anxiety so have become desperate for help.

We have booked in a sleep consultant to help us but in the mean time wanted to get other people’s experiences and advice?


  • +7 votes

    Teething? Bonjela is your friend.

  • Nothing you have said makes me think it is anything out of the normal, my first child from birth would only sleep when held, in the car or in a pram while walking up until 18 months. We tried everything imaginable to correct this, but even though you could see he was super tired, refused to sleep and if you put him down instant wake up.

    But he grew out of it and after 18th has been fine. Our 2nd child didn't have any issues other than the odd pat on the back when you first put him down.

    Every child is different and whilst it is possible there could be something medically wrong, like gluten intolerance or something, highly unlikely. But please feel free to get it checked out if you want the piece of mind. But overall, this just sounds like you had the first 12 months easy and she is making up for lost time.

    • Thank you.. I know deep down everything is ok and this is normal but I'm desperate to do or try anything to get her sleeping like before.

      • Consider yourself lucky that you had a baby who slept for the first year. Our oldest is nearly 18mo and only started sleeping pretty much through the night in the last month or two - but still needs a cuddle if he wakes up in the night. Our newborn looks like he's going to be similar.

        Basically there are two extremes to sleep training: let them cry until they sleep and how they aren't traumatised, or give them all the attention they want and hope they feel secure enough to sleep. You just have to figure out where in that spectrum works for you and your child. Be consistent.

        • Definitely this!

          After buying sleep training courses and being waitlisted for practical training, we figured eff it and decided to go with "whatever it takes". That meant if it took an hour for bub to fall asleep with one of us by his side then that's what we did. Might not be for everyone but definitely made it easier and took some of the pressure off once we'd made that decision. Even to this day one of us stays in bub's room as he falls asleep but now he does it in minutes - also helps that he now sleeps through virtually all nights but that first year, I'd probably spend a few hours every night on the floor in his room.

          Again, not for everyone or something I necessarily recommend but it worked/works for us and particularly as they constantly change their "patterns". Finally, as our midwife said, remember that everything is passing.

          • @c95mbq: Yes. As I'm training my child to sleep in his own room I have a mattress on the floor next to his cot. If he wakes up he gets a cuddle. My aim is to never let him cry. Sometimes it takes him a while to get to sleep, but as long as he's not crying he's allowed to roll around the bed as much as he needs. He's getting better, most days he's asleep in a few minutes now - and he doesn't fight bed so much.

  • You've been lucky so far. Welcome to reality!

    Sorry, I can't help, both my kids are terrible sleepers. Have always been. 😭

    • Haha yeah.. we were always keen to have 2 but now I'm scared to go through this again.

      • Yes, unfortunately the second one will also likely reset or greatly disturb any routines you've set up with the first…

      • -6 votes

        if a few weeks of bad sleep is all your worried about and they are otherwise healthy, best get some perspective and if there healthy then realise your lucky.

        some kids dont sleep well for years. some dont nap during the day from an early age, yea it might be full on for a while, but before you know it you will realise you miss that time

        • Thank you, I do feel very lucky for what I have.
          I am just seeking advice on how I can improve the sleep habits of my child.

          • +3 votes

            @momo1988: You mentioned you were scared to go through it again, sounded like you thought it was bad based on that comment. Hence my response.

            Regular routine will help.
            Try a story before bed time.
            Cut the day nap to late morning.
            Keep them active in the afternoon. Make sure they eat well at dinner.
            Good luck

      • We had two in one go. It's tough.

      • That's insanely good sleeping habits, not sure what you are worrying about going through again?? Meanwhile the rest of us are going insane from years and years of sleep depravation.

        That said, I'm sure the next one will sleep much much (much) worse. Having two unicorns is not likely.

        I'm not adding much to discussion I know. I'm just amazed. Kids tend to be fussy when teething, when learning new things and various mental leaps, when going through separation anxiety etc. Basically every week there is something to explain why the sleeping suddenly changed.

        Edit: got a 5 and a 1 year old. Never have I had a day when any of them had a 3 hour nap and 12 hours uninterrupted sleep during the night.

  • you will come to realise… that this actually happens a lot and is more common than you think

  • if you have private health, look into sleep school.. but no idea if its still running now

    • Yeah as I said we have booked in a sleep consultant so hopefully that can help with a few of the issues.

      • In Perth, they have a "sleep clinic" called Ngala that was a god send for us.
        I'd imagine there are facilities like that all over Australia.
        Cheaper than sleep consultant and I find more helpful as you essentially live there for a week with the trained staff helping you out 24/7.
        Good luck and hope all goes well!

        • +1 for Ngala, they changed our lives with our little one when she had sleep problems. They are classified as a private hospital so if you have private health insurance it should be covered. Didn't cost us a cent extra to stay there a week

      • No, at some hospitals, the kid and mum actually stay there for a week

    • Can vouch for this, we have private health which covers it (have to check your level of cover) so we took the course in Masada Hospital St Kilda East, Melbourne. Partner is not allowed to sleep over at the moment due to Covid but we feel safe over there as their rules are pretty tight. Just finished the course last week and baby has been sleeping from 8am to 8pm for the past week with minimal human intervention. Pretty happy with the results.

      Sleep consultants actually gave us much of the same advice and method but my wife prefers hands on training hence we went for the sleep school. However if there's concern for covid or your health fund doesn't cover and don't feel like spending the money (it's pretty pricey) you can try their methods at home but it will take some determination to pull it off. You simply have to get on board and trust that their method works and stick with it for 1-2 weeks to see some results.

      Feel free to PM me for more info for those in Melbourne.

  • Do you do a bottle before bed ? The shooshing app helps me a lot too :)

  • Have you tried cosleeping? Ours is 14mo and has always been a bad sleeper. At least between us she sleeps well and is easy to settle if she wakes. Better than spending 2 hours trying to get her back to sleep into the cot for 2 hours, then do it again.

    • A few days ago when she didn't fall asleep till 5am we tried putting her between us and she thought it was hilarious. She thought it was playtime. Would prefer not to cosleep and probably way too late to start anyway.

      • Co-sleeping is a blessing and a curse. If they don't need it then no point starting only to have to ween them off it later.

        • +1 vote

          We have co-slept with out kids from birth and the whole time the kids have slept well and we have had no lack of sleep ourselves. There is nothing nicer than being close to your kids and seeing them as they grow up, listening to them as they have their dreams. I can never say that I have missed out on a lot of hugs from the kids. Eventually they go to their own room!
          You find other ways of getting privacy!

      • It's not too late to start. A few nights is all it takes and you might be stuck for years. Considering how well she has slept so far, I would under no circumstances start bringing her to your bed.

    • Whilst 100% this is an option & I am guilty of doing this also … it sets a bad precedent and could take years to unlearn as a habit for a child. My sister-in-law did this with her 3 kids when her husband worked away and she had 3 kids in the bed for years. Do it as a last resort. Alternatively - get into their bed and try sneak out!

  • This is very common…..everyone is different and may respond to different strategies.

    Both mine were awful sleepers causing horrible sleep deprivation on the parents.

    The advice we got is to stick to a schedule and activities leading up to sleep so the child knows its time to sleep.

    Unfortunately interrupted sleep is common.

    I used a combination of white noise, a swing / swayer and one important lucky discovery that one of them hated sleeping on their backs. We let her sleep on her front (we know about SIDS but needed to try something else), and the difference was incredible.

    • Thanks, we always try to keep the schedule the same.. bath, bottle, reading and sleep.

      • Hey, my daughter is going through exact the same thing, started 2months ago( but she is 2yo ). What I did is very similar to what @tsunamisurfer did, we have this baby sleeping lab that play music for 30mins.Keep up with routine ect. Mine also started to sleep on her tummy 3-4weeks ago … now recently she want the blanket over her head ( overwise she got annoys ).

        I have to sleep next to her cot, so everytime she woke up I just shush and pat her on the head, then she back to her sleep ( it is a hit n miss ). I reckon it is just a stage. Every child is different, try to figure it out what calm her down. Best of luck

  • Welcome to parenthood. If you think this is bad then you are in for one hell of a ride. Stay safe.

  • check out the free resources from

    • +12 votes

      How sad. After a few nights the child has learnt to stop crying because no one is coming for them.

      • That's how I got to sleep in my teens …. Character building

      • The right way to do this is controlled crying - you start off only letting them cry for a very short time like 1 minute. About as long as it would normally take you to get there anyway. You gradually increase the time between when they start crying and you go in there - that way the kid knows you're coming and still feels safe, and eventually will feel like well I know they're there but I can't be bothered to wait for them, and go to sleep on their own. This is very different to just one night abandoning them when they aren't expecting it.

  • You have to be a hard-arse and let them cry.. It's very difficult and don't even try unless you are both on board

    • Doesn't always work. Ours will throw up if you let him cry for more than about five minutes - then you have the whole hassle of cleaning up and starting over.

  • Starting to get to the age where they might only need 1sleep. Try 1sleep after 12pm

  • Join the "beyond sleep training project" on Facebook. They are anti CIO (cry it out) but will be able to give you gentle advice. If anything it will probably make you feel better about your situation where you read of babies still waking up every hour lol

  • I would love to provide a helpful comment but I can't remember much from that stage of my son's life due to sleep deprivation…

    Good luck though!

  • Our bub is 10.5 months so some of what I say might not be relevant but a couple of things:
    - we recently had a sleep regression and then figured out it was because he was getting cold overnight. We now set heating to kick in based on a thermostat set to 22 or 23 degrees depending on the night and he's sleeping through or self settling back to sleep if he wakes up.
    - we recently started/trialed daycare (still easing into it) and his sleep is terrible on daycare and subsequent days, which I attribute to separation anxiety i.e. scared of being left so having difficulty settling

    Good luck with the sleep consultant - I've heard great things from other parents who've used them.

    • 22 or 23 deg? What tog-suit are they wearing?
      I keep the heater between 18 and 19 with their 3tog suit.

      • Just a bonds zippie suit and a not rated but padded sleeveless sleeping bag. We're in Queensland so I think it's a bit different here, i.e. bigger difference between night and day. Also this babe was raised in summer (born in Sept). I know we could layer him more, but based on feedback from my mum's group that doesn't seem to make a difference and the actual air temp does. I may regret this when the electricity bill comes in, but I value baby sleep pretty highly.

        • I see. Well I'm jealous nonetheless. We have 10.5m twins and they'll randomly sleep through the night maybe once a month. Otherwise it's now down to 1 to 2 feeds each. Much tiredness. Day care starts in a few months so it's good to know sleep will be further ruined.


          • @FoxJump: Ah yes… it’s such a wild ride. I’m just waiting for the next cold or teeth to keep us up through the night. I’ve been loving our recent sleeps but know from everything I’ve heard that there’ll be the next thing to keep us up.

            Good luck to you and the twins - sending you restful thoughts.

  • I'd continue trying the once sleep. It is normal for children to start transitioning to one day sleep form 12 months. Sleep regression is also common in children around 12 months. People obviously have their own beliefs when it comes to settling and sleeping children.

  • sounds pretty normal. our daughter, who's alsmost 4, has been waking up 3 times each night since forever, needing settling, just depends on your kid.

  • Here are some things that worked for us (based on; two kids, never so bad we went to sleep school, plenty or reading and talking to others for solutions):
    1/ Adjust naps - drop them or move them based on what works. Wake them if they go too long.
    2/ Bath before evening sleep, their body temp drop after the bath makes them feel sleepy
    3/ Controlled comforting - google search it.
    4/ Tire them out. Exercise or other stimulation will mean their sleep will be more required and deeper.
    5/ I'm assuming you can hear the difference between distressed crying and general crying. If it's not real distress, then let them cry - learning to self sooth is great and they wont learn if you always intervene. Plenty of adults I know cant self sooth…

    I'm assuming your home circumstances are different from covid now days - this is possibly the reason for the change. Try to find a new normal.

    Good luck

  • I would definitely recommend to check for any food allergies or intolerances just to rule that out.

  • +1 vote

    There’s a support service and free app here

    You can get a GP referral to see them either as a one off visit or as a stay in for a week, the questionnaire is a bit long though. They do have good settling tips and a lot of experience.

    Pacifiers can be good it’s not that hard to wean them off them down the track especially if stored in fridge can soothe their teeth.

    Check if room too hot or too cold neither is good, a lot of baby monitors have a thermometer or just buy one.

    Best of luck!

  • Yep, I had a similar challenge with my daughter at around that age
    Sleep was working out really well for a few months, and then a slight change to routine (in your case, Day Care) threw everything off.

    She went from being able to self-settle, to standing up for distressed screaming at the nursery door until my wife or I came to comfort her.

    We believe it was due to a feeling of abandonment.

    For us:
    1) Really stuck to the routine
    2) Exercise in the afternoons - Running around at the park or playground
    3) Bath before bed (part of the routine)
    4) No conversation at bedtime, we just sing the same song over and over (she talks non-stop.. but we don't engage)
    5) Comforted her when she cried in the middle of the night, but always aimed to put her back in the cot before she fell asleep.

    After about a week of horror nights, she re-adjusted & is back to sleeping well and self-settling if she does wake in the middle of the night.

    Hang in there OP!

  • Cry it out or co sleep. No inbetween.

  • Sleep has been one of the biggest problem for our second child since she was born.
    We went to sleep school twice when she was a baby which helped at the time. I didn't think they have ground breaking methods but it's good to have professional help at night and help re-enforce things such as let the child cry for certain amount of time and comfort them without actually carrying. It really help ours learn to self sooth.
    At the moment, our daughter is two and half and since two, she figured out how to climb out of her cot so we can't keep her in her room anymore and spent hours trying to get her to sleep. We recently went to see the paediatrician and starting giving melatonin. It works really well. She said ' I want to sleep ' for the first time in her life and usually takes about 10 mins or less to fall a sleep. Still waking up a couple of time a night but quick to go back to sleep. Kids melatonin needs to be made in compound pharmacy so while it's small dosage, it's expensive compare to the adult version.
    Funny thing about nap during the day, we have completely given up trying to do that at home as she will refuse and would take at least an hour if we are ever successful. But she goes to child care four days a week and will always take a nap and the teachers never had issues putting her to sleep. So environment and routine certainty plays a big part.

  • Daycare, being a toddler, and teeth will do it. Also hungry. Offer her a banana in the middle of the night and see if she'll eat that. If she's slept well before she'll sleep well again though, have hope.

    Ask the daycare for tips too, they're usually fantastic.

  • Sounds perfectly normal, just when you think you have it sorted everything changes again. I have a 4 yr old and an 18month old, and all I can suggest is to stick to routines as best as you can. It is very hard/frustrating/tiring when they are unsettled at night. In my experience it has been due to the sleep regressions that occur around the same time as the developmental leaps that babies and young children go through, and usually only last a week or so. Other than that we have usually put it down to teething, so bonjela, and if required panadol/nurofen, or of course wanting for some milk. Once my 4yr old stopped breast feeding, at around 23months old she has slept through ever since. Hoping the same with the boy soon…
    Good luck, and i guess if it persists then seek medical advice. Go with Mum's gut feeling, they usually know.

  • Not worth the hassle… offload on gumtree

  • They’re going through a leap at this age and could be that. Also check if its due to discomfort. Ours had bit of runny nose and at times he’d wake up due to blocked nose as he doesnt know how to fix it yet, then we had the vaporiser running which did the trick.

  • I have a little girl the same age. Sometimes she needs a refresher to re-learn to self settle, so we do controlled crying for a couple of nights which works a treat (see
    My only other suggestion is a comforter toy. Sometimes when I put my girl down in her cot she starts to crack it but I quickly distract her with her bunny and then leave the room.

  • Play white noise on repeat. Get an old phone or MP3 player. Start playing a bit louder if restless and then lower volume when settles and falls asleep. Do not interact with child once in cot for sleep time!

  • Up until her 1st birthday she had developed a great sleep routine. 1.5hr nap between 10.30am-noon, 1.5hr nap between 3.30pm-5pm and 12 hours of almost always uninterrupted sleep between 8pm-8am.

    Wow a unicorn baby. I'm sorry that is the best you'll ever get. You'll be lucky to get back to that kind of condition until they are like 2.5 years old.

    • I agree, just wait until 18months -2 years when they will truely give you attitude at 2am in the morning

  • Unfortunately you had it so good. My one would be on and off for 3.5 years. My newborn now sleeps really bad. If you had 12 months good, consider yourself really lucky

    The problem you will have is you will always compare your 2nd one to the first. If you are scared of the 2nd one having bad sleep, then you are not mentally ready for it. Having 2 is not doubly hard, it’s exponentially hard.

    These days I get up to feed the baby at 1am, sometimes the big one wakes at 2-3, then they both fully wake up around 6-7. So yea, 3-4 hrs a night sleep haha

    • Not sure why you are being negged as I completely agree. I decided to tackle the lack of sleep with co-sleeping and it has helped alot.
      I refuse to use "Cry it out" or "controlled crying" to manipulate a baby who is looking for comfort from their parents.

      There have been many studies that indicate the long term effects of this method on children. Later in life the child tends to be more anxious and dependent on the parents seeking attention.

      "Behaviorists then and now encourage parents to condition the baby to expect needs not to be met on demand, whether feeding or comforting. It's assumed that the adults should 'be in charge' of the relationship. Certainly this might foster a child that doesn't ask for as much help and attention, but it is more likely to foster a whiney, unhappy, aggressive and/or demanding child, one who has learned that one must scream to get needs met.

      Caregivers who habitually respond to the needs of the baby before the baby gets distressed, preventing crying, are more likely to have children who are independent than the opposite (e.g., Stein & Newcomb, 1994). "

      And to the comment above using melatonin on a child to get them to sleep, just wow. Please stop, that cannot be good for the child long term.

      • It took my kid 1 night to understand that crying wasn't going to let them get their way at night. He now sleeps through after waking up every 2 hours until he was 10 months. I strongly doubt there is going to be any long term effects of this.

        Wouldn't suggest doing the cry it out for weeks on end, but how do you think families with 10 kids did it? Obviously you can't attend to them all at once…

        • I'm glad that you were able to figure out a way to settle your child. And I fully sympathise with the waking up every 2 hrs as this happened to me till around the 14month mark, and then probably every 3-4 hrs until the age of two. But it doesnt always work so quick with every child and some parents leave them to cry until they puke. I personally would not do this.
          We also tried the sleep school Karitane at around 10 months, no overnight as they had a huge waiting list and found it completely useless. Basically told me to just leave them in the cot to fall asleep by themselves, when my child hated the cot, or to pat non stop which was just nonsense.
          In this particular situation Op only has one child, so no point giving me anecdotal evidence of someone having 10 kids, when I have given you a proper study link on long term effects on the child of using this method.
          Ultimately, its up to Op how they want to tackle this situation, the immediate gratification now may result in consequences later that may not be easily linked.

          • @Ozbarganator 2000: I agree. In the end every parent has sleepless night (except OP who has a unicorn), and we do what we feel comfortable to get over this loooong hurdle. Whether it’s crying it out or cuddles it’s totally up the parents. Eventually they will grow out and won’t get out of bed as teens. Just gotta find ways to survive first!

      • There is a big difference between crying it out and controlled crying. Controlled crying involves comforting the child at regular intervals whilst teaching them to self settle and it works a treat without any harmful psychological impacts.

  • Being parents is tough I've been through it and still going thru it.

    At least you are not dealing with night terrors daily

    I get it almost 5/7 days of week day time or night time

  • Welcome to the club

  • Male primary parent of 3 kids here from 15 to 6.
    The 2 boys were ok and slept like logs, youngest is more of an up and downer. 9 year old boy still has accidents very occasionally cos he just doesnt wake up in time.

    Routine is a big one, try and stick to a time at night. Bath, book and bed. And get tough, dont respond to screaming and make it not fun to come out again. Eg, no cuddles, just put them back in bed and walk out again.

    The good news is that in 6 months it'll be something else driving you mental! 15 year old barely comes out of his room and cant be arsed joining in…

  • Definitely sounds like teething-related. Nothing much you can do unfortunately, except for alleviating the symptoms and offer comfort. I found Bonjela to be mostly unhelpful. Panadol is your friend during the night, and cold teethers during the day. It will pass once the teeth break the gums.

  • We used these guys for our firstborn. Essentially you fill out a huge questionnaire, and they send back a plan of action to help your baby to learn to fall sleep by them-self, self settle, self sooth etc. We found it really useful and it helped us to untrain all of the unhelpful things we had done up to that point - dummies, rocking to sleep, having to be present for sleep and so on. They also respond to followup questions quickly

  • Download Wonderweeks app. It will change your life.

  • Bath, bottle, books, bed. They need to have a consistent routine. We also have some gentle music playing in the background. At that age they will do what they can to get your attention. Remember - as much as it hurts a little bit of crying never hurt anyone.

    Try the Ferber method - our first was terrible until 9 months, the second night of trying this cry it out thing he started sleeping through and has ever since!

    It's so nice to just be able to chuck him in bed, tuck him in, say goodnight and leave the room. We've done the same with our 2nd :D

  • Lots of great advice in here for you. Know that no matter how bad it is, it will pass.

    With regard to day care, I would look to putting her in for an extra day per week, ideally two consecutive days if you can. We put our eldest (now 6) in for one day at about 15 months and he essentially sat and cried almost the entire time apparently, waiting for us to come and pick him up. Seeing him in the window overlooking the car park crying broke my fricken heart.

    The daycare centre suggested we put him in for a second day, we wondered if they just wanted more money but in speaking with friends who are early childhood educators, they absolutely agreed that it needs to be more than once a week. So we put him in two consecutive days and the change was almost immediate. First day was the same but on the next day he obviously realised that this was going to be a thing and adapted really quickly. He ended up loving going, I remember him about 3 weeks later coming out of his bedroom carrying his daycare bag wanting to go on a day he wasn't booked in.

    Best of luck, don't feel guilty about hugging your child to sleep. Do what you need to do to get through it, and truthfully, it all goes way to quick.

  • +2 votes

    Our 22 month old chops and changes, solid from 7:30 - 12 but then may decide (profanity) it and wake up every hour from 12 - 6. Many a night on the floor of that childs room haha, many more to come!
    13 weeker is a stage 5 clinger, just starting to get longer stretches so my wife can try to get some rest as well!

    It changes so much but don't be afraid to ask for help, most sleep clinics are just cry it out, which I don't agree with but to each their own. I enjoy being needed for hugs and storys so I don't mind the wakings up, I also find it quite easy to survive on low quality sleep (for now anyway haha). Good luck! It will change, when we dropped from 2 naps to 1, we went back to 2 for a week and now back down to 1 long nap during the day (11:30 - 2:30 ish) but then the next day she will be over tired by 10 and only sleep for 45 minutes, kids are ever changing!

    • Your 1st child sounds like mine. I agree with enjoyment of being needed for hugs and stories as well.
      It may be that Op's child just needs to drop to 1 nap a day to help regulate the night sleeps, each kid varies.

  • Loving the late night posts from fellow sleepless parents. OP, nothing to worry about, similar situation at our place. Keen to hear which sleep consultant you go with and if they are any good. We’re tossing up between that or a sleep school like tressilian.

  • Phnergen

    • i have a funny story with that stuff.

      someone was travelling by himself with his 2 kids and gave his kids phnergen at the gate just before boarding so that when he got on the plane and settled the kids own in their sleep they will be knocked out for the duration of the 8 hour flight which was mainly at night time.

      but right after he gave the kids the meds the air crew announced a 1 hour delay and by the time it was ready to board his kids were out cold and had a grand old time trying to manouvre 2 kids onto a plane that were like dead weights and carry on luggage.

      lesson. give kids the meds when you are in the air.