How to keep those early risers from waking too early

By: Jenn Kelner

@mybabyzzz

Do you have a baby or toddler that wakes up in the morning a little earlier than you would like?  A reasonable wake up time for a child is anywhere from 5:30-7:00am, but some children are up before that time wide awake and ready to play.  Luckily there are some things you can do to help your child learn to sleep in later in the morning so that you can all catch some extra ZZZ’s.

Dark and quiet room

If you have a little rooster that rises with the morning sun, keep the room nice and dark by hanging up room darkening shades or curtains.  It also helps to use a white-noise machine or a humidifier to drown out any early morning street noise.  By making sure it’s dark and quiet during those early morning hours, you may be able to get an extra hour or more of sleep.

Extend those naps

One of the main reasons children wake early is because they are overtired.  You can help get your little one some extra sleep by making sure they are napping long enough.  Provide a cool, dark and quiet napping environment to encourage them to sleep a little longer.

Self-soothing skills

Many children wake in the night or in the early morning and don’t know how to go back to sleep without some assistance.  Even if they are good at putting themselves back to sleep during the night, they still might need to be ‘trained’ in the morning hours to help their bodies learn when it’s appropriate to wake-up for the day.  There are many different sleep training methods, so choose a method that’s right for your family.

Use an alarm clock

Older toddlers who are already in a bed might need some guidance as to when it’s ok to get up.   To keep your child from waking you up early, use a timed light or a child alarm clock that changes colour when it’s time to get up.  Make sure to praise your child every time they stay in bed until their appropriate wake up time.

Earlier bedtime

Many parents are afraid that if they put their child to bed earlier, they will wake up earlier, but that is often not the case.  It’s counter-intuitive, but often a child will sleep in later if they go to bed earlier.  Try putting your child to bed earlier by 20 minutes and leave it at that time for 4 nights.  If there is some improvement to their wake-up time in the morning, move their bedtime earlier by another 15 to 20 minutes.  Continue this strategy until the ideal wake up time is reached.

Later bedtime

Once you have determined that your child is getting enough sleep, you can then try moving bedtime later by 20 minutes.  Leave it at this new time for 4 days to see if there is any improvement to their morning wake up time.  Continue moving it later by 15 to 20 minutes every 4 days until they wake up at a good time.  You will know that your child is getting enough sleep by their mood towards the end of the day.  If they are cranky and easily frustrated, they could use more sleep.

If your child has had this early morning wake habit for a while, it might take just as long to break the habit.  Remember to be patient as it may take some trial and error to find the ideal bedtime.

Jenn Kelner is a mother of 3 children (including twins!) and a Certified Child Sleep Consultant at BabyZzz.  She helps tired families with infants, babies and toddlers become well rested families through customized sleep solutions and support.  She offers various services including home, phone/Skype and email consultations.  For more information visit www.babyzzz.ca

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