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Why Does My Toddler Moan in His Sleep?

    Like most parents, you constantly show concern. You worry if your child is eating enough, are they healthy, and do they get enough sleep? On the subject of sleep, some parents are concerned about their child’s sleep habits from birth.

    Parents are often concerned with their firstborn more than any other child they will have. One of the parent’s worst fears is something happening to the child during their sleep. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS is a condition where the infant suddenly stops breathing and passes away. A terrible thought in and of itself. A parent who has endured one of these infant fatalities is never the same afterward.

    SIDS is a worst-case scenario involving children’s sleep. Still, parents worry. And one of the concerns some parents may have is a child who moans in his sleep. Why do they do it? And is it harming the child?

    Here is some information about children who moan in their sleep.

    Moaning might be a symptom.

    A good rule of thumb here is, the younger they are, the more sleep they need. A child will sleep 75% of his or her life when they are firstborn. As they grow, they still need the proper amount just less of it.

    While the newborn sleeps most of the day (and usually not at night!), a toddler between the ages of 1 to 3 years needs 12 to 14 hours. Their sleep habits may become very abnormal if they attend daycare or have a babysitter. These ‘other than your’ schedules sometimes don’t create very healthy sleep habits.

    Consider too when a toddler takes a car ride for any length of time they will fall asleep. Extra napping during the day beyond your control is hard to overcome.

    Ok, but what about sleep moaning for non-medical reasons?

    A small sleeping child will moan, talk, giggle, and make other noises they tend to make during the day. The moaning you hear could be associated with whatever dream they are having.

    These noises are perfectly normal and should be no cause for concern. If these noises become loud or are accompanied by labored breathing, then you should consult a doctor. There is probably a simple fix to the issue. Don’t panic.

    Some children moan because they have had a very active day. They moan in their sleep like we would make a sigh. Some children who often moan also grind their teeth or, in severe cases, sleepwalk. Another attribute to a ‘sleep moaner’ is a ‘bedwetter.’

    Small children will often moan in their sleep, just like an adult will snore. A quick fix would be to roll the toddler over to its side or stomach gently.

    If the moaning persists, try gently shaking the child as they may be experiencing night terrors. Night terrors are severe nightmares. The associated moaning could be a coping reflex to the situation in their dreams. They may, in the case of night terrors, exhibit kicking and twitching as well.

    How can parents help stop their toddler from moaning?

    If your child is moaning excessively, consider what they do right before bedtime. Often, there can be a solution in the way you prepare your child for sleep.

    If a child is allowed to watch something a bit intimidating, then chances are their sleep will be disruptive. Start preparing your child an hour or so in advance. Try several different approaches to your preparations until you get the right combination. If something doesn’t work, don’t think it will later on.

    Proper Sleep Hygiene

    Just as you teach your child about personal hygiene, there is also sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is items of behavior and environment proceeding or interfering with sleep. A child who is constantly sleepy throughout the day could be suffering from sleep hygiene problems.

    Good sleep hygiene begins with the proper condition of their bedroom. Their room should be a few degrees cooler than the rest of the house and free of any excess noises.

    Another good sleep hygiene tip is to establish a bedtime ritual. An excellent example would be reading and not watching television. Also, make sure they limit their intake of foods and liquids just before bedtime.

    Make bedtime a special time, and teach them the importance of getting enough sleep. Bedtime is also a great opportunity to initiate ‘talks’ between you and your child.

    Try to start your bedtime routine with the child at a time they can transition from daytime to bedtime easily. You don’t want your toddler getting all wound up again, defeating the whole purpose.

    Sleep hygiene habits are like personal hygiene habits. Establish a structured routine and provide the proper guidance to adhere to it.

    Bedtime Don’ts

    Sometimes the only way to get your younger child to go to sleep is to give them a bottle. While very comforting, you do not want to make a habit of it. A child who falls asleep with a bottle in his or her mouth creates trouble. They could end up suffering from tooth decay and other dental problems.

    Limit the number of toys you allow the child to sleep with. Too many stuffed animals and such may cause the child to become overstimulated and want to go into ‘play’ mode.

    Don’t threaten to send the child to bed as any sort of punishment. Sleeping is meant to be enjoyed, not a punishment. You don’t want your child to associate their bedroom with a jail!

    Try to limit the amount of sugar and caffeine. These items are not particularly healthy for your child, anyway. And as we all know, caffeine is not a sleep-inducing chemical.


    A sleeping child is a little angel. At no time during their day, are you more proud of them than you are when they are sleeping? And moaning. Don’t worry. They will most likely grow out of it.

    Perhaps all they need is a bit of love and affection.

    1 thought on “Why Does My Toddler Moan in His Sleep?”

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