How To Stop Your Toddler Waking at 5 am


What to do when your toddler wakes up too early- 5 essential steps5 am wakings. They have to be the worst part of parenting a toddler, right? I remember the pain of my toddler waking up too early like it was yesterday.

My daughter was 2 years old and suddenly started waking at 5 am, ready to start the day. Like any exhausted parent desperate for 20 more minutes of sleep, I took her into the living room and turned on cartoons. [Warning- NEVER do this!]

You can imagine what happened next… Every single day after that, she woke at 5 am yelling “Buddies!” (Her word for cartoons. Super cute, but not at 5 am.)

I quickly realized that my early waking 2 year old had developed a habit that wasn’t going to stop on its own. I needed a strategy to get her sleeping later ASAP.

Admittedly, I am a “morning person.” But more like a “7 am morning person.” No amount of coffee can make waking at 5 am feel good. Given the volume of emails I get with the subject “Help! My toddler’s waking up too early!” I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that feels this way.

I bet you’ve tried it all- moving bedtime later, then earlier- but still you have a toddler waking at 5 am calling for you.

Maybe it started after the clocks changed or a vacation. And like me, you fell into the habit of starting your day way too early. Now you realize it’s a dreadful habit that needs to be stopped, but you have no idea how to do it!

Well, I’m happy to report that my toddler’s early risings were stopped just by changing around her sleep routine. In less than a week, she was sleeping until 7 am! Later mornings = happy mama.

These tips haven’t just helped my daughter. I’ve been sharing them with exhausted parents for several years and they work! You can stop your toddler waking early when you do the following 8 steps.

This post may contain affiliate links.


RELATED: Sleep Training Methods Explained


How To Stop Your Toddler Waking Early


  1. Give your toddler an appropriate bedtime
  2. Have active days & peaceful evenings
  3. Offer a bedtime snack
  4. Black out your toddler’s bedroom
  5. Play white noise all night long
  6. Get your toddler sleeping through the night
  7. No fun before 6 am
  8. Limit nap time
  9. Rule out a sleep regression


I’m Making a Toddler Sleep Program! I’d love your advice. Click Here.


Step 1: Give your toddler an appropriate bedtime


Sometimes the simple act of tweaking your toddler’s bedtime immediately results in later mornings. In fact, research shows that a consistent and age-appropriate bedtime leads to longer sleep, less aggression and better attention span in children. (Wow! Just from the right bedtime?!)

Toddler’s body clocks are naturally programmed for bedtime between 6:30-8 pm. When you work with your toddler’s body clock, and give her a bedtime that naturally suits her body clock, she’ll sleep better overnight. This typically means she’ll wake less often at night and sleep later in the morning.

This may seem counterintuitive, but I’ve seen it work with hundreds of children! If you’re struggling with a toddler waking up early everyday, move bedtime earlier. Maybe 7 pm works better than 7:30 pm for her.

Once you find your toddler’s bedtime “sweet spot” she’ll naturally sleep better at night. Try to keep bedtime within a 15 minute range every night. For example, your toddler is always asleep between 7-7:15 pm everyday.

Toddlers can be expected to sleep 11-12 hours at night. So finding the ideal bedtime is a delicate balance. If your little one’s bedtime is 6 pm, you can bet she’ll be awake by 6 am… latest.

So if your toddler’s bedtime is 7 pm, she can be expected to sleep until 6-7 am. A dream for parents struggling with 5 am wakings!

You can find more advice on moving your toddler’s bedtime in my free Exhausted Mom’s Survival Kit



 RELATED: How to Get a Resistant Toddler to Nap

Step 2: Have active days & peaceful evenings


Toddlers need to run around outside, play and burn off energy during the day in order to sleep well at night.

Make a point of taking your toddler outside in the morning and afternoon, ideally one hour each. Time spent running in the yard, climbing at the playground or walking the neighborhood helps your little one burn off enough energy to be able to settle easily and sleep well.

On rainy or cold days, just 15 minutes outside twice a day can be enough. Resist the urge to clock up on screen time on bad weather days. Not only does this prevent our toddlers from having physical activity, it can actually overstimulate and wire them. This makes it especially hard to relax the body and brain.

Painting, puzzles, Play-Doh, building blocks and other creative activities give your toddler the mental stimulation they need when trapped indoors.

In addition to active days, toddlers need peaceful downtime in the early evening to prepare them for sleep.

You want to “set the scene for relaxation” 1-2 hours before bedtime. Dim the lights and turn off the TV or any electronic gadgets. Try to reduce any noise or stimulation that could excite your toddler. This sends the signal to your toddler’s brain and body that it’s ok to relax, a necessary precursor to sleep.

Overstimulation or too much excitement before bed is something you want to avoid! Otherwise your toddler may be too energized to fall asleep, push bedtime later and continue the early waking cycle.


Indoor Activities for Your Toddler

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Kids Painting Kit

Wooden Peg Puzzle


Building Blocks

RELATED: How To Create a Peaceful Bedtime Routine that Lulls Your Child to Sleep


Step 3: Offer a bedtime snack


Sometimes your toddler’s early wakings are due to hunger. For example, if your little one sleeps 11 hours at night and dinner is 2 hours before bedtime, that’s 13 hours without food. That may be too long for him.

To rule out the possibility that your toddler is hungry at 5 am, offer a light snack at bedtime. A few whole grain crackers or string cheese may be enough to hold him over until morning.  

[Important] In addition to a snack at bedtime, you need to make sure your toddler eats enough during the day. This prevents nighttime hunger. Offer your toddler a meal or snack every 2-3 hours during the day.


Step 4: Black out your toddler’s bedroom


Light signals our brain to be awake. Conversely, when our eyes sense darkness, the sleep hormone melatonin is produced, which makes us sleepy.

This is especially true for babies and toddlers. If a small amount of light is entering your toddler’s bedroom in the morning, it could be causing him to wake early.

One of the first tips I give parents is to black out their child’s bedroom. You can DIY this and use cardboard or aluminum foil (easily hidden behind curtains.) Or you can install blackout curtains, like the ones I show below. (Although I have to admit, they’re not always 100% blackout and many parents end up putting cardboard behind them…)

I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve gotten with the subject “He slept until 7 am!” after only one night with a 100% blacked out bedroom. Trust me and do this tonight!


The Best Blackout Products


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Black out Curtains

Black out Window Films

Travel Blackout Products

Portable Black Out Shades

SnoozeShade Crib Cover

RELATED: How to Get Your 1 Year Old Sleeping Amazingly!


Step 5: Play white noise all night long


White noise has been proven to help babies sleep better. In fact, white noise helps people of all ages sleep deeper and longer. And it’s safe to use all night.

It works by blocking sudden noises from waking your toddler, like a barking dog, noisy sibling or the garbage truck.

The hours of 4-6 am are the lightest phase of sleep. If a sudden noise wakes your toddler at this time, it can be difficult for him to fall back asleep. He’s already gotten 8+ hours of sleep, so he may not feel tired enough to fall back asleep.

The best way to handle this is to prevent noises from waking your child in the first place. Play white noise all night long.



White Noise Favorites

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Hatch Baby Sound Machine

Big Red Rooster 6 Sound White Noise Machine

MyBaby Portable White Noise Machine

RELATED: How To Keep Your Toddler From Getting Out Of Bed Repeatedly At Night


Step 6: Get your toddler sleeping through the night


Overtired children sleep worse than well-rested children. (Another crazy and counterintuitive aspect of toddler sleep.)

If your toddler is waking during the night and not getting the long, restful sleep that she needs, she’ll become overtired. But rather than snoozing until 8 am, overtiredness makes kids wake early in the morning.

When toddlers don’t get enough sleep or have broken sleep, their systems become overstimulated. This makes them sleep lightly and wake often.

Your toddler will sleep deeper and longer once she’s sleeping through the night.

One- and two-year olds can be expected to sleep 11-12 hours straight at night. Unless your toddler has weight gain issues, she shouldn’t need night feeds.

My free Exhausted Mom’s Survival Kit shows you how to set your toddler up to sleep great at night. It’s the best place to start if you’re ready to get your toddler sleeping all night.


Related: Find out the details of Jilly’s program that gets kids sleeping through the night! 


Step 7: No fun before 6 am

Let me just say, there is zero judgment from me if you pull your little one into your bed or play cartoons at 5 am. (Remember? I’ve been there…) I know how it feels to be desperate for just 30 minutes more sleep.

But here’s the thing. Toddlers can’t tell time. So if your toddler gets used to nursing, coming into your bed or screen time during early wakings, he will continue waking early. In fact, most little ones start waking at 4 am. Then 3 am. Then midnight, and crying until parents give in out of desperation.

As you may have guessed, the way to fix this is to treat a 5 am waking the same way you treat a midnight waking. You wouldn’t take your toddler out of the crib, make a coffee and start your day, right? So don’t do this at 5 am either.

It can be difficult the first few nights of making new changes, but it’s imperative you treat ALL wakings before 6 am as night wakings.

  • If your little one doesn’t get fed during the night, don’t start feeding at 5 am. (Especially if he never falls back asleep after this feed.)
  • If your toddler falls asleep on his own during other parts of the night, don’t start helping him back to sleep at 5 am.
  • If you don’t play cartoons at 2 am, then don’t play them at 5 am either.

Children need consistency. It’s the only way they learn and adapt to new sleep routines. When your toddler understands that every night waking results in the same outcome (he stays in bed and falls back asleep) then he’ll adapt and comply! 

So remember, zero fun before 6 am.




Step 8: Limit nap time


Most 1 year olds can nap 2-3 hours during the day and still sleep well at night. However, once your toddler turns 2, sleep needs begin to change.

Specifically, naps may begin interfering with night sleep if they’re too long.

I recommend you adjust naps only after doing all the above steps. It’s the final tweak we make to stop your 2 year old waking up too early. And it only works when your toddler falls asleep on his own at an age-appropriate bedtime, and sleeps all night in a blacked out bedroom with white noise.

Does this describe your toddler’s sleep? If so, follow these nap-limiting guidelines:


Limit your toddler’s nap to

• 2 years old: 2 hrs

• 2.5 years old: 1.5 hrs

• 3 years old: 1 hr



RELATED: How & When Do Babies Transition to One Nap?

Step 9: Rule out a sleep regression

If your toddler’s waking up early all of a sudden, with no change in her sleep schedule, it could be a regression. This is especially true if she’s also fighting bedtime, waking suddenly at night or resisting naps.

Sleep regressions are sudden disruptions in sleep for a child who was sleeping well. These disruptions come at predictable times because they are associated with developmental milestones. 

There can be sleep regressions around 18 months and when your toddler turns 2. So if your toddler’s suddenly waking up early, consider a sleep regression.

These two videos explain sleep regressions in more detail, how to recognize the signs and give tips on what you can do.




RELATED: Is your toddler fighting nap time? Find out when toddlers can stop napping here.



Starting your day at 5 am with a tired toddler is exhausting for everyone. Rest assured, you can get your toddler waking later every morning by making a few changes to her sleep routine.

Make sure your toddler is not hungry or overtired. Move toward an age-appropriate and consistent bedtime. Make sure the bedroom is blacked out with white noise. Eliminate night wakings. And as a final step, trim down naps if needed.

These 9 steps work together to help your child sleep deeper and longer. Once you’ve implemented these changes, your toddler will sleep through the dreaded early hours. And you’ll both wake at a more acceptable hour. Every parent’s dream!

Let’s stay connected!


  1. Alexander

    The only ones I think we can improve on are steps 2 and 7.
    I started letting our toddler get out of bed earlier after daylight savings, to stop her waking mama who is nursing a newborn. Now we are in a 4:30-5:30am waking routine.
    Can we all agree that daylight savings is stupid and pointless?

  2. Kate Tully

    Hi, my 2 year has slept through 7-6.30 ish for almost a year now. But the last few weeks he has started waking at 5am. We’ve tried leaving him to re-settle but he got too worked up screaming and crying. We’ve also tried going back in to lay him down and say it’s too early but he doesn’t. So we started bringing him in with us for an hour and starting our day at 5! Only problem is, we have a 3 month old in the crib next to my bed who my toddler often disturbs also! I’ve always been quite firm with his sleep but he was poorly a few weeks ago so we kind of felt bad, hence we were bringing him into our bed. He goes to be at 7 every night, usually has between 1-2 hours nap each day. His room is completely blacked out, so we are running out of ideas…help! Xx

    • Alyssa Taft

      Hello Kate,

      Thanks so much for your post. It can be so tough when our LO’s have a big change in their schedule. Many 2 year olds go through a regression around the 24 month mark and this can cause some chaos in the sleep department. The good news is that this is the last regression and regressions normally only last a couple weeks. It sounds like some other habits may have been introduced though, such as bringing your LO into your room. I totally get it though–it can be exhausting when our LO’s aren’t sleeping. I would continue to treat any wakings before 6am as night wakings though and keep your LO in his own room at this time. It WILL get better. Try 7pm-6am overnight sleep and then a 2 hour nap during the day. Try 5/5.5 hours of awake time in the morning and 5.5/6 hours of awake time before bed. Give this a couple weeks of consistency to see an improvement! Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

  3. Hannah

    Hi, My 20th month old daughter wakes everyday at 5am!! She goes to bed at 7pm and will sleep solid until 5am but just won’t sleep past then. Have you got any tips on how I can get her to sleep in later in the mornings? She has a 2hr nap at 12.30-2.30pm sometimes 2.5hrs thanks 😊

    • Alyssa Taft

      Hello Hannah,

      Thank you for your post! Babies and toddlers can actually handle less awake time in the morning, but more before bed. I would actually try shifting your nap time to be a little bit earlier. I would try to have an 11:30-1:30pm nap. This way, she has more awake time before bed. You may want to do this gradually though. Try moving it up 10-15 minutes every 2 days. Also, make sure she has a ton of outdoor time with fresh air and is very physically active before bed. Try having dinner be high in protein but low in sugar. See if this helps and keep us posted! Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

  4. Aime

    Hello, SO much good advice! Thank you!!
    I am still at a loss with my 15 almost 16 month old. He has been waking at 4:30am every single night for around 2 months now, we have also tried everything!!!! The only thing we have not tried is a white noise machine playing all night long, so I have just ordered one so fingers crossed!
    But my question is, when he wakes at 4:30am – I go in, lie him back down, saying ‘sleep time now Reggie, n’night’ and then leave the room. Me and my partner take it in turns to do this every 5-10 mins depending on how much he is crying. But now he he has started crying SOOOO much that he is making him self sick every single morning! After about 15 mins of us trying to get him back to sleep he screams that much he is sick. We know that he is only doing it for us to get him out the crib because as soon as we pick him up he is absolutely fine! PLEASE HELPPPP.
    What are we supposed to do? I do not understand how I am supposed to make him sleep until at least 6am. He has one nap per day from 12:30pm – 2:30pm and his bed time is between 6:45/7pm. Please help us from two extremely exhausted mentally drained parents!

    • Alyssa Taft

      Hello Aime,

      Thank you so much for your post. This does sound exhausting! How is night sleep going? Does your LO fall asleep independently at the beginning of the night?

      Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

  5. Kari Bradford

    Hi, thanks for all your helpful information. We have a 20-month-old twins, almost 21 months. One has been getting up about 5 AM for the last several months. We have tried to let her self soothe but when we do that and let her go too long, she ends up waking up her sister and then we have two awake instead of one. We fell into the habit of getting her out of the crib and bringing her in bed with us, she will sleep another hour at least in bed with us and falls back asleep immediately so I felt like we were both winning. She will normally start whining about 445 five and I normally let her go until about 530. When she wasn’t falling back asleep she was exhausted and cranky. We go to bed about 715-730 every night, she has started to cry at bedtime but it is only for several minutes and it does not last long. We do a daily nap about 12:45-1 to 230. We Contemplated pulling them into separate rooms that they do not do well I’m going to bed without each other. Any suggestions?

    • Micaela

      Hello Kari, if you had previously sleep trained them, then I would move them into separate rooms and do a tune in with the one waking up early. If you have never sleep trained them and want some help, we’ve had many twin parents join our sleep training program 21 Days to Peace and Quiet. You can find out more here
      Have a nice day! Micaela BSMS Support Team

  6. Lisa

    Hi there! I have 19 month old twins and they are awake at 6:00 in the morning and I would love if they would sleep till 7 at least. I put them to bed between 8 and 9 and its still always the same. They have a nap from 12:00- 1:30. What advice can you give me?

  7. Natasha

    Hi my son is 23months and recently we stopped him from having bottles of milk at bed time. We have no problems getting him to sleep however ever since we said goodbye to the ‘boc bocs’ he has been starting the day at 03:50 onwards. Mainly all before 5am. I’m afraid I’ve fallen into to the cartoon habit to keep him quiet from waking the rest of the household. When the bottles went he stopped having a nap as he was dependant to fall asleep with his milk. However he has been having naps of up to 2hours from 1300/1400pm as he cannot stay awake.

    • Alyssa Taft

      Hello Natasha,

      Thank you for your message! We recommend starting your day at 6am, so I would treat anything earlier as a night waking. I would recommend doing some sleep training with your LO. We would love to help you in our program. We can work on getting your LO to self-soothe and fall asleep independently and to STTN (11-12 hours at night). We do want to keep kiddos napping until at least 3-4 years of age. I am also attaching some other helpful resources for you!

      Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

    • Kelly Simpson


      My 3 year old has always had bedtime at 7pm and normally asleep by 7.15 but for the past 6 months or so hes been waking up from 5am and sometimes earlier. He often wakes up whinging but cant seem to fall back to sleep. I started using a gro clock about 2 months ago set at 6.30am to encourage him to go back to sleep but all he does is stay in his bed until the owl turns yellow at 6.30am and then gets out. He gets bored staying in his bed so often begins to shout out and make noises by kicking his bed. I just dont know how to get him to go that extra hour and its obvious he does not want to be awake. He sleeps through the night completely.

      • Alyssa Taft

        Hello Kelly! It is great that you are trying to encourage your LO to get more sleep in the morning. 11-12 hours is solid night sleep for a 3 year old, so if he is asleep by 7:15pm, a 6:15am is realistic. Make sure your LO isn’t getting too much day sleep. We recommend capping the nap to 1 hour MAX for a 3 year old. Check out these toddler resources. Make sure your LO gets lots outdoor time and fresh air. Try to limit all screens for at least 2 hours before bed and have dinner be high in protein and low in sugar! 🙂

        Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

      • Susan Jung

        Hi-My daughter is 2. She would sleep until 6am sometimes 6:30am but after daylight savings time now wakes up at 5:00-5:30. Daylight savings time was 3 weeks ago.
        She goes to bed at 8pm and has one nap during the day that is 2 hours at 12:30pm.
        Should we push up her bedtime?

        • Alyssa Taft

          Hello Susan,

          Thank you for your post! Babies and toddlers can actually handle less awake time in the morning, but more before bed. I would actually try shifting your nap time to be a little bit earlier. I would try to have an 11:30-1:30pm nap. This way, she has more awake time before bed. You may want to do this gradually though. Try moving it up 10-15 minutes every 2 days. Also, make sure she has a ton of outdoor time with fresh air and is very physically active before bed. Try having dinner be high in protein but low in sugar. Also, I would only do 5.5/6 hours of awake time before bed and then means asleep at that time. So lets say your nap ends at 1:30pm, then you want bed to be 7/7:30pm! It may take a little bit of trial and error but find your LO’s sweet spot and then be super consistent with that time! Keep us posted! Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

  8. Sarah

    My son is almost 14 months and he’s been struggling to fall asleep at night (it can sometimes take 45min for him to fall asleep) and he’s also waking early (5-6am). We have a consistent, calming bedtime routine, put him in his crib between 6:35-6:45pm, we eat dinner right before and he’s a good eater, so I’m confident he’s not hungry, we have blackout curtains, white noise, we don’t get him out of his crib until 7am (he happily just rolls around or lays down), we get outside everyday, he naps 2.5-2.75 hours/day (10 and 2:00 naps). I’m not sure what to do for him. Is he napping too much?

    • panagiota

      Hi there Sarah! Thank you for your message. Maybe you should try changing around these naps (the length is great). The first awake time (that counts from the time your baby wakes, not the time that he’s out of bed) is too long and the last one (before bedtime) is too short. At this age a wake time of only 3hrs is short. Try changing things around.

      Check out our 1 year old sleep guide. In it you’ll find a form you can fill in and receive several 1 year old sleep schedule for kids that have either one or two naps. Here’s the link –>

      Try implementing these tips for a few days and then let us know how things work out. Good luck. Panagiota, BSMS Support Team

  9. Lisa charvet

    My son is now 26 months and has been early rising for 2 months now! His bedtime was 7pm and start 6:30am. We have adjusted his bedtime earlier and later 6:30 and now at 7:30. With earlier bedtimes, it took less time to fall asleep but he woke up earlier like 4:50/5am. With the later bedtimes you can tell he is overtired and it takes him 30-60min to fall asleep.
    His nap time was 12-2 and now moved to 12:45/1pm-3pm. These adjustments were based off of help from two different sleep consultants. The last one I got advice from told me his nap was too early at noon and to move later (I did) and his bedtime needs to be later (even 7:45/8). I can only get him to sleep late as 5:30/5:45. He is very tired during the day, moody and it is now impacting his meals. He has his molars coming in but I give Tylenol and ibuprofen as needed! I have spent money with sleep consultants and have not had any luck! I have a 2month old at home that I will need to put in the same room. Any advice and help would be appreciated

    • Lisa Charvet

      I forgot to mention that he is in a crib still and we have a cut off for naps to keep it 2 hours. He falls asleep instantly for his naps and sleeps well for most naps. Thanks!

      • panagiota

        Hi there Lisa. Thank you for your message. What we recommend for LO’s is the opposite. At this age the nap should fall in the middle of the awake times, or the second awake time, the one before bedtime should be a bit longer, because then your child would be tired enough (but not too tired) to welcome sleep. Please check out our 2 year old sleep guide here –>

        This will help you understand what to expect from your LO’s sleep at this age, plus it’s got many tips on how to get them sleeping better at night.

        It’s a good thing you limited his nap time, and time passes and he reaches 2,5 years you should maybe limit it to 1,5hrs. Try implementing these tips (from the 2yo guide & the early wakings guide) for a few days and then let us know how things work out. Good luck. Panagiota, BSMS Support Team

  10. Lisa

    I have a 3 and a half year old boy. He has never slept very well. He now falls asleep himself and sleeps through the night but a 5 am wake is deeply ingrained for him and I can’t seem to get over it. He has a very consistent bedtime, asleep by 7 or 7:15. He is outdoors a lot in the day. Winds down inside after a 5 – 5:30 pm dinner time. He doesn’t nap anymore but has an hour of quiet time in the middle of the day. He eats well. He has a grow clock that is set for a sun at 6 am. If he stays in bed until the sun, he gets a star, 5 stars and he gets a little car (he is all about cars!). But in the last 2 months he has 6 stars I think. Most mornings he comes trotting through at 5 am bright as a bird. I walk him back to his bed silently and lay on his floor until 6 making as little responses as possible. He chats and plays in the dark in his bed. If I were to leave him again he would get super duper upset and wake his 1 year old brother next door. Any suggestions?
    He has good blackout blinds and sleeps all night with a white noise and has a comforting stuffie.
    I appreciate anything else to try!

    • panagiota

      Hi there Lisa! Thank you for your message! You’re in the right path and you’re doing most things great. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have a program for kids that sleep in toddler bed, but you can definitely follow the tips from this video here –>

      Try implementing these tips for a few days and then let us know how things work out. Good luck. Panagiota, BSMS Support Team

  11. Gaby

    Hi there! I have a 33 month old who has died making going on 4 weeks now. Before that she was making once a week for 6 months and before that maybe 2 times a week for about a year so she has been over naps for quite some time. She has bags under her eyes now. Well lately I’ve been putting her down in her crib at 615_620 and she’s been feeling asleep within 15 minutes with melatonin, 1 hour without. Is this too early of a bed time? She’s not napping and by the time dinner rolls around which is about 5 she’s acting like she needs to go to sleep. Not sleepy but cranky and misbehaving. She’s been walking up at 6 or earlier. But I noticed in your article 630 is the earliest bedtime. So what should I do? If I put her in her crib without melatonin she just jumps around and rolls around like she’s a tumbling gymnast for an hour and sometimes accompanied by screaming. So pediatrician said it was okay to give melatonin temporarily. I’ve tried everything for naps so that’s out. She will not take them. I guess I just want to know if it’s okay to get her sleep time even earlier than 630.

    • Gaby

      *done napping. I guess I was half asleep writing this, so sorry!!

      • Alyssa Taft

        Haha no worries!!

    • Alyssa Taft

      Hello and thank you for your post! Definitely check out our toddler napping guide. If your LO isn’t napping, I would definitely at least do some quiet time in the room and it is okay to do an earlier bedtime while your LO transitions to the new schedule!

      Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

  12. Rachel Weston

    Hello! We have a 2.5 year old who used to sleep great! Lately he’s been waking at 5/5:30 and playing quietly in his room until we get him. However he seems to have developed a fair of the dark and not liking his red light we have in his room and he hates his white noise. We keep Another light in his room that has a foot pedal that he knows how to turn on when he wakes. He seems to wake and want that on at 5/5:30.he has been trying to have it on before he sleeps also. Do you have any tips ? As he is waking is 4month old brother also! He used to sleep until 6:30 at least! He’s at preschool full time, naps on the odd day for half an hour and bed at 7 if he naps or 6:30 if he doesn’t, he doesn’t actually sleep though until about 7:30 usually, he’ll just talk to himself.
    Thanks Rach

  13. Amanda R

    Hi! Thank you so much for these great tips. I’m personally struggling with a 20 month old that is waking up the whole house screaming (including his 3 year old brother who sleeps till 7 without being woken up) at 4:30 am. He goes to to bed consistently at 7 pm every night. Falls asleep and stays asleep without any issues. We have great black out curtains and a sound machine all night. He was waking up at 6:00 am for a few months but it seems for the last 1-2 months he’s consistently been waking up at 5:00-5:30. We did start a bad habit of allowing him to watch cartoons in our bed while we got extra sleep. But now he’s waking up even earlier. We try putting him back down, but he screams at the top of his lungs until we take him out of his room. What do you recommend for this situation? Also, when we are breaking the bad habit of not having anything fun before 6 am…do we leave him in his room until then?

    • Alyssa Taft

      Hello Amanda,

      Thanks so much for your post! It sounds like your LO was just getting used to waking up early to watch cartoons and it is normal for LOs that are getting up early for something “fun” to continue to get up earlier and earlier. I would definitely follow the no fun before 6am rule. Leave your LO in his crib until then and treat any wake ups before 6am as night wakings. It could take a couple weeks of consistency, but you should see a big improvement! Best, Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

  14. Alyssa Dayton

    My LO is almost 16 months…for the past two months she has been waking at 4:30, 5, 5:30 and I am not a CIO person so I nurse her and she goes back to sleep but then a friend said she is ready for one nap so I started transitioning her and it was hard…she would be so tired around 9:30am so I took her for a walk and she would have a cat nap and I’d stretch her nap till 12pm and bedtime around 6:30 or 7pm.

    Lately she is waking up at 5, 5:30 or 6 again and she cries and I go into her room and nurse her and put her back to bed and she cries and I’ve made mistake of
    Taking her to bed and she watches the wiggles because we are zombies. Because of the early wake time she is a cranky mess at 8:30am so I am now putting her to bed for her nap in the morning and have been keeping her up for an early bedtime Around 6-6:30 unless she has a cat nap in afternoon.

    I’m at a total loss right now bec she won’t
    Just hang out in her crib and I don’t believe in CIO.

    • Alyssa Taft

      Hello Alyssa,

      Thank you so much for your post! We would love to help you and your LO. First, I would sign up for our FREE Exhausted Mom’s Survival Kit and check out our 1 year old sleep guide. Both resources will provide you with a ton of helpful sleep tips to get your LO sleeping better. Most 16 month olds do well with 1 nap. It sounds like your LO needs to learn to fall asleep independently (without nursing). This will really help prevent those early morning wakings. If you are looking for step by step guidance, I would definitely recommend checking out our program. We have a limited tears method that may work really well for you and your daughter. We’re currently having a Spring Sale. This gives you 30 days of personal support with our sleep training program, 21 Days to Peace & Quiet.Jilly walks you through each step and shows you exactly what to do every night. Plus we answer questions 5 days/week inside a private FB group. So you really get all the direction and support you need. Here’s more info: Please let me know if you have any questions!

      Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

  15. Jurrien Collins

    I realize this comment is from a couple of years ago, but I thought I’d share my solution in case others stumble upon this question.

    We’ve found that our daughter sleeps much more soundly and gets back to sleep more easily after stirring if she can’t see us. This obviously won’t work if you share a bed, but if he’s in a bassinet or crib in the same room, try setting up a cardboard screen between him and your bed. It worked wonders for us.

  16. Alyssa Miles

    My 13month old has been an early riser for quite some time. Used to be 630/645 (and even then I was hoping for more 7am wake up) but somewhere along the way it has now changed to 5am or earlier and made the daily routine even harder pushing us backwards rather than forwards to eventually transition to one nap. It seems we have tried IT ALL tweaking every nap or bed time doing all things mentioned. I know how important sleep routines are and have established one early on and I still can’t get him to sleep later or have better naps. He currently takes about 45mins to an hour to get to bed so we put him down at about 645 for a 720/740 bed time. He has been waking still at 5. Leaving us with only 8hours at night retarting the overtired cycle. His wake windows are about 3.5hours for naps and 3.5-4 for bedtime. Currently he sleep 40mins to an hour for naps sometimes his second nap will be 2hours. But even still we aren’t getting the 14total hours of sleep. I’m at a loss, it’s frustrating and I don’t know what else to tweak. Nothing seems to be helping. We have a 4year old who also needs sleep so once my 13month starts getting loud we take him out of bed usually at 6am. We have experience and have researched a ton any additional advice would be helpful! Thanks

    • Alyssa Taft

      Hello Alyssa,

      Thanks so much for your message! It can be tough when your LO wakes up really early. I am attaching our 1 year old sleep guide to give you some helpful tip and awake time guidelines. I would also sign up for our FREE Exhausted Mom’s Survival Kit. Both resources will give you a lot of helpful advice to get your LO sleeping better. I would have a designated bedtime and let the bedtime vary by only 15-20 minutes on any given day. I would put your LO down only 15-20 minutes before bedtime. He may have a little bit too much time hanging out in the crib. Let me know if you have any questions when checking out our resources! Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

  17. Jana

    Hi, thank you for all of the great suggestions! Still have a question! We have an almost 23 month old and he has been an amazing sleeper since he was 3 months old which has been AMAZING since our older one was a horrible sleeper. So all of a sudden he started waking up at 5-6am which has been painful, moreso since my almost 5 year old is a vampire! (Suggestions there are welcome too) So that shortens our sleep more. So he has always gone to bed around 8pm without any major fights. He is still in a crib and doesn’t try to get out UNTIL now at early morning times. Of course we did exactly what you said most parents do and now a week later it just has been getting worse. We will do everything you said but my question, do we just let him cry it out? And if so, how do we deal with that with the 5 year old who needs her sleep too? If we go into to him, even to tell him he is safe and kiss him the screaming just gets that much louder. Help! I’m sure the change of sleep is partially from regression and partly from the change with Covid right now. Thoughts and suggestions are welcome! Thank you!

    • Alyssa Taft

      Hello Jana,
      Thanks so much for your message! It really does sound like your LO is going through the 2 year old sleep regression. This is the LAST regression! It can cause some interrupted sleep and can cause some early wakings. I would try to remain as consistent as possible with all of your routines and allow your LO time to resettle before 6am because you don’t want any new habits to form during this time. Regressions will often pass just in a couple weeks! Please let me know if you have any questions! Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

  18. Amanda

    My son is 2 years 9 months and has recently discovered how to get out of his crib. He has always been a really good sleeper up until the last month or so. Now, he will wake up really early, or in the middle of the night and be ready to go out to the living room to watch cartoons. During the week he is up and off to daycare around 6 am and he gets put to bed between 7 and 7:30 pm. He has a white noise machine, stuffed animals, and black out curtains. It now takes him till 8 pm or after to actually fall asleep and some nights I have to put him back into bed a few times because he gets up and crawls out. This morning, he was up at 2 am and it took 4 times putting him back into bed, and 1.5 hrs later for him to go back to sleep.

    Please help!!!!

    • Alyssa Taft


      Losing sleep boundaries makes most LOs eager to roam and explore at all hours! The best approach is to walk him back to his bed each and every time he gets out. After a few days of realizing there are no cartoons during the night, he’ll adapt and stay in his bed. This video has more advice for you:

      Good luck Mama!

      Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

  19. Ashley

    Hello I’m really struggling with my one year old. He is waking at 5:15 pretty much every day. We do the white noise, dark room, bedtime routine bath, book then bed all by 7:30. We really can’t get him to bed earlier then that our days don’t allow for it. I try to let him fuss and go back to sleep but it not working, he screams to loud it wakes up everyone in the house…please help. He is already walking so I don’t think it’s the whole new milestone thing throwing him of. Now that the time changed he has woke up at 4:15 I can’t deal with that it’s to early!
    Thanks for any help,

  20. Angela

    Hello! I need help with my 2yr old. She has been an early riser since the beginning but it’s gotten to the point where she is up at anywhere from 430am (the odd day) to 515am. It used to be she would easily fall asleep when put to bed, now it takes her anywhere from 15-45min to fall asleep in her crib at night. Previously when she woke up early in the morning we would give her a bottle of milk and it would get maybe another hour out of her, we no longer give her bottles.
    She naps anywhere from 1-2hrs at daycare (usually only 1hr at home on weekends).

    Our issue is, on weekdays I have to be up at 545am to get me and her ready for the day for work/daycare. Once I am up she doesn’t generally sleep through that (95% of the time she is always up before me by a good 20-40 minutes). Weekends some sleep would be wonderful. We have gotten to the point where in the morning we have to give her some toys and books in bed with cartoons in order to be able to lay in bed ourselves for another 30 minutes.

    Her bed time is usually between 7-8pm (putting her to bed earlier doesn’t make her sleep any later) and most week days we are not home from work/daycare until 6-630pm. She generally falls asleep on the 30 min drive home as well and is not happy when we get home and she wakes up. She has dinner once we are home.

    She has black out blinds but we do not use any kind of white noise machine.

    I am expecting in February and already exhausted, I need her sleeping better by the time the baby arrives.

    If you have any help/suggestions I would so greatly appreciate it.

    • Leena

      Hi Angela! Congratulations on expecting your second one 🙂 At the same time, sorry to hear about your struggle. It is completely normal for sleep to have a sudden disturbance at this age, as your toddler might be going through developmental stages, separation anxiety, some sort of night terrors and lighter sleep. The white noise machine is something that is of help in our experience, which blocks our any noises waking her up at the moment. The room should be so dark that you have real trouble seeing your own hand in the room when you hold it up. We’ve noticed that sometimes even the smallest light can affect our LO’s as sleep is always lighter in the early hours of the morning. I will link to our 2 year old sleep guide which talks about all of these tips in more detail. Good luck mama! /Leena, BSMS Support Team

    • Batia

      Nice post, and yet I feel like I do all those things 🙁
      I have. 18 months and a 2.5 yo. (And a 6mo old ..)They excite each other at night and start running after calming things like baths etc. Ending up in late bedtime cause they are too excited. 18mo wakes up at 5am with a poopy diaper. I try to change him quietly and put him back to sleep but usually baby wakes up as well and wants to be fed. So 18 mo also wants a bottle since he sees the other bottle. All this movement wakes up 2.5 yo… It’s a trio whirlwind!

      • Alyssa Taft

        Hello and thank you for your post! It definitely sounds like you have your hands full with the trio 🙂 Is it possible for you to try and do separate bed time routines for at least the 2.5 and 18 month old? This may help! Sincerely, Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

  21. Celicia

    Thanks for your post! My 18 month old has been waking up (screaming) at 5:00 am every day. We’ve set a really structured bedtime routine, moved her bedtime from 7pm to 6:30pm, I keep her really active during the day and limit screens at night. But without fail between 5-5:30 she starts screaming. This morning she started at 4:30 am. I went in told her it was bedtime and sang her a song and she laid down and went back to sleep. Then she woke up at 5:15, I did the same thing. Then she woke up at 5:30 and we let her cry it out until 6:00. She was hysterical, it took at least 20 minutes for her to calm down after getting her out of bed at 6:00am. I want hey to have the expectation that we don’t get up before 6 (personally I’d prefer 7). But it seems letting hey cry for 30 minutes really upsets her. What would you do in this situation??

  22. Sumi

    We had our second boy couple of weeks ago. All of a sudden, my first son who is 20 months old started to have a sleep regression. He is fighting his bed and nap time. Wakes up from nap asking for Mommy at the daycare which is very unusual for him. He was sleeping through the night since he was 14 months old. Now he is fighting it for as long as he could. The other day, he resisted his sleep for almost 3 hours. Also the early morning wake ups are driving us crazy. His bedtime was 7.30-8pm until 6.30-7.30am. He used to sleep for almost 11 hours. Since a week, it has gone down to less than 9 hours. He wakes up around 5am with a Poo and doesn’t want to go back to sleep. Unable to ignore him without changing his diapers. How do I bring him back to his old routine?

    • Leena

      Hi Sumaiya! Thank you for your post! Oh no! That is tough but completely normal. When a newborn arrives it can cause regressions in toddlers and older kids. We see disturbances in sleep, more clinginess, separation anxiety and sometimes acting out. It’s a HARD transition to welcome a new sibling and have to share mom. Just know that this is normal and will get better with time. When possible, try to have small moments in the day with just your older child(sen.) Perhaps when baby is napping, or let another caregiver watch baby for 15-30 minutes so you can have quality time with your older child. They just need to be reminded that they’re loved.

      If you feel like sleep was good before now and all of a sudden it goes off the rails, it could be a sign of a sleep regression. Regressions usually last 1-2 weeks. The best thing is to jump back to your routine and follow it to a T. Consistency will get you through this hiccup. I will link to Jilly’s guide on 1 year old sleep, even though your LO is 20 months, you will still benefit from the tips in the article. Start there and implement the tips consistently for a week or two and you should see improvements. Here is the guide:
      Start there and please let us know how it goes, good luck! / Leena, BSMS Support Team

  23. Stacey White

    My LB is 2 years 3 months old . For the last 7 weeks he has been getting up around 4/5am. He is now in his big boy bed. He has black out blinds and curtains. He goes bed at 7.30 but doesnt go sleep by himself and sometimes can take us laying on the floor and about 9 pm at night. We also got rid of his milk bottle around this time also . So he doesnt have as much milk before bed as his not drinking as much from a cup . He has around an hour now for nap but used to have 3 hours (we now have to get him to sleep in a car ) his a nightmare in the day naughty and grumpy and wingy as his tired

    • Leena

      Hi Stacey! Sorry to hear about the struggle! I think it is 100% possible for your LO to learn how to self settle at this age. If your toddler is used to being helped to sleep, they will need it and want it in the future as well. When this skill is mastered, your LO will settle easily and sleep through the night. Our program, 21 Days to Peace & Quiet walks your through the steps of sleep training. We will gladly help your entire family sleeping better.

      Here is the link to the program, don’t hesitate to ask in case of any questions:

      It also sounds like your LO might be going through a sleep regression. It is completely normal at this stage. Jilly has a guide on it with great tips on how to handle it.

      Start there and by being super consistent, you should see results soon. Let us know how it goes!

      Good luck mama! / Leena, BSMS Support Team

  24. Kate Pacecca

    My LO is 2. He had a great bedtime routine and nap routine. Napped for 1.5 hours in middle of the day and asleep by 720pm, woke up by 7 am. This past week he’s woken up 15 mins earlier every single day. He’s now waking up at 6 am. His bedtime is still 720 (asleep) and his napping went from 1.5 hours to 40mins!!! He will just stand in his crib and crying hysterically saying mommy, daddy wake up. And also “his name, wake up too”
    What do I do? He has blackout curtains and noise machine since 4 months old. Same day care, no disruptions in daily living.
    He’s exhausted! Help??

    • Leena

      Hi Kate! Sorry for the delayed response and sorry to hear about your LO’s sleep struggle. Your LO might be in the thick of a sleep regression soon, I’ll link a guide for that below for you to check it out.

      If you’d like a bit more assistance and digging into what could be tweaked in more detail, you are very welcome to join our program, 21 Days to Peace& Quiet. Jilly has helped hundreds of exhausted Moms all around the world get their babies sleeping well, so they can get their energy back and start feeling like themselves again. So they can enjoy all the little things with their families. We’d love to help you, too.

      How quickly your baby learns to sleep well depends on a few things: the method you choose, your consistency and your baby’s individual adaptability.

      In general, though, if you’re super consistent with all the steps of the program, you can expect your baby to be sleeping amazingly at night within 21 days.

      There are 7 lessons in the program and each lesson can be customized for your baby’s temperament. The program is delivered in short videos and simple visual guides to follow.

      Here is the link to Jilly’s program:

      We’d love to have you join us! I’m happy to answer any other questions you have.

      / Leena, BSMS Support Team

  25. Claire Hackleton

    Hi there
    My 21 month old has been waking between 445!-!: 530 for 9 months. We never get him up before 615/630 and have tried wake to sleep, early bedtimes (630), late bedtimes (730) – originally it was 7, and keeping him outside as much as possible. His bedroom is very dark and we play pink noise all night. He naps for 2 hours at lunchtime usually from about 1230/230 although sometimes earlier if he’s exhausted and sometimes later if by some miracle he has woken at 6 (it’s happened maybe 7 times in 9 months). He is most days shattered by 11 and sometimes struggles with lunch as a result but otherwise eats really well especially in the pm. I’m at my wits end what else to try- do you think his nap is too long? Or is there something else I’ve missed – please help! I have two other older kids (7 and 10g and it’s making life so hard to manage given their schedules are so much later (up 7/8 and bed at 830).

    • Leena

      Hi Claire! Sorry for the delayed response and sorry to hear about your LO’s sleep struggle. Your LO might be approaching a sleep regression soon, I’ll link a guide for that below for you to check it out.

      It seems like you have tried multiple things already, kudos for that! If you’d like a bit more assistance and digging into what could be tweaked in more detail, you are very welcome to join our program, 21 Days to Peace& Quiet. Jilly has helped hundreds of exhausted Moms all around the world get their babies sleeping well, so they can get their energy back and start feeling like themselves again. So they can enjoy all the little things with their families. We’d love to help you, too.

      How quickly your baby learns to sleep well depends on a few things: the method you choose, your consistency and your baby’s individual adaptability.

      In general, though, if you’re super consistent with all the steps of the program, you can expect your baby to be sleeping amazingly at night within 21 days.

      There are 7 lessons in the program and each lesson can be customized for your baby’s temperament. The program is delivered in short videos and simple visual guides to follow.

      Here is the link to Jilly’s program:

      We’d love to have you join us! I’m happy to answer any other questions you have.

      / Leena, BSMS Support Team

  26. Megan Wilson

    Hi,we have a 16month Old who is waking around 5:30am. She just moans and fussed and rolls around and talks etc until I get her. I try to hold out till 7am but if she gets really loud I get her so she doesn’t wake her sister up next door.

    We have blackout blinds
    We have hatch baby sound machine – dimmest setting and lower sound level (could try making louder)
    In bed at 7:30pm
    She naps 1-3pm right now and has been doing this nap time since 11mo.

    Only thing that’s changed is over last month or two is we’ve let bedtime move toward 7:30 instead of 7pm.

    Any advice?


    • Jilly Blankenship

      Hi Megan,

      – Make sure her bedroom is 100% blacked out. (I’d put aluminum foil behind her curtain on the window just to see if this alone helps her sleep later. An easy fix!)

      – Yes, turn up the white noise.

      – Cover the sound machine with a light blanket IF it lets off any light. (Mine does the same so I put a muslin cotton blanket folder over it to block all light.)

      – If the above tips don’t help after 2-3 days, then have bedtime be 7 pm. A slightly earlier bedtime often helps LOs sleep later.

      Good luck,

  27. Lindsey Bontecou

    Thanks for your post. I have been researching what to do with a 17 mo old that wakes at 4:30-5:00 am every morning and it does seem the consensus is earlier bedtime. Our normal bedtime is 7 PM, but the last few nights we’ve been bumping it earlier to 630. Little guys still wakes between 4:30 and 5. How long do you think it should take to see any change? He has been sleeping through the night for several months, and has had black out curtains and White Noise since moving into his own room at six minutes. He typically takes 1 two hour nap around 11 Am (sometimes earlier if he wakes at 4:30!).

    • Jilly Blankenship

      Hi Lindsey,

      It sounds like you’re doing everything right! Sometimes our LOs can get stuck in an early waking habit.

      Yes I think the best thing for you to do is keep bedtime at 6:30 pm (that’s the time he’s ASLEEP, not the time you start your bedtime routine OR when he goes into his crib.)

      Give it about 2 weeks for the effects to take place and (hopefully) for this shift to work.

      Good luck!

  28. Nicole

    Hi! Thank you for this post. I feel like I have been doing all these things but nothing’s working. Originally I made the early waking problem worse by mistakenly taking him (he’s 2.5) out to the couch to cuddle. But we stopped that. He has blackout curtains (has since birth) and a reasonable bedtime at 8. He sleeps through night (we tackled that a few months ago) and does have a hatch nightlight set to the dimmest setting and the sound machine is on. He wakes up between 4:30-5 everyday. Calls for us forever. I stopped going in there bc that wasn’t working and now wait until his nightlight turns green at 6am. Many mornings in between calling for us and crying, he completely empties his dresser onto the floor. He was also getting naked but I got some back zipper pjs to stop that. My kid is great! And very stubborn! Help! I’m having number 2 in 5 months!

    • Baby Sleep Made Simple

      Hi Nicole,

      Emptying out the dresser and getting naked?! Sounds like a 2 year old!

      So it sounds like he never goes back to sleep after 5 am? I think you have a few options.

      1.) Limit his daily nap to 1.5 hours. Too much daytime sleep steals from night sleep and at his age 1.5 hours nap is right on target. This should help him add hours to his night sleep.

      2.) Move bedtime earlier. Go with asleep at 7:30 pm for one week and see if it helps (along with limiting his nap time.) You can also move bedtime as early as 7 pm. Earlier bedtimes often help children wake LATER in the morning. Seems so crazy but it’s true.

      3.) When he wakes before 6 am, go into his room quietly and do “damage control.” Do whatever you can to get him staying in his bed. Lie with him the first few nights, then sit in a chair next to his bed. His body won’t learn to go back to sleep at this hour if he’s able to run around the room and play. Be firm, yet loving and let him know that the only option is to stay in his bed.

      4.) I like the idea of the nightlight but ANY amount of light can send signals to the brain to be awake. I’d unplug the night sleep and go for 100% black out. Cover his windows with cardboard or aluminum foil. You want to be “tripping over furniture in the dark” kind of blacked out. Tell them that if he wakes and it’s dark, it’s still night time. And he’ll know it’s morning because mommy or daddy will come and tell him.

      Do the above steps for the next 2-4 weeks then assess how well he’s progressed.

      Good luck!

      • Helen Woods

        Hiya. We do all the above for my 2year old yet from 5am she screams the house demanding breakfast or going downstairs or a cuddle. She tells me she is all done sleeping. She has always gone to bed by 7pm although even tried adjusting earlier / later with no effect. She wakes at a different time everyday, but always between 5 – 6 and always screaming. She naps 12-2pm every day. Have tried nightlights, leaving her to cry, literally everything. Where am I going wrong? She is so grumpy from being up so early and I am at my wits end. I just want 6am.

        • Alyssa Taft

          Helen, Thanks so much for your message. I am sorry to hear that your little one is waking so early! It seems like your schedule is solid. A 2 hour nap in the middle of the day and a 7pm bedtime is appropriate for your two year old. Do you have the room blacked out? Do you use white noise? We consider 6am or later to be the start of our day so I would continue to treat anything earlier as a night waking. I wouldn’t verbally interact with your little one or turn on any lights. You could go in and give a quick “shh” and lay her back down like its time for bed. Then, I would wait 10-15 minutes and do it again if she is still up and walking around the crib. Give her time to resettle on her own. I would remain consistent for 1-2 weeks with keeping her in her crib until at least 6am. What time is her dinner? Try to make sure that dinner is high in protein and low in sugar so that can hopefully keep her nice and full until breakfast in the morning! Please let me know if you have any additional questions! Alyssa, BSMS Support Team


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