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In the last month or so, our 13 month old has woken up around 3 am and been vehemently against going back to sleep. It's sort of a combination of being against being put back to bed and being very awake and alert. This usually means my wife or I sleeping in either the nursery or playpen with her (because they're the most baby proofed) and letting her play for at least a couple hours.

At first we thought this was just a weird week, but now it's becoming a norm and this has to stop. We're thinking about reducing her naps, but that can be impractical on certain days since she sleeps in the car.

Her current schedule has become:

-Wakes up at 3 am with vigorous crying. Sometimes there's a diaper change needed, sometimes not.

-Plays for about 2-3 hours, until around 6 am.

-Takes a nap until around 8 am.

-Combination of meals, playtime and naps while doing errands until around 6 PM. She might get 2 naps during this time of about an hour each. This is often irregular based on what needs to be done that day.

-Start preparing for bed with food (usually a combination of solids and breastmilk), storytime in the nursery, and other activities in the nursery until 7 pm.

-Between 7 and 8 pm we put her to bed. She fights it a lot more some nights than others, so the time it takes can vary a lot.

-Sleeps straight for about 7-8 hours, wakes up and the cycle begins anew.

How can we keep our baby asleep until at least 6 am?

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My pediatrician's advice is: "Make night-time boring," keep the lights off, don't make faces and play and place baby right back in bed once done feeding or meeting her need.

When my son was 13 months old he would wake in the middle of the night regularly as well. It is a true struggle to keep that routine. He'd wake up, breastfeed, back to bed - sometimes. We did find that he wasn't waking just because he wanted to be up. He usually didn't feel comfortable for some reason - teething, growth spurt, hungry/thirsty or he was just over tired from the day's activities or not enough napping.

Broken sleep nights are not an easy and the balance between being attentive and being distracting requires your own wisdom and perception of your child's needs. I do think letting her play is reinforcing your current the behavior you are trying to stop. When she is awake, watch if she chews her hands, drools a lot and avoids foods that require chewing, these were indications for my son that a tooth was coming in and it may be the same for you. If so, try a pain reliever (ask your doctor for dosage and what and how to use), that may help your evenings as well.

  • I think this might be the case. Now that you're mentioning it, I remember an older parent advising me about this a few months ago, but my memory's been torpedoed by this new 3 AM dance off she's having. – Pyrotechnical Aug 13 '18 at 20:28
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    @Pyrotechnical, don't be discouraged when you see progress then your daughter starts getting up again. My son has slept through the night pretty consistently. He just started getting up again - I don't know why yet. Helping your child sleep is the cycle and it's a long process. – Calvin Smythe Aug 14 '18 at 11:51
  • My son used to wake every morning at 5am, until i realised he was getting cold. it can just be so random – WendyG Aug 14 '18 at 15:49
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Once you have established that it isn't teething, it may be time for some sleep training if you haven't done it before. This was the method I used with my son: https://www.netmums.com/baby/sleep-training-techniques---gradual-retreat

I did this for daytime naps first off, and then once I could just put him in his cot and walk off after saying, "sleep tight" I moved onto night times.

1 Place a chair or cushion by your baby's cot.

2 Put your baby down to bed when she's drowsy, then sit on the chair or cushion.

3 When your baby cries, go back to her and gently pat or stroke her. Try to avoid eye contact.

4 As soon as your baby stops, very quietly move your cushion or chair slightly further away from her cot and sit down.

5 If your baby cries again, go back to her and gently pat or stroke her. As before, try to avoid eye contact.

6 As soon as your baby stops crying, very quietly move your cushion or chair slightly further away from her cot and sit down.

7 Repeat this process until your baby is asleep. It can take a good 10 minutes for them to fall into a deeper sleep so that you can leave without waking them.

After you have moved your chair or cushion a few times you will find yourself outside your child's room. By this stage your child should - fingers crossed - be settled.

As my son's room was rather small how I did it was sit in a chair next to his cot reading a magazine. I did the soothing how it says then instantly went back to reading my magazine. He got so used to my being no fun he just started ignoring me and playing himself to sleep.

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