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  • Jessica Berk

Toddler sleep regression & night time waking in bigger kids | Toddler Sleep Q&A

I’m answering some of the sleep questions that my audience and clients ask me most often. In fact, the two questions I'm answering today were submitted on IG in my Thursday "Ask Jessica Anything" question box. If you want to know more about how to stop night time waking in bigger kids and learn about toddler sleep regression, stick around!

If you have questions or struggles of your own about kids and sleep, send me a DM over on Instagram @AwesomeLittleSleepers and get your questions answered by me!


>>Watch this blog on my Awesome Little Sleepers YouTube channel! 👇


Night time waking in bigger kids

Question: My 5 year old goes to bed independently, but wakes up 1-3 times every night.


First off, great job with bedtime! Most of the time, kids wake up overnight because they’ve gotten used to a parent staying with them when they fall asleep at bedtime. But, in this case, the child is already falling asleep by themselves without mom or dad in the room.

Now’s the time to put on your detective hat and think about what benefit your child may be getting by waking up overnight. Night time waking is usually related to something like the parent tucking them back in, or giving extra good night snuggles or kisses. Sometimes parents let kids sleep in bed with them, too, which is viewed as a big reward by the child.

Kids are creatures of habit and they can get really hooked on overnight rewards and interactions with you.

So yes, they might be waking up JUST because they’ve gotten used to you tucking them back in. They move into a light stage of sleep and instead of just rolling over, they wake up to get their tuck in!

If you sometimes let them sleep in your bed with you when they wake up in the middle of the night, this can actually encourage them to wake up. I see this a lot with families who allow co-sleeping after a certain time in the morning, like 5 a.m. The child has no idea when it’s 5 a.m. so they’ll likely wake at other times (like midnight & 2 a.m.) just checking to see if it’s snuggle time.

Take a look at your behavior - that’s all you have control of anyway! When you look close, you’ll see that there’s something you’re doing to encourage the wake ups.

Once you identify it - stop doing it! Maybe walk them back to bed, but don’t tuck them in or kiss. Take away the co-sleeping option and always take them back to their room. Even alternate which parent responds in case the child always defaults to one or the other. Making little changes like this helps to break the habit cycle and eliminate the wake ups.

Toddler sleep regression

Question: 2 year sleep regression - fights sleep & asks for food after routine


Okay, this sounds like good ole fashioned, normal 3-year-old creativity! I always say, the only thing certain with kids is change. And this is true for toddler sleep regression around bedtime, too.

Your child may have loved reading two books and singing lullabies with you for two solid years, and then one day they can be like - “No, I don’t wanna read books! I don’t like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” It’s normal.

This sudden coming out and asking for food after lights-out is no different.

At this age, your child is still learning how the world works. What happens if they act like this or say that? Your reaction goes a long way to help determine how they choose to behave.

For example, if you’re on the phone and your child interrupts you to say “I’m hungry,” you might respond in one of two ways. You might look at them and say “Mommy is on the phone, I’ll get you a snack when I’m done,” and then ignore their pleas.

Or you may try ignoring them, but they start getting more creative to get your attention - pulling on your pants, crying, yelling and finally, after a few minutes, you give in and hand them a bag of Goldfish.

If you give them the Goldfish, they’ve just learned that if they throw a tantrum and really act out, they’ll get what they want. You can forget having a phone call in peace again.

It’s the same when it comes to bedtime stalling. The better the stalling works, the more of it you’ll see. If there seems to be one request that derails bedtime, try adding it into the evening routine so it’s planned for.

If you’re okay with an evening snack, offer it before bedtime and then have your child say “goodnight” to the kitchen until the morning. If they still ask for food, you can feel confident that they aren’t actually hungry and you can stick with “no”. And no is a complete sentence!

Remember, if you’ve got a sleep question, drop me a DM on Instagram and I’ll answer it in an upcoming episode.

If you need some more sleep advice, check out this video: Why Can’t My Toddler Fall Asleep Without Me!


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