A good night’s sleep is vital for all, but it’s a dream for many, especially moms. If you’re a mother to a toddler, who is an early bird, the thought of sleeping in or getting that precious morning shut-eye can be a tad difficult for you. You no longer need an alarm clock to wake up; you’ve your toddler who wakes up at the crack of dawn and is upbeat, while you feel groggy even after downing a large cup of tea/coffee.
If you’re not much of an early riser, you’re probably thinking about what you can do to get your baby to sleep in, so that you can linger in bed for a couple of hours (fine, minutes) more!
Let’s find out why toddlers wake up early, and what you can do to remedy that so that you can catch some extra sleep without feeling guilty!
Why Do Toddlers Wake Up Early in the Morning?
It’s hard to get a toddler to sleep and harder to put them back to sleep when they wake up in the morning. But what is it that makes them get up early? There is no single reason for the same. Many toddlers and young children are naturally early risers. Some may wake up early because of their biological tendency but note that the percentage of the children falling in this category is very less. The others may wake up because of one or more of the following reasons:
- They have had enough sleep.
- They went to bed early.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Wet or soiled diaper.
- They need to use the bathroom.
- Uncomfortable room temperature (if it gets too hot or too cold for a toddler, she might wake up).
- Infrequent nap schedule interfering with sleep.
Your toddler must be waking up early because of one or more reasons stated above. Nevertheless, you can try and change your toddler’s sleeping schedule to match yours or just to get some extra rest!
How to Get Your Toddler to Sleep In a Little Longer
1. Adjust her sleep schedule.
Not by much though, or your kid will wake up tired. Start by shifting her bedtime schedule by 15 minutes, then reduce it to 10 minutes daily until she wakes up on the desired time. If your toddler drifts off by 8 pm, keep her up until 8:15 pm one night, then 10 minutes later each night until she drifts off by 8:45 pm or 9 pm. But don’t keep her awake longer, or her sleep pattern will be disturbed completely. She may sleep longer than usual or not sleep well at all.
2. And her nap schedule too!
Naps are important but make sure your toddler doesn’t sleep until late afternoon or it might affect her bedtime. So if you want her to sleep by 8:30 pm to 9 pm, make sure she is not sleeping past 4 pm.
3. Deal with physical factors (developmental changes, to be precise!).
Your little one is at an age where she will most likely reach milestones such as teething or being potty-trained. But these milestones may hamper her sleep pattern. She may wake up crying if she is teething or with a wet-diaper if given fluids before bedtime.
If you’re potty training your toddler, try to make her use the potty before bedtime so that she doesn’t wake up crying because of a soiled or wet diaper. You can also limit her fluid intake before bedtime. To ensure that your teething toddler has an uninterrupted sleep, you can give her something cold to chew on, as cold desensitises the nerves and reduces pain. A teether will work just fine; chewing on a teether puts pressure on baby’s teeth, which provides relief from teething pain. Massaging your baby’s gums and breastfeeding her before bedtime will ease teething pain and calm her, thus enabling her to have a sound sleep!
4. Dim the lights.
Most new parents tend to forget this tip, but it’s an important one. Whether your toddler sleeps in a cot or has made a smooth transition to bed, the room where she sleeps in should be warm and cosy. You can get blinds or drapes to keep it dark for a few more hours in her room.
5. Let her stir and toss in bed, don’t rush to her immediately.
You may want to reach out to your child and lull her to sleep when she wakes up without you by her side, but don’t rush to her almost immediately. Observe her from a close distance for 5-10 minutes; she should probably soothe herself to sleep. If she does not, her wails will let you know that she is awake and angry that you left her all alone. That said, don’t feel guilty for leaving her alone while she is asleep, your little one should be well-aware with the concept of object permanence by now (thanks to the peek-a-boo game that you played with her almost every day). She will gradually learn that you are not too far from her and will return soon.
6. Place a toy on her bed.
If she wakes up without you being there, she may soothe herself to sleep with her favourite soft toy on her side, feeling safe and comfortable. It’s an effective technique to encourage toddlers to sleep on their own.
For your little morning person, you can try the above tips to get her to sleep a little longer, and while she is at it, you can enjoy extended sleep, squeeze in a workout, cuddle with your spouse, enjoy your cup of tea or just, you know, do nothing for once. But if all fails, and you conclude that your child is a natural early riser (perhaps like your spouse), there’s not much you can do about it. Let’s hope all of the above solutions work, though!