My 13-month-old son has been waking during the night crying and screaming. I go in there and make sure he has his blankets on him and his dummy and he goes back to sleep, only to wake 1-2 hours later. This happens 4-5 times a night!

He normally has a bath at 7.30pm, milk at 7.50pm, bed at 8pm and then sleeps through the night. Sometimes he just wants his dummy once and then rises between 6.30-7.00am. But now it’s all gone to pot – please help me!

Jane responds:

At 13 months of age it’s reasonable to expect him to sleep 10-12 hours overnight. It’s also realistic to expect him to wake at least a couple of times as he transitions from one sleep phase to another. But if he needs you to re offer his dummy every time then he’s not being given the opportunity to learn the skills in self settling. There may be real benefits in you stopping his dummy altogether.

He’s likely to protest for a few days and nights until he learns to go to sleep and then back to sleep without it. When he’s crying offer him calm reassurance and tell him to “lie down, it’s sleep time”.

Try not to stay in his room with him until he’s fully asleep, otherwise he’ll learn to depend on you being with him. What you’re trying to encourage him to do is to learn how to go to sleep on his own without too much help.

Be consistent with how you manage him for his day and night sleeps. This will reduce any confusion. And try to follow a regular pre bed settling routine. Toddlers thrive on routine and consistency. Although pretty boring for us as adults, young children feel more secure when there are reasonable boundaries and a regular daily pattern in place.

His bedtime sounds OK, 7.30-8pm is pretty average, any later and toddlers tend to become overtired and more difficult to wind down and settle.

If you feel he’s cold then consider warmer PJ’s or room heating options so the chances of him waking are reduced.

Think about his diet as well and make sure he’s having plenty to eat and drink through the day. Protein at dinner time will help him to feel fuller for longer and will promote better settling.