Can You Change a 2 Year Old's Waking up Schedule?

Updated on March 09, 2010
L.C. asks from Madison, WI
6 answers

Our son is a couple months over 2 and sleeps good, for the most part. He goes to bed about 8:30 or so, and he used to sleep until 7:30 or 8, or even later. A couple months ago he started getting up at about 6 am. I don't like it but I figure that's just his schedule so I need to adjust. My husband disagrees. We thought a while back we should get a child's alarm clock and set it for the time we think he should get up at. He thinks that if we set him an alarm for 7:30 or 8 that after a few days he'll get used to the new schedule and sleep in until then. I tried this a couple days with a phone alarm clock and it didn't work so well...Our son's waking up schedule really affects my husband's being able to sleep - he has insomnia as it is and really struggles to get a decent amount of sleep, but he is on a pretty bad schedule himself (going to bed too late). After Samuel wakes up in the morning he often can't get back to sleep. So, my question is -
1 - Have you ever tried to change your child's schedule like this to get them to sleep later, and if so what happened? Did it work; did it not work?
2 - We've looked for alarm clocks but can't find any cute "child's" alarm clocks that make interesting noises or songs for waking up. Do you know of any or a good place to get one?
3 - If in fact it is not possible to change a child's internal schedule, I really need some kind of research or something showing why that is a bad idea or wouldn't work...
I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences...
3 -

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answers from Indianapolis on

You don't say if you know why this time change happened......did you start doing something that woke him up? Did you used to get up earlier? If the answer is no to the questions, then, what has changed in your sons life? Is he less active because it's winter and he can't expend his energy as much? I would try a couple of things. First I would try to take him out somewhere and let him run......go to the mall, whatever he can find to do. Then see if he sleeps longer. It might be his age, does he take a nap? For how long? If so, can you cut the nap by a bit. Try and see if any of this works. If not, you can find things in his room for him to do for an hour or so while your husband sleeps, or you two can have time together in another part of the house without Daddy, so Daddy can sleep. Quiet time can be coloring, drawing, Mommy reading to him, or other things he might like to do. Maybe some days, you two can go out in the morning for breakfast and bring Daddy some back. Try to be creative if you can't get him to sleep later. Good Luck, and I feel for your hubby, I don't sleep well I know how frustrating it can be.



answers from Tulsa on

As kids go through stages and grow they need less sleep. If you need your child to sleep later then you have to keep him up later in the evening. Also get up early and hang around the babies bedroom and see if a neighbor is starting their car or the trash truck comes by beeping, there may be an external sound waking him but my bet is he just doesn't need as much sleep.



answers from Indianapolis on

I haven't tried to change my children's sleeping schedules for one simple reason: our pediatrician told us that each child will have their own individual sleep patterns, and they will change multiple times throughout their developmental years.

I, too, haven't had a good night's sleep in about 10 years (since well before children came along). I just accept that kids are going to make sleeping a little more difficult, and I try to do my best to get what I can.

Have you spoken with your pediatrician?
I really can't find anything to support or dispute what my pediatrician says. He's a strong advocate of the policies of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and I don't see much on their parenting site. This is all I could find.

If your son wakes up, can you let him play in his room for a few minutes/hours to help your husband get some more sleep?



answers from Madison on

On the average, I think it it normal for them to sleep for about 10 hours at night and have a 2 hour nap during the day at this age. If he is having a good nap during the day and he sleeps at 8.30 at night, you would pretty much expect him to wake up at 6.30 (plus or minus half an hour).

Maybe you could try shifting his sleep to 9 pm to 7 am, over a few days by slowly shifting the bed time to 9 pm. And your husband could also shift his schedule so that he is OK waking up at 7 or so. They could find a middle ground :-)

I had to change my son's sleeping schedules when he was younger than yours, as we were jet-lagged going to and coming from our home country. Slowly shifting bed times as I suggested worked for us.

If he wakes up *before* the alarm clock goes of, I don't understand how he is supposed to keep sleeping until the alarm? You may teach him to stay quiet and in his room as others suggested but I don't see how the alarm will make him keep sleeping if he is already awake. I am confused...



answers from Pittsburgh on

A few ideas:

1. Are you sure it's not something external that is waking him up? Furnace noise/paper delivery man/light through the blinds/etc? You could try white noise in his room if you think this may be happening. Make sure his window coverings block the light and they are closed when he goes to sleep.

2. I have found it possible to change a child's schedule, but you'll have to do it gradually, 10-15 minutes per night.

3. He's 2 so is he still in his crib? Can you get up, change him and give him a snack and put him back in his crib with a music CD or something like that? If he's in a toddler bed...change him, get a snakc and let him read books, play in his room with some quiet toys?

Sorry, out of ideas...hope something helps. And "spring ahead" is right around the corner!



answers from San Francisco on

My son has always been an early waker . His first year of life, he would wake up between 4:30 and 5 am every morning. As he was a baby and a good sleeper otherwise, I didn't try to change it.
After that, I tried putting him down earlier for a couple of weeks. Didn't work or change anything. I tried putting him down later and he would in fact wake up even earlier (ans be cranky all day!)

When he was 2 (and baby sister was born), I really needed more sleep in te morning, and my husband also.
We put up an alarm clock and told him that it was OK to wake up before the alarm but it was not OK to wake up the rest of the house. With the monitor, I would hear him wake up at 5 or 6 and read his books aloud, waiting for the alarm. He would often fall back asleep (and sometimes, he would fall back asleep on the floor among his books!)
Now, he naturally wakes up at 7 in the morning.

Note: it took more or less a week of reinforcement to get him used of not coming to our room when he woke up but wait instead.

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