Why 3-Years-Old Wakes Up Every Night

What's Covered

Sleep troubles and difficulties such as insomnia, bedtime fears and terrors, and bed-wetting are common among children. When they experience these troubles, their sleep pattern is disrupted which may eventually result to waking up every night. One of the biggest sleep issues in children is insomnia and insomnia makes it hard for a child to settle down at night. In fact, 48% of these children are boys and 52% of these are girls.[1]

Medical-Related Why 3-Years-Old Wakes up Every Night and What You Can Do about Them

Lifestyle or habits and the quality of sleep are connected.[2] How a child spends his or her day may interrupt his or her sleep. Here below are the reasons why 3-years-old wakes up every night:

Stress

Although a 3-year-old may be considered too young to be stressed, it is important to know that children also experience stress in life and these may disrupt their sleep.[3] These stresses are often caused by issues at home such as marital problems, new baby arrival, or changes in sleeping environment such as movement into a new room or a need to share a room with other people.

What can you do?

Whenever my child is stress and anxious, we used to play simple activities when we cannot go out. Playing playhouses and slides in our home relieves his stresses and at the same time, these play times relieves my stress as well. However, there days when my little boy is not in the mood to play so I make sure that I always have this fidget that can relax him.

Pros

Affordable

Comes in different color

Durable

Cons

When it gets some sand, it will take a while to make it smooth again

Push pop Bubble Fidget Toy
Having this product will surely relieve your child’s stress and anxiety wherever they are. Additionally, your child’s sensory skills will be enhanced while he or she is calming himself or herself.

Medications

Medications may also be counted as one of the reasons why your 3-year-olds wake up every night. ADHD drugs and antidepressants cause insomnia in children.[4]

What can you do?

When your 3-year-old is taking medications, you cannot stop using them especially when they are prescribed. Providing them a low-key reassurance can be a way for you to deal with them whenever they wake up every night. Whisper the words “it is okay” to them and personally, I think that this is just right. This will calm them and it will make them feel that they are safe.

Illnesses

Sleep apnea, allergies, stuffy nose, itchy skins, boils, and eczema are medical problems which may cause your 3-year-olds to wake up every night. For this reason, keeping your connected with your health care provider will be of great help as they may tell you the causes of your child’s sleep disturbance.

What can you do?

For allergies and skin problems, consider using creams. I always have this anti-itch cream because my baby’s skin is always itchy especially when it is hot. For first-time moms, this is the product that I can recommend to you.

Pros

Spill-proof

Easy to use

Cons

The opening is kind of big so a lot can come out

Sale
Equate
Having this product in your home will never worry your about what to use when your baby is experiencing certain skin irritations and conditions. Surely, no matter what time of the day it is, you will feel calm enough to face the crying of your baby.

For stuffy nose, use cool-mist humidifiers. This does not just make your child feel better but it will also make his or her room free of virus and germs.

Pros

Comes with different colors

The mist output is adjustable

Comes with an essential oil

Auto shut down feature

Filter-less

Cons

The upper part is slippery

There is no handle

Sale
Everlasting Comfort Cool Mist Humidifier for Bedroom
Having this product will not just make the room quiet but it will also keep the room clean and free from virus and germs. Surely, if you put this on your baby’s room, they will not only be able to have a great night’s sleep but you will also have it too!

Teething

Teething 3-year-olds can make them cranky and irritated and these feelings might wake them up at night.[5]

What can you do?

For 3-year-olds who are still teething, you can try using a teething relief. Personally, I recommend this Boiron Camilia Teething Relief product as it does not just act as a teething solution but it also helps manage minor digestive problems.

Pros

Do not interact with other medications

Easy to use

Made from natural ingredients

Cons

Some children do not like the taste

Sale
Boiron Camilia
Giving this teething relief to your baby will surely calm them and bring their peace back. As they get to sleep better, they will also be able to lessen their night wakings.

Digestive Problems

Constipation and indigestions are possible reasons why your child wakes up every night. Additionally, when your 3-year-old tries to expel his or her stool in the middle of the night, he might actually wake up.

What can you do?

If your 3-year-old is having digestive problems, doing exercise and drinking plenty of water is one of the solutions. Also, reducing foods that may cause constipation and increasing consumption of fiber-rich food will help. Personally, when my child is having digestive problems, I use this probiotic and in no time, my baby will feel better.

Pros

Flavorless

Can be added to any cool drinks

No artificial colors

Cons

Some parents say that the product does not dissolve well

Sale
Lovebug Probiotic and Prebiotic for Kids
Giving this product to your 3-year-old will make their digestive system healthier and will restore their immune health. Surely, your baby will not just be able to go back on track but he or she will go back healthier and stronger!

Lifestyles, Behaviors, and Habit-Related Reasons Why 3-Years-Old Wakes up Every Night and What You Can Do about Them

Caffeine

Do not skip this if you only think of caffeine as coffee. Sodas and energy drinks also contain caffeine and this content keeps your 3-year-olds awake at night. As much as possible, do not allow your child to consume these kinds of drinks.

What can you do?

Instead of using caffeinated energy drinks, consider using this product. This is an organic protein shake which includes lots of vitamins and minerals. By using this, you are giving a way for your child to drink a healthier beverage.

Pros

Healthy drinks

Contains lots of vitamins and minerals

Perfect for picky-eaters

Cons

Should be consumed in one drinking

Orgain Organic Kids Protein Natural Shake
Giving this product to your 3-year-old will not just make them full and energized but will also make their immune system stronger. Surely, you will have a peace of mind knowing that your child is consuming a healthy drink for his or her body!

Bedtime Fears

Being in a dark place may cause a child to have this sleep anxiety. 3-years-old may be frightened because of the idea of monsters and other scary creatures[6]. To get off this idea, understand your child’s fears and explain the real and imagination to them. You can use a night light and a security toy that they may cling on to such as toys or blankets.

What can you do?

If your baby is kind of scared of the dark, you can actually use a night light. There are many night lights available but I want to recommend this color changing night light to you. This will surely be loved by your little ones!

Pros

Color-changing

Comes with a timer so you do not have to worry about the blue light

Safe to use

The remote is rechargeable

Cons

Some kids may not like the design

Sale
Kids Cat Night Lights
Putting this in your baby’s room will allow them to decide independently and choose freely. Additionally, they will feel like they have a safe toy with them. Surely, they will never be afraid of the dark again and they will have a perfect, complete sleep!

Nightmares

The feelings (either happiness or sadness) of your 3-year-old throughout the day will manifest in their dreams at night and sometimes, these dreams may become disturbing.[7]

What can you do?

Before your baby goes to sleep, encourage him or her to have a sweet dream by helping them stay relaxed. After a nightmare, be with them and make them understand that their dream is unreal. Offer comfort and boost their mood. You can also use a night light as a nightmare-chaser.

Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking is not only about walking while sleeping but it also includes talking and sitting up in the bed.[8]

What can you do?

As much as possible, do not wake up a sleepwalker. Instead, try to guide your 3-year-old’s back to their bed. Make sure that their room windows and doors are closed for their safety. Keep away sharp objects and toys, as well. Additionally, engage your child in relaxing activities before bedtime such as reading relaxing books. I want to recommend this bedtime book for kids as I find it very meditating for my child. Surely, it will work for you too!

Pros

Meditating

Affordable

Durable

Cons

Comes with only 2 books for one purchase

Bedtime Short Stories for kids
This product will surely make your child sleep faster and it will allow your child to get a quality sleep. Eventually, when this happens, you will also be able to get one!

Bed-wetting

Bladder control for 3-year-olds must be hard especially during at night. Bed-wetting usually happens to children two to four years old and when they do bed-wet, they kind of feel humiliated and embarrassed.[9]

What can you do?

The number one solution for bed-wetting is avoiding too much fluids before bedtime but personally, I do not think this is kind of right because you will never go wrong with water and fluids as it can keep a child from being dehydrated. So, I think using a water-proof mattress can be a better option.

Pros

Comes with different bed size variation

Fits snugly

Easy to assemble

Comfy to the touch

Cons

You need to gently clean it in the washing machine

Waterproof Protector Sheet
Making your child use this product will surely make them feel more comfortable as they sleep through the night and you will never have to worry about any pee! Surely, they will never feel embarrassed again if they had to tell you about changing sheets.

If you do not like the water-proof bed sheet, teach your child how to change sheets as this is a way to teach them responsibility and when they are able to have a “dry night”, give them rewards for it! This system will motivate them!

What Happens When 3-Years-Old Keeps Waking Up Every Night

If a 3-year-old keeps on waking up every night, he or she may experience lack of sleep. Eventually, this lack of sleep may lead to

Less attentive

Irregular sleep in children makes them become less attentive as their brain cells do not get refreshed and reenergized. As a result, they will have a compromised attention regulation when they wake up.[10]

Short-term memory loss

A child’s cognitive function is affected by his or her sleep. If he or she had a bad or incomplete sleep, a child may become irritable, frustrated and may also have a short-term memory loss.[11]

Delayed response time

When a child is unable to get an adequate sleep because of his or her night waking, he or she might also have a delayed response time. This is connected with the first point, attentiveness.

Anger problems

When a child is unable to get a quality of sleep because of his or her night waking, his behavior is affected and this includes his or her temperament. 3-year-olds who had less nighttime sleep tend to be more angry and frustrated.[12] If your baby is manifesting this behavior, you can actually try these calming tablets for your little ones.

Pros

Easy to use

Provides instant relief

Safe to use

FDA-regulated

Contains no artificial flavors, dyes, or parabens

Cons

Some kids may spit the solution where the tablets were dissolved

Sale
Hyland’s Baby Calming Tablets
Giving tis product to your 3-year-olds will surely calm them and make them feel relaxed. Surely, even if they were not able to get enough sleep, they will better throughout the day!

How to Prevent Your 3-Years-Old from Waking Up Every Night

If you see that your child is having sleep problems including wakefulness at night, here are some tips for you:

Choose a perfect bed

Make sure that the bed your 3-years-old is very comfy. Additionally, allow them to stick on this bed. One way of practicing them to absorb their bed is by actually allowing them to use it even during their break times such as when you read books to them, when they do their home works, and any other things aside from relaxation.

Make their bedroom comfortable in the eyes

Of course, keeping their whole room comfy in the eyes is as important as keeping their beds lovely. Keep your child’s room cool.[13] Also, try to keep your child’s room minimal and do not overload it with toys.

Stay on a specific sleeping schedule

Sticking on one sleeping schedule will make your child sleep and wake up naturally.[14] By this, you will no longer worry as your child’s waking up at night will surely be minimized. Additionally, remind them 30 minutes and 10 minutes before sleep time. This is a way to allow their mind and bodies to prepare for sleep. Personally, I find this morning and bedtime checklist chart very helpful as they allow my child to understand routines and it makes their body in condition. It can also be considered as a reward chart so that your baby will be motivated to do what can make them better.

Pros

Durable

Lightweight

Easy installation

Easy to clean

Cons

Dry erase markers are not included

Honey Dew Gifts Daily Morning and Bedtime Routine
Putting these charts on your home will teach your child how to be responsible and independent. Additionally, it will make them understand the importance of morning and bedtime routines. Surely, when they get to accomplish one, they will surely feel satisfied and so will you.

Make sure that your child is not hungry before he or she goes to bed

A light snack such as banana and milk will do before bed time. However, when your 3-years-old is already full, there is no need for you to make them consume a light snack. If you do not want to prepare anymore, you can actually try this ready-made banana-milk drink for your little ones.

Pros

Healthy to eat

Organic and contains lots of vitamins and minerals

Cons

Some may not like the taste

Sale
Happy Tot Organic
Having this product will make your baby full at the right amount. Surely, when they feel this, they will be able to get a very great night’s sleep and you will feel confident that they will not wake up in the middle of the night.

Encourage your 3-years-old to be active

Regular morning exercise is a great way to help your 3-years-old prevent restlessness.[15] So, as you do your personal exercise, allow your little ones to join you even if they do it for fun! However, take note that your child should no longer do vigorous exercises 3 hours before he or she sleeps. You can try this yoga mat for your little ones and they can set these up on their own while you set up yours.

Pros

Easy to assemble

Comes with a storage bag and instructions

Cons

Cleaning these mats takes a lot of effort

Sale
Alex Active Yoga Kids Activity Exercise Mat
Exercising with your kids in the morning does not only make you both fit but you both are actually making a memorable event in your life. Surely, the time you spent will not just be fun and enjoyable but it will always be remembered forever.

Allow your 3-years-old to receive natural light ever morning

Using blinds instead of curtains will actually help your child wake up and get a fixed sleeping pattern. By this, your child will no longer feel restless especially in the middle of the night. In our home, we use this kind of blinds as they are easy to clean and the shade of the sun is not that strong when we use them. You can try it and your kids might love it too!

Pros

Comes with different sizes

Versatile

Elegant-looking

Sturdy

Cons

You need to ask a professional so that they can be installed perfectly

Blind for Home
Putting these blinds on your child’s room will allow you to control the light inside their space. Surely, they will be able to get the right amount of light they need in the morning and at the same time, they will get enough ventilation. Additionally, they will never be disturbed from the noise outside!

Take into consideration about napping

Naps will always be there especially for children. Make sure that when your child takes a nap, his or her nap is not that long and not that close to bedtime.

Make your 3-years-old “gadget-time” limited

If your child owns a tablet, try to limit his or her usage. Additionally, those electronics that emit blue light such as TV can disrupt your child’s sleep and sleeping pattern.[16] So, if you can, turn these electronics one hour before bedtime.

Establish a soothing bedtime routine

A warm bath will surely soothe your 3-year-olds and when you are able to soothe them before they sleep, you will surely prevent them from waking up at night.[17] In the list above, you can use the bedtime routine checklist to accomplish this point.

Spend a quality family time

Some 3-year-olds stay awake at night because they want to spend more time with their parents and other family members. So, spare some time with your 3-years-old and interact with them before bedtime especially when you have worked outside your home the whole day. If you want to make your family time educational, you can try this Learning Resources product. Surely, your family time will be meaningful!

Pros

Educational

Comes with different activities

Cons

Watch out for kids who like to put stuff on their mouth

Sale
Learning Resources
Having this product will not just make your family time more fun but it will also allow your child to enhance his or her cognitive skills. When you get to spend your time with your baby and at the same time help them to learn educational things, you will surely feel accomplished.

What Can You Do When Your 3-Years-Old Wakes up Every Night

When your 3-year-old keeps on waking up every night and you think you have done the ways you know to prevent it, here are some tips for you to deal with them:

White noise machine

Putting this product to your 3-year-old’s room will block out noises which may cause your child to wake up at night. Personally, I recommend this baby sound machine product as it can be controlled using your smartphones. It comes with a lot of features and you will love it as I do!

Pros

Comes with a night light and you can choose from different colors

Can be controlled by Alexa voice

Comes with a child sleep trainer feature

White noise soother

Has a toddler lock

Cons

Alexa voice cannot control the white noise

Baby Sound Machine
Putting this product in your child’s room will surely create a better sleep for them. Additionally, you can control everything and for these reasons, you will be able to create an ideal sleep environment for you and your little ones.

Don’t rush in

When you hear your 3-year-old cries at night, give him or her a few seconds to minute. Is he crying in his or her sleep? Is he dreaming? Is he fussing? Majority of babies who cries night are fussing. So, try to allow your 3-year-olds to go back to sleep on their own. Believe me, this is worth a try!

Go to your child

It may sound opposite to the point above but it is not. Go to your child and check him or her after fussing. Make sure if he or she is back to sleep or he or she is now awake. You can actually try a baby monitor. This will surely help you.

Pros

Secured

Encrypted

Provides a complete view

Cons

The smart sock (heart monitor) is bought separately

Owlet Cam Smart Baby Monitor
You will never miss moment in your child’s movement and activity when you have this product in your home! Surely, aside from your instinct, you will always know when your baby needs you. Eventually, you will feel a peace of mind because wherever you are, you can watch over your precious little ones!

Be patient

Patience is very hard to keep throughout the day when you are a parent when your mind is already full and exhausted. When night comes, this patience gets lesser more especially when your sleep gets disturbed as well in the middle of the night. However, you just have to hang in there and enjoy the moment! Remember that one day, all will be better and one day, everybody in your home will be sleeping tight.

Final Thoughts

As a parent, your child’s waking up at night will surely trouble and frustrate you. Although waking up at night is part of a child’s normal life. Regular or everyday event like this is not healthy. So, take some steps and do something about it in order to help your child cope up with this sleeping problem. Personally, I find the Everlasting Comfort Cool Mist Humidifier for Bedroom, Baby Sound Machine, and Owlet Cam Smart Baby Monitor very useful because they also calm us (parents), make our sleep of great quality, and they give us a peace of mind no products can ever give!

FAQs

Is there a sleep regression at 3 years?

Sleep regression is normal for babies up until 2 years old. However, even 3-year-olds experience this. Sleep regression is a classic sleep interruption that can be experienced by a child at all hours.

How can I keep my 3-year-old sleep through the night?

There are many ways in order for you to make your child sleep through the night and the very effective way is by making your child feel secured and safe.

What is a reasonable bedtime for a 3-year-old?

At 7 pm to 7:15 pm, a 3-year-old must already be preparing himself or herself for night wash or night bath. 7:15 pm to 7:30 pm is a great time to do reading and relaxing activities. When the clock ticks at exactly 7:30 pm, goodnight kisses and bedtime should already be done.


[1] Mindell, Jodi A., et al. “Parental behaviors and sleep outcomes in infants and toddlers: a cross-cultural comparison.” Sleep medicine 11.4 (2010): 393-399.

[2] Preišegolavičiūtė, Evelina, Darius Leskauskas, and Virginija Adomaitienė. “Associations of quality of sleep with lifestyle factors and profile of studies among Lithuanian students.” Medicina 46.7 (2010): 482.

[3] Capaldi, II, Vincent F., et al. “Associations between sleep and cortisol responses to stress in children and adolescents: a pilot study.” Behavioral sleep medicine 3.4 (2005): 177-192.

[4] Doghramji, Karl, and William C. Jangro. “Adverse effects of psychotropic medications on sleep.” Psychiatric Clinics 39.3 (2016): 487-502.

[5] Ferber, Richard. “Sleep, sleeplessness, and sleep disruptions in infants and young children.” Annals of clinical Research (1985).

[6] Mindell, Jodi A. “Sleep disorders in children.” Health Psychology 12.2 (1993): 151.

[7] Galland, Barbara C., and Edwin A. Mitchell. “Helping children sleep.” Archives of disease in childhood 95.10 (2010): 850-853.

[8] Masand, P. R. A. K. A. S. H., A. P. Popli, and J. B. Weilburg. “Sleepwalking.” American family physician 51.3 (1995): 649-654.

[9] Byrd, Robert S., et al. “Bed-wetting in US children: epidemiology and related behavior problems.” Pediatrics 98.3 (1996): 414-419.

[10] Mindell, Jodi A., et al. “Sleep and social-emotional development in infants and toddlers.” Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology 46.2 (2017): 236-246.

[11] Dahl, Ronald E. “The impact of inadequate sleep on children’s daytime cognitive function.” Seminars in pediatric neurology. Vol. 3. No. 1. WB Saunders, 1996.

[12] Bastien, Laurianne, Émilie Tétreault, and Annie Bernier. “Disentangling the direction of associations between sleep and temperament in toddlers.” Behavioral sleep medicine 18.4 (2020): 523-536.

[13] Altena, Ellemarije, et al. “Dealing with sleep problems during home confinement due to the COVID‐19 outbreak: Practical recommendations from a task force of the European CBT‐I Academy.” Journal of Sleep Research 29.4 (2020): e13052.

[14] Tikotzky, Liat, and Avi Sadeh. “Sleep patterns and sleep disruptions in kindergarten children.” Journal of Clinical Child Psychology 30.4 (2001): 581-591.

[15] Pesonen, Anu-Katriina, et al. “Temporal associations between daytime physical activity and sleep in children.” PloS one 6.8 (2011): e22958.

[16] Mindell, Jodi A., et al. “Sleep well!: A pilot study of an education campaign to improve sleep of socioeconomically disadvantaged children.” Journal of clinical sleep medicine 12.12 (2016): 1593-1599.

[17] Mindell, Jodi A., et al. “Bedtime routines for young children: a dose-dependent association with sleep outcomes.” Sleep 38.5 (2015): 717-722.

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Author

Diana Lucas

Diana Lucas

Hi, Diana here. Welcome to my blog and hope you like my sharing. I am a mother of 2 boys, 3 years old and a 1 year old. I dedicate my career in child development research and I focus on parenting tips, positive parenting, educational toys for my babies. Your time here means a lot to me! Diana A. Lucas
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