A Simple Solution For The Toddler Waking Too Early
Do you have a toddler waking early every morning? Or one who suddenly wants to cut his or her nap in half and play the afternoon away instead? If so it can be a frustrating battle that makes you wonder what happened to all of your infant sleep training progress and seriously consider contacting a toddler sleep consultant.
Our oldest daughter started refusing to nap and waking way too early around 2 1/2 years old. At first I thought it was just a phase. I assumed she would revert back to sleeping in until our blissful morning wake time and that eventually she would give me a nap time break again. However, her sleep habits did not revert and my sanity slowing began to melt away. (As a mom who works from home during my kids’ naps it was especially challenging to lose that time each afternoon!)
However, a mom at the playground shared with me one simple item that turned our mornings and nap times completely around!
In this post I want to pass along to you the SUPER SIMPLE resource she shared with me that transformed our toddler’s habits! We started using this and within two days our daughter was quietly remaining in her room until “wake up time” every morning and she was back to remaining quietly in her room for her entire nap time!
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What our toddler not sleeping well looked like
Like I mentioned, our oldest daughter began to wake early in the mornings and struggle to take her naps around 2 1/2 years old. What we thought was just a phase in her sleep habits continually worsened until some mornings she was waking over an hour earlier than she used to and some naps she was bouncing out of her room ready to play after less than half of her typical nap time. She also began refusing to take naps some days – while other days she clearly needed to sleep.
We were able to conquer some of the battles with her refusal to nap by allowing her to take books to her bed for nap time. She got excited about this idea and it catered to her falling asleep on the days when she was tired enough to do so. Some afternoons she read the whole nap time. Some afternoons she fell asleep. It helped to get over the battle of going to her room to take a nap. However, taking books to nap did not solve the growing trend of waking extremely early from naps (and in the mornings). Especially on days when she didn’t fall asleep and just read, our daughter would often come out of her room declaring that she was all done napping after less than half the usual nap time.
We tried enforcing that she couldn’t get up until “mommy got her” or telling her that it was too early and she needed to go back to her room. Some days it worked, but many it just turned into an ugly battle of wills. I knew our daughter didn’t understand how to tell time or know that it hadn’t been long enough in her room, but it was a frustrating trend that wore on my own restfulness and ability to get my work done in the afternoons.
Our solution to the toddler nap time battles & waking early
It was a mom at the playground that solved our waking battles in a casual conversation one morning! She told us about a clock her son used that changed color when it was time for him to get up. I immediately thought the idea was genius and wondered why it had never crossed my mind that such a thing might exist! My 3 year old can’t comprehend reading a clock to understand waiting until a specific time, but she can absolutely understand color!
Needless to say, I looked up this clock on Amazon and ordered one for our daughter. It looks like a cute little dog holding a ball with a small digital clock display on his chest. The ball that the dog holds lights up red when you set the alarm for overnight or a nap and it turns green at the designated alarm time! Our daughter immediately loved it and wanted to put it in her room. We set the alarm that night and the next morning she stayed quietly in her room until exactly the alarm time! She came out whispering happily that, “The ball turned green! The ball turned green!” Nap time took her a couple of days, but she quickly caught on to staying quietly in her room until the alarm time for nap times as well and, while we worried that after the initial excitement her poor waking habits would return, she continued to stay in her room until the alarm times even weeks later.
The clock was a small investment that has paid big dividends for us! If your toddler is also waking early, I highly recommend giving it a try!
You can set two different alarm times on the clock, so we keep one set for the mornings and one set for the end of nap time. If you don’t have a set time for nap time there is also a nap timer alarm you can set. You can just push this alarm timer at the start of your child’s nap to go off after a set amount of time (ex. 1 hour, 2 hours, etc). You do have to push on for the alarm every time your child gets in bed to start it and have the ball light up red, but it’s a small hassle for the benefits!
Also, if you need your child to wake by a certain time (to get them to daycare, etc.) then you can also set the alarm to change color AND have a buzzer. We prefer not to use a buzzer so that if she sleeps past the alarm it doesn’t wake her, but you can set it either way.
There are lots of other options available that also change color for wake times, but this one is super affordable and cute!
I’m so grateful for the mom at the playground who shared this small tip with me, so I just had to pass it on!