child nightlight

Why is my child waking in the night?

Sudden night wakings can occur in babies and children at almost any age and there often seems to be no logical answer. Even for those who have been sleeping a full 12 hours through the night since 8 to 12 weeks can experience sleep disturbances at any time. 

Here are some of the main causes and how to remedy them:

Daytime naps – too long or too short

Possibly daytime nap or naps need to be shortened and or condensed as the toddler maybe getting too much sleep during the day which is causing disruptions in his sleep pattern during the night.

In some cases early waking is due to a lack of sleep rather than too much. The parents may have mistakenly thought that the older toddler can handle a later bedtime or they may have dropped the daytime nap too soon. As the childs' sleep-bank depletes it can have a negative effect on long, night-time sleep causing them to wake during sleep lighter sleep cycles, crying out during the night instead of peacefully sleeping through as they were previously.

Emotional stress

Your toddler may be waking due to some emotional stress around them. Life isn’t always easy and challenging circumstances such a job loss, financial worries, a family bereavement or marital /relationship issues can be picked up on by little people, however much we try to shield them. This emotionally charged atmosphere can unsettle a child which in turn may lead to ‘unexplained’ night waking.

Ending the night with a special night time message is a great way to bond with your child and help them feel secure in their bedroom. One way to do this is to make a call out to magical folk such as fairies and unicorns, to come and watch over them and give them good dreams.  Little Belle nightlight whimsically themed nightlights are perfect to help with this.

By making this a part of their bedtime routine, you will also help signal to their brains that it’s wind down time, making it easier for them to feel sleepy naturally.


Teething pain may be disrupting their normally peaceful sleep pattern. Pain relieving gel, oral pain killers, teething powders or homeopathic remedies are the options available to relieve the symptoms and can be given at bedtime and during the night as necessary. Do try to keep the situation calm and administer the pain relief with the minimum of fuss, whilst giving comforting reassurances and then settle baby back to bed.


Sickness can have a negative effect and cause sudden night disturbances. In some cases it’s obvious as the child may be vomiting or have a temperature, other times it might be more difficult to detect, for example – an ear infection or fluid build-up in the ear which may not give any outward symptoms. Giving pain relief and comfort as necessary is vital when they are unwell, but it’s also important to continue to try to resettle them back to sleep as rest will help them to recover.


These can affect a child’s sleep patterns as their little body has to work hard to process and deal with all the vaccine strains which in turn can affect their gut health and cause tummy ache or excess wind. However, this is often not an obvious reason for night disturbances as it can occur as long as three weeks after they were given the vaccines! Usually the disruptions will stop as quickly as they started and often the problems only last for a few days.

Developmental changes

These occur almost constantly as babies grow and can cause unexpected night wakings at various stages. There is no set age these happen and not all children will be disturbed by them, but if your child is 20 months plus and is suddenly waking at night and or refusing to settle at bedtime, it could be that they have outgrown their cot.

As their walking ability stabilises, they learn to run or even use a scooter it fills they experience a new freedom – the negative side of this is that they can grow to no longer like being confined to a cot.

Of course, for a parent who is experiencing sleep disturbances the thought of giving their already active toddler freedom at night-time by putting him into a bed can seem to be the most ludicrous suggestion in the world but it is a solution that works for very many.

You can see more on our other blog post about transitioning from a cot to a bed.


Back to blog