Why Does My Toddler Wake Up Crying Uncontrollably?

Why Does My Toddler Wake Up Crying Uncontrollably?

We all love our sleep, and it’s important, too. As you may know, raising a baby can come with many disruptions to sleep (hello, sleep regressions). When your tiny newborn enters the toddler stage, their minds will start to absorb, understand, and communicate much more.

Therefore, there are many reasons why they might start crying uncontrollably in the middle of the night. Once you’ve ruled out nothing is wrong, you can try simpler solutions like adjusting their environment or using weighted sleep solutions to promote better sleep.

Our weighted sleep solutions naturally reduce stress and increase relaxation through deep stimulation to provide security and comfort. Like a hug, all night long. If you’re dealing with a trying toddler, you might be tired, but hang in there as we help you find your way back to a good night’s sleep again. Here’s what you should know about toddlers crying in the middle of the night. 

What causes my toddler to wake up crying uncontrollably?

Truthfully, there are a plethora of reasons your toddler might be struggling to sleep through the night. Waking up crying uncontrollably can leave you both feeling jarred and worried. As a parent, those are not sounds you want to hear in the middle of the night. It’s best to consult your doctor to determine the cause of the crying, but as you brainstorm in the meantime, here are a few ideas:

  1. Nighttime scaries: Your toddler may have woken up scared. Perhaps they had a bad dream or woke up and realized you are not in the room (separation anxiety). Things like a dark room or just being alone can be scary, too. Toddlers can also become scared by something they saw days ago, such as a scary villain on TV. With a little bit of detective work, you might be able to understand what’s scaring them and help them through it. If it’s something simple like the dark, stick some glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling for light or plug in a night light. 
  2. They want something (maybe it’s just you): With limited verbal communication, your toddler may wake up in the middle of the night wanting something, and crying is their way to communicate. Whether they are hungry, lonely, scared, or just not tired, they might wake up and cry. 
  3. Something is wrong: To find out what’s wrong with your toddler, you may have to ask a series of questions and or pay close attention to signs. Perhaps your toddler is teething, or maybe they are not feeling good. If you feel there is something out of the ordinary wrong with your toddler, see your doctor immediately and pay close attention to them day and night to detect any other symptoms. 
  4. Anxiety: Your toddler may experience anxiety when they are separated from you. You probably put them to bed in a gentle and fun manner, and now they have woken only to realize you are gone. If your toddler is experiencing anxiety, try our Weighted Dream Sleep Sack (up to 36 months) or our Weighted Toddler Blanket (ages 3+ and 30+ pounds). The gentle weight can help naturally reduce anxiety for your little one while keeping them warm and cozy. 

What does toddler sleep regression look like?

Some common toddler sleep regression ages are 12 months, 18 months, 2 years old, and 3 years old. Babies can develop at different paces, though, so your experience might look different. Expect sleep regressions to last for a week or two, and commit to staying on track. 

What are the symptoms of night terrors in toddlers?

Night terrors can startle your baby awake. Night terrors usually happen in preschool or primary-aged children, and most will grow out of them. Some signs or symptoms that your toddler is waking with night terrors include waking with a sudden scream and looking frightened, fast breathing, sweaty with a glassy stare, and some may be unable to be comforted.

There’s little you can do during a night terror episode, but there are ways to keep your toddler safe. If you suspect your toddler is experiencing night terrors, speak to your doctor. 

Can separation anxiety cause sleep regression?

Our babies can go through phases of being extra clingy. For some babies, it seems the phase never ends. For some other babies, the separation anxiety might not surface until they are a bit older.

Some babies start to experience separation anxiety around 2 years of age, which can lead to sleep regressions. Separation anxiety can affect sleep or cause them to wake up crying at any age, though, especially if you’re encouraging them to sleep alone. It’s normal to want to comfort your baby, and parenting styles can vary.

Try offering your baby a gentle touch or boring bedroom visit, but do your best to keep them asleep in their own space. 

Can two-year molars cause sleep regression?

Two-year molars can be uncomfortable, causing a sleep regression for your baby. Talk to your doctor to determine the best ways to help your baby remain as comfortable as possible to help them get the sleep they need. 

What should I do when my toddler wakes up and won't stop crying?

When your toddler wakes you in the middle of the night, it can disrupt the entire household. While you might be desperate to get back to sleep, be patient and know your little one won’t be so little for long.

Whatever approach you choose to take, be consistent, especially if it occurs on the regular. For most of us, the goal is to help teach our baby to self-soothe and stay asleep in their own environment. 

Dreamland weighted sleep solutions feature CoverCalm® Technology that naturally reduces stress while providing baby with the feeling of comfort and security. It can help baby fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer, giving the gift of sleep to baby and the entire household.

Our Weighted Dream Sleep Sack is designed for babies up to 36 months. Once your baby has outgrown our weighted swaddles and sleep sacks, graduate to our Weighted Toddler Blanket for toddlers 3+ and 30+ pounds. 

Help your baby fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. . . shop Dreamland today!









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In June 2022, the AAP updated its sleep guidelines and is currently not recommending weighted sleep solutions. You can read the full report here. Please note that this is not a recall. Dreamland Baby is in ongoing dialogue with the AAP regarding its stance on weighted sleepwear and hopes it will result in the statement being retracted.