If your toddler or preschooler (2-5 years old) is waking up before the sun asking, “Mom! Is it time to wake up?” THIS is your day! We’re going to solve early morning wakings for your child once and for all. Today I’m digging in deep about toddler and preschooler. Early morning wakings sharing a story with you on a family that I personally worked with their toddler to stop the 5:00 AM wake of calls.
The interesting part about early morning wakings for your child is just because you’ve previously sleep trained them, it doesn’t mean that they will never experience change ever again. It’s just comes with the territory! Your child will grow and change and sometimes early mornings will come back.
Two years ago I worked with the Guidry family and (at the time) their 9 month old son. We solved Noah’s sleep issues easily! He was a sleeping champ at the end of our 2 weeks of personal coaching. Noah was sleeping 12 hours a night and 3 hours during the day for 2 naps.
Perfect. Great. Sent them on their way…goodbye!
Two years later, here they come again into my email inbox. Noah now almost 3 years old and he’s waking up at 4:30AM every single morning.
2 years ago when we solved his sleep Noah was an only child. Now 2 years later when the early mornings started happening, he had a new baby sister.
Understandably, it’s really difficult to deal with your toddler’s early wakings when you are having a newborn beside you and a screaming toddler down the hall.
And so I didn’t blame mom for getting Noah out of his bed and bringing him to their bed because everybody just needs to preserve sleep!! Right?!
You’re in this survival mentality when early morning wakings become this habitual want-to-pull-your-hair-out every single day event… and you also have a newborn beside you.
As I began to talk with Mom I realized there were 3 things that I realized Noah was using as a manipulation to get to mom’s bed.
Years ago I recommended the Hatch clock for Noah. We simply used it as a white noise machine when he was a baby, and now it’s time to set it up as a clock!
(Ya’ll know how much I LOVE me a good toddler clock!)
At 22 months children can recognize 1 or 2 colors on the clock as cues for their sleep.
Mom had talked to Noah about red is time for bed, but it was time to up the game. He was almost 3 years old so he could understand a little bit higher level!
So the first thing we did with Noah was we sat down and said, “Hey buddy, let’s talk about the colors on your clock.”
Now I have an entire other YouTube video on my four-step color system, but this conversation that we had with Noah was specifically on the last two colors of the clock.
Red is time for bed and blue is morning.
We had a conversation about the fact that you need to remember the colors on your clock and we talk about the colors all the time. Because the thing with toddlers is that you can’t tell them one time, red is time for bed and blue is morning,
You literally have to practice what these colors mean… all the time. And once they start to hear it over and over and over and over again, it’s going to start to click.
So as you can kind of imagine early morning wakings and solving that using a toddler clock is patience and takes time.
This is good! We’re trying to instill a new skill and a new expectation for your child. Now to help it make it go a little bit faster…
We also implemented rewards and consequences for Noah using the toddler clock. So we got the toddler clock out and we introduced my 4 step color system and then we talked about rewards and consequences using the clock.
We pepped Noah up about how he was able to win a prize in the morning and when he stayed quiet until the clock turned blue and the birdies chirped.
If I lost you at rewards because you are scarred from potty training…I’m telling you!! Every toddler is motivated for something,
Whether it’s bandaids, stickers, a picnic in the living room, whatever your kid is into! And for Noah, he loved stickers and bandaids. So it’s like the free cheap reward!! And we were able to institute rewards when he was able to stay in the bed and be quiet until the clock turns blue.
But implementing rewards and consequences with the toddler clock is key to help reinforce the idea that the colors mean something.
So we worked at the clock and we worked through rewards and consequences and then we dug into… what was he expecting?
What do you think Noah was looking forward to? Well, if you’ve ever brought a new child into your home, there is a dynamic shift.
So Noah went from having all of the attention to now sharing attention. And that’s a part of life.
We have to learn these lessons. But it was a big deal for Noah to have this shift in attention and roles.
Imagine Noah’s delight when he discovered that he could get out of bed at 4:30AM and come snuggle and lay and sleep with mommy & daddy?! He was ALL ABOUT IT!!
So we had to rearrange and think through:
1.What was he expecting?
2. What was he looking forward to?
He was looking forward to those cuddles!
And so we just rearrange when he gets cuddles! Personally, I love and teach about building in intentional time with the toddler at bedtime routine.
And so I talked with Noah’s parents about setting up an area in Noah’s room where you guys can cuddle, you can read or you can play, like whatever he wants to do! Give him have that connection at bedtime routine for 10-15 minutes.
It ended up that that bedtime routine was basically the only time he got with his family during the day because then he went off to daycare and preschool and then bedtime again. And so it was just the cycle of he wanted to have time with his parents. And so we introduced 15 minutes of intentional one-on-one time during the bedtime routine. And that helped him reframe when he gets to have that time with mommy and daddy.
The combination of the toddler clock PLUS the rewards and consequences PLUS intentional time helped Noah to start stretching his sleeping from 4:30AM to 5AM and 5:30AM and then 6:15AM! Yay, he’s getting a full 11 hours of sleep every single night!!!!
Super important to be looking through not just the schedule and the darkness of the room, but other environmental factors and internal factors for why is a child waking up so early?
Maybe you’re left wondering what good is sleep training??
If a few years later my kid is going to like totally derail? Well Noah didn’t derail. He just was growing and changing and new things happened in their life and new developmental changes.
It is normal and it is okay that your once sleep trained child is now waking up early because they’re older and there’s new factors in your life.
Whenever we sleep train, I like to equate this to personal training. When you do start going to the gym or you start lifting weights, do you just do this like for two weeks and be like, all right, I’m jacked…I’m done! No, you consistently have to keep that workout regimen up.
You have to keep going to the gym. You have to keep pushing yourself and once you get adjusted to one weight system, now I’ve got to work on another weight system.
As you continue to grow and you continue to gain muscle and you continue to push yourself in your personal workouts, it’s the same thing in sleep. You don’t just sleep train once and be like, “YAY! I’m DONE!”
No, my friend. You have to keep changing. You have to keep up with your child’s ever growing sleep patterns.
It’s completely normal because we’re not parenting a robot, so if that resonates with you, if you have sleep trained, your child subscribe to this channel. The entire purpose of our YouTube channel here is to help you continue to make sleep a thing in your family.
So stay tuned. More is coming!
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