How can I stop my son from waking up so many times a night just to get a drink?

Q: My son is 27-months-old. During the middle of the night he gets 3-4 times to get a drink. He only takes a sip of his drink and he's right back to sleep. I wonder why it is that he keeps waking up, and how I can stop him from waking up so many times just to get a drink. It's not that he's up for long periods of time but every time he wakes up we need to get up with him and we aren't getting any constant sleep! HELP!

A: Before taking any steps to change this behavior, it’s important to take your son to his pediatrician for a checkup. Although it’s likely that your son’s middle-of-the-night thirst is nothing more than a behavioral issue, it could be a symptom of diabetes. In addition to increased thirst, other symptoms of diabetes include increased hunger and more frequent urination. Children with diabetes might also seem irritable and fatigued, and they often lose weight and develop a yeast infection in the diaper area. If your son’s pediatrician is concerned about diabetes, he or she will order a blood test.

If your son’s pediatrician rules out diabetes and other physical causes of increased thirst, you can rest assured that your son’s middle-of-the-night drinking is nothing more than a habit. Make sure he gets plenty to drink during the day, and then stop offering him a drink when he wakes up in the middle of the night. You might have to let him cry himself back to sleep a few times, but it will be worth it in the long run. Once your son stops waking you and himself several times each night, you’ll both be happier.

Answered by Dr. Rallie McAllister

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