Early to bed and very early to rise…that is a toddler!
Kelsey up and at ’em bed hair and all…always smiling and more chipper than me at her early wake time!
Oh I remember those mornings…waking to the sweet cry or call from my toddler’s room at hmmmm 5:00 am? Neither of us was really ready to start the day, and both of us were crabby by 9:00 am! Early morning waking and toddlers seem to go together. A very common question that many parents have is, “How can I get my toddler to sleep later in the morning?” ” What is a “normal” wake time for a toddler?”
The first answer is…there is no “normal”. Every child is certainly different. There always is that parent that has a 2-year-old that sleeps until 8:30 every morning. That was never me, and most of us will not have a toddler who lounges in bed in the morning! In general, toddlers are wired early to bed and early to rise. Many children will wake up by 6:00 am, so if you are not a morning person, you will become one! (Maybe with the help of coffee!) Toddlers will sleep about 11 to 12 hours at night, so with a bedtime of 7:00-7:30 pm that gives them a wake time of 6:00 to 7:00 am. Pushing back the bedtime until later will usually backfire for most children. A late bedtime usually results in an earlier wake time because the toddler will become overly tired. I know that does not make logical sense, but that is a toddler! Here are a few tips that might help that extra-early waker:
- Adjust your expectations. A wake time of about 6:00 to 6:30 is within the range of normal for a toddler. Make sure you are in bed earlier too!
- Adjust your child’s bedtime. Early to bed is a great habit for children. A child who is up too late and becomes overly tired will wake earlier. Sleep begets sleep in toddlers. A bedtime by 7:30 to 8:00 pm is an important sleep habit, and it gives you a bit of an evening too.
- Purchase black out shades. Most children are light sensitive…early light will wake them and light in the evening (daylight savings time) will keep them awake.
- White noise may help too. If you have a noisy street in the morning, try white noise to keep your child from being disturbed.
- If your child wakes before 6:00 am, tell him it is still nighttime and let them him fuss it out a bit. (Turn down the monitor if you are still using it, he will be fine!) Do not bring the toddler to your bed. Neither of you will sleep and this will become a habit! Keep a few books or lovey in bed with your toddler so that he can entertain himself quietly and hopefully go back to sleep. Soon, he will wake and then learn to fall back to sleep. Most of the time, the very early-wakers are arousing during their last sleep cycle and need to go back to sleep. After a few days of fussing, most children will no longer cry for you at the early waking, they will simply roll over and go back to sleep.
- For a toddler age 3 or older, try a nightlight with a timer. Tell your child when the nightlight switches off, it is morning and he can call you.
- You can also try “wake up” clocks that turn green when it is time to get up!
Be patient, most toddlers have periods of sleep issues. Stick to your routine, be consistent, and follow the “early to bed, early to rise” guideline…for yourself too! A cup of coffee and the sunrise can be a beautiful thing…just go with it!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.