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What can I do to help my toddler not cry out in the middle of the night?

My 15-month old cries out loudly in the middle of the night. The crying can last from 2-5 minutes. Is this normal? The crying is so shrill that I worry. Is there anything I can do besides keep with a consistent bedtime and night time routine? Thanks, Sarah

Submitted by swenthold

Your little one may actually be asleep when he is crying out during the night.  Just like sleep talking, some little ones “sleep cry.”  If this is the case, there is nothing to worry about.  It is actually not disturbing your little one’s sleep, although it may be disturbing yours.  Not getting enough sleep can contribute to sleep talking (and other nighttime behaviors like sleep walking), so be sure you have a consistent and early bedtime.  If your little one, however, is awake when he cries out during the night, try to sort out what may be contributing to these wakings.  Sometimes parents inadvertently reinforce middle of the night wakings by responding to their child sometimes but not others, such as going and getting their little one if it is after 5:00 in the morning.  Your little one can’t tell time, so he may be checking all night to see if it’s time to get up.  When you don’t come get him, he’ll go back to sleep until the next time he wakes up and checks in again.  Finally, if you think your child is experiencing any pain, be sure and talk to your healthcare provider.

The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.

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