Here’s How To Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems

Constantly knackered? Kids won't sleep? Don't worry, we're here to help.


Restful nights are not in high supply for most of us exhausted moms and dads. Even a kiddo who sleeps like a rock and never wakes up in the night will tire you the heck out.

But, a toddler or small child with sleep problems is, well, a parent’s worst nightmare. So, what is a fatigued father or mama to do? First, identify the behavior and evaluate the possible causes.

Then, create a solution.  

Poof. Boom. Done.

(I am well-aware that NOTHING in parenting is that easy but the following sleeping tips may help a bit!)

Nightmares or night terrors

Possible causes: Kids believe in magic, monsters and other things that many adults may deem “silly” but, developmentally, fear at bedtime is appropriate and makes sense. Plus, who of us out there haven’t had a dream we could have sworn was real?

To your kiddo, their fears are founded. Small children have wild and developing imaginations that can create all sorts of scary nightmares or phobias.

(NOTE: Night terrors are another issue altogether. It is important to note that night terrors are not caused simply by a vivid imagination and you should seek the advice of a physician.)

Solutions to consider:

  • Avoid scary movies, TV shows or books around bedtime (or altogether)
  • Do not belittle the child’s fears.
  • Do not spend a lot of time talking about or focusing on fears or bad dreams. While you may feel inclined to explain all about how the dream could not have happened or how none of their fears are real, speaking at length about the nightmares or “things that go bump in the night” will only validate the baby’s imaginary worries.
  • Soothe the child until they relax but do not get into the habit of allowing them to sleep with you or getting into their bed for the night.

Early bird

Possible causes: Toddlers may wake up with the sun and associate light with time for action! They cannot tell time and even if they could, toddlers, by nature, do not like to be alone. They will usually cry out for you to get them.

You may get lucky enough to have a toddler who will play alone in his or her crib for a few minutes, but that can cause problems later with climbing out of the crib, etc.  

Solutions to consider:

  • Establish a consistent daily sleep schedule.
  • If the child wakes and cries for you, explain to them that it is not time to wake up just yet.
  • Practice alone time throughout the day in small increments so that he or she may be OK staying alone a bit in the mornings.

Night owl

Possible causes: Just as with the early bird baby, a lack of a consistent sleep routine is often a massive contributor to this problem.

Solutions to Consider:

  • Make sure that you have a regular bedtime scheduled each day
  • Establish a calming and consistent bedtime routine
  • Move up the afternoon nap

Raising hell in the middle of the night

Reason: Your little one, quite simply, doesn’t want to be alone.

Solutions to consider:

  • A regular and consistent sleep schedule
  • Allow them to “cry it out” for small increments of time from 5 to 7 minutes until he or she relaxes and (hopefully) self-soothes. Some people are very opposed to letting infants cry it out, which is fine. (I am not one of those people but I get it.) However, a toddler who won’t sleep and is crying is more throwing a tantrum than actually crying. Please, though,  if this is something you are not comfortable with, do not do it.


Possible causes: Sleepwalking can be frightening. It can be downright scary to find a “half-awake” little one wandering around the house. However, it is relatively common.

Solutions to consider:

  • Make sure the baby is getting plenty of rest. Lack of rest can cause sleepwalking in little ones.
  • Set up a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Make sure he or she is not running a fever or sick. Call a doctor if you are concerned.
  • Make sure medication is not to blame. Again, check in with your physician if this is a worry.

Well, if you have a toddler with sleep issues, I sincerely hope some of this information proved helpful. I feel for you! Having a little one who won’t sleep or doesn’t sleep well is a real bummer. But, keep your head up.  This too shall pass.

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Jessica Gray
Jessica Gray lives in North Carolina with her husband and two little boys. She enjoys cooking, but she hates cleaning house. She's deeply passionate about kids and education - her experiences working with children as a teacher have been some of the most rewarding of her life. Writing has been a lifelong passion that started with notebooks, old scraps of paper, and journals. She loves to write informative and educational pieces for kids and adults.