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Help! Toddler waking at 5am

(13 Posts)
CakeAndChocolate Tue 12-Jul-16 14:14:30

Really hope someone can help, my DS (2.4) has been waking between 5 and 5.30am for the last 3 weeks, he's been through phases of early waking before, but never more than a week so I'm concerned this is becoming the new normal for him.

I think he is in the transition for dropping his lunchtime nap. He used to sleep between 1-2pm but is often not tired at that time now and will be quite happy and lively until about 4.30 or so. He will still sleep for 45mins over lunch if we're in the car and he does sleep for 45mins-1hr at nursery 3 days a week. I have previously limited napping and not allowed it past 2pm as otherwise he doesn't go to sleep until. 8.30pm ish.

At the moment he will fall asleep between 8-8.30pm on a day when he has napped (bath and bedtime routine starts at 6.45/7 and he is always in bed for 7.30, just takes him a while to drop off) and on the days when he doesn't nap at all he has his bath at 6.30 and is fast asleep by 7pm.

It doesn't seem to matter whether he goes to sleep at 8.30 or 7, he still wakes up early. To make matters worse he appears tired when he wakes up and will cry/be upset for 20mins or so, but refuses to lie back down and says "no, it's wake up time". After about 20mins he is happy and lively as usual.

I'm concerned he isn't getting enough sleep, he averages about 10.5 hours in a 24 hour period and I thought it should be more like 11.5-13? He's never been a brilliant sleeper, but has been sleeping really well overnight for the last couple of months. Despite finding sleep difficult, he has always seemed to need a lot in order to be happy. As a baby he was miserable and grouchy on not much sleep but it was a gargantuan effort to get him to sleep well.

I'm thinking about asking nursery to limit his naps to 30mins and having no more than a 20min power nap on other days so he can go to sleep earlier in the evening. Is this likely to help? At least he will be going to sleep earlier and getting a 10hour stretch overnight. What do you think? I'm at a total loss but know that I can't handle 5-something wake ups for much longer, I'm shattered!

BearFeet Tue 12-Jul-16 14:18:06

This is going to sound harsh but in my experience nothing really helps. Can you let them come in your bed to see if they go back off. My 3 dc have all been through an early morning phase. This too shall pass.

CakeAndChocolate Tue 12-Jul-16 14:24:46

Argh! That's not what I wanted to hear! Dropping nap and waking at 5am all at the same time is not good for my energy levels.

He does come into bed with us, but won't drop off again, he wants to read books (by which I mean he wants me to read them to him) he runs around the bed, empties the bedside drawers and climbs all over me. He will watch the iPad for a bit but wants to talk about it so I don't get any extra rest.

Thanks for replying, really hope it passes soon, or someone else comes along with some sort of magic trick for me. Just an extra hour and waking at 6 would be bliss.

Heatherbell1978 Tue 12-Jul-16 14:26:34

My nearly 2 year old has always been an early riser. 5.30am on average but had some 5ams too. We went through a stage of 6.30am for about a month (bliss) and the last few days it's been 6.30. He still naps after lunch, around 2.5 hrs. In my experience nothing works, it's just a phase. I've experimented with earlier and later bed times although never taken his nap away as he's definitely not ready to drop that. It's tough especially when you know they're waking tired but we've just learned to adapt. I'm rarely in bed after 9.30 these days!

CakeAndChocolate Tue 12-Jul-16 14:30:12

Ok, thanks. This is making depressing reading!
Before this "phase" he was waking around 6.30/7 and was generally happy when he woke up, it's so frustrating when he wakes early and is obviously tired but refuses to go back to sleep.

JacquelineChan Tue 12-Jul-16 14:42:58

same here ! although after 1 night with Grandma he had a 'lie in' til 6am this morning.

I go to bed early and take turns with DP getting up in the morning. We bring him in with us but he starts mucking about so i just use the time to do the laundry. I love telling the people at work i've done 2 loads by 9am !

The bags under my eyes stop me being too smug

Blueredballoon Tue 12-Jul-16 14:46:28

My DS has been going through this 'phase' for about a year now...sorry! 5.45am is a lie in now. Some toddlers are just early risers I think. I drink a lot of coffee now.

CakeAndChocolate Tue 12-Jul-16 14:48:21

Ha! Despite both going to work today, DH and I each had an extra hour "lie in" which we had plenty of time for thanks to the 5am wake up.

Right, so the consensus seems to be there's nothing I can do about it and we just need to share the load and ride it out.

I guess on that basis I need to keep the naps to make sure he gets enough sleep overall?

Paddingtonthebear Tue 12-Jul-16 14:53:53

A sleep consultant said a 3+ year old needs 11 hours sleep at night, especially if they are physically active. So a younger child needs more sleep than that. Bedtime resistance and early morning wake ups are apparently signs of over tiredness. It's hard. I would continue with a short nap, but not any later than 2pm, aim for quiet time late afternoon, no TV or anything before bed. Up to bed for 6.30 and aim to get him asleep for 7pm. And try yourself to get some early nights to cope with the early starts. It will probably take a few weeks to get into a new cycle. Also does he get enough physical exercise? A short walk outside early evening/before bed apparently helps with their body clock

Trinpy Tue 12-Jul-16 14:56:40

We have the same problem at the moment. The one thing I'm considering now is a gro clock but I'm not sure if my ds is a bit young still (he's 2.3). Do you think it might be worth a go with yours? If he thinks it's 'wake up time' that might help persuade him it's not? They're only £20 so not too expensive if you're desperate!

Heatherbell1978 Tue 12-Jul-16 14:58:02

Sorry OP trust me if there was a solution I'd like to think I'd have found it by now! My BF has a 13 month old who has slept until 7.30am every day since she was around 3 months!! I have to take a sharp breath if she ever says she is tired from waking early!

FruitCider Tue 12-Jul-16 15:02:24

His bed time sounds far too late if im honest. I dropped my daughters nap at 2.5 and she would go bed at 6pm and get up between 6 and 7:30am. Early morning wakings are from my experienced caused by over tiredness so I would be moving that bed time right forward. My dd is now 3.5 and I still put her to bed at 5:45 if she is particularly tired!

CakeAndChocolate Tue 12-Jul-16 15:11:30

Ok, thanks. I suspect over tiredness, but he just won't nap and if he has had a nap he will lie in bed for an hour or more at nighttime chatting away until he finally drops off. I try to give him an hour of winding down before bed with stories/quiet play. Trouble is that DH generally gets home 30mins before bed which will hype him up a bit.

I haven't tried the early evening walk, so will give that a go and get him out for half an hour after dinner.

Re the Gro-Clock, I think he is a bit young, but like you say at £20 it is worth a shot!

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