Early Rising In Toddlers: How To Stop Early Morning Wake-ups?


Is your morning sleep regularly getting interrupted by your toddler? Of the many toddler habits that we have to deal with, them waking up too early is a particularly hard one. Toddlers won’t just stay still when they are up and about, and chances are that they will come to you and wake you up too. This can disrupt the normal sleep pattern of parents, leaving them fatigued and exhausted for the rest of the day. The same is true for the toddler as well, who might feel sleepy during the day. It would be better to address this issue early in the cycle before it becomes a permanent habit for your child.

You would be glad to know that the sleep habits of toddlers can be regulated. With good observation and patience, it’s totally possible to delay their waking up time by a few hours, which would give you some precious moments of peaceful sleep. Here are some of the things you could introduce into their routine for a noticeable behavioral change to occur:

What Is The Normal Sleep Requirement For Your Toddler?

What Is The Normal Sleep Requirement For Your Toddler

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The nap schedule of babies varies. Generally speaking, on average, babies wake up earlier than adults. A newborn baby sleeps for at least 16 hours, including three or four hours of naps spaced out throughout the day. A 12-month toddler will usually sleep for 10-12 hours at night (1). When your baby is around a year old or more, they will ditch the morning naps, and as they grow older, the nap length shortens (2).

How To Resolve Early Rising In Toddlers?

How To Resolve Early Rising In Toddlers

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Coping with your toddler’s inconsistent sleeping patterns is a tedious task. If your baby’s early rising habit is causing you nightmares and disrupting your daily routine, here are some things you could try to resolve the issue:

Good Amount Of Sleep Time

Enough Daytime Sleep

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Though it’s common for toddlers to sleep comparatively less than in their infant phase, some toddlers might still need longer sleep times. For them, letting them catch a daytime nap can work wonders. It will keep their body fresh and energetic, and also delay the sleep time at night by a few hours. This in turn will postpone their waking up time in the morning.

Moreover, children who are sleep-deprived throughout the day could be exhausted. Overtiredness can cause stress to your toddler’s body and make sleep harder at night (3). This will affect the quality of sleep and cause the earlier than normal waking up times. However, keep the nap times within healthy limits. Look for signs that suggest your baby is tired and adjust the nap time accordingly.

Set A Bedtime Routine

Set A Before Bedtime Routine

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A good bedtime routine will inculcate habitual behavior in your child. Once a proper habit sets on, you will notice they will sleep or wake up, according to the expected routine. The trick is to diligently follow it every day. It could be hard to break the pattern if they are used to sleeping at odd hours. Every evening, bathe them, formula-feed (if they haven’t been weaned yet), and play some white noise. Turn off the lights and prepare the room for sleep with thick curtains or light-blocking blinds. Too much light in the room could cause disturbed sleep and become the culprit of your toddler’s early wake-ups.

Manage Your Toddler’s Screen Time

Manage Your Toddler's Screen Time

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Keep them away from the TV or mobile screens before bedtime. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping all gadgets away at least two hours before bedtime. Screens emit blue light that causes excitement in toddlers and makes it harder to sleep (4).

Draw Some Boundaries For Your Toddler Early On

Draw Some Boundaries For Your Toddler Early On

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Set up some signaling lights in the room that you can control. If these lights have an alarm or are AI-assisted, the instructions will be more precise for them to follow. For example, only when the color changes to green should they wake up. Fix a time for the alarm to set off, and make sure they leave the room only when it rings. So, even if your toddler is up before 6. a.m, they will be conditioned to stay put in bed. Pay minimal attention even if they protest or wail. It could be challenging initially, but it’s easier to reinforce behaviors at this stage, or unlearning will be a challenge later.

Let The Toddler Go To Sleep On Their Own Accord

Immediately Put Your Toddler Off To Sleep Without Disturbing Them

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Soothe them as soon as possible without picking them up. Your baby may not doze off immediately but keep the lights turned off so that they get a clear message that it’s not time to wake up just yet. This reinforcement could take some time, but they will eventually discipline themselves. If you continue entertaining their tantrums or giving them the exact responses they expect, you won’t achieve the desired goal of putting them to sleep.

What Should You Do If Your Toddler Is An Early Riser?

What Should You Do If Your Toddler Is An Early Riser

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If your toddler’s early wake up has become a horrifying experience for you, we suggest the following:

  • Know that this phase is temporary. Practice relieving your stress so that you can handle your toddler’s shenanigans with patience.
  • If you are on maternity leave, carve time to get some rest when your baby is napping during the day. A well-rested body will help you maintain your energy levels to deal with them efficiently.
  • Seek help from your partner. Take turns to handle the baby so that you are relieved of some pressure and stress.
  • Gradually delay your child’s sleeping time by about 15-minutes each day. This in turn will delay the waking up time letting you enjoy some peaceful morning sleep.
  • Keep them comfortable in bed. Make sure your toddler’s mattress is not causing them inconvenience. Change it immediately and observe the changes in their sleep patterns.
  • Stay calm and be consistent in your instructions. Your baby will soon be conditioned.

It’s only a matter of time, and your toddler will modify their sleep patterns if you are consistent in making adjustments to their schedule. There is no need to panic as this early rising habit is only a temporary phase. It could be a result of an underlying medical condition. Speak to your health advisor if the early waking problem persists. Does your toddler rise early too? Tell us about the methods you have used to overcome your toddler’s early waking habits in the comments below!


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