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Early waking toddler... I have tried EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING, I TELL YOU!!!! Any out of the box ideas???

(47 Posts)
Emeraldgirl2 Wed 10-Dec-14 20:44:59

21m DD wakes up at 5.15ish am every day.

If I felt this was just her 'natural' wakeup time, I would live with it, but she is EXHAUSTED all morning, from about 7am onwards.

Here is what I have tried:

A later bedtime (the WORST option, it just leads to overtiredness which I think is the worst culprit for her early waking)

An earlier bedtime (this has occasionally worked but not consistently)

Scooping her into bed with me the moment she stirs (no luck, she just lies in bed with me and flails until I give up 90 min later)

Leaving her in her cot (not to cry, as she will scream herself sick, but leaving her in there with reassurance after a hasty cuddle (NOT getting her out) and saying it's still night time, sleep tight etc...

Giving her a quick drink and also doing the above, doesn't help.

Leaving the heating on all night (!!) so it's not too cold...

Putting her in a sleeping bag/duvet thing designed for wriggly toddlers, so she's not too cold...


My info does really suggest that overtiredness is the biggest problem as on the (rare) morning when she sleeps until 6am or thereabouts ( a lie in!!) it ALWAYS corresponds with a good long nap (2h) the day before, and a nice reasonable bedtime, on the early side, at 7pm latest.

However what with her being so tired ALL the time, due to missing out on up to 2 hours sleep each night, combatting overtiredness is an ongoing battle; I can't FORCE her to nap for 2 hours each day and she regularly wakes up after only 1h 30 (and is then tired all pm!!).

She has never been a late waker, 7am would be a pipe dream, but we did have a month or two of 6.30am which was bliss... that was back in the summer but it's been no later than 5.30am for months (and the clocks changing was just hell, we went to 4am instead!!)

If I really think about it, things seemed to solidify around the 5.15 mark when she dropped her morning nap... until then she'd been often-enough sleeping in longer.

Has over tiredness caused by all those loooooong morning stretches without a sleep (5.15am until 11.30ish am, which is the earliest I can put her down otherwise there's too long a gap before bedtime after she wakes up from her nap) caused the problem, perhaps??

Should I try a short early0ish morning nap, 9am or thereabouts, for 20 mins or so, for a few weeks until we've hopefully solved the OT issue??

Many friends with early-ish waking babies said they all miraculously slept LATER in the mornings after dropping the morning nap, but the opposite is happening here, if indeed that's even the thing that made the problem worse in the first place...

Should I try wake-to-sleep, in desperation, which is the only thing I think I haven't tried yet...?

ANY advice, or even just solidarity, please help me!!

Emeraldgirl2 Wed 10-Dec-14 20:50:57

Oh and I should say, her schedule is, roughly, as follows:

5.15 (approx) wake up sad
7.30am - breakfast (what little she will eat of it, she's not a big fan of breakfast)
11.15 - lunch
11.45am (approx, sometimes 12pm) nap until 2pm (v good day) or 1pm (v v bad day), most usually about 1.30pm.
2pm ish - small snack that she usually refuses
4.45pm - supper

Then bedtime varies depending on what we're trying out to combat the OT issue. It was a 6.30pm bath/bottle for a 7pm into-cot time for ages, but we have recently brought that forward to 5.30 bath for a 6pm bedtime, or a 5.45 bath for a 6.15 bedtime. We did that today, for example, and she was asleep by 6.20pm.

dancemom Wed 10-Dec-14 20:52:35

Definitely wake to sleep, can take up to 7 nights to work so stick with it

catellington Wed 10-Dec-14 20:57:43

No advice but sympathy, my dd 22 months has a spookily similar sleep pattern.

I find it very strange because it is still dark when she wants to get up so don't understand it. I had a hunch it might coincide with when the heating started coming on on a timer.

My coping mechanisms are going to bed early, and when she wakes up I get her a biscuit and milk and put cbeebies on while I nod off again...bad probably but buys me a little more rest....

TwentyTinyToes Wed 10-Dec-14 20:59:56

Another vote for wake to sleep, certainly helped with DS. I think you have to rouse them 1 hour before their usual wake up time... it is soul destroying but worth a shot. I would stick with early bedtimes too.

Good luck!

Rumandcokeplease Wed 10-Dec-14 21:00:55

Get a groclock! At 21 months she should be old enough to understand what it's about, my daughter was nearly 2 when we got ours but my nephew had one from about 18 months I think.

nottheOP Wed 10-Dec-14 21:04:53

I think her nap is too early. Ds is a similar age and has his nap at 1.30 - 3.30. You're effectively rewarding the early wake up.

We have the gro clock too but ds doesn't get it yet

cakeandcustard Wed 10-Dec-14 21:05:33

4.45 is quite early for supper, she might be hungry? My DS was a terrible sleeper, we gave him porridge at about the time you offer the last bottle, made a huge difference!

DeadCert Wed 10-Dec-14 21:06:20

What happens if you let her have a good sleep in the mornings? Say, 9:30-11:30? My DS is still an early waker at 3.6 but we ignore him and he has a gro clock and is luckily good enough to know not to get out of bed before it goes orange. He's constantly tired and needs a good sleep in the day, I'm worried about when he goes to school to be honest!

Quitelikely Wed 10-Dec-14 21:08:40

IMO what will work is, if you're brave enough - disrupt her body clock.

You say she wakes at 5.15 go into the room at 4.30 and wake her up. Keep her up for a few minutes. Then tell her it's back to sleep.

I believe she will be in a deep sleep and her natural rhythm will have been disrupted!

Worth a try!

Emeraldgirl2 Wed 10-Dec-14 21:12:51

Thanks so much everyone!!
NotTheOp, in principle you're quite right but the reality is, unfortunately, that if I put her down for a nap any later than 12.30pm latest (and even that is pushing it) she has flipped so far into over tiredness she simply refuses to settle at all. Believe me we have had some hellish days with that experiment!!
Cakeandcustard, have tried offering bedtime snack (won't touch it) and she barely eats more than two mouthfuls of breakfast even at 7.30am (after up to two hours of activity) so I don't think it's hunger related... I wish it was as then it would be an obvious solution sad
And sorry you're suffering too catellington... I spent a long time doing the doze-in-front-of-peppa-pig thing too but then I began to worry it was contributing to the early wake up as she was saying 'peppa, peppa' as soon as I went in at 5.15am and I think she was almost stirring herself in anticipation of it...
I guess wake to sleep it is, then... Thanks for the advice about it taking a while... Will start it at the w/e, am praying it works!!!!

nottheOP Wed 10-Dec-14 21:17:50

You could try pushing it back 30 minutes every 3 days?

Rubberstamp Wed 10-Dec-14 21:19:29

Maybe try moving her out of a cot into a bed? My ds went into a small bed at 18months with a baby gate on his door and would then happily play in his room until we got up, even if that was after 9am. Might give her something to do rather than sit in the cot when she wakes up?

confusedandemployed Wed 10-Dec-14 21:24:24

Hi Emerald, I remember you from the pregnancy boards (my DD is 21mo too) although I have NC since then.
I also second wake to sleep. My DD is thankfully a very good sleeper but it is something I tried when she started to wake early. I just went in, roused her ever so slightly (IMO if she wakes completely it doesn't work) then left. It worked like a charm in 2 nights. I hope it works.

Emeraldgirl2 Wed 10-Dec-14 21:24:30

NotTheOp oh that is a very good suggestion, might give that a shot too... Thank you!

Re the gro clock or a proper bed... Again v good ideas and thank you!! But the issue isn't so much that I want her to not wake us up (though I would kill for a normal amount of sleep myself) as the fact that she is such a wreck all morning long due to tiredness and it just makes it so miserable and stressful... Does anyone have experience of the gro clock making them realise that not only is it not time to wake mummy, it's also time to close your eyes and drift off to sleep again...? The impression I've got is that it simply teaches them not to wake up others but I could be wrong? (She asks, desperately...)

Emeraldgirl2 Wed 10-Dec-14 21:26:13

Confused oh hello!!! Nice of you to remember me smile I am probably no less neurotic now than I was back then smile
Am def going to try wake to sleep, it's a risky option but I have to try something new...

MoreSnowPlease Wed 10-Dec-14 21:27:22

She's going over 14 hours without any food and 2 hours of activity thrown in? ! I would say hunger. Is she a fussy eater? Or thirst?

Also, what about really tiring her out in the day and being outside most of the day?

confusedandemployed Wed 10-Dec-14 21:29:45

smile I don't remember you being neurotic!!
MoreSnow has a point I think. We get out with DD at least twice a day, and usually more often. Fresh air begets sleep like nothing else!

MoreSnowPlease Wed 10-Dec-14 21:30:37

Gro clock was useless for us as it was to bright and woke ds1 more. But he is in a big bed and when he wakes he comes and gets in my bed and if I can convince him it's still night time he will go back to sleep. Could you try that? It may be that as she's in a cot she is fully waKing up, but if she wonders into your bed she may stay sleepy

ThatsNotAKnifeThatsASpoon Wed 10-Dec-14 21:31:22

Tbh, I think you're expecting too much sleep from her. She's averaging 11 hours a night plus 1.5 hour nap. That's plenty at 21 months ime. You need to work on gradually moving her bedtime later so she wakes later (this will take a LONG time given you are starting from a 6pm ish bedtime.

It's hard, I know. I've been there. Tried all the tricks like you, it will just take time smile

ChunkyPickle Wed 10-Dec-14 21:37:25

I was going to come and talk about how well the emergency banana worked for us - on the headboard. Dispensed (generally at about 1:30 am), eaten, and then DS1 shuffled back into bed - but it if hunger isn't her issue....

And all the silly stuff - it's winter, so the sun comes up late, but we still need to pull DS1's blind or he's up about 6. With the blind he'll sometimes stay in bed until I go and get him at 7:45.

SoonToBeSix Wed 10-Dec-14 21:48:17

She goes to bed very early, could you not move it back to 7.30 gradually over the next two weeks?
Your dd sleeps for a long time at night just the wrong times.

pebblestack Wed 10-Dec-14 21:49:36

If her last meal is at 4.45pm, she is probably waking up because she's starving! 14 hours without food is a lot at that age. And even if she's not feeling hungry, her body will be in dire need of some food.

At that age mine were going to bed at about 8. I know that isn't the British way, but it worked for me - it meant that they'd sleep until at least 7 or later. They had lunch at 12 ish, a nap of 2 or 3 hours, then a snack, so that they could wait until 6/6.30ish for dinner.

So I recommend a routine overhaul (in little increments) as it's obviously not working for you or her. Good luck, it sounds soul destroying

Emeraldgirl2 Wed 10-Dec-14 21:50:25

MoreSnow, I spent a long time working on the hunger angle too but she is SO un enthused about breakfast that I just can't believe it's hunger... Thirst is more likely as she always wants a drink as soon as she wakes... The real trouble as I know all you battle-hardened ladies will understand, is that this becomes a vicious circle... She is so tired (due to waking so early) that you have to do early bedtimes, but then she is obv hungry/thirsty/ has had enough sleep by 5am... So the cycle perpetuates...

Thatsnotaknife, I think you're spot on about 11h plus a 1.5h nap being enough, trouble is that for months now she's been having no more than 10h per night (until we just moved the bedtime v v early these past few days) so she seems chronically overtired as a result IYSWIM?

How do I get her to lessen the over tiredness, by sleeping, but AT THE RIGHT TIME?!

Emeraldgirl2 Wed 10-Dec-14 21:53:57

Should add that am still giving her a large bottle (200ml) right before bed so she's actually only going roughly 6pm to 5am with nothing (and then refuses anything but water til 7.30am...) So only 11h, not 14...
She's eating pickily at the mo but did the same early wake even when she was eating like a horse...
How can I persuade her to eat more in the mornings??? Honestly it's like pulling teeth even at 7.30am...

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