6 Reasons Your Child Isn’t Sleeping Well

Sleep. It becomes almost an obsession when you become a mom. I took sleep for granted pretty much my whole life. Once my son was born, sleep became a precious commodity to me. One that I never seemed to get enough of. This is a common problem for moms. Once your baby isn’t waking to feed every couple hours, there should be some relief. However, that is not always the case. Here are some reasons I have found for why your child isn’t sleeping well.


This one seems like a no-brainer. Sometimes your child is simply just hungry. Even if your infant has been sleeping through the night for some time, they can still wake from hunger. Babies go through growth spurts, both mentally and physically, and will be more hungry than usual.

Even toddlers and older children will experience periods where they require more food than usual. My son is now three and generally will sleep pretty well. However, I always know when I’m going to need to have a shopping spree for larger clothing when he starts waking up in the night hungry.

To combat this, I always try to give some type of snack between dinner and bedtime. I try to find something reasonably healthy and filling to help him stay asleep.


Another reason your child isn’t sleeping well could be thirst. Just like hunger, sometimes kids get thirsty. I have tried to combat this with keeping a cup of water in my son’s room next to the bed, but this trick hasn’t helped. He still wakes up and wakes me up for a fresh drink. What has worked a little better for us has been making sure he has something to drink before bed.

I am not sure how I will handle this with potty training since everything I have read says to limit fluids at night.

Too Quiet

When my son was born, I had several people tell me NOT to be quiet when he was sleeping. I was told that babies need to learn to sleep through noise. I even bought a sound machine for his room. It plays either white noise, or rain sounds.

This could be another reason your child isn’t sleeping well. My son wakes if his sound machine isn’t on. He can’t seem to stay asleep when its too quiet. My advice is that if you start a child sleeping with sound, make sure not to suddenly stop.

Too Hot or Cold

A big factor for when my child isn’t sleeping well is the climate in the room and how he is dressed. If he gets too hot, he wakes. If he gets too cold, he wakes. It took a lot of trial and error on my part to figure out how to balance this out.

If you keep your house really warm, I suggest dressing your child in light layers with a blanket. It is February, but sometimes my son wears only cotton pants to bed, with no shirt. He also has a fan on in his room while he sleeps. His room gets really warm at night.

If you like to keep your house on the colder side, make sure to layer your child in warm pajamas, made with thicker or fleece fabric. Footed pajamas are great for cold nights. Also keep warm blankets on the bed. If you have an infant, you can put a onesie on underneath footed pajamas, or try a sleep sack for warmth.  (Always follow safe sleep guidelines)


Babies and children grow so quickly. As I mentioned above, they can be extra hungry during these periods and that can interrupt sleep.

However, another reason your child isn’t sleeping well could be from growing pains. This is something that not everyone is aware of or has experience with. My son is tall for his age. Really tall. At three, he is the size of some 5 year olds. Sometimes he wakes in the night with growing pains. This is something that I didn’t experience as a child. My husband, who is 6’6″ tall, however, remembers vividly having growing pains in his legs for most of his life.

There isn’t much you can do to prevent this. If they seem to be really uncomfortable for our son, we will give ibuprofen. I always recommend talking to your pediatrician any time your child appears to be in pain, and any time you are considering giving your child medication. Your doctor can tell you what will be most effective and proper dosage.


When a baby or child isn’t feeling well, they are not always able to communicate that with you. If your child isn’t sleeping well, and nothing else seems to be helping, they may be coming down with an illness.

I always check my child’s temperature, and make sure they aren’t congested or showing any signs of illness if he isn’t waking for any other obvious reason.

The Bottom Line

You will sleep again, momma. I promise, sleep will come again. Hang in there. Do what you can to ensure your child is sleeping well and you will soon be able to catch up yourself. Possibly sometime before they graduate college, if you’re lucky.

Never been afraid to contact your doctor if your baby isn’t sleeping well, and you are unable to find a reason or solution. It’s always better to look like the paranoid mom than it is to miss signs that something else may be going on.

Now, get some rest, at least as much as you can.

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About Lisa Wingerter

I'm a 32 year old, married, stay-at-home-mom from the Metro Detroit area

View all posts by Lisa Wingerter →

13 Comments on “6 Reasons Your Child Isn’t Sleeping Well”

  1. I don’t have kids however these tips make sense. I can especially relate to the “too quiet” tip. I am the same way. I have to have a fan on or some other form of white noise in the background to lull myself to sleep.

  2. “You will sleep again, momma”….yes, there’s hope! We sleep trained early so we are blessed with an excellent sleeper. BUT last night was tough….dad is out of town and my 2-year-old wouldn’t sleep in his crib. A first unless he’s sick…no good for me, I’m exhausted!!

  3. oh this is a complete and true list. i remember when i was having my kids, then i and my husband were still in UT, whenever my kids were sick they hardly sleep.

  4. Although I am a seasoned mom, I have looked into your tips as if new to this matter. It is commendable, quite insightful, and true. If we think of ouselves as adults, all or any of the list could prevent us from sleeping too. And kids are only littler versions of us. Thanks so much for this well thought out and constructed piece.

  5. This is such a great list! We’re in the stage (18 months) where we wake up once a night for at least one of these reasons… usually paired with a VERY full diaper. I would say I can’t wait to sleep again, but I’m 32 weeks pregnant, so I don’t see that happening for a while. 😉

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