When Your 1 Year Old Won’t Fall Asleep

Your 1 year old won’t sleep. What do you do? It’s a stressful situation that puts strain both on you and your baby. Sleep is important after all. You’ve racked your brain for answers and took all the advice from your friends and nothing has worked…your 1 year old still won’t sleep. We are here to help. We have 18 ideas you can try when your 1 year old won’t sleep and hopefully they help! Trust us mama’s and papa’s, we’ve been there, we understand what it is like when your 1 year old won’t sleep.

When Your 1 Year Old Won't Fall Asleep- happy baby standing in the crib- kids activities blog
What do you do when your 1 year old won’t sleep?

My 1 Year Old Won’t Sleep… Help!

At some point, when your 1 year old won’t fall asleep … you feel like you have exhausted your options. I have been there (haven’t we all at some stage in our kids lives?) There is no “right” answer to get your one year old to sleep, so today I am going to give you a plethora of tips and ideas to help.   You can try them all until you find one that works. My only MAIN tip is to try them for three days before you move onto another one. Three days seem to be the key to  kick the bad habit.

When your baby won’t sleep, you’ll do anything. You’ve tried holding him, rocking him, singing to him and he responds with crying, arching his back and wiggling to get down and move around. You come to a point where you just need tips that are going to work. Today we are going to share those tips with you… 18 of them!

When Your 1 Year Old Won’t Fall Asleep

Here are some tips from parents that have dealt with it or are still dealing with it… some tips to help you move past this phase.

Before you try any of these, be sure that it isn’t reflux, an ear infection or any other illness that would cause discomfort. There can be a number of reasons why your 1 year old won’t sleep, so make sure it isn’t medical first.

1. Be Consistent

Know that a bad habit takes three days to break. Whatever you choose, if you are consistent, it will be fixed in (around) three days, in most cases.

2. Start A Routine 1 Hour Before Bed

Start a routine of quiet time about one hour before bed.  Dim all the lights in the house. Turn off all sounds like background TV noise, radio etc… give your child a  warm bath , read books or play something quiet. Talk in a soft voice. ~Melissa McElwain

3. Give A Warning

Give a warning “I’m going to put you to bed in 10 minutes.”  Even at a young age, they understand that they will be going to bed soon, especially if you use the same terms or phrases every night.

4. Tell Him Everything You’re Going To Do

Tell him everything that you do.  I read this one time, in a parenting book, and it was such a great little tip!  Simple things like ” I’m going to pick you up” or “I am helping you put on Pajamas to make you more comfortable to sleep in.” or “I’m turning on your noise machine.”

5. Have Empathy

Have empathy when he cries. Tell him that you know that he is sad that they fun day is over, but that it is time for sleep. Tell him “I will come back to check on you in three minutes” and then leave the room for three minutes.

6. Remind Them What Will Happen Tomorrow

Remind them of what will happen tomorrow. “Go to sleep, because tomorrow we are going to see Grandma!”  (They understand much more than they can tell you.)  

7. Let Them Cry

Let them cry. It is so hard, I know! I also know MANY parents that have done this with huge success. If you go this route, I suggest watching them on a video monitor and not letting them cry for more than 20 minutes without going in and letting them ‘catch their breath’ for a few minutes, before you tell them that it is bedtime again. Try not to pick them up, if you are going to do this method. Just pat their back, give a kiss and tell them to go to sleep and that you love them. It will only last 2-3 days (in most cases), getting shorter every day. Sometimes crying is how they are blocking out all other things and getting out that last bit of energy from the day.

8. Alone Quiet Time

“My middle was like this. The more we held her, rocked her, etc and tried to console her, the more she screamed and cried. Put her in her crib and let her cry, she’d fall asleep in under 5 min and sleep 12 hours. Sometimes they just need alone quiet time.” ~Emily Porter

9. Read Until She Falls Asleep

“Try sitting with her reading books until she falls asleep then sneak out. That was the only thing that worked for us and one day she just all of a sudden was saying goodnight when we tucked her in, left, and she passed right out! We still have to keep the door open but, she is a fantastic sleeper now!” ~Jenn Whelan

1 year old won't sleep- Baby sleeping in striped pajamas- kids activities blog
A good night toy may help your 1 year old when they won’t sleep.

10. Good Night Toy

“Take him to the store and buy a special “goodnight toy” that he only gets to have in his bed. Be very dramatic and explain that it’s his job to help “bedtime monkey” go to sleep. Leave him in his bed while he does his work and promise to come check on him in a little bit.” ~Kristin Winn

11. Pretend To Sleep

“I just put him in bed with me (or lay in his bed), shut the door, say goodnight, and I pretend to sleep. Eventually he gets bored and gets back in bed to go to sleep with me. I make sure there’s nothing dangerous around. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me. If I am in my bed, I move him to his bed when he falls asleep. It’s easier on me and him, rather than having him scream about it, he is usually asleep within 15-20 mins tops”. ~Rene Tice

12. Be Right Back

Tell him that you need to do something (use the potty, get a drink, call Grandma) and you will be right back. Leave the room for 5 minutes and come back in.  Extend it next time. He may be asleep before you get back.

13. Maybe It’s Time For A New Bed

Is he ready for a toddler bed? Try it out one night or for nap time (a video monitor will give you peace of mind). NOTE: you maybe want to just put the crib mattress on the floor instead of investing in a toddler bed. Be sure that the room is safe (all furniture bolted to the wall, outlets covered, no wires or strings anywhere.)

14. Read A Book…To Yourself

Read a book, to yourself, in his room while he lays in bed. This can be your quiet time, too. It may become a time that you look forward to soon enough.

15. Add Another Night Light

Add another night light. This is the age when kids start to become aware of the dark room and many kids start to want to have a light.

16. Lullaby Playlist

Try a lullaby playlist – some kids fall asleep so much better when they hear soft music playing.

17. Buy A Timer

Buy a timer and show how it counts down to dinner time, bath time, book time, bedtime…

I hope that you can find some ideas in here that work. Remember that this is a phase. One day, your child will go to sleep without you.  

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How did you get your 1 year old to sleep? What advice do you have for parents whose 1 year old won’t sleep?

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