My son is 5 and he sleeps like a champ!
But my daughter, Belle, is 2 and she wakes up at the crack of dawn!
There is no magic star dust to make your child sleep longer, but there are some ways that I have found helpful, and I thought that I would share.
Even if this article helps you to get an extra 30 minutes of shut eye, then it will make me so happy for you!
1. Try a Later Bedtime
Everyone bulks at me about this, but it seriously helps!
I have to stay up later anyways to finish folding laundry or to load the dishwasher.
Why put my kids to bed at the well-known time of 7 or 8pm when I have to stay up until midnight?!
The kids end up being well-rested and up at 6am, but then I am longing for another hour or two of sleep because I was up later!
This child-to-bed-by-8pm philosophy that everyone preaches about never jived with me.
Instead, I keep my kids up late with me and then put them down about a half-hour or so before I go to bed.
That way, I still get 30 minutes or so to myself, as what many parents look forward to!
“Why do you keep those kids up so late?” repeatedly bulks my father.
“11pm?! That’s awful late for kids to be going to bed!” exclaims my mother.
I will tell you what.
The later my kids go to bed, the longer they sleep in!
Sometimes, I think that we fall into the trap of societal norms, and we don’t even have the perspective to see outside of that.
I honestly don’t care what everyone around me thinks.
They are not the ones who have to stay up all hours of the night and then have to get up with little ones at 5am!
Remember, everyone will have something to say about your parenting.
Don’t be intimidated to do what you feel is best for you and your family!
Keeping the kids up late with me while I finish household work and let them play helps to keep them sleeping longer in the morning so that I can get the rest that I need.
And rest for mama is very important!
2. Light Snack Before Bed
You may want to consult your pediatrician before doing this and use your best judgement, but I give my kids a light snack before bed.
Part of our routine is to have a little snack, such as saltine crackers, graham crackers, toast or cereal before bed.
Previously, I had found that my daughter, Belle, kept waking up in the middle of the night.
She would roll around and fuss. ￼
When I introduced a light snack before bedtime and she started to sleep better, I realized that she was waking up hungry.
I know that it may not be the best habit to get into, but it makes sense.
I don’t know about you, but I wake up hungry in the middle of the night and sneak out into the kitchen to grab a snack!
Little ones aren’t all that great at recognizing those cues, so they wake up uncomfortable.
If you give a little snack before bedtime, it may help their tummy’s feel satisfied throughout the night.
3. Read Books Right Before Bedtime!
You’re probably thinking, “How does this help my kid sleep longer?”
When you provide a relaxing environment for your child, your child has a better chance of sleeping better.
Going to bed when the household is crazy and chaotic can make it hard for your child to relax and to get optimal sleep.
I noticed a big difference when I would be trying to do last minute chores around the house every night until late and then stressfully rush the kids into bed.
Once I started implementing a quiet reading time right before they fell asleep, the difference was incredible!
The kids slept better.
Belle wasn’t tossing and turning as much and she wasn’t waking up as frequently in the middle of the night.
I believe that our stress can have quite the effect on our children.
When we are distressed or frazzled all while trying to make the most relaxing time possible for our children, they can sense our anxiousness that way.
And children pick up on that as uncertainty in their environment.
In order to give a more peaceful end to your child’s day, have your child pick out 3-5 short books that you can easily read.
Quietly sit on the bed and take your time reading.
Right after, give kisses and hugs good night before letting them drift off to that magical world.
This calm, quiet, reassuring and protective environment will help them to unwind so that they can get their best possible sleep.
If you would like some book suggestions for bedtime reading, click here!
4. Keep the Room as Dark as Possible!
The entire house would be full of sunlight!
My kids and I kept waking up early because the sunlight snuck through the window blinds!
I finally ended up investing in some room-darkening curtains just for the bedroom.
Then I kept the bedroom door shut to keep the rest of the light that was coming in from the rest of the house out of the bedroom.
This made a world of difference!
Now we are all sleeping better because the room is staying dark even when it is light out!
It is amazing how the littlest bit of light will trick your body into believing that it is time to be awake!
Make certain to assess this because it took me quite some time to put two and two together and realize that this was a major issue!
Sometimes, as a parent, you are so tired that you tend to miss what is staring right in front of ya!
5. Play a Consistent, Gentle Sound throughout the Night
Some people use the aid of sound machines to help them get a good night’s sleep.
A sound machine often plays a consistent, gentle sound which mask other possible background noises that may be preventing you from sleeping well.
Now, I do not use a sound machine to help my daughter sleep.
I actually have an air purifier that makes a steady, soft noise that helps to drown out background sounds.
I like it better than a sound machine because the air purifier is also cleaning the air while we sleep!
Why not have both of those things in one fell swoop?
The constant flow noise from the air purifier has helped Belle to sleep longer.
Infact, it helps me to sleep more soundly, too!
If you use a sound machine, often times, they’ll have a small variety of background sounds that you may like to try.
Some of them are very gentle sounds that may help you to relax, such as water sounds and outdoor noises.
I encourage you to take a look at this brief article before deciding on a sound machine.
6. Don’t Give Any Extra Attention!
When your toddler wakes up, don’t say much to them or feed into their awake state.
Instead, do your best to keep them in a quiet and sleepy state.
For example, when Belle starts to stir, I do not say a word.
I give a light smile, close my eyes to signal that it is still time to rest and then lightly pat her on the back until she falls asleep.
Now she is good about floating back to dreamland.
It took a little time for this to work, though, because she had to learn that mommy is not going to play or engage with her just because she woke up.
Mommy sets the tone.
And this is important!
You set the status!
If you get into the routine of talking, engaging, moving around when your child wakes up early, then you are only reinforcing your child’s awake state.
Keep everything calm, quiet and neutral until YOU say that it is time to get up!
This works best if you co-sleep with your child.
More about that later, though.
I hope that these tips help you as much as they have helped me!
Funny how it takes so much trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn’t!
Regardless, if you can help your toddler to sleep just a little bit longer, it may do you both a world of good!
Here’s to a goodnight sleep and a little extra!
Mama Morgan is a single parent by day and a writer by night! She is raising two, young children with special needs during a global pandemic. She aims to give other parents confidence, hope, and a practical, down-to-earth reading adventure through her own experiences. While Morgan is heavily focused on caring for her little ones, she is also dedicated to helping others and making the world a better place. Mama’s Grilled Cheese is just her delicacy!