How to stop your child's night crying

Woken up at 2am by thunderous wailing? Done all you could but still couldn't get the little one to settle down? It all sounds too familiar and before we can solve your child's problem, we need to identify the culprits.



Likely Culprit Motor Milestones

Research has confirmed that learning to crawl or walk causes babies to wake up more although scientists aren't sure of the exact reason behind this yet. One study tracked infants' sleep patterns and crawling development for six months and discovered a link between the onset of the milestone and increased night waking. 

How To Get Back To Bed

Before you start panicking, lets get to the good news first. Most new skills affect sleep for just a few days. Resist the urge to check on your child. He will use up his energy and go back to sleep on his own. If the rustling turns into crying, monitor which new skill is he trying to master. The new skill he's learning might have him feel frustrated. For example, perhaps he has mastered standing but hasn't yet figured out how to lie back down. Assist him with that and give him some practise time tomorrow.




Likely Culprit Earache or Teething

Ear infections typically occur when a respiratory infection blocks the ear's eustachian tube, causing infected fluid to accumulate. Lying down increases the pressure, making pain worse. If your child's been sniffling or sneezing, there's a good chance this could be the reason for her crying. When it comes to teething, a hormone is to blame. Growth hormone is released shortly after a child falls asleep,which is why teething can be disruptive at night. As new teeth inflame and break through the gums, the discomfort can rouse the steadiest sleeper. How to know if its teething? Drooling, swollen gums and an increase in biting are signs - in addition to night waking, of course.  

How To Get Back To Bed

When you think your child is in pain, give her a pain reliever; acetaminophen and ibuprofen both can help if she is uncomfortable or cranky. Once the pain reliever kicks in and starts relaxing your child (it takes about 20 minutes), you may be able to get her to bed without much fuss. 



Likely Culprit Croup

A kid with croup has a swollen larynx, or voice-box - typically caused by a virus - and this creates a seal-bark cough. It's usually worst at night, possibly because the body's natural steroid levels fall, causing swelling to increase. 

How To Get Back To Bed

Cool air and steam can both ease swelling in the larynx and improve your child's breathing quickly. A cool-air nebulizer (aka humidifier) works best. If you do not have one on hand, sitting in the bathroom with the door closed while a hot shower is running will relax your child's vocal cords and makes it easier to breathe. You can also try bundling your child up and standing in front of an open freezer door. As soon as the coughing starts to lessen, try putting your child back to sleep if she's breathing comfortably. The majority of croup cases can be managed at home, but if your child is struggling to breathe, experiences stridor (a high-pitched sound when breathing in), or if you notice a blue tint in her lips, seek urgent medical attention. Otherwise, call your pediatrician in the morning. 



Likely Culprit Nightmares or night terrors

It depends on the time of the night. In the first few hours after bedtime, most kids move seamlessly from deep, slow-wave sleep to lighter-stage sleep, but some children get stuck in a state of partial arousal known as night terror. You'll know this is the case if an hour or two after going to sleep, your child appears upset, doesn't seem to recognise you and is crying or screaming. Nightmares are more common in the final third of the night. With nightmare, once the child's awake, he can tell you about his dream. Kids generally don't recall night terrors. 

How To Get Back To Bed

It's natural to want to wake your child when he's having a night terror but avoid it if you can. Touching him might exacerbate the episode and make it last longer. Instead, walk into the room and stand there. If your child is awake, he will respond to you. If he is having a sleep terror, let it run its course. Night terrors seem to peak when kids are 3 or 4 and may overlap with bedwetting. If you sense that it is a nightmare, reassure your little one that he is safe and help him calm down with a back rub. Then reset the room for better dream : Try tell him to turn over his pillow. It's like changing the channel on TV. 



Likely Culprit Bedwetting

When the bladder is full, it signals the brain and your kid runs to the potty. But at night, the sleeping brain may not be as receptive. Not all kids have the same arousal threshold.

How To Get Back To Bed

To minimize the disruption, keep extra pajamas and underwear within arm's reach of the bed. You can also set up a double layer sheet in advance. Make the bed with a sheet, then add waterproof mattress pad and another sheet. If your child has an accident, strip off the top sheet and pad, the bed will be ready for her. To help her get back to bed, remind her that accidents aren't a big deal. You may also find it useful to gently rouse your sleeping child before you go to bed and guide her to the bathroom for a quick pee.