Toddler Sleep Issues: A Pep Talk

Hi there, mama.

toddler sleep issuesYou probably clicked through to this post because you’re tired. Maybe you Googled “toddler sleep issues” late at night as you listened to your toddler scream at 2 a.m. I know that’s probably the case because I’ve been doing the same thing lately. It’s lonely, 2 a.m., just you and your crying baby and the soft glow of your smart phone.

You know all those things that worked when he was 8 months, or 18 months? They don’t work anymore when he’s 2. He just plain doesn’t want to sleep. Life is too interesting; his love for you to is just too strong. I’ve read all the excuses and explanations for toddler sleep issues — molars, separation anxiety, a busy brain, growing pains, nightmares. Truth be known, we don’t know. It’s a huge mystery because toddlers? They can’t tell you much about their toddler sleep issues. Toddlers got 99 problems, and sleep ain’t one (actually is it…for you.)

Here’s a short list of things Kelsey and I have tried for our toddler sleep issues:

  • Crying it out
  • Sleeping on the floor next to him
  • Letting him sleep in our bed
  • Controlled crying
  • Rocking him to sleep
  • Putting him to bed early
  • Putting him to bed late
  • Getting him a pillow

Here’s an even shorter list of things Kelsey and I have tried for our toddler sleep issues that have worked:

  • —–

Yes, that list is suspiciously empty because nothing has worked up to this point. We’ve had marginal success putting him in the crib and firmly telling him to lay down. Yeah, he’ll fall asleep, but there’s a 50/50 chance he wont’ stay asleep and a 70% chance he will be up again in four hours and we start the whole thing over again. You know what? That sucks.

It sucks that we have no control over our toddler sleep issues. The other day I got an email about how sleep is more important than food. Can you even imagine? Did you know sleep deprivation is classified as a type of torture in some countries? Uh, yeah! Durp! My tiny little torturer has been chilling in his crib yelling about dinosaurs for hours at a time for three weeks.

You feel desperate when you’re tired. What can I say that hasn’t already been said a million ways on mom blogs? When I’m tired and I hear people at work talking about how tired they are and they dont’ have kids, I straight up want to punch them in the nose and I’m not a violent person.

So instead of saying that, I’ll bring some positivity to the conversation. Breathe in, breathe out and repeat after me: this too shall pass.


The thing that’s helped me through my ongoing toddler sleep issues is perspective. I’ll blink my tired eyes (a long…..slow blink… makes me feel like I’ve had a minute little snooze…..) and my child will be 8 and worried about his big game; I’ll blink again and he’ll be a teenage boy still sleeping at 1 a.m. I’ll blink again and he’ll be gone to college, and yet again I’ll blink and (God willing) will be rocking my own grandchild as my son drags tiredly through his own home….AND THEN JUSTICE SHALL BE MINE. And I will laugh and laugh and laugh…quietly, as to not wake up the baby.

Although I would truly madly deeply like to know when toddler sleep problems start to fade away, I’m trying to learn patience from them and I try to realize at least he’s not a newborn because y’all, that stuff is SERIOUS.

I take comfort in knowing that I’m not the first mother who is experiencing toddler sleep issues, and you’re not either, and neither one of us will be the last. Trust yourself and your instincts…that’s the best advice you’ll get.

So, spill, have you gone through toddler sleep problems? Any advice for other moms?

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16 comments to Toddler Sleep Issues: A Pep Talk

  • We never had trouble with Laura’s sleep till recently, now that she’s 3 and all. The problem: she wants to read in bed and winds up staying awake for hours. Reading. In bed.

    Exactly what I did as a 9, 10, 11 year old… I am thrilled to have a reader, but I really didn’t expect to have the late night reading issue quite so soon!
    Caitlin MidAtlantic recently posted..Best Ways to Help New Moms

  • melatonin and it is safe.. sounds like they are growing too fast and body is not keeping up with melatonin production. talk to the doctor it helped all of my boys like a miracle
    Southern Angel recently posted..What’s in your purse??fanny pack?? wallet.. Monday Listicles

  • Rachel

    Right there with ya. However, at 2 years 5 months Connor has FINALLY started sleeping through the night. I guess it’s been a LITTLE easier because he has NEVER slept completely through the night so my body has totally adjusted to getting up at least twice. In fact, I STILL wake up twice even though he’s soundly snoozing. Like you said, I always had to remind myself to change my perspective. One day I’ll be longing to have that little tiny body snuggling against mine!

    • Amanda

      See, I almost think it would be worse to deal with NEVER sleeping through the night. Luke used to sleep 13 hours at a time! It was fantastic. The thing that’s confusing about this is that it came about SO suddenly….but I still wouldn’t change a thing :)

  • My 3yo is THE WORST. There’ll be weeks when she wakes me up several times a night, for, like 5 days in a row. By the 5th day, I pretty much want to kick her out with the dogs but I can’t because I’m too tired.
    Greta @gfunkified recently posted..Super Bowl Sunday Snippets

  • Kallay

    Honestly, I just hit the reset button. Whatever I do at bedtime is what I do in the middle of the night. No talking. Aside from gentle shhhh sounds if they’re scared or visibly upset. Check diaper. Fix pajamas. Hold and comfort for a minute or so. Lay back down. Cover up. Start sound machine. Leave the room. They might cry or fuss for a couple of minutes, but they do go back to sleep. If I were to go back in, I would find them still under the covers, but they would stand up if they saw me. Better to leave well enough alone. Teething is a little different because there’s pain involved.
    Kallay recently posted..Stream of Consciousness Sunday! {I Love… My Life!}

  • I totally get it…It’s seriously horrible when kids of any age won’t sleep. I’ve totally Googled at 2 a.m. desperate for answers to no avail.

    Is he still in a crib? I know for Kinley, she straight up started refusing to sleep in her crib and would wake all night crying. Desperate for a solution, we said screw it and tried putting her in a toddler bed and made a BFD out of it. Since then, she’s been great at going down and staying there. She has limited toys in her room, so she does get out and play and “read” books, but we just let it go for an hour or so before going in and getting all Samuel L. Jackson on her. She opens the doors and escapes occasionally, but for the most part she has been really good.

    Other than that, I send you LOTS of virtual coffee and wine. It’s probably just a phase, blah blah blah. Regardless, hope sleep comes your way soon!
    Mrs. Weber recently posted..Recipe: Simple Chicken and Veggie Stir-Fry

    • Amanda

      I honest to God think that’s what’s going to make a difference. He sleeps like an angel in our bed, so I think the next logical step is the big boy bed…but….WAAHH I DON’T WANNA! :)

  • Oh boy so much to look forward to! lol. We have been having some sleep issues recently, too, as you already know! He loves to move around but gets mad when he can’t get back over. Then we help him and he just does it again. Siiiiiigh…zzzzzzzzzz…. oh and I love your quote about punching people in the nose because, yes! Anyway- thanks for linking up!
    Rachel recently posted..Mommy Mondays #2

  • I do not love that you are going through this, but I DO love the knowledge that I’m not the only mom of a 2-year-old who is yelling about dinosaurs from his crib.

    His new thing over the past 3 weeks is to scream – at the top of his lungs – HEY! MOMMY! HEY DADDY! HEEEEEEY MOMMY DADDY! HEY! MOMMY! DADDY! HEY!

    Over. And. Over. And. Over. Please. Kill. Me.

    He is so ready to be in a bed and yet… I keep him in the crib. Cuz I know once he’s in a bed, I’ve created a whole new list of problems for myself.
    Meg {Phase Three of Life} recently posted..Terrible Twos.

    • Amanda

      EXACTLY. Mine does the same thing with the mama/daddy thing. MOMMY! MOMMY! MOMMY! (pause) DADDY! DADDY!

      He will sleep soundly in OUR bed so I’m with you…I honestly think that he would do great in a big boy bed…but…yeah….I do enjoy not having a small child wake me up by standing over me.

  • Brinky’s been having trouble going down at night recently…and waking up earlier and earlier in the morning, but not in the middle of the night, so that’s good, right? Unless you consider 4:00 middle of the night instead of early morning. He’s been out of the crib for a while and slept really well when we first switched over, but now he struggles again. I think it’s mostly what you said – he’s excited about everything in the world and wants to be up having fun, not wasting his time on sleep! But you’re right – this time will pass :)
    Katie E recently posted..Project 365: Week 5

  • Katie

    Omg. Right there with you. My son is 2 1/2 and he’ll sleep fine for a few weeks then poorly for a couple. It’s ridiculous. When does he learn how to self-soothe and sleep consistently?!? This is torture!!

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