This may be one of the great mysteries of the world. Why do toddlers wake up in the middle of the night…3:00 am to be exact. For some reason, 3:00 am is the time they like to wake up. I remember growing up, my grandmother would call 3:00 am the “witching hour”. I never understood that until I had my own kids. They get up at 3:00 am and I turn into a witch! But why do they get up? There are several reasons your toddler could be getting up in the middle of the night.
If your toddler feels warm, take their temperature…they might be sick. Or sometimes, toddlers get up because of an upset stomach, tooth ache, stuffy nose, etc…any discomfort can wake your toddler. You know your little one best. Rule out sickness before sending them back to bed.
Around two years old, toddlers decide that they no longer like foods that they used to love. Toddlers also don’t want to sit still long enough to eat an entire meal. If your toddler is like mine, dinner time might go something like this. Put food in front of toddler, toddler complains that it is too hot. Put food in freezer for a few minutes to cool down. Put food back in front of toddler…toddler complains because it isn’t cut up. So, you cut the food up…now toddler is crying because you cut up their food. Apparently, your toddler wanted to cut up her own food. Finally, after about 15 minutes of dinner hell, your toddler takes a few bites of food and declares that she is full. (giant sigh) This wonderful dinner routine could cause your toddler to not eat enough before bed…and make her hungry in the middle of the night. DON’T feed your toddler in the middle of the night…seriously, whatever you do…do not feed your toddler at 3:00 am. This will just cause bad habits for…well, for the rest of their life! Keep in mind that your toddler may not have eaten enough at dinner and try to have them eat something about 30 minutes before bedtime. I put yogurt (Stonyfield strawberry creamy) in a sippy cup with a splash of water and shake it up..this way I know Franki is not going to bed hungry.
It happens to the best of us. Sometimes, we just get thirsty in the middle of the night. Guess what? Sometimes toddlers get thirsty too. If your toddler keeps waking up in the middle of the night looking for something to drink…start keeping a sippy cup by their bed. Just put water in it though. Juice or milk is not good for little kids at night. When the sugar sits on their teeth, it causes them to rot! Also, if your child is VERY thirsty in the middle of the night you should talk to your doctor. There are medical issues associated with children being very thirsty.
Too Much Light
You may not realize it, but we all wake up several times throughout the night. Normally, we just roll over and fall back to sleep. It is so quick that we simply forget that it happened. But, have you ever fallen asleep with the light on? I know I have. After sleeping for some time, I wake up and realize the light is on and then turn it off. I understand that some toddlers require a night light to sleep. Recently, our toddler started to request a night light. Instead of putting it in her room, I have it in the hallway and I leave her door open. This way, she can see the light but it won’t disturb her sleep at night. Once she is sleeping, we turn the light off. Darkness is best for a good night sleep!
We use sound machines in our house. I even use one. If your toddler is waking up in the middle of the night, consider getting a white noise machine. White noise helps the brain to turn off at night. It is also great to shut out any other noises that might wake you child….floor creaking, sirens, dog barking, etc.
Toddlers are difficult…even when they are sleeping, or not sleeping for that matter! Good sleep habits are important to establish early on. Once you figure out why your toddler is getting up in the middle of the night, try to correct it as soon as possible. Also, check out my post on what to do if your toddler wakes up…and you have checked off all of the above! Click Here!