When I was pregnant, all anyone told me was how I'd soon be saying goodbye to sleep. But generally, once you find your groove and your little one is no longer a newborn, those midnight interruptions turn into a distant memory. That is, until your child becomes a toddler. At that time, you may notice your little one doesn't sleep through the night as easily and you may start to wonder why does my toddler wake up at night.
In a way, it's like comparing apples to oranges. A 3-month-old and a 3-year-old can both disrupt bedtime, but in entirely different ways. An infant cries out because they can't tell you they're hungry or cold or wet. A toddler will poke you in the face until you're awake just to tell you they remembered drawing a blue dinosaur in class yesterday. True story.
Besides marveling at preschool works of art at some ungodly hour, what causes a toddler to get up in the middle of the night? As pediatric sleep expert Dr. Jodi Mandell told Baby Center, change is the most common reason a toddler wakes up during the night — a change in their environment, schedule, or even the weather outside. Children, especially younger ones, rely on routine. So middle of the night disturbances could be their way of trying to adjust to their new situation. Once they've acclimated themselves, their sleep pattern should resolve itself.
However, if nothing new has affected their daily agenda and their fitful slumber is accompanied by crying, fever, or a cold sweat, you may want to call the pediatrician. According to the experts at What To Expect, being sick contributes to night waking. Whether it's just a bug that's making the rounds or a possible infection, it's a good idea to have a physician rule out any medical issues. If there isn't anything illness-related interrupting bedtime, night terrors can affect your toddler's sleep, too, according to Kids Health. Different than nightmares, night terrors are more akin to sleep-walking and likely the result of your toddler's central nervous system sill maturing. Though it may freak you out, you can rest assured they won't remember the incident since night terrors occur during the deepest part of the sleep cycle, as Kids Health further explained. The best thing you can do in this scenario is to soothe, not wake, your toddler and try to keep their pre-bedtime routine mellow. If all else fails, just remember that these sleepless nights won't last forever.