- Tips to Stop Toddlers Waking Early
Today we speak with Sleep Coach Tracey Holgate from Trust Tracey about tips to stop toddler waking early. Tracey talks about why toddlers wake early, Tracey also touches on the importance of the bedtime routine and how simple daily changes can affect sleep and waking early. Tracey also shares her top tips on how to stop a toddler waking too early.
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[00:00:57] Hello, and welcome to My Bump 2 baby expert podcast, where we bring experts from all over the UK to answer your questions on everything, pregnancy to preschool.
[00:01:16] Today I am joined by the lovely Tracy Holgate from Trust tracy. Tracy is a sleep coach and we’ll be sharing her tips to stop our toddlers waking up early. I hope you enjoy this episode.
[00:01:36] Hello everybody and welcome to My Bump 2 Baby Expert podcast. Today, we have the lovely Tracy Holgate from Trust tracy. Tracy is a sleep coach, and will be answering all our questions on tips to stop our toddlers waking up early. So hello Tracy, how are you?
Tracey: [00:01:58] Hi, I’m very well, thank you. How are you?
Carla: [00:02:01] Lovely to have you on here. I’m very well. Thank you. And I know this is a subject that so many parents, um, you know, need help with. And I’m really excited about speaking to about this, Tracy. So should we start with why toddlers do wake up early?
Tracey: [00:02:17] Yeah. So there’s many reasons why toddlers wake up early. And like you’ve said, many parents want to know the answers because it’s such a common issue.
[00:02:25] Um, you know, I think, you know, when they’re babies, you can almost sort of accept it a bit more. Obviously you have the sleepless nights and the waking up early, but obviously when they turn into toddlers, um, you know, you kind of. Don’t really expect them to still be sort of waking up early, but obviously as we know, they do still wake up early.
[00:02:42] So, you know what I would say sometimes it’s not necessarily that the child wants to wake up early, you know, and I certainly don’t think they’re doing it just to annoy mum and dad although it may feel like that at times. Um, it’s almost like their program to wake early. Um, and there’s lots of environmental factors that contribute to this.
[00:02:59] So the good news for parents is. Although it can be a common issue. There are things you can do as a parent to help stop the, your child waking up early as well. Um, so I regard early morning, wake up is anything before six o’clock. So five, five, I’d say that was an early morning wake up and say four, half, four. I would say that was still nighttime. So I would treat this the same way you do through the night and settle your child back to sleep your usual way. And young children are natural larks, so they tend to wake up early. Whereas adults, we tend to be out sort of the term night owl and tend to stay up later. So we’re almost not in sync with each other to start off with.
[00:03:41] Um, there’s also things like regressions, which can affect your child’s sleep and developmental milestones. And yet some toddlers do like to wake up and start their day early, especially if they’re excited for something. Um, but also things like watching TV or playing their favourite games, something like that can cause them to wake up early.
Carla: [00:04:00] Yeah. No, that makes sense. That’s that’s really interesting. So, so, um, does the bedtime routine the night before then affect toddlers waking up early, can that, can that play a factor.
racey: [00:04:13] It can do. And I always recommend having a bedtime routine, even young babies, you know, as well as toddlers and, you know, even older children, you know, obviously your bedtime routine changes as they get older, but definitely, you know, bedtime routines very important.
[00:04:29] So always recommend a really lovely bedtime routine for toddlers as well as babies and older children, but with regards to early morning wake ups, making sure your child is happy and feels secure at bedtime helps, but it’s not just what your child is doing right before bedtime, but also what they do late in the afternoon and the whole day that can affect.
[00:04:47] So yes, bedtime routine can affect early morning wake ups, as well as everything. Can affect them. Um, so getting the right bedtime is really important. You’ve got to sort of think about your child’s sleep needs and how long they need to sleep. Um, you know, not all toddlers will sleep, what, you know, the chart, so the predictions say they should. I mean, the Carla: [00:05:13] Wow.
Tracey: [00:05:14] You know, which is, it’s a big difference, you know, in some children will have those 10 hours and some will have the 13 and some are, you know, in between that. So it’s kind of looking at how much sleep they’ve had over the 24 hours.
[00:05:25] So taking into account, obviously if they’ve had a nap as well. Um, but you know, if your child is waking up early in the morning and there’s nothing else jumping out as the reason, then just think, what time are they going to bed? Is it too early? You know, and if you do think it’s too early, then you could try. You know, moving your bedtime later by 50 minutes, sort of every few nights to see if that helps.
Carla: [00:05:49] That’s a good idea. That’s a, that’s a really good idea. Um, so is there anything Tracy that you recommend them to stop toddlers waking early? Is there any tips you can give us?
Tracey: [00:06:00] Yeah, sure. So, I mean, you know, it is, it’s exhausting when your child works early and it obviously can affect the whole family. You know, it means mum and dad are tired as well as the child being tired. It’s almost this vicious circle. Isn’t it? Where everyone’s feeling tired. And, you know, everyone’s not sort of performing at their best.
Carla: [00:06:16] And the siblings as well if their waking up their siblings as well at night, that that can be a bit stressful.
Tracey: [00:06:20] Yeah, no, it is. It’s a really common issue as well. Um, you know, obviously parents are worried about that and that’s, that can also be part of the reason why parents kind of intervene at five o’clock almost more quickly when they have, you know, the second child, because obviously they don’t want that second child who wakes up at five to wake the other one up as well.
[00:06:41] So sometimes parents intervene more. So obviously the more children they have. Um, so yeah, definitely things you can, you can do, um, like everything it’s being consistent, you know, it’s not a magic fix necessarily. It is just, you know, I’ve taken a consistent approach to it. So sometimes it’s like being a bit of a detective and kind of crossing things off.
[00:07:02] So the main things to look at are things like food. Light activity, social interaction and temperature. So these can all contribute to your child waking early. Um, and like I say, if you consistent with them and get it just right, then it can make a big difference. So I’ll just go through what I mean by each.
Carla: [00:07:19] Oh fantastic.
Tracey: [00:07:21] So by food, eating at sets times during the day can really help as well. This helps, you know, to sort of regulate the circadian rhythm. So eating at the same meal times. So breakfast at the same time lunch at the same time dinner at the same time, obviously life isn’t programmed like that, but as much as you can to try and eat at regular times, and also waiting until a sensible breakfast time before you give your child any food or indeed any milk. Um, obviously we’re talking about toddlers here. We’re not talking about young babies. So, you know, if your child wakes up at five and you give them a cup of milk or some breakfast, as soon as they wake up. And obviously it’s almost impossible to expect them to wait until seven, but I would try and get out of the habit of feeding them anything like that as soon as they wake up. So obviously it’s too long to wait until a normal breakfast time. So what I would do is again, sort of shift it by sort of 15 minutes every day or every couple of days until you’re getting towards, you know, a bit more of a sensible time, because if your child’s waking up and instantly getting food, then that can um, contribute them to waking up.
Carla: [00:08:34] Of course. Yeah, because they could be waking up cause they’re then hungry. Cause they used to get them fed at that time couldn’t they?
Tracey: [00:08:40] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And almost habitual hunger is the same as kind of feeling hungry cause to the child it’s, you know, they feel the same, you know, so it is a case of you know, really trying to, you know, not talking about being really mean to them, but obviously if they’re used to waking up at that time and then almost getting the food straight away, then it can definitely, um, make them wake up. Yep. Um, so yeah, and then obviously some things like light, I mean, you know, it sounds obvious, um, it’s pretty light at the minute, so, you know, it’s checking your child’s room is really dark. So I quite often hear from parents, I say, Oh, my child’s room really is dark. But then when you look, there’s quite often, you know, gaps in between and, you know, light can sort of come in through their, or maybe you leave the bedroom door open, you know, with the landing lights on it’s just anything, any kind of light coming in can cause them to wake up. They’re in a very light sleep early in the morning. So even some sort of lights when they go to bed may not affect them, but it could be affecting them in the morning. So blackout all the windows as much as you can and turn off any unnecessary lights. Um, and also another environmental effect to something like noise. Again, like I said, they’re in a really deep sleep. The first part of the night. So, you know, you can go into bedroom, put clothes away and it doesn’t wake them up. But early in the morning, you know, the neighbours dog could be barking outside and that could wake them up. So if you think that there could be anything. Um, sort of environmental inside the home or outside the home that could be waking them up at that time. Then, you know, you can try, um, some white noise to block out any of those noises
Carla: [00:10:22] Oh thats a really good tip. Yeah. So that have that playing and just does that tend to block those noises out sometimes?
Tracey: [00:10:28] It can do. Yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t always recommend white noise in older children, but definitely give it a go. If there’s something that you think could be waking them up, that’s, you know, a noise factor it’s definitely worth trying that it doesn’t have to be white noise. You know, you can actually look into different, um, sounds so that, you know, you can get Brown noise, white noise and pink noise. Um, you know, you can also get different kinds of music, for older toddlers and children.
[00:10:56] So, but some kind of. Something like that that’s playing continuously. That’s going to block out any other noise from outside as you know, it’s worth giving it a go.
Carla: [00:11:06] Definitely.
Tracey: [00:11:08] Um, and so I said social interaction as well. So you want to make it boring. Um, I’m going to sound horrible here, but you know, you want to keep, you know, you don’t want them, you don’t want to give them that reason to wake up. So, you know, you want to kind of keep it as boring as you can. And if possible, you want to keep them in their bedroom for as long as possible. So if you can leave your child in their room, you know, for short periods of time before you go in, and that’s great, if you can’t and you’re not happy leaving your child or they’re crying or really upset, then you can go in.
[00:11:41] But what I would say is just. You know, keep it quiet. Don’t go in and start kind of negotiating with them and chatting with them and turning on the lights and okay I’ll gon and get some milk and, you know, try and almost sort of negotiate to get them back off, to sleep. You want to just keep it quiet, keep it dark and just go in and just sit quiet in their room again for about 20, 30 minutes.
[00:12:02] So you’re either leaving them if they’re happy and okay. Being left on their own, if not, you can go in and you can sit in the room with them. Um, and then the idea is with that, then, you know, again, it’s not going to happen overnight, but as you know, the sort of days and weeks go on the longer that they’re in their bedroom for rather than, you know, as soon as they wake up, they get up, um, you know, it can help.
[00:12:25] And what you want to do is after you’ve sort of sat in there for 20, 30 minutes, then you want to turn on the lights and open the curtains, you know, good morning, you know, it’s not necessarily what you want to be doing at , but you want them almost to be waking up with kind of these environmental cues rather than just as soon as they wake up, they think it’s time to kind of get up and come downstairs. And another big thing, which, you know, again, you’re tired and you just want this quick fix, but probably one of the worst things you can do is kind of come downstairs at five o’clock with with your toddler and turn the TV on. Or give them the iPad. Um, you know, screens are really stimulating. Um, and you know, before I became a sleep coach and my middle daughter would wake up at five, you know, we’d come downstairs and we’d watch hours of peppa pig in the morning. And that was just kind of what we did, but it’s like I say, it’s almost one of the worst things you can do.
[00:13:16] And I have worked with lots of families where you kind of take away the TV or the iPad. And don’t let them have it till later on the morning or after lunch. And for some, it can solve that early morning wake up. Not all, but some, you know, if they’re used to that kind of TV time or screen time, you know, that can actually be causing them to, to wake up.
Carla: [00:13:38] Yeah, they might be thinking, Oh, I can go down and watch this now and then getting in that routine.
Tracey: [00:13:44] Yeah, and they do, and it’s hard, you know, you know, I’m a parent as well, and I know how hard it is, but it’s just sort of, you’ve almost got to kind of look at things in the long way. Where do you want to be, three weeks a month from now, rather than kind of just looking at ease of quick fix solutions.
Carla: [00:14:00] What would you do with it if you were to go downstairs then and obviously not put the screens on and stuff. Is there any, anything you can think of that you could do that would keep it all kind of calm? If you know what I mean?
Tracey: [00:14:12] Yeah. I mean, I would just go down and even just sit and just, you know, huddle and, you know, if your child’s happy doing that, um, well, you know, you can simply look at, you know, some books.
Carla: [00:14:23] Yeah, reading to them.
Tracey: [00:14:24] Yeah just read them a story or, you know, just sitting there having sort of a little conversation with them, just something that’s not, you know, sort of really stimulating where they’re kind of getting out, running around and it’s all really exciting. So yeah, just keeping it as quiet and unstimulated as you can.
Carla: [00:14:40] That’s great. That’s fantastic tips, Tracy. Thank you so much. Um, for all of those, can you, Tracy, can you tell people a little bit about you, um, where they can find you for more sleep, sleep coaching?
Tracey: [00:14:54] Yeah, sure. So I’m obviously I’m baby and child sleep coach. So I work with babies from newborn, um, right up to eight years old. Um, I do various kind of sleep packages for parents depending on. Um, how much support they need. So I do email start off with email or any packages up to sort of one-to-one full support. Um, I also do a, um, group coaching program as well. Um, so yeah, they can, um, check me out through my website or find me on Facebook.
[00:15:25] And I’ve also got a free private group on Facebook as well. If they want to join there. Um, lots of parents in there, they post questions, um, you know, sort of get support from. Other people there, and also obviously I’m in the group as well. And then on a Thursday I was doing sort of a live question answer where I answer all the questions that parents have posted there during the week.
Carla: [00:15:46] That’s fantastic. That’s brilliant. Well, what we’ll do is we’ll put all those links in the show notes so that people can find your group, et cetera. Cause that sounds fantastic. Um, and, and if you’ve got any questions, any that you want Tracy to help you with, um, I’m sure Tracy won’t mind you getting in touch with her.
Tracey: [00:16:04] No, absolutely. Yeah. By all means. And you know, I’m always happy to have a chat with parents as well, you know? Yes. I’m obviously a business and a sleep coach, but you know, part of my, you know, sort of role is, you know, reassurance as well as supporting parents. So even if you’ve just got a question and you know, you’re sick of Googling or whatever, just, you know, book a call with me, which again, you can do through my Facebook page on my website, I’m always happy to chat with parents and just either give them reassurance or, you know, if I can help and obviously I’ll help. Um, but yeah, no problem at all.
Carla: [00:16:36] Oh, that’s amazing. Cause I do think with sleep it’s something we all need. It just makes life so much better. So thank you so much, Tracy. Anyway, for, for an all those questions it’s been really, really helpful today.
Tracey: [00:16:50] No problem. No, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Carla: [00:16:56] Thank you for listening to My Bump 2 Babies Expert podcast. If you would like to find help and support from experts in your local area, head over to www.mybump2baby.com and you will also be able to find local pregnancy to preschool groups, classes, businesses, and services in your local area.