Toddler Waking Up Too Early? Try this Hack ASAP
If your toddler wakes up too early in the morning, this advice is for you!
Parenting is a tough job even before you tack on isolation, stress and sleep deprivation. What's even worse is when your toddler decides they no longer want to sleep past 5:00am.
It's tempting to believe that your child is intent on ruining your life, but that’s rarely (if ever) the case. Early rising in toddlers can result from many different causes, making solutions really tough to find.
For many toddlers, the answer is as simple as adjusting bedtime and naps. However, other kids require a more direct approach to help them learn to stay in bed longer.
Thankfully, we live in a time when we can solve problems with a few taps on our smartphones.
Here’s the Hack for Early Rising Toddlers
You've probably heard of a sleep training clock, sometimes called an "okay to rise" alarm for kids. The words "clock" and "alarm" are used loosely here as the device is essentially a countdown timer with both audio and visual time indicators.
These little gadgets take most of the work off your plate to help your child to sleep for longer periods.
Let’s go over the basics of how “wake up” timers help with sleep training:
- At bedtime, set the timer for the number of hours and minutes the child should stay in bed. This might sound cumbersome, but timers like our Stoplight Golight allow you to quickly select the end-time with a smartphone app.
- Once set, the first audio and visual indicators will start. If the timer is made specifically for kids, the sound and visual will be something that excites and engages them (i.e., our timer's red traffic light turns on while the sound "red means stop" is played).
For this hack to work, visual indicators (usually a light or image) must stay on through night and into morning. Keep this crucial function in mind when shopping for your sleep trainer.
- When morning comes and your child wakes up before the sun, they’ll see that the visual indicator has not changed. This tells them it's not quite time to wake up yet. They'll typically go back to bed or play quietly until the right time.
- Once time ends, the device switches to different visual and sound indicators, letting your child know it's time to get up and take on the day. For example, on our timer, the red traffic light turns off, then flashes yellow before the green light finally turns on. Accompanying sounds play simultaneously.
Pro Tip: Trust the Process
Now, we know what you're thinking. My kid would never fall for that.
But hear us out for a minute. Aren't most toddlers driven by accomplishing goals and learning new things?
Scholarly research backs up the idea that nearly all humans seek validation in one form or another. So, it's possible this technique will work on your child and give you back some precious hours of snoozing.
The key is introducing the concept to your toddler and following through with tons of positive reinforcement.
Presenting the timer as more game than a time regulator really helps secure your little one's buy-in. It may take a week or so before they fully master the idea, but there's a good chance your patience will pay off!
If after a while, your child's interest starts to fade, try adding some incentives to keep them going. Stick with simple things, like awarding them a sticker or extra screen time for every day they cooperate.
We can't promise there won't be bumps in the road, but there's a good chance things will improve before you know it. So, remember, no matter how frustrating it is to manage your early riser, it can be done!
What has been your experience with toddlers who wake up too early? We want to hear from other parents who might have found success in solving their own toddlers’ waking problems.
Leave a comment below to share what worked for your family!