Why Does My Toddler Wake Up So Early? How Can I Keep Them Asleep Longer?

Hi, there sleep-deprived parent,

If your toddler keeps waking up early every day before his bedtime is over, then it can be because of reasons like your toddler might be sleeping too much in the afternoon, or began his nighttime nap way too early, or she’s going through a milestone.

It wasn’t too long when you thought you were finally getting your long, desired, peaceful sleep, but little did you know that your little bundle of mischief is going to wake up early every day and won’t let you sleep either.

Sleep is essential for adults and, more importantly, kids for their growth and development. In case you were unaware, toddlers need 11-12 hours of each night, and young toddlers (12-18 months old) would also take 1-2 daytime naps, while older toddlers or preschoolers generally will only take one afternoon nap.

When my son was 16 months old, there was no need for an alarm clock, because who needs one when your son wakes up every day around 5:45 am, all cranky, and slowly it decreased to around 5:30 – 5:15 am, until I realized why he wakes up early, after which my personal alarm clock, aka, my son would sleep peacefully till 7:30 am.

Why does your toddler wake up early?

A toddler boy, who woke up quite early in the morning, is sitting on his parent's bed smiling and ready for the day.

If your child sleeps at 7 pm and wakes up at 5 am the next day in a cheerful mood, then the chances are that he’s probably an early riser, but if he keeps waking up every day in a cranky mood, then that’s a completely different story.

You’ll need to investigate the probable reasons why your child wakes up early and what you should do about it?

There are a few reasons behind an early riser like a baby added to the household. Some toddlers take time to adapt to sudden changes in the house.

If your toddler has started sleeping in a different room than he used to, or if he sleeps in a different house, he might probably have difficulty sleeping for a longer period in the night.

Another reason can be the light coming inside your toddler’s room. If your toddler’s room gets very bright early in the morning, then this can also be the prime reason that your toddler wakes up before his naptime ends.

Contradicting to what you think, late sleepers are mostly the ones waking up early in the morning. You might think that if you let your child sleep past his bedtime, she might wake up late too, but that’s never the case.

Disrupting or shifting a toddler’s bedtime routine suddenly can disrupt his sleep pattern too.

Another major reason for many early risers is sleeping for a prolonged time in the afternoon or waking up too late in the morning.

In situations like these, because the toddler slept sufficiently in the afternoon, she might either go to sleep past her bedtime or sleep early or wake up early in the morning.

Tips to help your early rising toddler sleep longer in the morning

Blackout curtains

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Buy room-darkening shades or curtains, or blinds that will darken the room and limit sun exposure early in the morning. If the room gets bright and sunny, your toddler might wake up early every day.

Shift her bedtime

If your toddler tends to sleep early, then try shifting her bedtime to a little later time, but don’t make this shift for more than 15 minutes for the first couple of days as she might get overtired by the time she sleeps. Of course, there’s no guarantee she might even go to sleep then, and all of this will go in a vicious cycle, where she sleeps late, wakes up early, and you’ll end up sleep-deprived.

So, if she sleeps at 7 pm, then shift the time to 7:15 pm for a few days and go little by little till she starts sleeping at 8 pm but not past that; otherwise, your toddler will be exhausted and won’t sleep well or longer.

Limit her liquids before her bedtime

Wet and heavy diapers can also be another reason why toddlers tend to wake up early.

So, cut down on her liquids so that she doesn’t become uncomfortable by early morning and greets you with a sopping wet diaper.

Comfort her if she wakes up early

Be present in the room when she wakes up early in the morning and soothe her back to sleep, but avoid this if your presence makes her more alert.

Sit in a chair with your eyes closed and wait for her to go back to sleep.

Get a white noise machine

If your toddler is a light sleeper and tends to wake up by the lightest of sounds, then install a white noise machine or switch on the fan.

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This might help block out any honking or birds chirping sounds outside her window.

Give your toddler a healthy, filling dinner

To avoid your toddler getting hungry in the middle of the night, serve her a healthy, filling dinner that is high in proteins, fibers, has complex carbohydrates to fight off any hunger during the night.

Adjust nap times

This is why my son tends to wake up early in the morning because he slept for 2-2.5 hours at a stretch during his afternoon naps, which made him sleep late at night, or even if he slept early, he would wake up early in the morning.

So, adjust your toddler’s afternoon nap times. Cut it short but not by too much, and this will really help your toddler sleep longer in the night and will wake up in a cheerful mood.

FAQs

Is 6 pm too early for toddler bedtime?

As long as your toddler is sleeping for sufficient hours in the night, you don’t have to worry about his sleep schedule.

What is a good naptime for toddlers?

If she sleeps once in the afternoon, it mustn’t exceed 3 hours but if she takes two-afternoon naps, then limit the naptime to 2 hours max. Also, the toddler’s naptime shouldn’t be close to their bedtime.

What snacks can I offer him if my toddler gets hungry in the middle of the night?

You can offer healthy and filling food, like yogurt or peanut butter on toast if she isn’t allergic to nuts, or you can also offer her hummus.

Takeaway

As long as you and your toddler are getting enough sleep, then don’t tend to worry about her sleep schedule, but if your toddler isn’t sleeping well at night, then try out any of the above methods, and you might find your perfect solution.

If your little one wakes up at 6 am all happy and cheerful, then it’s probably your sleep that is getting disturbed. In such a case, either keep some toys in your toddler’s room to keep her occupied or try to go to sleep a little early than usual to catch on to your much-needed sleep.

Meanwhile, comment down below your toddler’s daily sleep routine.

Located in India and a mother to a joyfully mischievous son, Kelin is the wife of the world’s most patient man and a busy homemaker. When she’s not busy cooking and running after her kid,  you can find her in a corner reading, or penning down words on her laptop. She believes the world will always try to instil ‘mom guilt’ in new mothers, but she goes by the maxim ‘a mother knows best'.

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