When your toddler wakes in the night

If your toddler’s waking up from his sleep, calling or crying out or wanting a bottle, here’s how to tackle the night waking problem.

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Does you toddler wake in the night and call out for things, even if you’ve put him to bed with drinks and whatever else he thinks he needs to sleep through the night?

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“There’s normally a reason your toddler gets up or calls for his mummy,” says Angela Davy, Boots Parenting Club health visitor. “So it’s worth rousing yourself to find out what it is.” Your toddler might be hot, cold, or need a nappy change. If that’s the case, deal with it as quickly as you can before settling him back to sleep.

Sometimes a toddler just wants reassurance, so give it to him. “But then calmly and firmly, and with little chat, put him back to bed,” says health visitor Angela.

Make any visits to your toddler’s room brief and boring. Don’t talk to him any more than you have to, and avoid switching on the light in your toddler’s bedroom unless you suspect he’s ill.

If you reckon it’s mainly comfort that your toddler needs when he wakes in the night, try giving him a special cuddly toy to keep him company. Let him choose the toy himself . Your toddler should get used to reaching for the toy rather than calling for you in the night.

If your toddler cries out in the night, you could try waiting five minutes before you go in to see your toddler to see if he’ll settle himself.

Avoid putting your toddler to bed late in the hope he’ll be more tired and will sleep through – overtiredness can make the problem worse. Toddlers need 12-15 hours sleep a night. If you think overtiredness is the problem, pull your toddler’s bedtime forward by half an hour.

How to stop your toddler waking for night feeds

If your toddler still wakes up at night wanting a bottle, here’s how to wean him off the night feed and get him sleeping through:

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  • Wean your toddler off gradually by diluting the milk more each night until it’s plain water.
  • Give him a small snack with his bedtime milk to prevent him getting hungry overnight.
  • Avoid going cold turkey.
  • Avoid giving in on a bad night – nutritionally he just doesn’t need it.

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