There are many causes for toddler night waking. Things like potty-training and teething can all cause your child to wake up once, twice, or even three times per night. Read on to find out more. 

One day your toddler is sleeping like a log, and the next day he wakes up multiple times at night, crying until you lull him back to sleep.

When morning arrives, you feel low on energy and lack the motivation to go on with your day.

What is the reason for the toddler night waking? Is he in pain? Is he scared of the dark? Could he be teething

I’m here to tell you that night waking is very normal for toddlers, although it can get very exhausting for parents.

There are many reasons why your super-sleeper has suddenly turned into a night-owl. Here are the top 6:

Potty training

When a child is potty-training, he’s becoming aware of his body. He’s slowly learning how it feels when you have to pee or poop.  

It’s those sensations to pee or poop that may start waking him up at night. 

And if the sensations of having to pee don’t wake him up, he might wake up because a wet or dirty diaper is causing him discomfort.

This anxiety of learning a new skill and the stress of experiencing new sensations can contribute to a toddler waking up at night at odd hours. Potty-training can even lead to night terrors.

What can you do?

Make sure your child is going to sleep on an empty bladder. Encourage him to visit the potty before bed so that a wet diaper doesn’t wake him up in the middle of the night.

toddlers separation anxiety

Separation anxiety

Another reason for the toddler night waking may be separation anxiety. He craves the familiarity and security you provide and feels stressed when you’re not around. Leaving your toddler in his room at night can cause anxiety as it’s during the nighttime that he experiences the longest stretches of alone time. 

What can you do?

Create a relaxing bedtime routine that includes a warm bath and a story before bed. This will help ease him into the notion that alone time is coming. 

Another thing you can do is give your child a lovey to hold or turn on some soothing sounds like ocean waves or forest rain. 

Try to explain to him that the time apart is temporary and is not a cause for alarm.

Transitioning to a toddler bed

Transitioning to a toddler bed can be a struggle. Children often get out of bed or start crying inconsolably when they discover they’re alone in the room. 

What can you do?

Start by helping your child settle with a bedtime routine. A good bedtime routine is one that includes warm baths, relaxing massages, and plenty of cuddles.  

Try saying nice things about the bed. You can say, “Oh, you’re such a big boy. You’re going to get a big bed.” Talking positively about his new bed will help get him on-board with the idea of transitioning from a crib to a toddler bed.

If he gets out of bed, remain calm, and return him to his room. Don’t entertain him or cuddle with him. Keep it as boring as possible, and eventually, he’ll learn what he has to do.

toddler teething


All babies are born with around 20 teeth under the gums at birth. In a short time, all of these teeth have to come out by the age of 3.

If your toddler is teething that might be why he’s waking up in the night. Other symptoms to look out for are drooling, swollen gums, changes in eating, and chewing on hard things. 

What can you do?

Sometimes, massaging your child’s gums with a clean finger or wet gauze can help. 

Another thing you can try is to put something cold in his mouth. Give him a chilled pacifier, spoon, cold washcloth, or a solid refrigerated teething toy or ring.

If you see that your child is extremely irritated and in pain, call your pediatrician. They might recommend getting an over-the-counter remedy such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. 

Night terrors

Night terrors happen in 2% of children between the ages of 2 and 8. They usually happen a few hours after your toddler falls asleep, and may last up to 45 minutes. 

You’ll know that your child is having a night terror episode if he’s showing one or more of the following symptoms: 

  • Kicking.
  • Sweating.
  • Sleepwalking.
  • Screaming.
  • Inconsolable crying.

It’s not precisely known that causes night terrors. However, many sleep experts believe that sleep deprivation, stressful life events, a full bladder, and fever can all cause night terrors in a child. 

What can you do?

By no means wake up your child. Doing so may only make him more agitated and disoriented. Wait until the episode passes. Your child will probably go back to sleep easily. 

In case he doesn’t go back to sleep, try soothing him back to sleep.

Talk to him in a calming voice. Offer comfort by saying, “it’s okay; everything will be fine.”

Don’t forget to turn on the light so that he feels less confused by shadows.


By now, we discussed how toddler night waking can be due to teething, potty-training, and night terrors. 

Well, hunger is another thing that can keep your child up at night. 

What can you do?

Make sure your toddler is getting the calories he needs during the day. He should be eating a well-balanced diet with regular healthy snacks. Good snack options before bedtime are nuts, peanut butter, Greek yogurt, hummus, eggs, beans, and whole grains.

Warm milk can be soothing and may help a child relax. If you’ve recently ditched the bedtime feed or bottle, introduce a cup of milk.