Early morning waking is one the most tiring problems for parents and often one of the most difficult problems to solve. Unlike their parents, most young children feel refreshed and ready to start their day if they wake at this time.
The good news is though, with patience and consistency you can help your toddler sleep later or learn to stay in bed longer in the morning.
Ensure your toddler is having the right amount of sleep (both in the day and at night) for their age. Having too little sleep or too much sleep can contribute to this problem.
- Encourage your toddler to take their nap either late morning or after lunch. If their nap is taken very early in the morning this could actually be part of their night time sleep that has split away. Continuing to have this early nap can perpetuate their early rising. You can solve this problem by slowly shifting their nap later by 15 minutes each day until their nap is after lunch.
- Aim not to offer your toddler or child milk or food until after 6 am, so your child doesn’t have a “learnt hunger” at 5 am.
- Try not to “reward” early waking by bringing your child into your bed to sleep, to watch fun DVD’s or play games. Instead aim to keep them quietly in their bed until it’s getting up time; even if initially you have to stay with them in their room to do this.
- Keep their room dark and quiet until it is time to get up. If the birds singing in the morning wake your child, you may wish to consider using white noise in your child’s bedroom to blank out the sound. And fit blackout blinds to the windows to stop early morning daylight.
For a child closer to 3 years, or older, a reward system combined with a point of reference for when your child can get up may encourage them to stay in bed in the morning. Here’s how:
- Choose a small lamp; something you already have at home and set this up in your child’s room.
- Place it somewhere your child can easily see it from their bed.
- Plug the lamp into a digital timer switch.
- Use a low wattage bulb in the lamp so it won’t wake your child if they are still asleep when it comes on.
- Set up the morning lamp to come on at the earliest time your child usually wakes.
- The lamp acts a guide of when it is morning and when your child can come through to you.
- Explain to your child that to achieve their reward, they must stay in their bed until the lamp comes on.
- In small incremental steps of 5 minutes a day, gradually move the timer switch so the lamp comes on later…. repeat this until you reach your goal.