How to Wake Up Toddlers From a Nap

If you find your toddler is waking up -- and staying up -- for long periods during the night, shortening the length of your toddler's nap can help balance her energy so she sleeps more soundly at night, according to the book "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Sleep Training Your Child." Transitioning your toddler from sleeping to waking can involve some, but not all, of the same techniques you use to calm your little one down before nap time 1.

Stroke your toddlers hair, arm or foot in a slow, gentle fashion for a few minutes while whispering soft words. Frenzied tickling and rough jostling are unpleasant for anyone to wake up to, so keep your touches slow and gentle. Touch an arm or his head or foot, but avoid stripping back the covers or rolling up his sleeves.

Open the shades or pull them back a few inches while softly greeting your awakening toddler. Just like early morning light wakes some toddlers bright and early, gradually increasing the light, without flooding the entire room at once, sends a cue that it's time to wake up. Avoid fully lighting the room until your toddler is wide awake, otherwise she might just roll over and cover her eyes with a blanket.

Change his white noise machine to a different sound setting. For example, change rolling waves to soft classical music. You don't need to increase the volume, but this gentle shift in the background noise can help stir your little one from his slumber. Combine this tactic with the other techniques if he doesn't start waking up within a minute or so.

Sing a wake-up song together with your toddler once she's at least partially awake. If your child isn't awake and somewhat alert, expecting her to sing a song with you probably isn't going to help her mood. Engaging your little one in a song can help transition her from passive sleep to something more participatory. You could even start out singing the first verse softly and gradually sing louder with each verse.


Start waking your toddler up at least 15 to 20 minutes before you have to go anywhere. Just like adults often enjoy some relaxing time after waking up but before starting their day, toddlers appreciate the same transition. Starting to wake your tot 5 minutes before you need her to be alert, cheerful and cooperative is setting yourself and your little one up for failure.


Don't allow excitable pets or cousins to jolt your toddler from a deep sleep, or you're likely to cause an understandable tantrum.