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WHy is my 3 year old waking so early?

(26 Posts)
IlanaK Fri 04-Feb-05 10:52:50

My 3.5 year old has always been an excellent sleeper. But recently (last couple of months) he has been waking early in the morning. He comnes out of his room on the pretex of using the toilet, but will open and close his door a few times to make sure we hear him. We always tell him to go back to bed after he has been to the toilet (he is still in nappies at night anyway) but he will often not go back to sleep.

We have tried a number of things. His room is very dark - black out curtains and everything. We have put a digital clock in his room and told hiim that if it does not say 7 oclock he is not to get out of bed, but this has made no difference (and his number sense is very good). I read a sleep book that said if your child is tired during the day (which he is), that he should go to bed earlier and it would not affect morning wake up time. SO we have moved his bedtime forward, but he still wakes early so is tired during the day. I am at my witts end really. And as I have a baby that is still waking for an early morning feed (though not at the same time so I am sure one is not waking the other), I am really really tired.

At the moment, he is in bed by 6:30 (previously it was about 7:30) and wakes around 5am. Then maybe dozes off again. Sometimes he wakes at 5:30 and does nto go back to sleep. My husband gets him up at 6:30, but refuses to get him up any earlier (and I agree). If he is going to wake early from now on, then I want him to stay in his room and not wake us up. Though of course I would prefer him to stop waking as he is so tired during the day.

What can we do????

popsycal Fri 04-Feb-05 10:54:45

Food?
We have tried everything for our early waking 2 and a hlaf year old and have come to the conclusion that if he eats a good dinner then is given cereal or something like that before bed, he will sleep longer in the morning. Nothing else has worked.

Grommit Fri 04-Feb-05 10:57:53

Can you put him to bed a bit later? In saying this I have found that both my kids at different times seem to vary their sleep patterns. They always go to bed at the same time (1yo 7pm, 5yo 7:45)and will sleep through until anything between 5:30-7:30. I have never been able to work out why. Nothing seems to make a difference - summer, winter, blackout blinds, going to bed later...)It still frustrates me 5 years on! Sorry I am not much help!

lowcalCOD Fri 04-Feb-05 10:58:41

sorry but 11 hours seems to be the norm here

Gwenick Fri 04-Feb-05 11:01:22

Could you try a 'reward' system with stickers or something if stays in his room until you get up and 'let him out' so to speak. My 2 Ds's now share a room (the oldest is 4) and thankfully he's automatically learned that if he wakes up before us he just plays quietly in his bedroom - the 14 month old usually dictates when the rest of us get up (but even he was sit and be 'entertained' by his brother).

Just a thought - is he actually using the toilet - or just using it as an 'excuse' to open his door? If he's not perhaps you could put a stair gate on his door so that he can't get out - you can always remove it again once he IS getting up to use the toilet.

IlanaK Fri 04-Feb-05 11:14:28

Well, the food idea is interesting. He eats tea early - around 5pm - and it is usually just a sandwhich. He is never really hungry fot it. Perhaps we could keep him up later and give him a snack just before bed. It is certainly worth a try. He does not wake up saying he is hungry, but it is certainly a possibility.

As to the stairgate - I would rather avoid it I think. He is generally a fairly obedient child and I don't like the idea of shutting him in. Also, I think all he would do is stand at it and yell for us saying he needs the toilet. When he gets up, it is definately an excuse, but he can always squeeze a small wee out. And he has learned that this is an acceptable reason to leave his room. The problem is that although he can use the toilet independantly, he makes sure we can hear him. OUr room is right next door anyway.

Any more ideas?

popsycal Fri 04-Feb-05 11:16:52

IlanaK - that sounds exactly like our DS....fusses over his dinner around 5:30 unless it is toad in the hole which he wolfs down and asks for more (cooking that tonight so we get a tiny sleep in tomorrow ). Then before he goes to bed at 7, we have total quiet time with books (TV and music off) and then cereal and milk then straight to bed after teeth cleaned. No faffing on.

Do try it and let me know - it has been a recent revelation for us after trying EVERYTHING else!

lowcalCOD Fri 04-Feb-05 11:17:59

Ime they either wake up early or not
mine have tea at 5 and sleepsothink that may be a read herring

popsycal Fri 04-Feb-05 11:18:42

I'll get me coat then
(again)

lowcalCOD Fri 04-Feb-05 11:19:07

No it may wrok
its just we did allt his and to no avail#
!! sorry p!

marthamoo Fri 04-Feb-05 11:19:55

I don't know - but if you find something please tell me! Ds2 (was 3 in December) has been getting up between 4.30 and 5.30 for weeks. I am soooooo knackered.

lowcalCOD Fri 04-Feb-05 11:19:59

but ds2 gets up at 6 adn goes and watched tv with ds1 so the problem has kind of passed for us

think lots of kids are waking at 5 att he mo ( ds3 as well)
is it lighter or are the birds back?

soapbox Fri 04-Feb-05 11:21:54

I think he's going to bed to bed too early!

At 3 my DS would go to bed at 8 and wake at 7!

Move bedtime back 10mins a night and see if that makes a difference.

If not tell him to play in his bedroom and that the adults will not get up before it says 7 on the clock!

elliott Fri 04-Feb-05 11:21:57

Hi there, we have this problem off and on with 3.2 year old ds1. We use the light on a timer, together with a reward system during bad patches, and that has helped quite a lot - I think he often wakes before the light but will wait quietly (usually) in bed.
can you try ignoring him more? It is tricky really with the toilet issue - because you don't want to discourage them and also he may genuinely be being woken by his bladder. Is there any way you can get him self sufficient with toileting at night, so that he doesn't need attention from you? We have a potty in ds1's room and he will use this by himself when he wakes up. (having said that he woke us at 3am last night to use the potty - which is kind of good, as its a step towards night training, but clearly not ideal...)

I'm also not sure whether an early bedtime is a good idea at this stage - ds1 doesn't seem to sleep longer than about 11.5 hours so you might want to try pushing it back again.

Gwenick Fri 04-Feb-05 11:22:10

another thing (and I know this may sound totally cruel and unkind) we did when DS1 DID go through a stage of getting up early was we just stayed in bed (we had a stairgate top of the stairs so he could fall down them). If he came in we just ignored him and pretended to be asleep - if he tried to climb in we wouldn't let him, and if he tried to 'wake' us up we'd ignore him too - I think he got pretty bored of it in the end and started staying in his room again.

soapbox Fri 04-Feb-05 11:22:27

OMG - I've developed a stutter

elliott Fri 04-Feb-05 11:28:10

I agree with the ignoring thing - ok it won't stop you being woken up but if you pretend you are asleep he may get bored of the game eventually and back in the habit of dozing in bed...

marthamoo Fri 04-Feb-05 11:28:56

Well, ds2 usually eats a decent sized meal at around 6. We have a strict bedtime routine of bath, story, bed. He's in bed and asleep by 7.30, 7.45 at the latest. Then he's up and raring to go between 4.30 and 5.30 every day.We have blackout blinds, the radiator in his room is turned off so it doesn't click and wake him up...nothing helps!

And now it's 11.30, he's tired, grumpy and whiney, and we have Tumble Tots in an hour...

lowcalCOD Fri 04-Feb-05 11:29:46

yes us too with ds1

Gwenick Fri 04-Feb-05 11:30:32

I'm not going to say what time my kids wake up incase you all start hating me (but DS1 DID go through a stage of early waking so I have been there)

marthamoo Fri 04-Feb-05 11:30:36

I've tried ignoring - he switches my bedside light on, prises my eyelids open, and tries to lift my head up by my hair. Then he flashes me an enormous beaming smile and says "you 'wake, Mummy?"

Gwenick Fri 04-Feb-05 11:35:34

lol - that's what my DS did too - and my goodness he's strong - used to feel my hair being pulled out - I solved the bedside light problem by unplugging it before going to sleep, the beaming smile I never saw as I'd just shut my eyes tighter :-)

IlanaK Fri 04-Feb-05 12:47:05

Goodness me! I don't think ds1 would ever dare to do that to us! However, we may need to try the ignoring thing. When he was in a cot, he probably woke early too but as he coudln't get up, he dozed and went back to sleep. Now he knows he can get up, he does. If we ignore him (we currently get up to him immediately that we hear him as we don't want ds2 to wake up), he may just give up. I will also try the later bedtime and more food.

IlanaK Sat 05-Feb-05 09:55:19

Update:

Put him to bed a whole hour later last night. Also insisted he eat a good tea and tried giving him a good sized full fat yoghurt just before his bath.

Well, he did not come out of his room once last night and didn't wake this morning until 7:30!!

Lets hope it wasn't a fluke and actually continues!

popsycal Sun 06-Feb-05 10:32:26

So glad it worked!!! Let me know how it goes....

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