Toddler Sleep Boot Camp

Since last October, right around the time change in the fall, our toddler has been waking up at 5 am.

Every. Day.

It doesn’t matter the time she goes to bed that night, what kind of nap she had the day before, or what she ate for dinner, every day at 5 am we get a wake up call. At first, I thought it was the change of seasons. But then in the Spring, when we moved the clocks again, her clock stayed the same.

We tried bringing her in our bed, where she would kick and fidget – but never go back to sleep. We tried to sleep in her bed with her, where she would kick and fidget – but never go back to sleep. We gave in to television, and would doze as she watched Nick Jr. on our bed while torturing the dog when he, too, obviously wanted to sleep.

And then it got worse.

This summer, she started waking up at 4:30 am… then 4 am… then 3 am… then midnight. Each time she would stay awake for 2 or more hours- or not go back to sleep at all. We were inconsistent in how we treated the wakings. All the sleeping-advice books told us to put her to bed earlier. She was overtired, they said, and that was leading to earlier wakings. Our doctor’s office suggested melatonin before bed.

For a while, we thought it was the fact her diaper was so wet in the mornings, so we limited her drink at night. It seemed to work – for a day or two.

I admit it, I was beginning to get angry with her, which was totally unfair. I wanted to sleep. I wanted her to sleep. When she gets up early she’s cranky and tired by 8 am. I missed my sweet little well-rested girl.

But now? I have had enough. No more pussyfooting around. I mean business: Sleep Boot Camp – Toddler Style. She wakes before 6 am? Back to bed. No eye contact. No words. No kisses or cuddles. She wakes at 5:45 am? Back to bed. Midnight? Back to bed.

I am not messing around anymore. We’re locking our bedroom door. We’re letting her cry it out.

Bad parenting? Quite the contrary. We’re trying to instill good sleep habits. Good sleep means better development, less stress on the household, and better temperament.

We’re giving her the best gift possible. But let’s be honest…Sleep Boot Camp is going to suck – for everyone.


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