Getting your toddler or preschooler to finally sleep through the night is such a great milestone – but then you’re hit with those crazy early starts. Here are seven sneaky ways to put an end to those 5am wake-up calls – for good.
1. Use a noise machine
Laughing kookaburras, loud cars driving past, barking dogs or siblings making a ruckus are just some of the many triggers which might disturb your child’s deep sleep in the morning. Once they’ve been jolted awake it’s very hard for them to get back to sleep when it is so close to morning. Noise machines (devices you plug in that make a whooshing white noise sound), or apps that play similar sounds such as rain or waterfalls, can also work wonders at blocking out those other noises.
2. Make them snug as a bug
The coldest part of the night is actually just before dawn, so if your child has come out of their blanket or isn’t dressed very warmly they are likely to wake from the cold. Make sure you pop on appropriate sleepwear for the temperature. You can also consider a baby sleeping bag if they’re young enough, so you don’t have to worry about blankets. If it’s too warm when they go to bed, you can always cover them up with an extra layer when you go to bed yourself later.
3. Stuff them full of food or milk
A little growling tummy is definitely going to make them wake early! So make sure they eat a good dinner followed up by some milk (if they’re still having milk) before bedtime. A protein snack 30 minutes before bedtime can help too, such as carrot sticks with hummus or peanut butter.
4. Block out the sunlight
If their window faces east or lets in a lot of light in the mornings it can be a real problem. This is particularly bad during daylight savings. An easy fix is to invest in some good blackout blinds or curtains, so you can trick them into thinking it is still nighttime until you’re ready to come in and wake them up.
5. Adjust their day naps
Maybe their day sleeps are too long, too short or at the wrong time? Sleep whisperer Tizzie Hall, swears that young kids often wake too early because they’re not getting enough sleep in general or their first daytime nap is too early in the day. Try pushing that first nap back a bit, or consider cutting back on one day sleep or putting another in place – depending on what you’re already doing.
6. Get a Gro Clock
This can work wonders for toddlers and preschoolers! With a Gro Clock you set the digital clock for whatever time you think is acceptable for them to get up, and when it reaches this time the clock moves from a sleeping blue star face to a bright yellow sun. This way, your little one will know it’s morning and that they’re allowed to get up. Even if they wake earlier and are watching the stars count down to ‘morning time’ at least they’re in their room instead of waking up the whole house.
7. Set a later bedtime
This generally only works for older children who don’t have day naps anymore. Perhaps you’ve had the same bedtime for years and now they’re suddenly waking earlier. It could be time to let them stay up an extra 15-30 minutes. Test it out and see what works. Just don’t let them watch TV, they will likely have trouble falling asleep, become overtired, wired and wake up even earlier – oh the horror!
What tips and tricks do you have for getting your little one to stop waking so early? Tell us on Facebook!