View Full Version : Toddle Waking too early - help!
I am desperate for some advice from any parent who has ever had success with stopping their toddler waking too early. My 20 month old has never slept beyond 5am and has recently started waking at 4am. Some mornings it is even between 3.30am and 4am. We put him to bed at 7pm without every any fuss (in fact it is sometimes a struggle to keep him awake till then). He appears to have had enough sleep when he wakes in the morning but we are like zombies! He is up and raring to go and either my husband or I will groggily get him up. He then konks out about 10.30am and sleeps on average for 1 and a half hours. He has a bottle to go to bed with and more often than not sleeps through until morning. My husband and I are constantly sleep deprived and the early mornings are starting to wreck havoc with our relationship. We have tried putting him down for a nap in the afternoon in order to put him to bed later without success and also ignoring him in the morning but he eventualy sobs so uncrontrollably that we feel guilty and worried that we are doing him permanent damage. Any help is very much appreciated! :(
Hugs to you! Sleep deprivation is really hard :( I am SO not a morning person and when I put my son to bed at 7am he too wanted to get up at 5am and I was a basket case. He now goes to sleep when I do around 10pm and we rarely get up before 9am. He's done that since about 6 months old. Obviously it's best if what you do works in your family, and you're right to not leave your baby to cry. It is damaging. If you want to put him to bed a little later, 15 mins every few days can massage him into it painlessly. Elizabeth Pantley's No Cry Sleep Solution could be very valuable to you as well. I hope you find a gentle solution for you all soon!
When ds wakes up too early I take him in his bottle & fill his cot with toys. that keeps him occupied for a while - it gives me an extra 1/2 hour or hour to sleep!
I am of no assistance - my girls both wake around 5am, and a darker room, later night, more afternoon sleep, more food, less food, etc, etc, etc make no difference. WE have just got used to starting our day early and finishing it a bit earlier - and every few days we cover each other for a sleep in, or an afternoon nap to help catch up. I go to work early and come home early, so our whole life has been adjusted to it - and who said that kids didn't change your life?????
This is a common problem.
Here is a suggestion that I know works.
In the morning when your LO wakes up. You go to him and pick him up and lay him back down. Be gentle and calm and tell him it is sleep time. Don't give him too much attention, example looking him in the eyes. When he stands up you pick him up and lay him back down and eventually he will tire out and fall back to sleep on his own. He is going to be upset because it is a change in his pattern but ride it out. You are suporting him and not leaving him to cry himself out so you shouldn't feel guilty. Count how many times you have to pick him up so you can follow your progress and the first day is always the hardest. You may have to Pu/Pd up to 200 times but each day it will gradually decrease and he will begin to sleep through.
It takes patience but if you are already getting up early with him you can at leat know that you are on the road to a full night sleep.
You have to stick with this method to get it to work. If you give in and get him up early he won't take you seriously and you start again from square one.
The goal is to at least keep him in his bed until desired wake up time so even if he falls asleep at 10 mins to when he is meant to get up, let him and then get him up again.
Let me know if you need more details.
If I think of any other suggestions I will let you know and of course this is just an idea so good luck with whatever you decide to do.
Thankyou to all the replies and suggestions so far to my early morning waking dilemma. I like the approach suggested with pu/pd but should I change a wet nappy first or give water in a bottle if he asks for it? Is having a bottle to go to bed with the problem - he only drinks about 180ml at most and sleeps through even though I take the bottle out when he is asleep. What is a reasonable time to expect him to sleep until if he goes to bed at 7pm? If he does finally fall asleep should I let him continue to sleep or wake him up when he should be waking up??? As you can tell I am desperate to solve the problem but am a bit confused about how to make the technique work without too much pain and suffering?!
[QUOTE=draught]I am of no assistance - my girls both wake around 5am, and a darker room, later night, more afternoon sleep, more food, less food, etc, etc, etc make no difference. WE have just got used to starting our day early and finishing it a bit earlier - and every few days we cover each other for a sleep in, or an afternoon nap to help catch up. QUOTE]
OMG it sounds exactly like our life.
I think some kids are just early risers and I have been blessed with 2 of them. My 2 wake anywhere from 4.30 to 5.30 (if I'm realy lucky) If we lived in a state that had daylight savings this problem would get slightly better in a few weeks.
Sorry no help but at least you know you are not alone.
The general length of sleep for a child around the 2 yr mark is 11.5 hrs at night and 1.5 hr nap during the day.
Is your son using the bottle to fall asleep? This will make it difficult to help him fall asleep in the morning without you. Also consider that it is bad for his teeth.
Unless he has pooped in his nappy, he should be able to go through a full night without being changed.
Is he always thirsty in the morning? Could this be why he is waking? Try feeding him some water from a bottle while he is sleeping about an hour before he wakes up to see if he sleeps longer.
If he is too heavy to pick him right up just put your hands behind his knees and back to lay him down. If he is really crying pat him on the back or hold him (no rocking, nursing, bottle etc) but stop or lay him down as soon as he settles and no longer. You want to show him you are there for him but not still providing a chance to independantly soothe himself.
I have just finished doing this routine with my son and I felt very in control and suportive. yes, it has worked for us. He sleeps through from 7 - 6:30 and falls asleep on his own.
One thing that helps is having a solid routine. Always do the same things around the same times so that he knows what to expect and it lets him feel in control.
It usually took an hour of Pu/Pd before my son would fall back to sleep and no matter what time that was I always woke him at 6:30am. Naps should always stay the same as well regardless of how much sleep he had through the night.
If you decide to stop offering his bottle at bedtime try giving it to him before you change him for bed if it calms him. I nurse my son before we have story time and we always read 3 little books and sing two songs. (Another routine that he can always expect.) After my final song which is always the same I lay him in his cot and I leave. He is usually out within 5 minutes. The Pu/Pd will work at bedtime as well and slowly you can leave the room only returning if he cries for you when you will pu and pd again.
I hope I haven't forgotten anything but I know there are always more little details that can pop up so don't be afraid to ask any questions.
Thankyou so much for your tried and tested advice! My husband and I have decided to gradually wean bub off the bottle by reducing the amount and strength of his formula. Tonight I gave him 180ml as opposed to the usual 220ml and diluted it by a quarter. I felt confident doing this as he ate a reasonable amount of dinner (which he usually refuses - in anticipation of his bottle I suspect!). Not surprisingly he did drink the entire bottle tonight at 7pm. My husband and I have decided to gradually introduce the pu/pd routine in conjunction with an alarm clock. Does anyone have an opinion on this, do you know anyone who has had any success with it? Tomorrow I will start to use an alarm clock during the day for simple things like 'ok when the alarm sounds we can watch tv' etc, to introduce him to the concept. The next step then will be to set the alarm for say 6am and pu/pd until it sounds. My husband is concerned that bub will stay awake waiting for the alarm to sound but I am hoping that he will fall asleep by then and I will than switch it off. Is the alarm clock a bad idea???
Babies, like adults, are prone to change their habits from time to time. You will find that no matter what system you try to impose, he will change and your system won't work any more. If you follow his cues and let them guide you, you'll always be able to provide what he needs without trying to put him into a routine which doesn't suit him. An alarm clock sounds way OTT to me. All babies learn to sleep as they grow and sleep training doesn't help. It hinders. I hope you'll look at Elizabeth Pantley's No Cry Sleep Solution so both you and your child are nurtured and supported through this time. Your child is behaving perfectly normally and if you just put him to bed a little later, he will probably still sleep the same number of hours but not need to get up at 5am. What time would you naturally want to get up if you went to bed at 7pm every night?
Personaly I would not use an alarm clock. Unfortunatly as adults our lives tend to be run by the clock I don't think young kids need the extra stress. Who can say they wake up happy to an alarm. I know when I decided to stop wearing a watch I was a lot more relaxed, we eat when we are hungery not when it's "lunch time". Using an alarm for things during the day could also result in your child not learning to be indpendent and make decisions for themself.
If your little one is waking happy it is a good indication that he has had enough sleep I would be more inclinded to try what JanetF said and put him to bed a little later.
"It usually took an hour of Pu/Pd before my son would fall back to sleep and no matter what time that was I always woke him at 6:30am."
If I forced my DS back to sleep then woke him up I would have a very grumpy little man.
These are just my thoughts. Hope you find something that works for you family
Sorry to come in on your thread about a whole different topic but I need some advice. My 4month baby girl now loves sleeping on her tummy. At first I would roll her back onto her back at sleep time but she would become so frustrated and would always roll onto her tummy as soon as I turned her over. I know this is bad because of sids but she loves it and falls asleep without much of a fight when placed on her tummy and with her dummy. The problem is I keep waking at night to check on her, about 4-6 times! And when she wakes at 4 or 5am I bring her into bed with me and her dad. I've tried wrapping her (she fight out of it) and using side cushions that are suppose to prevent rolling but neither have worked. She has a very strong neck so I'm sure she wouldn't suffocate. Any suggestions on how I keep her on her back?
Bubbalucy, My DD rolled fairly early and then also wanted to be on her tummy to sleep. When I phoned the SIDS hotline for advice I was told that none of the positioning aids will stop her rolling, and that if she's that mobile then the risk of her getting her face covered/stuck is pretty low - they can turn their head so well and get themselves out of anything they roll into. As long as there are no extras like toys, blankets, cot bumpers, I'd say let her sleep on her tummy and get yourself some sleep too.
If you're really still concerned you could try her on her side and see if she'll accept that, tho she may still roll to tummy when asleep. Or phone the SIDs hotline, they're really very helpful.
I agree with JanetF that we must always pay attention to our childs needs, but it is a proven fact that one of the Needs of all people young and old is to have routine. It creates security and comfort. Remember that routine doesn't have to be held at exact times during the day. It is the things we always do. For example, I always shower in the morning and not at night, I always eat dinner by 5pm and I always read before I go to bed. If I don't do these things as normal I lose that sense of control. Children like to know what to expect, even infants a month old recognize patterns and prefer to already know what is coming next. I think that you will find that your daytime patterns generally stay the same throughout life. Meals are generally at the same time, you work at the same time everyday, etc.
One strong point I have to say is that the parent is the teacher and if your child is having trouble with something (sleeping, eating, talking, socializing...) you have to show them how to do it. Also, a child should never run a household. They need boundaries that you stick to. Children are constantly changing and growing and so your methods of support change with them. If you go to a fitness gym, there are many different methods you can use to build muscle. One method will only work for so long before you need to progress to another more suited to the stage you are in. You would not avoid going to the gym because one method no longer works or maybe wasn't suited to you in the first place.
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