Waking Up at Night
You probably wake up a few times during the night. You briefly open your eyes, register that you have woken up, and close your eyes again. This sequence comes so naturally to you that you probably don't even remember it in the morning.
Young children, however, don't yet know how to easily transition from sleep to waking and back again. It is not unusual for one-year-olds to wake up feeling frightened and to immediately cry out for you. If they really get scared (or if it's early in the morning and the sun is up), they might climb out of their crib and come get you.
Does day care help a child sleep at night?
Day care usually gets children on a routine that is rarely, if ever, changed, which helps them feel relaxed at bedtime. Day care also provides your one-year-old with constant activity that can tire him out for bed.
It's important to realize that learning how to fall back asleep is as much a process as learning to fall asleep in the first place. See sleep training as part of your job rather than as a nuisance designed to rob you of more sleep. When you teach your child how to sleep, you not only teach him something valuable, but you may be able to go back to the world of grownups who get to sleep through the night!
When your child calls to you at night, don't go to her immediately. First, try calling back to her and saying “Go to sleep. It's still bedtime.” Give her a few minutes to settle herself down. If that doesn't work, go in to her. Without turning on the light, say, “It's okay. Go back to sleep. It's not time to wake up yet.” You might tuck her in again, pat her back for a few minutes, and give her a quick kiss or hug, but don't take her out of her crib or bed.
If she cries or gets upset when you try to leave, go back and reassure her again. Remind her that she went to bed a little while ago and she's just as fine now as she was then. If you need to, turn on a song that relaxes her or sing to her for a few seconds so that she is reminded of her bedtime routine. Do all you can though to not encourage waking up. Give her a few minutes to settle herself and then leave.
If this starts to become a nightly routine, you may need to stop getting out of bed and try to calm her simply by calling back to her, “You're okay — go back to sleep.” Your child may get used to the attention she's getting and may start doing more and more to get you to pick her up. While it's important for your child to feel secure and comforted, your goal here is to give her some solid sleep time, which is vital to her health.
Many parents teach their children to go to bed at night but bring them into the grownup bed if the child wakes up in the middle of the night. There is nothing inherently wrong with this — it's simply an adaptation of the family bed, which is very common in many cultures (as described in the following section). However, it might be worthwhile trying to teach your child to go back to sleep just so she learns how.