What qualifies as an early wake-up for you? It’s pretty much always a personal choice depending on when you are prepared to start your day. Some people feel like anything before 5 am is too early, while others don’t want to be up before 8 am. In life, this changes drastically when you have a child. With children, especially babies, we must have realistic expectations and it’s important to understand that their biologically-based circadian rhythm is set earlier than adults. Early rising can also play a part in your child’s current developmental stage. It is not uncommon for early wakings to start during leaps, or when your child is sick or teething. Getting used to this sleep cycle is inevitable, but there are certain ways you can help your baby sleep longer in the mornings.
From changing their bedtime to switching up their routine, here are 11 tips to help your baby sleep longer in the mornings.
11 Tips To Help Your Baby Sleep Longer In The Mornings
Bedtime: A later bedtime does not equal a later wake-up time, in fact, Its’ quite the opposite. If your child is going to bed late, being overtired actually causes them to wake up at night and earlier each day. Anywhere between 6 pm and 7 pm is ideal for most age groups.
White Noise: This will help to drown out the environmental sounds and keep them asleep longer in the morning. it is proven to improve sleep and lengthen nap times. The louder the better – similar to the sound of the water running in the shower! A white noise machine that has the ability to stay on for the duration of the entire sleep/nap. If using a phone/iPad/tablet ensure you have it on flight mode as this will Reduce EMF exposure.
Room Temperature: In my experience, this is by far one of the most common reasons babies & toddlers wake early. Keep the room temperature consistent between 19 – 22 degrees celsius. Dress your child in suitable clothing/layers and this will eliminate them from waking early due to being cold. Babies and toddlers can’t use blankets so steer clear of them until they are much older. In winter, you may like to use a safe oil heater. Have it on a timer for after midnight. Between 4 – 5 am is the coldest time of the day. This will help your baby sleep longer.
Darken The Room: Darkness is essential. I recommend blackout blinds alternatively cardboard or foil can be an effective temporary option at blocking out light. Children can wake as the sun comes up in the early hours. A dark environment signals to the brain that it is time for sleep. It encourages the release of melatonin (sleep hormone).
Hunger: In addition to the above tips, Hunger plays one of the biggest parts of early rising. If you have a baby between 6 months to 18 months, it’s imperative your baby is getting all the calories and nutrition they need during the day. Otherwise, your baby is going to wake up hungry and no amount of settling will work. If you have a toddler you might want to offer a second round of dinner 30mins before bed (ie: porridge, weet-bix, etc.) to ensure their tummy is full and they are capable of sleeping through till your desired time.
Gro Clock: If you have a child over the age of 2, consider using a Gro Clock in addition to the tips above. These clocks help your toddler understand when it is night time and when it is appropriate to wake up. Here’s a tip: in the event you wish to use a clock for your toddler, ensure you don’t set the“wake up” time to be unrealistic. Toddlers have no patience, if they are early risers (before 5 am) and you set the “wake up” time for 6:30 am, chances are they will have a meltdown well before your expected wake-up time. This process is gradual. For example, set the time for 5:15 am and at 5:15 am. Go in and get them up and praise them for staying in their room till the appropriate“wake up” time! Every 3 days move the time forward by 15 minutes until you get to your desired “wake up” time.
Clothing: Dress your child for the coldest part of the night (which is usually around 4 am) In the cooler months that may mean putting the fan on when your baby goes to bed & turning it off later.
Routine: Babies love routine! They find comfort and predictability in knowing what comes next. Follow an age-appropriate routine to ensure your little one does not overtire. Find a bedtime routine and stick to it. It can look something like: dinner, bath, bedtime stories with milk and then sleep. Lack of routine can lead children to become overtired. This results in more night wakings and early morning wake-ups.
Expect every morning to be different: Treat early morning wakings (prior to 6 am or your desired time) as a night waking: (pretend its 1 am) If you continue to get your child out of bed at 5 am and reward them with food, milk cuddles, etc they will continue to wake at this time every day to start the day.
Consistency and persistence: is the key when it comes to early morning rising. If you decide that your morning doesn’t start until 6 am, then it doesn’t start until 6 am! If your child wakes at 5:40 am and you decide that it’s close enough … Be warned: You could be setting yourself up for more early days ahead.
Offer up a toy: Alternatively offer your child a soft toy, baby mirror, etc. to play with, as this will buy you time and can also help your little one wake up slowly as he learns to play on his own before you even get out of bed. If you still can’t make it until your desired time, take him out and start your day. But don’t offer any milk or food until your appropriate wake-up time. If he’s getting into a habit of eating at 5:40 am, hunger will continue to be his early wake-up call. As well as yours.