My 18 month old​ doesn’t sleep. I am exhausted!

You’re mentally prepared for the sleepless nights when your baby first arrives.  Endless cycles of feeding and burping.  Your mind whizzing with the fact that you have created this tiny human life, this small defenceless baby is all yours.  The days pass in a blur, the nights blend into one.  You just keep going, night after night, day after day.  That’s just what you do when you become a parent, right?

Help me get my toddler to sleep through the night!

My 18 month old doesn’t sleep.

I am exhausted.

People expect you to be exhausted when you’ve just had a baby.  A baby in the house is a licence for extra large coffees from Starbucks, big black bags under your eyes.  A baby earns you sympathetic nods and gracious smiles when you lose track of what you were saying mid-sentence.  A baby garners understanding from other parents who have been up all night, from parents who have been up since 5am with a baby that won’t settle, from parents who are there, who have been there and who are headed there.

Then the baby grows.  And understanding begins to wane.

The books tell you your 6 month old should sleep through the night, if not 6 months then your 12 month old will.  And 18 months?  Well if he’s not sleeping by now then surely it’s me who is doing something wrong.

Those sympathetic nods turn into quizzical head tilts, questioning “still not sleeping?” looks.

Myy 18 month old doesn’t sleep.

I am exhausted.

My baby does not sleep!

I can count on one hand the number of times he has slept through the night in his whole life, and let me tell you I don’t even need all 5 fingers on the that hand.

18 months is a long time with broken sleep. Some nights are longer than others.

The past two nights have been of the longer variety.  They have seen me, and the husband, trying to settle a baby full of cold feeling miserable. It has seen us take shifts with a sad little boy who can’t breathe through his nose.  It has seen me lying on the cold, tiled floor next to his cot wrapped in a duvet while he sleeps, falling asleep myself on the floor.  Picking him up and rocking him to comfort him.  Feeding him.  Then lying there so he can see me as he closes his eyes, comfort in having his own space whilst also seeing me.  Falling asleep on the floor, then commando crawling across the floor to the door, standing up with my knee cracking waking him up and beginning all over again.

Yes, the past two nights have been long.

My 18 month doesn’t sleep.

I am exhausted.

Toddler sleep routine

But some nights he will do long stints, he will sleep for 6 hours straight, 7, 8, 9 even.  He will catch up on the sleep he so desperately needs giving me the sleep I so desperately need.  Some nights his wake ups will be a matter of minutes, a mere pick up and put down.  A sleepy glance at me walking through the door will be enough for him.

Those nights are the good ones.  On one or two occasions he has slept all the way through the night, and even then I haven’t slept creeping in to check on him.

My 18 month old doesn’t sleep.

I am exhausted.

Natural sleep remedies for toddlers

Exhausted I have picked up random products that promise to help your baby sleep, lavender oil, syrups, nighttime lotion, nighttime bubble bath.  I have tried out white noise on YouTube.  I have had the hoover running.  I have the Whisbear which worked to a point.

Exhausted I stick to the same routine, consistency is key.

Exhausted I change up the routine, maybe something isn’t working.

My 18 month old doesn’t sleep.

I am exhausted.

Exhausted enough to turn to Google, to look at advice.  To scan the mumsnet thread with people jumping each which way on telling you how to get your child to achieve the holy grail of sleeping through the night.  The threads about crying, the threads about not crying, the threads telling you the magic formula.  The words blurring on the screen in front me as my eyes cross from tiredness.

My 18 month old doesn’t sleep.

I am exhausted.

I am also realising that there is no magic formula.  There is no magic number.  There is no magic age.  It will happen one day.  Until then I need to keep doing what I am doing, working within the parenting boundaries I have set myself.  The routines I am comfortable and confident with.

It will come.

My 18 month old doesn’t sleep.

And that’s OK.

I am exhausted.

And that’s OK too.

My 18 month old doesn't sleep and I am exhausted!


  1. October 4, 2016 / 8:00 pm

    I can 100% relate to this! Toby too had only slept through on a few occasions by 18 months and by then I was 6 months pregnant with Martha too, suffering with awful spd and ready to break! I wish I could give you a date to mark on your calendar, but at some point it will happen and I guess it’s trying to accept it until that magical time comes. Toby’s coming up 27 months now and for the past month has been sleeping through maybe 4 or 5 nights a week but I still keep expecting it all to go wrong any time! Hugs lovely, sending extra large coffees xx

  2. October 4, 2016 / 8:18 pm

    My son woke every hour for an entire year, sometimes only seconds, minutes, but then there were the nights that he wouldn’t settle. My sympathies are shared with you x

  3. October 4, 2016 / 9:24 pm

    I can perfectly understand. A baby sleeps as much as he/she needs. So hope for the day your son will get into long night sleeps. It will happen soon enough. You are already very patient. Keep up the spirits! Good luck to u!

  4. October 4, 2016 / 9:26 pm

    Oh sweet, it’s so hard. Archie’s four in s couple of weeks & still doesn’t sleep, he’s up at least 5 times a night on a good night, on a bad night I won’t even get to bed. He has Autism so I’m told by the professionals it’s just something we have to deal with as he’all likely never sleep well.

    Try to take care of yourself and do something for you when you can. Those little glimpses of self preservation will help you push through the exhaustion. I really do hope it passes soon as I wouldn’t wish this on anyone xx

  5. October 4, 2016 / 10:02 pm

    Bless you both, it must be a total nightmare. I am sure though that he’ll sleep through in his own time and you’ll miss these nights of just being with him. Sort of 😉

  6. October 4, 2016 / 10:12 pm

    I can relate to this, my 19 month old still wakes every hour or two and my almost 5 year old still wakes too. I too am very exhausted.

  7. Sarah
    October 5, 2016 / 9:46 am

    At least your baby is alive. My 13 month old didn’t sleep for 2 months and we never realised her heart was failing. She died last week now I would happily give up sleep for a lifetime to get her back. Sleepless nights are hard but harder when it’s because you miss your baby so try to cherish every moment as it might not be forever xxx

    • Laura
      October 5, 2016 / 11:05 am

      I’m so sorry for your loss, I realise that may feel empty but I cannot imagine the pain you are going through. I can only speak to my own struggles as a mother, and I hope that they remain as unimportant as lost sleep xx

  8. October 5, 2016 / 6:37 pm

    I can do empathise with this! We have this with Miss H, she finally tatted sleeping through 5 out of 7 nights a week on average at 2, but then at 2 and quarter started waking again! She finally now sleeps through more of than not at 2 and a half but mornings are always very early starts raining anywhere from 4:30 to 5:55 x

  9. October 5, 2016 / 9:42 pm

    I can totally understand and relate to this. I’m saying that as I listen to Edith screaming upstairs in a fit of temper because she won’t go to bed on the breast but is simply too tired to stay awake without sobbing. I thought she was getting better, she slept “through” – until 4.30/5am for a month or two with maybe one night a week awake at 2/3am – and then when we came back from holiday, with her having hand, foot and mouth, she hasn’t slept hardly slept at all. H x

  10. Nadia
    October 6, 2016 / 11:03 pm

    Motherhood is not easy 🙂 I remember my sleepless nights when my little one was born
    I can’t offer you any solution as I’m not expert but one thing I ahead noticed in both my kids is that they know as soon as I leave them – I guess they can smell it literally – when you little one was only 6 months old she would actullay turn in bed during her sleep to check if I was there – from you article i gather you put him in separate bedroom – my humble suggestion would be to make the baby sleep with you in your bed – some babies need constant reassurance and hence findex it Aird going to sleep when they know that the mother would leave as soon as they sleep – kids are very smart even at an innocent agree like this 🙂
    All the best

    October 7, 2016 / 5:35 am

    I feel you. Had health visitor here yesterday .. She literally told me she had no answers. Hahahahha. He is just a miserable baby, she said. Ha! Oh well! My 2 year old hasn’t been a good sleeper either. I breed the sleepless ones it seems!

  12. October 7, 2016 / 7:35 am

    I feel your pain. My eldest slept through from 6 weeks and I don’t remember having broken nights for teething so with this one still waking for a chat in the middle of the night. I can just about deal with it but my husband is like “this is ridiculous. What’s wrong with her?”. Erm she’s a baby. I hope things better for you soon #effitfriday

  13. October 7, 2016 / 12:34 pm

    My six year old is up every night crawling into my bed and I have twin toddlers that wake up a few times a night STILL- one is going through the mommy-lay-with-me-phase.

    So ready for a solid eight hours!


  14. October 8, 2016 / 1:10 pm

    My son only started sleeping through the night very recently .. About 6 months ago.. He is 4 years old now .. And it seems my body has forgotten how to sleep .. I can’t sleep through the night now .. Even if he sleeps .

  15. October 9, 2016 / 12:02 am

    Little Miss OMG is 20 months old and doesnt sleep! There hasn’t been one night that she has slept through! Some nights it’s just a whinge in her sleep, and bottke of milk and she’s sleeping soundly again after a few sips.

    Buddy was the same!

    Thankfully on the really bad nights Mrs OMG will let me lie in or have a nap the following afternoon.

    I hope he starts sleeping through soon for you.

    Thanks for hosting

  16. October 14, 2016 / 11:39 am

    These sleepless nights are probably the hardest times when being a parent. It’s challenging as it is but without sleep it makes it so much harder.. My kids didn’t sleep troughout the night till they were 3 and a half years old, the first two years they would wake up to three times a night. sometimes hours would pass by before they went back to sleep. So, I know how exhousted you feel. But as long as your baby is healthy and OK, it’s OK. Like you said. Everything comes and goes in life, so will this stage pass..

  17. October 16, 2016 / 1:41 pm

    I really feel for you. In everything I have faced as a parent, nothing, nothing, comes close to the toughness of sleep deprivation. My son took 9 months to sleep through, and I remember how frustrating it was to feel like people felt like it was something I was doing wrong. Then from 12-16 months he went through an even worse phase where he couldn’t get to sleep without holding my hand and definitely wouldn’t accept me leaving the room. I was basically in with him all night, every night. I remember always thinking that it’s amazing what the human body can be put through and still function. I do think so many people who have bad sleepers don’t admit to it in public because of that judgement from people, but read online and it’s clear there are so many bad sleepers out there. I really hope things improve for you soon. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  18. October 18, 2016 / 12:15 pm

    I can totally relate to this. Holly didn’t sleep through the night until she was 17 months old. And since then for the last 9 months she may sleep through the night twice a week. On the days that she sleeps through she wakes up at 5am. Sleep deprivation is tough and I got to the point where I stopped looking for a solution and just accepted that this is Holly. I pray every night that this will be the turning point and I know it will come one day. I hope your day comes soon. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove x

  19. October 20, 2016 / 7:03 am

    This brought a tear to my eye. feeling tired is the hardest part of being a mum for #sharingthebloglove

  20. October 20, 2016 / 9:51 am

    You poor thing, we are at 8 months and not sleeping through, I hate it when people tell me their child sleeps 7-7!! #SharingTheBlogLove

    • Laura
      October 20, 2016 / 10:01 am

      Me too! X

  21. October 20, 2016 / 2:40 pm

    Oh you poor, poor thing. We never had to endure it for as long as you have, but I remember the total exhaustion, the dread of getting into bed and wondering how long it will before I have to drag myself out again. It is so hard. And you’re powerless. You just have to endure it. Be kind to yourself during the day and nap if and when you can #SharingTheBlogLove

  22. October 20, 2016 / 7:12 pm

    Gahhh… being a parent is so tough!! My boys are good sleepers but think 4.30-5am is time to get up and party. My husband gets back from work late and wants to party late… leaving me a tiny window of sleep! I want more sleep!! #SharingtheBlogLove

  23. October 25, 2016 / 7:45 am

    this is tough and you are not alone. Many children do not sleep through till later on. One of my struggled with health issues and we were up with him for years. It does slowly come. Hang in there. #twinklytueasday

  24. October 25, 2016 / 8:48 am

    I’ve been there and am actually suffering through another sleep regression at the moment (my daughter is 2 and a half). Any little thing disrupts her sleep, especially a major developmental milestone. Just when I think I’ve cracked it and she sleeps through, she’s up again 2 or 3 times during the night. Last night she was up at 1am having a nightmare I think, but ironically it was me that couldn’t drop back off then…took me a good hour! Hang in there, as you said, one day he’ll do it xxx #TwinklyTuesday

  25. October 25, 2016 / 9:33 pm

    It is totally okay to be exhausted. It will get better one day. But I realise that those words are no consolation when you are exhausted. sending hugs and coffee your way 🙂 #twinklytuesday x

  26. October 26, 2016 / 1:53 pm

    I can completely relate with you. My daughter sleeps through a little more regularly than it sounds your LO does, but not much. Sometimes it’s a quick drink then back to sleep, or a cuddle. Others it’s crying every 10 – 15 minutes for several hours (like last night). But you’re right, once your child isn’t over about 5 – 6 months, people stop expecting you to suffer sleep deprivation. I can’t listen to friends talk about how their children go to bed by 7:30pm and don’t wake until the morning; How they haven’t heard a peep from their children for months. It makes me really fed-up. But it’s good to know (in a weird way) there are other toddler-parents out there trying to soothe their little person in the wee hours. Eventually we’ll all get to sleep again. Until then, keep the tea and coffee to hand! #TwinklyTuesday

  27. October 30, 2016 / 8:01 pm

    Oh dear, poor Mama. Theres a reason sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique. Have been in your shoes, currently my 2.5 year old wakes about 2-3 times a night but is an absolute nightmare to GET to sleep. There is a light (with lots of sleeping) at the end of the tunnel, but honestly, theres no point in comparing your child to other kids – they’ll sleep when they sleep, and until then it’s coffee and taking advantage of ALL of the babysitting so you can catch a full nights sleep every now and again.

    Fingers crossed for a decent nights sleep soon!

  28. October 30, 2016 / 8:08 pm

    I know your pain and send you my deepest sympathies, lots of caffine & hugs! My youngest just turned two and has only slept through twice (both times I couldn’t sleep anf was up checking him). He was really unwell as a baby and needed to feed regularly to survive, luckily he knew this as we didn’t! Now he’s better I think he’s just used to waking up to feed, we had to co-sleep to stay sane. He’s in his own room now and although I try not to feed him now at night and cuddle instead I seem to spend most nights in his bed! I’m sure in time both our bsleep better… I blooming hope so anyway! #SundayBest

  29. October 30, 2016 / 9:01 pm

    I have no advice but I am so sorry and I hope it improves soon. You must be at the end of your tether 🙁

  30. Sarah - mud cakes and wine
    October 30, 2016 / 9:42 pm

    Oh lovely, it’s so hard and I totally understand how you feel. Our first was dreadful with his sleep. And it makes the days hard and long. He now sleeps well and he is 6 #sundaybest

  31. October 31, 2016 / 1:41 pm

    I had to read this – Little B is now two and doesn’t sleep either. With number three on the way I’m hanging! #twinklytuesday

  32. January 3, 2017 / 1:36 pm

    I can count on my finger how many times my 23 months old daughter slept through the night. What makes it worse, the last two nights she is coming into our bed as well and won’t settle down so she screams at the top of her lungs which wakes her 4 year old brother.

  33. Wendy
    September 5, 2018 / 5:38 am

    This sounds crazy even heartless but try the cry it out method. After the first cry set a timer to 5 min wait that long then go in and comfort, second night do ten minutes, third night fifteen. Repeat the fifteen minute wait time for another night or two. Then after a five days turn your baby monitor off! I’m telling you my daughter hasn’t slept through a night unless I’m out of town and her father has her. He’s a lot more stern with her than I am. I just lost my cool because I waited 30 min and she was still crying. He went in the room gave her a pacifier she tried to put her arms up to be held and he firmly told her no he was not going to pick her up that it is bed time and she needs to go to bed. She listened to him. Which makes sense now that she doesn’t cling to him the same way she does with me all the time. If you are a single mom and don’t have a partner to do the dirty work, I highly suggest finding a way to scold your little one in a respectful and loving way. My daughter knows I’m the weaker one so she pretty much laughs when I try to tell her no. She is 19 months old and has been getting bottles through the night for the last 18.5 months. These last few weeks have been life changing, hard at first but rewarding. She doesn’t get a bottle before bed anymore or throughout the night. Doctors orders, but it’s for the best. She isn’t relying on it for comfort and I’m not having to give them to her throughout the night. Plus it’s bad for their teeth. I’m telling you turn the monitor off. Your baby will be okay. It’s harder for us as mothers to do it knowing our baby is crying. My husband basically forced it because I was losing my mind which made him lose his mind. We are much happier now. And so is our daughter. She’s fine in the morning when we go in the room to get her. She isn’t mad that I didn’t get up with her three times throughout the night. They are okay to sleep through the night I promise. They are okay to cry themselves to sleep. Nothing is wrong with letting them do that. Waking up with them all the time is only hurting their development. They are learning their independence and this will only help them with that.

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