Brilliant Nanny tips for early waking toddlers.

Brilliant Nanny tips for an early waker.

Is your child up with the dawn chorus? Are you a grumpy mum, because of an early waker? The following tips are aimed at toddlers approx 15 months plus, it is possible to solve early waking in younger babies, but with a different method.

Alot of parents think they have a child who is just a natural early riser, whereas they may really have a child who wakes too early in their sleep cycle. All children should be approached as though they could be managed to sleep to a more reasonable hour.

How can you tell whether you have a natural early riser or whether your child has learned behaviour of an early waker?

Some children are natural early risers, they wake having finished their nights cycle, with a clear mind, they smile, they chatter and they are happy (ish!) until their daytime nap ( about 11am onwards,if they are tired before this they more likely to be an early waker) if this is the case no amount of rewards, sleep charts , clocks or gimmicks are going to help your child return to sleep. But the following methods can help them understand when it is a reasonable time for her to wake the rest of the house. Alternating between both parents is the best way to cope, and in time , learn to embrace your early bird! It won’t be forever,  when they are teenagers you will be dragging them out of bed!.


A child waking before 6am, crying, looking tired and grumpy or maybe they wake before 6am and then go into their parents bed and fall back to sleep is an early waker, therefore please read on.

Early waking may seem like the least disruptive sleep problem, and your child may have been a lot worse , and through your hard work you have finally got them to sleep until 5am, so you’re thinking yourself lucky. The early start to the day is the point the parent simply gives in, because they’re understandably shattered. However giving up on a child who isn’t a natural early riser means they, and you, are being denied quality sleep at a vital part of the night time sleep cycle.

For children over 15 months its about teaching them when to wake.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the rabbit clocks that you set to a certain time, and when that time comes the ears pop up, this device is supposed to solve the problem of early wakers, but it has flaws:
1. They’re expensive retail price of about £40.00
2. Your child will soon work it out, and be pulling the ears up, and calling to you in the early hours “ it’s morning, bunny’s awake”
3. It’s quite noisy, so if your child happens to be having a nice lie in , once bunny is awake so will your child be!
4. If you try to get it to go to sleep at 6.05pm for a 6am wake up for example it will refuse to stay ‘asleep’! So you have to set it for 5am, then go back in the night to reset it to 6am.The problem seems to happen whenever you are trying to set it for around the same time next day.

So what’s the alternative?

A simple glow light ( mothercare) plugged into a timer switch, you can buy a digital timer or a manual one from homebase or b&Q , they are simple to use.

It is silent when it comes on to the pre-set time, so as your child gets better at sleeping, he can sleep through it coming on.


  • Immediately presume you have a child that doesn’t need much sleep, if he is grumpy and struggles to last beyond 11am in the morning for his daytime nap, then he needs more sleep.
  • use stair gates to trap children in their room, this is not a solution, they need to learn an acceptable time that they can come in to you.
  • cut out daytime naps, or keep your child up later at night, this does not work.


  • Try to delay daytime nap until earliest 11am ( this can go forward when mornings start later) maximum daytime nap 2.5 hours
  • Set realistic boundaries for waking
  • set the timer on the light, 10 minutes later than he usually wakes up, and put forward every 3 nights, gradually getting to 7am.
  • Slow steps are the key here.
  • Talk to your child, and explain what the light is for, “when the light is on only then can you come into mummy’s bed.” even at 15 months they will understand this. Bribery often works, a promise of a sweet at dinner time if he does it ( you can always phase this out )
  • if your child wakes before the light comes on, quietly go into his room and remind him of the rules and then leave.
  • If he comes into your room after the light, reward him with big cuddles , tell him its morning, he can come into your bed for a cuddle, but it must be wake time, so open the curtains and get cheery!  get up and start the day. (even if its only 5:30!) putting off breakfast for as close to 7am as you can. Remember its a gradual process, but a long lasting one, once its cracked.