5 Year Old Waking Up Too Early? Here Are 6 Solutions to Try

Is your 5 year old waking up too early all of a sudden? Learn how to stop early morning wake-ups and get your child to sleep in longer.

5 Year Old Waking Up Too EarlyAs if to remind me what sleep deprivation feels like, my 5 year old had been waking up early. As in, between four and five in the morning, before any hint of sunlight had even passed.

No doubt about it, waking up early when you’re long past the newborn or even toddler stage can be hard. I was afraid I had set bad habits, but couldn’t seem to figure out how to get him to wake up at a normal time.

Thankfully, I learned that there was plenty to do to help turn things around and help him wake up later in the morning. Here’s what helped me make sure that he got the sleep he needed and got a good start to the day:

1. Ignore the early wake-ups

Do you resort to sleeping in your child’s room just to get her to quiet down and get some sleep? Have you spent the majority of the early morning hours pleading with her to sleep, or even getting frustrated and yelling at her for waking up so early?

This attention—whether positive or negative—enables the behavior you don’t want to see to keep happening.

For instance, lying down with her for the rest of the morning rewards early waking. Even getting upset and losing your temper sends the message that waking up early is now a “thing” between the two of you.

Instead, ignore the early wake-ups.

When you hear her wake up or cry, check in to make sure all is okay and to remind her that it’s still time to sleep. Then, set your timer for about 15 minutes. If she’s still fussy, check in briefly again (30 seconds at most) and close the door.

Keep checking in until the official wake-up time, at which point you can then get her up for the day. Repeat this every morning as needed until she realizes that wake-up time isn’t when she wakes, but when you enter the room to get her up.

Free resource: Struggling with raising a strong-willed child? Grab 5 Tips to Raising a Strong-Willed Child! Discover 5 ways to nurture and work with—not against—her inner spirit and strong personality. You’ll also get my newsletters, which parents say they LOVE:

“Just wanted to say how thankful I am to have found your page. Your articles really resonate with me and I am so grateful to hear someone else express how I was feeling in those moments. It can feel very shameful and isolating feeling like a ‘bad mom’ because I got angry about something, but by reading your experiences I feel less shame.” -Cassandra H.

5 Tips to Raising a Strong Willed Child

2. Use blackout curtains and white noise

The right sleep environment can make all the difference. Even though your child’s room is still dark during those early morning hours, even the slightest brightness can convince him it’s time to wake up.

Hang darkening curtains or blinds to keep the room dark and block out sunlight from the window. That way, should he stir in the early hours, the darkness can signal that he should keep snoozing for one more sleep cycle.

Another tool to have on hand is a white noise machine. The constant sound can muffle sudden noises that might startle him awake. A fan, heater, or even an audio app can do the same.

3. Use an alarm to push wake-up time later

Another method to help your 5 year old stop waking up too early is to use an alarm, particularly one that lights up or signals that it’s time to wake up. Or you can leave an old phone in her room that can play a gentle alarm as well.

Having an alarm can make waking up at a particular time seem “fair” (as opposed to waking up when you enter the room). It’s also very black-and-white: if the alarm turns blue or plays chimes, then she’s allowed to get up.

You can also set the alarm in 10-15 minute increments until you reach your desired wake time. For instance, if she wakes up at 5am every morning, set the alarm for 5:15am the next. The following day, set it for 5:30am, and so forth. This can help her body gradually adjust to sleeping in later.

4. Adjust bedtime

Many older kids this age can sleep for 10 – 12 hours at night, even without a nap. If your 5 year old is going to bed at the reasonable hour of 7:30pm, it may not be all that unusual that she wakes up at 5:30am.

If she seems content the rest of the day despite the early wake-up, she may not need as many hours as you think or hope. Fiddle with her sleep schedule—pushing bedtime back to 8:30pm could mean a reasonable wake-up time of 6:30am.

What if she’s sleeping too late? That can also cause early wake-ups if she’s overtired. Then, when she wakes up mid-cycle in the early morning, she’s wired and ready to go, even though she could use more rest.

In this situation, moving bedtime earlier could solve the problem. In most cases, kids should be asleep by 8:30pm at the latest.

5. Have regular bedtime and morning routines

One of the best things you can do to help your child wake up later is to have consistent routines both at bedtime and in the mornings.

Routines make the activities you need her to do not only normal and expected, but automatic. If she always wakes up to use the bathroom, eat oatmeal, brush her teeth, and get dressed every morning, you no longer have to nag or fight her to do these things. A morning and bedtime routine makes these tasks easier to do.

With so much consistency to her day, anything out of routine—like waking up early—can start to feel abnormal.

A routine is more than waking up or going to bed by a certain time, though that certainly helps. You also have to do the same things in the same order, every time. Down the line, you can be more flexible with the routine, but as you’re trying to change her behavior, consistency is important.

6. Praise for progress

As difficult as early wake-ups can be, you can only get so far with disciplining your child and correcting her behavior. This needs to be balanced with positive reinforcement that can encourage her to continue the behavior you like.

This could feel like an impossible task when she constantly wakes up early, but find any small nugget to praise, any shift in the right direction. Don’t reserve your praise only for when she sleeps in until 7am. Instead, praise her for any progress she makes, however small.

Maybe she cried when she woke up, but not as long as she usually does. She may have gotten out of bed, but thankfully didn’t leave the room. So, you can say, “I know it’s tough to wake up early and stay in bed, but you figured out a way to calm yourself down.” Or “I’m so proud of you! You stayed in your room all night.”


No parent wants to wake up at 4:30 in the morning because her child keeps waking up early. Hopefully, you’ve learned a few ways to help yours sleep a bit longer.

Don’t reward the early wake-ups by paying them more attention than it needs. Quick check-ins at timed intervals can be all it takes to correct the behavior. Use blackout curtains and a sound machine to help him sleep longer should he stir in the early morning.

Use a toddler clock or alarm to push wake-up time later and help him know when it’s okay to get up. Adjust bedtime as needed, and have consistent and repetitive morning and evening routines. Lastly, praise for any progress you see.

Sleep deprivation does not have to be the norm, my friend! Here’s to a good night’s sleep (and a morning one, too!).

Get more tips:

Don’t forget: Join my newsletter and grab 5 Tips to Raising a Strong-Willed Child below for free:

5 Tips to Raising a Strong Willed Child

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Biggest parenting challenge has been early wakings. Nothing has worked. She still wakes before 5am 90% of the time, screaming. She’s a terrible napper, completely inconsistent, and is high attention so will not sleep in the car/stroller/arms for that cat nap that so many preach to get to bedtime when short naps and naptime transitions occur, and so I always end up with an over tired grumpy baby and the cycle is killing our family.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      I can definitely relate to feeling like your child is simply not a good sleeper. All the other things you hear other kids do seem like myths that never or rarely happen with your own.

      I do think though that doing check-ins for early mornings from the time she wakes up to the “official” wake up time can help, especially if you do it consistently. She learns that the day doesn’t start when she wakes up and screams. That it’s okay to wait until someone comes and gets her up.