Kids waking up too early – Teaching your children to sleep later

teaching your kids to sleep in later

When your kids are waking too early, it can make them tired, cranky and just not very happy kids.  I put our kids to bed early, at 7:00 and I want them to sleep the full 12 hour, so I teach them to naturally sleep in a little later.


how to teach kids to sleep later (naturally)
Sleep is VERY important, so teaching our kids great sleep/wake patterns will benefit your child greatly.  (enough sleep = healthier child… better ability to stay focused, happier children… there are so many benefits to getting enough sleep).


We have four kids and let me tell you, our kids were waking up EARLY!   I had to do something when our older kids were waking up at 5:00 and 6:00 in the morning (still dark outside)- waking up their siblings and not getting their 12 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period (our kids are still at the age where the need this much sleep at night because they are not napping anymore, except for our baby).   If you are wondering how much sleep your child needs, take a look at this chart:

(image source found here) Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 11.03.08 PM


To help our kids learn good sleep habits, we came up with this idea and I have shared it with friends and family and they do it, too. It works!  We finally figured out a way to keep our kids in bed longer (giving them the chance to get enough sleep for their bodies and minds)

If you find your kids waking up too early – here is how to help your kids learn to stay in bed a little longer, to naturally train their bodies to get the rest that they need.  It is not healthy for your children to wake up before getting an adequate number of hours of sleep.

This little trick has naturally set our children’s internal clocks to a time that is more suiting to their schedule (with preschool and grade school).  It allows their bodies to sleep until it is time to wake up (when the sun is up and our family is ready to wake up, at 7:00 (they go to bed at 7:00, to get a full 12 hours of sleep)~ this is just the time that works for OUR family.)

As with anything, you need to remember that you have to TEACH your kids this new rule.   You can not expect them to sleep until 7:00 tomorrow, just because you started this today. Give it a week or two and you will have them sleeping later.

MOST IMPORTANT: Be consistent!  Consistency is the key to anything, but this will not work if you are ‘wishy-washy’ with this rule.  You have to remain consistent.
First, determine a bedtime. Our kids go to bed between 7:00 pm. and 8:00 pm.  (Again, they aren’t napping, so they are VERY ready for bed by this time!) 
Now determine a wake-up time. I like our kids to get 12 hours of sleep, so the wake-up time is 7:00 am.

Second: Practice that number with your kids. If you want them to get up at 7:00, show them the number 7. Show it to them on paper. Show it to them on their clock. Show it to them in books. Have them practice writing it.
Kids waking too early

What you need:

  • A digital clock
  • A piece of paper (I use index cards. You can use anything!)
  • Tape
  • Marker or crayon

WRITE JUST THE HOUR of the time you want the kids to come out of bed on your piece of paper.  Write it big (a little bigger than the number on the clock).
6:00?  Write 6
7:00? Write 7.  (This is our ‘allowed out of bed’ time)
8:00? Write 8.

Now tape that paper over the MINUTES on your digital clock so that all that you are left seeing is the hour and the paper.

Here is what it looks like (sorry that my time was 4:00 when I took it )
kids getting up too early

Show your kids when the number on the clock (the hour) matches the number on their paper, they can come out of bed.

Here is a close-up: Kids getting up too early

I do not let our kids get out of bed before 7:00, for safety reasons. I don’t want them in their rooms playing when I do not know about it. I want them in their beds. (I made this rule after I had read this heart-breaking story, last year, about the little girl that died when her dresser fell on top of her while her parents were asleep in their room- it was one of those VERY HEAVY dresser/changing tables that everyone has.   Her mom didn’t realize it until she (the mom) woke up for the day.   Her story has opened my eyes to the fact that dangers lurk where you don’t expect them, even with furniture that you would NEVER expect to fall over… same with toys…. you just never know which ones have hidden dangers, even if you don’t expect it).  For that reason, I don’t want our kids awake without me knowing, so they stay in bed until 7:00…

OK- back to the post:

You might set a rule that they can read, but I don’t do this anymore (I did at one point) because I caught them reading at 6:00 am! This was an hour before wake-up time. Now that they just have to lay in bed, they will just fall back asleep until it is time to get up.  This is what I wanted, because I wanted them to have their full 12 hours of sleep per night.

I think that our children have internal alarms because when I check on them if I am up at 6:00 am, if I am up, they will still be asleep. When the clock turns to 7, they come rushing into our room with a “Good morning, Mom!”

Oh- I should remind you that I didn’t start this until our kids were almost three years old and could understand it.

Kids waking up too early
 This part is important…
When they come out of their room the first few days early (and they will), just take them back to bed and say “You can come out at 7:00, when the number on the clock matches. Are they the same now? No? Ok- go back to bed.” (put them back into bed).  Now what you will want to do is make sure that when it DOES turn seven, you go in and say “Ok! Its time to come out now! Its 7:00!! Great job!” Do this for over a week, until they get it.
** We have a video monitor in our younger children’s rooms, so we can monitor them easily from our room.  

TIP 1: If you let them come out early one day, expect to let them come out early every day. You have to start on what you wish to go by, so stick to it.

TIP 2:  For nap time, I would change their clock so that when it was time to get up (at 3:00), their clock said 7:00.  So if I put the kids down at 1:00, I would make their clock say 5:00, and when they woke up at 3:00, it would say 7:00.  This is a pain, but it is easier for them to grasp at the beginning that they come out at 7:00 all of the time (morning & nap time).  They will understand it much faster than giving them two numbers to learn/understand.

Tip 3: don’t expect miracles.  If your child has been getting up at 5, don’t expect him/her to sleep until 7.  You have to slowly do this.  I would change the clock for this, too, so that at the real 5:30 (first few days) their clock would say 7 (or your goal hour).  I would move it every few days over a few weeks until they were really waking up at 7:00.  (Just my two cents)

Another completely different idea that a friend on Facebook gave me is to have your lamp set to a timer (like the kind that you get when you are going on vacation) and have it turn on at a certain time (example: 7:00 am).  When the light goes on, they can get out of bed.

Another idea: you could try an alarm clock like this one:  (The light is red when they need to stay in bed and green when they can come out)


Good luck!
PS- we also  & it helps them sleep later.
I liked this post!


Here are a few more posts that you might find helpful:
Why our kids are in bed by 7:00.

in bed by 7:00



If your 2 or 3 year old is still waking up at night, try reading my post here:
My 2 year old is still waking up at night – advice from a Pediatrician   (or my 3 year old is waking)

2, 3 or 4 year old waking at night


W hen your child gets out of bed night after night, this can be helpful to keep them in their bed…


Now for some great “cuddle time” posts:
“Mommy, will you lay with me?”
Mommy, will you lay with me

And a little potty training at night… 

Potty training at night
If you need a great book on the subject, I highly recommend this one: 
sleep book



  1. says

    Seven is our “out of bed” time as well. I will have to use this method because my (just turned) 3 year old likes to come up around 6 o’clock as well. :)

  2. says

    Great tip! I think it makes them feel more grown up when they have a clock. It really empowers them and they feel like they are part of the system. I love it. Thanks for sharing. Hope to see you at True Aim!

  3. says

    Brilliant! We bought one of those expensive clocks that turns green when it’s time for them to wake up. We like it and it works, but had i seen this tip months ago… :) Thanks!

    • Molly says

      We bought one of those too – I wish I had just thought of the digital clock since it would have been cheaper, but the toddler clock has still been a life saver! We found one that wasn’t too crazy expensive (about $25, a lot of ones I saw were more like $50) and it has a separate nap time timer that has helped a lot.

  4. nisha says

    Ha! My parents should have used that on me! I always woke up at 5 and ran around the house yelling at everyone to wake up… my poor family!

  5. A says

    Our problem is that our kids share rooms, and they keep each other awake. Whomever wakes up first wakes the other and they keep each other awake until time to come out of their rooms. No going back to sleep. And it’s never the same kid. They take turns.

  6. heidi says

    I literally just pi posted on my Facebook about what to do with kids getting up too early…my 3 year old has been getting up at 5:30!! 7 has been my goal and I’ve tried similar approaches but I will have to try your advice. Can’t wait to see if it works! Thanks!

  7. Stephanie says

    12 hours in bed is fantastic! As a PPD and sleep consultant, I will tell you that a likely reason for waking at 5 am is that they are going to bed too late. Put them to bed earlier and they will often sleep later. It’s counter intuitive but works every time!

      • Nancy kh. says

        Hello ! I tried putting my 11 months baby to sleep earlier than 7pm so she could stop setting her alarm at 4:30 every morning but it didnt work. She doesnt sleep that early.
        She was a great sleeper as a baby. At 6 months she started waking up at night a zillion times and woke up at 6:30 am. At 9 months the night sleep got better. At 10 months she started waking up at 4:30 or 5:00 am every morning…full of energy…and is still doing it. I cant take it anymore. This is too early for all of us specially her 4 year old sister who shares her room. What should I do?????

    • Jedda says

      My son is waking at 4am most mornings recently and I cannot keep him awake passed 7pm! I don’t know how to change his sleep patterns, I tried the clock idea but it hasn’t made any difference ! His moods are (at times) unbareable because of how tired he is, especially after a big day at Kindy. Any suggestions?!

      • says

        Wow- I would really try to enforce the 7:00 wake up because if he is in school, he needs 10-12 hours of sleep. What we had to do with our 4 year old (when we started this) was continue to put him back to bed. I kid you not that it took me (get ready) over 100 times to get him to stay in his bed. I put him back (like super nanny says) without talking until he stayed in his bed. At 7:00 I woke up and went into his room and woke him up and told him that he was allowed to wake up now. I did this for a few days until he understood that he had to stay in his bed until 7. I hope this helps. I”m so sorry you guys are going through this b/c an exhausted little one isn’t fun (trust me, I know!!)

      • Molly says

        I know this is probably way too late to matter, but if he’s waking up at 4 AM, then 7 PM is probably way too late for him to be going to bed. My 3 year old normally sleeps from 7:30 PM to 7 AM with a nap in the afternoon. If he doesn’t nap, he goes to bed at least an hour early to make up the sleep. I would try putting your child to bed very early – like 5:00 or 5:30 to make up for some of the lost sleep. Once he’s been getting enough sleep for a while, moving his bed time slowly later should hopefully let him move his wakeup time later too.

    • lourdes says

      Hello my three year old just won’t sleep before 10:00 pm. I’ve tried putting her in bed earlier but she just won’t stay in bed. What can you recomend me to Do?

      • says

        Honestly, I would make sure that she is not napping and then I would just keep her busy throughout the day and put her to bed around 7:30. I would read a book & then put her into bed. When our 3 year old was coming out of his bed, I had to put him back in 150 times (not exaggerating) to keep him in his bed that first night. I just sat in a chair outside of his door – I did’t talk, I just put him back to bed. Day 2 was WAY less. Day 3 he was staying in bed and sound asleep in like 5 minutes. :) He needed sleep, but didn’t want to do it. :)

    • erica says

      my 17 month old twins go to bed at 7pm and often sleep until 730 but i notice on the days the take short naps they wake super early the next morning…so it sounds wise to put them to bed earlier than the norm if they take a short nap?

    • Ellie Davies says

      My son is 3 yrs 3 months. Since he was tiny I put him to bed at 7pm but last year he began to wake at 6am then 5am. We were exhausted and so I moved his bed time to 8pm. It worked great and he slept till 7, and sometimes 8pm.
      At around 3yrs he dropped his daytime nap, and we got rid of the dummy. Since then bedtimes have been longer and longer, I still put him down at 8pm but sometimes he is still awake till 9pm. He wakes every day at 6.15am. I don’t think he is getting enough sleep as he seems tired some days and needs a nap again.
      I have held off putting him to bed earlier because I don’t want him waking even earlier. Do you think an earlier bedtime at his age would really help him sleep longer?

      His room has blackout blinds and is quite. The reason he wakes early every morning is that he needs a poo, like clockwork every morning! Some mornings I can change him or take him to the loo, and then get him back to sleep for about half an hour, but this doesn’t work very often.

      We tried a clock which changed from blue to yellow at ‘wake up time’ but this just lead to him shouting ‘Mummy the light is yellow’ even when it was still blue!!

  8. Exhausted says

    Our 4 year old is getting up at 3:00am, 3:30am, 4:00am etc. and wants to come into our room. Breaking her of this habit is proving to be a torturous endeavor.

  9. kaylee says

    I have a 2 1/2 year old and a 15 month old… so the older one is ready for this but since they share a room how do I keep the 15 month old staying in the room and not waking up the older sibling? or how do I explain to the older one why the younger sister gets to get out of bed earlier? they like to wake up anywhere between 6 and 7:30.
    I love your advice and am totally going to do this :)

  10. says

    Oh my goodness I love this! Thankfully our 3yo is usually pretty good about not getting up before the time we’d like but I may have to start implementing it anyways. I babysit and on the days that the other kids come my son gets up anywhere from 1-2 hours early and it makes for a rough/long day with him.

  11. Cassie says

    How do you make this work with regards to toileting? I want to try this, but am worried that my 3 yr old would wet his bed if he wasnt allowed out (he already does some times)

    • says

      They just go & then go back to bed. I don’t care if they are awake, I just want them in their beds until 7:00. There are six of us here, so if one wakes up, everyone wakes up and I just feel like that’s not fair to the other 5 people. So- if they have to get up, they just get up & go back to their bed afterwards. :)

      • polly plum says

        That’s how I felt when my kids were little-If they woke early but stayed in bed and kept themselves busy, that was fine with me. They just weren’t allowed to wander around alone or wake others. Everyone, even adults has to learnaself -help / comfort skills when we have trouble falling or staying asleep. I’m probably much older than you all, but when my 19 yr olds were babies and preschoolers there was a book by a Dr. somebody-I forget his name, It was called something like ‘How to solve your child’s sleep problems’ andamong my friends it was a life, health and sanity saver!This dr. has a philosophy for teaching kids to go to sleep, stay asleep and get up at the correct times.Good luck to you moms of young kids!Everything seems more difficult when you aren’t getting enough sleep!

  12. Ann says

    A friend told me she sets a lamp timer so the lamp turn on at 7:00am. When the lamp turns on, they can get up. Brilliant!

  13. Danielle Riley says

    Do you have suggestions on how to get your child to go to sleep earlier? DS is almost 4 & we put him in bed at 8pm, but it’s very rare he falls asleep before 9. He still takes a nap at daycare but not on the weekends, so I feel like that really screws him up & he doesn’t need a nap, but the daycare won’t keep him awake. They don’t force the kids to sleep, but they have to give them the chance to nap. Any suggestions?

    • says

      Oh- my only advice is to cut out the nap, which is hard to do with daycare. We have had to stop all of our kids naps by 3 to get them to sleep at night earlier than 9 or 9:30. If any of them nap, they are up so late! (in their beds, but talking, playing, etc…) Sorry- I wish I could help you with that one. :(

    • Erin says

      As a daycare provider I am disappointed for you that your daycare is insisting on naps for a 4 year old when you have specifically asked them not to. They are required to provide quiet time for older children, with quiet books and activities but not force a nap. You can talk with them about your concerns and ask to see their quiet activities and where your child would be doing them while the younger children are sleeping. Daycare should support you as the parent, not take over. You know what is best for your child!

  14. chloe may says

    What a great idea! I will be trying this tonight. My 4 year old has always been up at 5am, which I can handle. Lately it’s getting earlier and he is so miserable and tired by the afternoon and starts playing up and not listening. Wish I found this idea sooner. Thanks x

  15. says

    I love this! We have been using an alarm clock for my girls for 6 months now and it has made a world of difference! They were getting up before 6am each and every day and after some adjustment, they don’t get out until 7am. It has really helped out family. We didn’t use everything suggested here, but made it fit our family. But the idea of adjusting the clock to slowly help them sleep later really worked wonderful! Thanks for the suggestions, this is an awesome post!

  16. Clare says

    THANKYOU so much. This is such an excellent idea. AND IT WORKS! I have a 5yr old, 3yr old and a 10month old. For the last 5yrs I have been getting up at 5.30am and have felt so exhausted, 7am starts were just a far off dream which I never thought could happen. And now within one month of trying this all 3 of my little ones are sleeping til 7am!!!! HOORAY. I had to adjust the time on their clock, so the first week they were allowed out of bed at 6am, even though their clock said seven. Then week 2, it was 6.15am even though again their clock said 7am, then wk 3, 6.30am, wk 4, 7am. And they have stuck to it. Not once coming out their room, they even say to me now at bed time, Mummyb don’t forget to turn our clock on. I don’t do it with the baby, but it was always my eldest 2 that were waking up the baby at 5.30am, now their staying in bed til 7am and sleeping the baby is aswell. I get up at 6.30 and get showered and ready so when the kids get up theirs no rushing and everyone feeling irritable, tierd and grotty. You are a legend THANKYOU So So So So MUCH! Can’t express enough how this has changed our lives! :-)

  17. says

    I have 3 kids. One very early riser. I eventually got denim and made curtains. This kept the light out and his internal clock with the bright mornings didn’t wake him up. Now he is 21 and doesn’t get up past noon. Maybe we turned his clock completely backwards? lol. Dark curtains…my trick. Hope it works for someone else.

  18. kitty says

    lol i wish that would work for my house. my husband’s family are all those weird people that don’t need much sleep. i’m the only 8-10 hour sleeper in my house. my husband only needs 4 hours a night to be rested and ready for the day. when he sleeps longer than 4 hours he gets horrible migraines. the girls seem to be taking after him they only sleep 5-6 hours a night nap or no nap. they will stay in their room and play until they hear their daddy up and moving around. *rolls eyes* he sends them to wake me up so we can get started on the day. thats on a good day. other days i stay up with him. he goes to bed right be for the kids are going to be up for the day…. so no sleep for me that day.

  19. Beverly says

    I did this over 30 years ago with my first child. She was about 3 and knew her numbers already. I bought her a digital clock and told her she couldn’t get up till the first number was a 7. Worked like a charm!

  20. Becky says

    We have a gro-clock for my daughter. She’s three now, but this has been helpful for her since she was just 2. When I set it at night a blue star shows. At the pre-determined time a yellow sun appears. It has two settings, one intended for naps, but I use one for work days when we have to be up earlier and one for weekends when I want a bit longer in bed. I really like the clock idea too, but the sun allows two different times without having to learn different numbers or change the clock.

  21. says

    We used the lamp trick since there’s a hallway lamp just outside our son’s door. When I turn on the light, it’s time to get up. He is often awake before that (almost 12 yrs) but if he isn’t, it’s his cue to get up.

  22. polly plum says

    We had the same issue with our now 19 yr old triplets, when they were in the 2-3 yr old range. Our son learned how to climb out of the crib first and for safety reasons, of course we didn’t want him wandering around the house alone, without supervision. He also learned to climb INTO his triplet sisters’ cribs, waking them. that was a problem , too, and on our end, mu husband and I were beyond exhausted every single day and didn’t want to wake up one minute earlier than we had to for my hubby to get ready for work, and wanted a little treat to sleep until maybe 7 on weekends.We did this method when they were old enough to recognize the numbers and understand the concept. We also put several colorful board books into each crib at night, rotating them to keep their interest.(I know Eric Carlewas a favorite!When they woke up we would encourage them to ‘read’ their books by handing them a few and asking ‘what book are you going to read until I’m ready to get you out of bed?This saved our sanity and health- teaching them to wait until a certain number was on the clock to get out, and the sturdy board books.When they were in the 4-5 yr old range we replaced the digital clock with a regular clock, teaching them that it was time to get up when the big hand was on the 12 and the little hand was on the 7. I think this helped them learn how to tell time a little earlier than they would have otherwise.

  23. says


    You’re such a parenting rock star. I know that when we gave our six year old a digital clock it really helped him get a better concept of our expectations– not to mention, we can set alarm when it’s bedtime so we don’t have to be the “bad guys”– it’s a win win!

    Thanks for sharing.

  24. tina says

    I have an almost 2 1/2 year old, he used to go to sleep at 7:30 and wake up at 6:30 every day. Then he started waking up at 5am and come in my room, I would put him back in his bed and he would go back to sleep until 6:30am. Just this past month he is now waking up at 4/5am every morning and coming in my room, I out him back in bed and he comes out, I tell him its too early and its nite nite time, and I out him back in bed, at that point he is now getting up and standing at his door screaming my name, I get up put him back in bed and he gets up and screams for almost and hour and by that time it is time to get up. I NEED HELP, I cannot take It anymore and he is unbearable now in the mornings and later in the day. What should I do. HELP PLEASE!!!

  25. Kitty says

    My son is only almost 15 months old but is waking earlier and earlier – has been 4:50am the last 2 mornings. He is also only napping for between 1-1hr20m and I can’t resettle him to get anymore sleep. He falls asleep independently, I keep him in his cot when he wakes early, until 6-6:30am – which has worked previously to shift his wake up later, and I am having to put him to bed by 5:30-6pm otherwise his day is far too long & the later his bedtime the less overnight sleep he gets in total (as later bedtime doesn’t give a later wake up time annoyingly) I’m not sure how to escape this over tired trap! Any thoughts?

      • Stacey says

        I just read your article about getting kids to sleep later. My baby is 19 months old, so it’s hard to rationalize with her as one might with an older child. She wakes up at 5:30 EVERY day! and with daylight savings, she is now getting up at 4:30 am!! Any suggestions? She goes to bed between 7–7:30 pm. I’ve even tried keeping her up later but she still wakes up at the same time. I’m feeling like a zombie! Any suggestions?

      • says

        Hi Becky,

        My 2 year old wakes several times a night since she was about 3 months. We are up for 30mins – 2 hours at a time. I have been doing a sleep diary to see if there is a pattern. I have found that when she has a nap for 1-2 hrs in a day she is up a similar amount of time at night so I have reduced her daytime naps.

        From reading your post ‘my 2 year old is waking at night’ I have since been slightly waking my child before I go to bed to reset her body clock. After only trying this for a few days she now only stirs a couple of times a night and is back asleep within 5 minutes. This is so amazing as I am finally getting more sleep. I just wanted to say thanks and I will definately be continueing with this. I wish I had seen your post earlier. Thanks heaps!

  26. Laura says

    My 2.5 yo used to sleep from 8:30 to 6:30, almost on the dot, with a 3 hour nap in the afternoon. Occasionally he would go through phases of getting up at 5 or 5:30 for a few weeks. Right now he seems to have difficulty getting to sleep before 9 (we still do 8:30 bed), gets up at 5 or 5:30 to go potty (just trained him although he still wears diapers at nap and bed), and theb loudly calls my name until Iget him at 6:30. Then he takes a 3 to 3.5 hour nap in the afternoon.

    I can deal with 5:30 now, but it makes it impossible to go anywhere during the day as he’ll fall asleep in thr car. Not to mention were having another baby in Feb.!

    We have tried earlier bedtime, but 8:30 seems to (usually) work the best. Should I cut short his nap? Get him a toddler clock and set it to 6:30?

  27. cindy gast says

    when my kids were little i put a cd player/alarm clock in each of their rooms. i’d use a soothing, quiet cd (usually instrumental, sometimes classical; nothing with lyrics) and turn the volume down really low, setting the alarm for a reasonable time. they knew if they woke up and heard music they could come to mommy and daddy’s room, otherwise it was back to bed. worked well for me.

    • says

      Oh- That’s so hard. I did this by just giving our babies a drink of warm milk when they woke up early and then put them back to bed. I never really talked to them, just gave out cuddles and their milk, like it was the middle of the night. I wouldn’t let them come out & “play for the day” unless it was after 7. Honestly- if they got their milk, they went right back to bed & a few months later they just skipped that wake up & slept in on their own.

  28. says

    We’ve been doing this, and it’s working really well! My son was having difficulty knowing if it was time to wake up or not because he gets up when it’s still dark out for school. But now that he has a clock and knows that he isn’t supposed to get up until 7, he stays in bed! Sure, he’s in my bed every morning at 7:05… (not sure how he’s so punctual??) but at least he doesn’t come in at all hours anymore.

  29. says

    Please advise, I have been trying some form of this for awhile now. My almost 3 year old stays in bed but he wakes up at ungodly hours (before 5:30!) And is SO LOUD! He talks and sings and screams. I go in constantly and warn him. Take away his “tablet time” but to know avail. It’s the same with nap time and he hasn’t slept during nap time for !months. I want to get to get this taken care of so I can move my one year old out of my room and into his room reclaiming our bedroom. She sleeps like a champ and I don’t want to deprive her of the sleep she needs. So frustrated and tired!

    • says

      I wonder if you could use his tablet in his room when he is aloud to get up? So say at 6:00 he is allowed on his tablet? I only mention that because when our kids play on the Kindle, they are SO quiet! You could just set the volume and lock that part (if thats an option) ?

  30. Cherie M. says

    I have a 10 year old son, 2 1/2 year old daughter, and a 14 month old daughter. When we just had the older two, my son and daughter shared a room for a few months. During that time she would wake up when I came in to wake him up for school. (she was about a year old at the time) Ever since then she will wake up between 6 and 7 o’clock. Now, my son has his own room (moved into another house) and my girls share a room. My youngest would much rather sleep until 8 o’clock or later but wakes up to “noise” (anytime my elder daughter sees her move she says her name and the younger wakes up. If I make any sound in their room during naptime she is awake) We know that the younger does better when she gets to sleep in because she does so when the elder girl stays at grandma and grandpas overnight. How can I get the older girl to stay quiet so the younger can sleep longer? We have books in her room (she sometimes falls asleep in the chair beside her bed “reading”) and quiet toys that she sometimes plays with. We have a lamp in her room but that its because she is afraid of the dark (originally because I needed to see where I was walking for midnight feedings).

    • says

      That is really hard. What we do, when we are on vacation and the kids have to share a room, is we give our kids our phones or an iPod and a headset that does not have a cord (connects via bluetooth) and when they wake up, they are allowed to use the phone/headset until the other kids wake up. Another option is to have her come into your room when she gets up and watch a show in your room or snuggle in your bed. I hate to say that electronics are the answer, but honestly, they keep the kids so quiet that I was always willing to do that for 30-45 minutes until the other kids woke up.

  31. Jenna says

    My kids are on the same 7-7 schedule. They’ve had that bedtime and wake up time for 7 years now, so it’s not a new concept. Do you have any suggestions for proper punishments/consequences for waking up earlier than 7? My oldest 2 kids are 8 and 6 and I have a DAILY struggle with the 8 yr old waking up early (6-6:30ish), getting up, waking his little brother up, them getting ready for school, and in the process they wake up their younger brother who is 4. The 4 year old, who definitely needs the sleep he’s missing out on, then proceeds to be very noisy, sometimes waking up their 2 yr old sister. I’ve tried EVERYTHING I can think of, but we are on our 101st day of school and I’ve only had to go tell them “time to get up now” about 3-4 times. The other 96 days have been mornings full of lectures, warnings, punishments, yelling at times, frustration and an overall horrible start to my day. Every day. I obviously don’t know how to correct this issue and could use any suggestions anyone has! We have the clock that changes colors at 7 which he completely ignores. And he knows how to tell time, without putting a 7 on his clock. His previous punishments have been loss of video games, writing sentences, time outs, etc. When being scolded now, he just stares at me with a blank face and shows absolutely no emotion, like he’s become used to this lecturing as part of his daily routine. “I get up early, we get ready, mom gets angry, she lectures me, I go to school…” Please help!!!

    • says

      I tell them that for every minute before 7 that they get up that is how much earlier they have to go to bed that night. It works here. :) They hate going to bed at 6:45 when everyone else is staying up until 7:00. I only had to do it once or twice before they got the picture. Ps- our kids are the same age! 8, 6, 4, 2. (the older 3 are boys & the little one is a girl) :)

  32. Liz says

    Hi! I’m new to your blog and have loved all that i’ve read so far! Major question for you… We moved our daughter to a big girl bed 3 months shy of turning 3. We gave her a sun/moon light that we could program for when bedtime/morning time is. She lived and died by it- never got out of bed, even in the AM when the sun came out she would just call for me – I was amazed! (Bedtime was 7:30, wake time 7:30). THEN she turned 3…everything changed. At night she realized should was CAPABLE of getting out of bed, same with the morning. And all of a sudden her internal clock changed to waking up at 6am every morning. Occasionally 6:30 but normally it’s 6am or 5:55 if we want to get technical :). This is an hour and half sooner than what she was doing every day since she was 3 months old. Am I missing something? Any ideas why this has just changed all of a sudden? Right now, I tell her to get back in bed, walk her back in there, give her books to read until her sun comes out. But she never falls back asleep like I want her to– if she does its only 10 minutes. She naps 45 min. on the dot every day too (it used to be 1hr 20 min) but again, after turing 3 all of these sleep changes happened…. I’ve thought about cutting the nap, (and she’s been on a couple nap strikes) but I truly feel like she needs that sleep (she is EXTREMELY active). Her bedtime is 7:30. I am totally planning on trying this clock method though. Any other thoughts? HELP! I’m so desperate! I’ve even considered paying to talk to one of those sleep consultants! Any advice would be appreciated!! :) -Liz

    • says

      We had to cut out our daughter’s nap at 2 1/2 because she was playing in her bed until like 10:00 pm!! Now I put her in her room around 12 or 1 and give her books. She reads in her bed and plays with her baby dolls for around an hour or two. She doesn’t cry or anything, I just go in and get her when I think she is rested. (She turns 3 in August). If you put her back to bed in the morning with out books and just told her that it was still night-night time, would she go back to sleep? All of our kids have TRIED this at one point or another, but I just don’t let them get out or play or anything until 7 and then at 7 I go in and show them the clock (or in your case the alarm clock) and make a big deal about “Oh! Good morning!! Its time to play!” Before then, all they get is sleepy mommy saying “Its night-night time. Go to bed. I love you.” And if they come out again- I don’t talk at all, I just put them back to bed. :)

  33. Aly says

    What do you do if you tuck them back in and tell them not to come out before 7, but then you can hear them playing??? Not staying in bed….do you keep putting them back in bed??

    • says

      I don’t mind if they are playing IN Their bed with their stuffed animals or whatever is in their bed, but as soon as I hear them get OUT of bed, I go in and put them back into bed. I also leave a few books within arms reach (on a nightstand right beside the bed)
      Ps- honestly, our kids now just sleep until 7:00 – its like it changed their internal alarm clocks. 😉

  34. Samantha says

    I did something very similar with my now 11 yo when he was little, he had a clock in his room and I taught him that both hands had to be past the 6 before he could leave the room (after 6.30) especially the short hand. My other lb is almost 3 but everyone is up before 7 anyway and he generally wakes around 6.30. I definitely will try this if I need to, though!

  35. Jennifer says

    One thing I have not seen anyone say is, my daughter has to go to the bathroom sometimes earlier than 7, I can’t really make her stay in bed :( Also, regarding the dressers, we bolted ours to the wall, most come with the hardware for this , just an fyi! I have a friend who this happened to as well. It’s horrible.

  36. atxmom1985 says

    Great tips! We plan on getting a clock when we transition. Our LO is still in her crib bc she loves sleeping in her Zipadee-zip sack. We plan on keeping her in it until she lets us know otherwise. Sleeping great so not going to change a thing!

  37. Lyndsay says

    This is great in theory, but it hasn’t worked for us! We have a clock that turns green when they can come out. It worked great for our first son for about a year. Our second son, almost 3, will scream, kick the door, yell etc… So badly it wakes our other son up. So what do you do when your child turns into the exorcist just trying to put him back in his room? I think it depends on the child. I am by no means a pushover parent, in fact I am VERY strict. He won’t get out of his bed at bedtime because for two weeks I kept putting him back in his bed everytime he got out. He was actually calm and only fussed a little for this training. The morning training is awful! I’m tired, it wakes my other son up, and I’m just used to waking up at 5:30/6am now. He sleeps from 7:30pm until 5:30/6amand takes a two hour nap. He is never cranky in the morning. In fact, he’s a very cheerful and pleasant one. So he is getting enough rest between night and daytime sleep. (And yes, I’ve tried the no naps but that doesn’t work, he is way too young to stop them. He’s too cranky come 5 if he doesn’t have one and doesn’t sleep any longer at night).

    • says

      Oh my goodness- I bet you are tired! Would he lay with you if he comes in at 6:00? He is so young that he won’t understand certain things. What if you gave him a leappad or table or something in your room (with cordless headphones) when he woke up? Then he will be in your room, or even in your bed, but not waking anyone else up and you can still sleep. ?

  38. Meghan says

    I love this idea and will try it tomorrow! My question is my daughter was sleeping great until we took her soother away two weeks ago. She is almost 3 and still has a 1-2 hr nap each day. She goes to bed at 8 and was waking at 7:30-8. Since taking the soother away, she still naps great but bedtime is a struggle. She lays awake until about 9 and is up anytime between 6-7. I’m not sure if it would help to drop the nap or not? She still seems so tired by naptime and often asks for it before we even put her down for one. Any suggestions would be great! I’m 9 months pregnant and would be sad to lose the nap now;)

  39. Michelle says

    my 2.5yo barely naps during the day except if my mum is looking after her because she hops in and naps with her. I try and get her to have quiet time instead and cross my fingers that she falls asleep. I put her down for nap at 1pm and she might sleep for an hour when she does. I put her to bed by 7.30pm and if she hasn’t napped she will go off quickly. If she has napped then it could take an hour for her to go to sleep. she wakes up usually at 6.30am even though we have a Sam sleep trainer clock set for a 7am wake. Every night I remind her not to wake up till Sam does but it’s not working. Any advice please?

    • says

      I think that at 2.5 it is hard to teach them to stay in bed until 7. (ps- our 2.5 year old gave up naps, too) :) Have you ever tried giving her a drink of milk at the 6:30 time, then taking it away (to avoid aspirating) and saying “ok- it is still time for night-night” and putting her back to sleep? I”m sure you have – just a thought.

  40. Anna says

    We have a 5yr old who has had a gro-clock since he was 2. It’s fantastic. He goes to sleep around 7-7.30 and we have his sun set to come up at 6am – he wont get out of bed until then. Our problem is, however, that he will yell out to us in the night. Sometimes he has a bad dream, or his covers aren’t straight, or his pillow has dropped off his bed. It’s exhausting as when he wakes me up (3, 4 or 5am) I don’t get back to sleep. Any ideas?

  41. Amanda R. says

    Oh my goodness. We finally did the clock number match with our 3 year old daughter last night. She can recognize her numbers up to 10, so I figured we would finally give it a try. Both her and her 5 year old brother have known for several months that wake up time is 7. Problem was that they would wake up at 6:25-6:40 and come and ask if it was 7 yet. We also hung our sons analog clock back up since he can tell time with that. Yay for this morning. Our son slept until 7:05 and our daughter slept until 7:15!! Thanks for a great idea.

  42. susan says

    i have that street light lamp and my kid just completely ignores it. its so frustrating. i did the digital clock match thing then moved on to the lamp, nothing. I’ve caught him doing potentially dangerous things too or waking his older sister but no amount of gentle lecturing works. he says that by the time he wakes in the morning he forgets (he’s 5)

    if i or my husband are in bed with him however (very rare times like sleepovers maybe) he falls back asleep for another hour or more! he definitely needs the sleep so it upsets me even more when he unwittingly robs himself of much-needed sleep!

    any help/advice/suggestions/anything!?

    • says

      I would take away all electronics for the day if he is out of bed before 7:00. We had to do that once with our 4 year old and he never did it again. (Now we do tell him the reasons that he can come out, but that he needs to come right into my room first to tell me. Examples: to go to the bathroom, if he is sick, etc…)

  43. Christie Florence says

    HELP! My 4 year old son goes to bed around 7:30, 2 year old goes to bed around 7, and 6 year old goes to bed around 8, but the older 2 kids don’t usually FALL ASLEEP for an hour after they’ve been put to bed. 4 Year old wakes up at 5:30 and has to go potty. I let him because obviously this isn’t something he can help – its first thing in the morning and he hasn’t peed all night right?! Anyway, I put him back to bed, tell him to stay in bed until 7 (just like you suggest). He usually gets up and starts playing, or comes out 2 more times to ask for something else, or for random reasons (my toe hurts was this morning’s excuse). Anyway, my 6 year old will wake up around 6 as well to go potty, but the 2 year old shares a room with her and is a light sleeper, so as SOON as 6 year old wakes up, 2 year old is up as well. The kids are so cranky when they get up this early (which is most of the time). in fact, on days when 6 year old doesn’t have school (she goes full days to Kindergarten 2 sometimes 3 days a week), I make her nap too because she is so cranky and tired. 4 year old sometimes naps, but that depends on the day as well, sometimes he plays quietly in his room which is ok with me. But honestly, the getting up so early and being so cranky is really exhausting for this momma. What else can I do? They need the sleep, they’ve been getting sick ALOT this spring.

  44. Chris says

    I’m surprised that nobody mentioned the sleep trainer from Zazu. We use the sleep trainer for our little one since October last year. I can recommend this product to all of you, specially for parents with a full schedule. For the one who’s interested in seeing a bit more


  45. Grace says

    I read the same story and it caused me to get anchors for all of our furniture. I think that is a better safety device, because kids could still potentially get up even when you don’t expect them to do so. The woman from the story said her child was not normally up that early.

  46. Sherry says

    What if they unplug the clock and play with it? My kids (7, 5, and 3) have all been early risers since they were young. The 3 yr old still takes naps, but the other two don’t. They all go to bed at 8pm and get up somewhere between 5-6am. The 7 yr old is learning to sleep a little longer, but not much. They get up and destroy the house (mostly the 5 and 3 yr old are instigators) so I’ve tried locking them in their room but then they need to use the bathroom. No amount of consequences seem to make any difference. We’re often asleep and don’t know when they get up. I’m not only worried about their safety, but I am fed up with the messes they make. This has been going on for literally YEARS and I’ve tried everything. I’ve even tried the clock thing and they just play with it and mess it up so they have no idea the actual time and I have to constantly reset it.

    • says

      I have our plug behind the bed now, where they can’t reach it. I have told them that they are not to touch the clock. They haven’t tried yet, thankfully. Could you try putting it up on a dresser or getting one that hangs on the wall (digital)?

  47. Amelia says

    THANK YOU! I started this about 3 weeks ago on our awake-at-5 kindergartner and today was the proof in the pudding day as he not only woke at 5:30 and WENT BACK TO SLEEP but then, when he woke up 30 minutes before the magic hour, he took out a book and read in bed until Dad invited him to get up early and join us on the front porch. Thank you!!!

  48. Verity says

    Thanks for your article. We have tried everything to date, including what you recommend, but my son wakes around 5am no matter what. This has been happening since he was about 2.5 years (he is now 3+ So it’s been about 8 months). It also started when he moved from a cot to a double bed.

    We even bought a Gro Clock and tried that for a few weeks but my son just gets out of bed and pulls out the powercord and/or stands there demanding that the sun come out (which means wake time). We have tried cutting down his nap to just one hour, and most recently cutting out his nap completely. He goes to bed around 7pm. Since our three month old baby came along, he is even worse. The baby doesn’t wake at night so he is getting good, uninterrupted sleep during the night.

    Do you think some kids just can’t sleep in, no matter what you try? We are really desperate for a solution.

  49. Michele says

    This morning was our second day of trying this method. Two boys, ages 2 1/2 and 4 in the same room. The first morning they got each other all wild with laughing and trying to run out of the room. I sat by the door for the two hours and would calmly bring them back to bed almost constantly, reminding them it wasn’t 7, yet. This morning, they spent one hour yelling at each other to be quiet, with a few attempts to leave the room. I hope it gets better. They are asleep by 7:30 pm.

  50. Michele says

    So I made up,with each boys help, these cool little “quiet like a ninja” badges they can earn if they are quiet in bed until 7am. This morning was day four. Both boys each have one badge, just to encourage them although neither has had a stellar morning but I thought I’d be easy on awarding them the first few days. They were so excited for the badges, with a promise of a nice cream outing when they get 7. This morning they were terrors with my 2 1/2 year old being load and trying to leave the room or climb up into his brother’s bunk bed. My 4 year old was yelling and practically swinging from his ceiling lamp with his blanket. My husband and I consistently go in and just say, “it is not 7. You need to be quiet in your beds.”


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