You have finally made that switch to a big kid bed. Wahoo, you get some points for that! Just when you start patting yourself on the back, the next issue arises. It’s 5:30 am, and your little one realizes that they can get up.
When they were in a crib, this didn’t happen. They would slightly wake up but learned to put themselves back to sleep. I remember my toddler running into our room around 5:00 am yelling, “good morning, mama and dada.” I’d try so hard to explain that it’s not time yet only to have her crawl into our bed and toss, turn, talk, and laugh until one of us finally got up with her. If you’re there, I sympathize with you.
What is different?
Just like adults, toddlers go in and out of REM sleep cycles throughout the night and morning. When they were in their crib, they went through the same cycle; however, they weren’t in control of getting up or not. So when they were in that lighter sleep, their brain wasn’t telling them that they could get up. However, once they learn they have the power to control getting up, they run with it… or maybe actually run.
So what do you do? Try this first!
Light Alarm Clock
Your toddler doesn’t quite understand time yet. So you need to provide them with something to understand it better. These clocks are genius!!! You set the time for an appropriate time to wake up, and you explain to your little one that they need to wait for it to be green to get up. It takes a few days, but this is gold.
- In those first few days of transitioning, you might need to go into their room with them.
- Show them that you have to wait for the light to turn green and lay with them and wait. Eventually, they will get it!
- This one is a great one that you can control with your phone: Toddler Clock
What if the light doesn’t work for you?
So you’ve tried this fantastic light everyone is talking about, and it still isn’t working. What do you do? Go back to your basics and find the root of the problem.
Consider the bed/wake time
The problem could be too early or too late of a bedtime. Consider how much sleep they need to be having for their age. Toddlers from 1-2 should get between 11-14 hours of sleep a day (including naps). So think about how much sleep they are getting and adjust bedtime.
- You’d be amazed how going to be too late can result in them waking up too early.
- Also, consider the opposite; if your little one is a 3-hour napper, they might need a later bedtime.
Don’t let them crawl in bed with you
This one hurts because it comes from my unsuccessful trial and error. When our little one came into our room early, we were too tired to put up a fight, so we’d let her get in bed. Take one guess who never actually went back to sleep once she got in bed with us? Yep- everyone! It took way too long for me to learn; it was way more beneficial to bring her back to her room.
Make sure dinner isn’t too early, or try giving a snack before bed
If you notice when your little one wakes up, breakfast is the very first thing on their mind. It might be their tummy waking them up. A good protein snack before bed could help them go a little longer.
Check the stimulants
Is there too much light coming in through the window? Is someone else already awake and waking them up? Are their cars starting to drive down the street? Blackout curtains and a sound machine could be your new best friend.