How to Get a Child to Sleep Later in the Morning


Some parents struggle to get their kids to sleep. The rest of us have the opposite problem. Oh sure, our toddlers go down no problem at bedtime, but they're up and rarin' to go before the sun. The parents of teens keep promising your little one will start sleeping late one day, but you just don't see it. You'd give anything for a toddler who would sleep late once in awhile.


When your kid is bouncing off the walls at 5 a.m., parents are bound to say "'Are you kidding me? I'm exhausted!" says Sharon Silver, a parent educator and author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 Ways to Discipline Consciously and Become the Parent You Want to Be. "But if you can pull back and look at the bigger picture, you may be able to figure out why your child's really getting up so early."

Here, a few things you can do to understand your toddler's internal clock, and get you both a few more ZZZs in the meantime.

Take a look around. Hey, in your sleep-deprived state, it's possible you missed something that's physically keeping your child awake. "Is she wet? Could she be hungry? Are the garbage men making too much noise or is light streaming into her windows?" asks Silver. If you notice something suspect, go ahead and fix it -- get black-out curtains, say, or try a white noise monitor to drown out sounds from outside. 

Consider your child's age. A toddler typically needs betwen 10-11 hours of sleep a day, Silver says. "But when they're going through a period of brain development, their body reacts and make it harder for them to sleep." Have you noticed a huge increase in your toddlers' vocabulary? Or is she obsessed with learning how to jump? if so, she may have a temporary case of busy brain.

Don't push back bedtime. It seems like easy math, doesn't it? "Fine. If my daughter wants to get up at 5 a.m., I'll just keep her up until 10!" Alas, toddler sleep habits don't work that way. For starters, "it takes weeks, it not months, to successfully tweak a sleep pattern," says Silver. And if preschool is looming in your child's future, that late bedtime/later wake-up might come back to haunt you.

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Stay in nighttime mode. When your child's up at the crack of dawn, quietly go into her room, "and use all your nighttime skills to put her back to bed," says Silver. "Use a low voice, don't turn on the light, and keep conversation to a bare minimum." Gently explain it's not time to get up yet, then offer to sit next to her crib or hold her hand while she lays back down. (Hint: this is your time to catch a few more winks.)

Buy a light-up clock. Set an alarm to light up at the time you do want your child to get up for the day. When it goes off, cheerily announce it's time to wake up and take your child out of her crib or bed with as much enthusiasm as you can muster. "Remember, your voice and body language is what a child pays attention to and is motivated by," Silver says.

Skip the screentime. We know -- it's just so easy to give in to your kiddo and let her watch Sesame Street while you doze off on the sofa. "But not only us it potentially dangerous to leave your child unsupervised," Silver says, "You're creating a routine you're going to have to live with."

How do you get your toddler to go back to sleep?

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