Why Do Toddlers Move A Lot While Sleeping?

If you are anything like me, a toddler who constantly moves during the night results in your lack of sleep! I suffered from this when my son was a toddler.

He would constantly move for the first few hours of sleep, but then he would settle down. It just meant that I couldn’t relax during the evening adult time!

Why do toddlers move a lot while sleeping? This post will look at the common reasons for this particular sleep disturbance.

What you will learn in this post:

  • Why toddlers move a lot in their sleep.
  • Things you can do to help them move less during sleep.

5 Reasons Why Toddler Moves A Lot While Sleeping

5 Reasons Why Toddlers Move A Lot While Sleeping

5 Reasons Why Toddlers Move A Lot While Sleeping Infographic Why Do Toddlers Move A Lot While Sleeping

Too Hot

You know this for yourself! You tend to move about a lot more while sleeping when you are too hot.

You do this in a desperate bid to find an area of your pillow or duvet that is cold!

Your toddler might move a lot while sleeping because they are too hot. Check to see if they are sweating, try getting your toddler to sleep with fewer clothes, or improve air circulation if this is the case.

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You could have a toddler that dreams a lot.

When a person dreams, it is usually only a mental activity. Movement of limbs and other body parts does not happen. That is not the case 100% of the time though.

People can have dreams where they are moving in ‘real-life.’ I know that I have been known to suffer from this!

Restless Leg Syndrome

Speaking of things I have suffered from in the past, here is another one!

Restless leg syndrome is a disorder that gives you the overwhelming urge to move your legs constantly. If your legs are not moving, it feels like a huge build-up of energy can’t be released!

If you are wondering why your toddler moves a lot during their sleep, you can’t rule out restless leg syndrome!

Night Terror

Night terrors used to scare the hell out of me! When my son started to have these, I didn’t know what to do. He thrashed around in his bed, sitting up, looking petrified into space. It was very, very alarming!

Night terrors are very common though, which is reassuring.

When my son has a night terror, I usually pick him up and whisper reassuring words in his ear. It seems to work, they are a lot less violent these days!

The good thing is that the more you are used to night terrors, the better prepared you are. I know when one is starting now, which is cool. It doesn’t stop my son from moving around in his sleep, though!

Needs The Toilet

If your toddler moves a lot while sleeping, it could be because they are uncomfortable. After all, they have a full bladder!

If your toddler is out of diapers, you should wake them up before bed so they can use the toilet.

Some toddlers are not out of diapers yet, but they are moving a lot during sleep, which could mean one of two things:

  1. They are ready to take the plunge into life without a diaper
  2. They need to have their diaper changed
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If it is number 2, and your toddler suddenly hates having their diaper changed, you need to potty train them ASAP before the whole house wakes up every night.

Medical Reasons

There are also some medical reasons why toddlers move a lot while sleeping. If you think the cause is due to a medical reason, then you should get your toddler checked out by a medical professional.

  • PLMS – Periodic Limb Movement Disorder: The limbs regularly move during sleep. This may result in your toddler being very tired the next day.
  • Parasomnia: A sleep disorder when regular abnormal movements are present. These movements can occur at any time during the sleep stages.
  • Sleep Apnea: Where breathing stops multiple times during the night. This can be serious.

Again – I urge you to seek medical advice to get these checked out.

What Can You Do To Stop Your Toddler Moving While Sleeping?

toddlers move a lot while sleeping

Toilet Visit

Part of the bedtime routine should already include visiting the toilet. If it isn’t, then you need to get your toddler to go before going to bed.

If this is the cause of your toddler moving a lot while sleeping, then it could be a straightforward fix!

Consider A Change In Clothes

It is a straightforward fix if your toddler is getting too hot at night.

There are a few things that you can do to help cool your toddler down, such as:

  • Change bedclothes
  • Improve the airflow
  • Change the air-con settings

Change Schedule

A bedtime schedule is vital for a successful night’s sleep for you and your toddler.

If your toddler is constantly moving, then a small change to the sleep schedule could improve matters.

As I mentioned in the intro, my son was restless during the first few hours of sleep. This was also prime time for a night terror or two. I adjusted his schedule to put him to bed 30 minutes later, which worked well! Why? I have no idea, but part of me thinks it could be the extra 30 minutes where his blood sugar can settle. Some research suggests that toddlers struggle to settle down if they are put to bed too early after eating. My experience backs this up.

See also  Toddler Hysterical At Bedtime? 5 Possible Reasons

Visit A Medical Professional

Why do toddlers move a lot while sleeping? The reason could be a medical one.

None of this post is offered as medical advice. You should visit a medical professional if you need medical advice about your toddler’s sleeping habits.

You can find tons of information about all sorts by using the internet, but it is not a replacement for having a face-to-face meeting with a Doctor!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it normal for toddlers to toss and turn all night?

Yes – it can be normal, but it could also be a sign of a medical condition.

It is best to get these things checked out by a medical professional.

Why is my toddler so restless at night?

Your toddler can be restless at night for several different reasons.

They may have a full bladder, they could be dreaming, it could be a medical reason, or it could result from some food they ate. It could also be the result of separation anxiety.

What helps restless leg syndrome in toddlers?

I find that it helps to disperse tons of energy before bed. When I suffered from this, I did a few star jumps and squats before bed.

I have been known to leap out of bed and crack some squats if I get RLS even now! If your toddler has this, you could try similar exercises.


Why do toddlers move a lot while sleeping? In this post, I have identified 5 common reasons to help you understand this weird toddler phenomenon!

I’ve said it a few times on this page, but I’ll risk sounding like a parrot by repeating it here, too: If you think this results from a medical condition, you must get it checked out by a medical professional.

Good luck – and I hope you get some excellent sleep soon!


About ME

Let’s start with the obvious, I’m a dad.

I have 2 kids. One was dragged out from the comfort of his Mother’s womb kicking and screaming, and the other was a little easier.

Dad Gold was created to give tips that I wish someone had given me!

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