An age-old question that comes from most parents today is. Why are your kids waking up too early? I guess it is really a matter of opinion. What time is too early?
For most parents, the dream is for your toddler to sleep until you get up and get ready in the mornings. That would be nice.
For example, you could get up get ready for work, have your morning coffee, and read the newspaper out on the patio. After that, you wake up the kids get them off to daycare with no stress in the morning. Wow! what a perfect world.
Unfortunately, we all know that that is not the case. Personally, I would just like a morning with no screaming and crying.
Truth is, sleep is a habit for the most part. Your toddler has no idea that it is Saturday and he should sleep in. However, there are several techniques they may work to help get your toddler sleeping a little later in the mornings.
Developing Sleep Habits
Certainly, you would think that sleep is just a natural progression that every person needs. The fact is, it is a habit that needs to be formed at a young age. Therefore, the concept of sleep consists of many habits and/or patterns.
One of the things I have noticed with my grandson Mason is that I have allowed him to develop some poor sleep habits as most parents do without realizing. You would think that I would have learned something as I was raising my own children.
However, that is not the case. Sometimes it is easier for me to give into my grandson than it is to follow a routine. So, I am learning that it is important to try to change the pattern before it gets out of control.
Some examples of sleep habits include bedtime, waking up in the middle of the night, sleeping in your bed, and of course, waking up too early.
So, why are your kids waking up too early? In short, it is a habit that was formed at a very early age.
Now, what can you and I do to change your toddler’s habit of getting up too early? Keep in mind, human nature is to resist change. As a result, it will take about 3 weeks to make this change. Which means you will have to change as well.
How Much Sleep Does Your Child Need
Identifying your toddler’s sleep routine is the first step to better and longer sleep. By that, it’s important to start with the recommended amount of sleep your child needs each day.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics sleep is broken down into age groups.
- Newborn (0 to 3 months): 14 to 17 hours
- Infants (4 to 11 months): 12 to 15 hours
- Toddlers (1 to 2 years) 11 to 14 hours
- Preschoolers (3 to 5 years) 10 to 13 hours
- School-age children (6 to 13 years) 9 to 11 hours
Therefore, if your child is getting too much sleep for his recommended age, this could be an underlying reason he is waking up early. On the other hand, maybe he is not getting enough sleep.
Be Consistent with Routines
Even though Mason is only 3 years old, he has become very creative in finding ways to delay his bedtime. It does not matter if it is nap time or bedtime he is going to try his best to stay up.
I am quite sure I am not the only one who has a 3-year old creative toddler. So, chances are you have this problem as well. I have learned it is important to be consistent with bedtime routines.
Once your child has developed bad sleep habits, you as the parent need to have patience with trying to reverse them. Most importantly, you must stay consistent.
When it comes to bedtime, you should not wait until your toddler starts to show signs of being sleepy. To clarify, once they start yawning or rubbing they are probably overly tired at this point.
Therefore, put him to bed at a specific time each night. In order to get your child to sleep a little later try putting him to bed 15 minutes earlier for a couple of days.
After that, continue moving bedtime up 15 more minutes each night. Continue this routine until your toddler is getting the proper amount of sleep and their wake up time is manageable.
Sticking to regular bedtime and morning routines will prevent asking, why are your kids waking up too early.
The most important thing you can do to develop good sleep habits in your child is to stay consistent.
As your toddler gets older nap time becomes less important to him. But, not to you of course. For example, Mason just started Pre-K at his daycare. As a result, he is given a choice to take a nap or not.
Certainly, he chooses not to take a nap at home during the weekends no matter how much we try. In short, we have noticed that he goes to bed a little easier at night.
While nap time is included in overall sleep time, if you find that your toddler is having trouble falling asleep and still waking up early, try limiting daytime naps to less than 45 minutes
or eliminate them altogether.
Go to Bed Already
If you have not had the pleasure of spending 2 hours get your toddler to go to sleep at night, you just haven’t experienced being a parent yet. It seems like bedtime can be a very stressful time in the evening.
I have found that by establishing a nighttime routine of lowering my voice and speaking very calmly to Mason while we settle down it calms him to the point that he falls asleep quickly.
That is to say, try different things to get the best results. You can try things like storytime, a lullaby, or dimming the lights. Your child will start to associate that these things mean it’s time for bed.
In addition, be sure that your child’s bedroom is associated with sleep at bedtime. By helping your toddler put away all the toys you are establishing that the bedroom is a place to sleep and not necessarily a place to play.
Most importantly, be sure to stop screen time at least one hour before bed and try to keep tablets and phones out of a child’s room to better promote sleep.
When All Else Fails
Pediatric sleep specialist Sally Ibrahim, MD, shares some of her favorite methods (developed by pediatric scientists) for training kids to fall asleep independently.
Choose the one that makes your child’s eyes light up:
- The sleep Fairy:
The sleep fairy rewards children in the morning for staying in bed and falling asleep on their own. Make sure you give your toddler a fun activity when the jar is full
- Bedtime Charts/Stickers
Sticker charts can be very effective with not only sleep but with areas of discipline as well. Offer a sticker and let your toddler place it on the chart in the morning after he stays in bed all night.
- Checking In
Have you ever heard “Please don’t leave, I’m scared” at bedtime? By telling your child you will be right back will reassure and help them relax. To clarify, you leave for a short period then come back and say”I’m just checking on you” Each night increase the time between checks and soon you find your child asleep when you go back.
- The Wake-up Clock
If your child gets up repeatedly during the night or wakes up too early, an alarm clock will cue them when it is time to get out of bed. Some clocks turn different colors. For example, red for bedtime and green to get out of bed.
Stay Calm They Can Smell Fear
To sum it all up, your family situation is different from any other family. That is to say, You will need to develop your own routine that fits your schedule and budget.
Just remember to stay calm. When your child is crying and screaming, yelling back doesn’t solve the problem. The methods above work if they are used consistently.
If you are still asking why are your kids waking up too early talk with your child’s Doctor there may be underlying problems that you are not aware of.
I hope you have enjoyed this article and if you have any questions or additional information please leave a comment below.