15mo easy to sleep at night, struggle during the day

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15mo easy to sleep at night, struggle during the day

Postby jkkfly » Fri 14 Jun, 2013 8:58 pm

Hi there,

I am hoping you can help us again... Our 15mo is quite happy to go off to sleep of an evening, sometimes even desperate to be put in his cot. He finds his comfortable position and slips off into a deep sleep. BUT, we do exactly the same for his daytime nap and all hell breaks loose!! He will cry for over an hour if you let him. I don't understand what the difference is/why he does this? What can we do to solve this problem??

Many thanks,
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Re: 15mo easy to sleep at night, struggle during the day

Postby NgalaOnline » Mon 17 Jun, 2013 10:15 am

Hi Jkkfly

Thank you for your post. This is a reasonably common problem, that some babies or toddlers might be very tired by an evening and are therefore able to go to sleep easily - but during the day the same toddlers may have enough energy to be able to resist being put to bed. It is frustrating for parents when they know that the child can go to sleep on their own, but when the child resists this at certain times.

It is difficult to know from the information given why your son is doing this. One possible thing that may help is to experiment with making your toddler's day sleep later in the day. This is not always possible or may not work for every toddler (for example if it means that he will wake up too late in the day or will not go to sleep at night) but is a solution that does work well for some families. Some parents find their child is not very tired at 11.30am or 12noon when they are typically put down for a sleep - but if they remain awake until 1 - 2pm some toddlers will then go to sleep without any resistance. Many parents find that if they wake their child by 3.30pm they will still be able to settle to sleep without difficulties in the evening.

It could also be that your toddler is experiencing separation anxiety. It is common for toddlers to experience an intense surge of this around the middle of the second year. This can be intensified if there are any recent changes in the family (such as moving) or if the toddler has recently begun day care. If this is the case parents often find that they need to spend a period of a week to several weeks sitting in the child's room as the child falls to sleep, but without engaging in conversation / play or without doing the settling for the child. Often, if the child's resistance is due to separation anxiety, just having the parent sitting in the room with their eyes averted or facing away may be enough to reassure the child that they are safe and can go to sleep. You can "sssshhhh" or talk very calmly and quietly to your child during this time if that seems to help him settle. If he repeatedly stands up it is best to ignore this behaviour for a reasonable length of time (such as 10 minutes or so) each time before trying to lay him down, as laying him down each time he stands can quickly become a game to the toddler. It is common for the toddler to be excited the first few times the parent remains in the room as he falls asleep, and you may find that he is awake for a long time at first as he tries to engage you or test the boundaries. It is best to try to remain patient and consistent through the first few days (taking some music or a book in to read may help you to not feel frustrated). Once the initial few days have passed and your toddler has worked out that nothing exciting is going to result from mum / dad being in the room it is common for the toddler to begin to fall asleep quickly and with less protesting. You may like to spend an extra few days still sitting in the room as he falls asleep to help him consolidate his comfort with going to sleep, and then begin moving your chair or your position towards the doorway a bit each day or every few days, at the beginning of each settling session. By the end of a week you may be able to sit in the doorway and then begin to make short "excursions" from the chair and back again, building the length of these times away. Some toddlers are reassured by their parent calling to them from a nearby room, or just from hearing their parents moving around and conducting their activities nearby.

It may also be helpful to look at how your toddler has been recently falling to sleep for his naps, as in response to his resistance to going to bed you may have introduced some ways of settling that have now established as sleep associations. It is quite common for children to be able to have different "sleep rules" or sleep association for day and night. If you have been rocking, holding or feeding him to sleep recently to overcome the resistance to going for a nap, it is quite likely that this has now become a day time sleep association that he seeks at the beginning of each settling session. If you feel it is likely that he has developed an external sleep association for falling asleep, you may like to read the following post which contains some information on how to use hands-on in-cot settling to smooth the transition to a child falling asleep in his cot. After a few days of this hands on settling it is helpful to then begin drawing back on this hands-on settling and begin working towards your son doing more and more of his settling in the cot independently. If you find that your child seems overstimulated or resistant to hands-on settling in the cot (which is common with some older babies) you may find that just maintaining a presence next to the his cot is also helpful for smoothing his transition, even if he does show some protesting in the initial days.


I hope that you find this information helpful. You may like to consider ringing the Helpline to discuss this matter further and get some more support. Alternatively you may like to attend the Ngala Parent Workshop "And So To Sleep" which covers sleep and settling for babies aged 7 months to 2 years:

http://www.ngala.com.au/course/Parentin ... o-to-Sleep
This information is general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for the personalized assistance that can be received from the Ngala Helpline by telephone.

For families residing in Western Australia you can also contact the
Ngala Helpline
Telephone 9368 9368 or 1800 111 546 for country access
Available 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm
or request a callback online http://www.ngala.com.au/Ngala-and-You/Ngala-Helpline/Contact-Ngala-Helpline-Online

For helplines in other Australian states please follow this link
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