I don't know about you, but I am not a fan of my child waking up before 7 am. Some of you may wake up early to get a head start on the day and be ready for your kiddos, but that's not what I'm talking about here today.
I'm talking about the 5:30 am wake ups and the near-impossible task of getting your child to go back to sleep...
I want to start by saying that early mornings can be tough to figure out. Many factors play into why a child will wake up early. I'll touch on the main ones today for you:)
Bedtime is too late
For some babies and children, a late bedtime is a culprit. If you miss your child's sleep window, you'll end up with either a cranky baby or a hyper toddler. Both of these situations are tough as it's more difficult for them to unwind and go to sleep, then to top it off, they are behind an hour or two.
You'd think that if they are overtired they would sleep in. Well, some kids are like that, and they will sleep in, though if you've read this far, your child probably isn't doing that.
There's this saying, and it goes like this "Sleep begets sleep". If your child is sleep-deprived, and they aren't getting restful sleep, they will sleep poorly. On the flip side, if your child naps well throughout the day, they will most likely sleep well at night too.
So circling back to the late bedtime, if they are overtired, and it takes them longer to settle down, and they aren't having restful sleep, that may be the reason they wake up early.
What to try: Trial putting your child to bed earlier, I usually suggest to try for a 7 pm bedtime for a week and see what happens.
Bedtime is too early
The funny thing about babies is that sometimes the solution to a problem is the complete opposite. In this case, it's possible that your child's bedtime is too early.
Let's say you put your child to bed at 7 pm, and they are having a hard time settling down for sleep and waking up early. They may need a later bedtime.
What to try: I usually suggest pushing it back 30 minutes every 3 days until you hit either a sweet spot or 8 pm. ...
If your child is under a year old, and they are still nursing or taking a bottle, and possibly eating solids, their feeds may need to be looked at.
If your child is bottle-fed or breastfeeding, make sure that the bedtime feed is a good, solid feed. Often what can happen, especially if the baby is eating solids, is they get full from supper, and have a mediocre bedtime feed.
What to try: Try to have enough time from their last meal of the day and their bedtime feed so they can be full of milk. Before a year old, milk is still a primary source of nutrition:)
During the early hours of the morning, our bodies have a normal drop in temperature, usually, around 4 am. If your child isn't dressed warm enough, the feeling of being cold can wake them up.
The problem then is that they have had a lot of sleep already and so there is a decrease in what I call sleep pressure, or in other words, the need for sleep decreases.
If you've ever woken up at 5 am, you might have experienced this yourself. You end up lying in bed, not sleeping. This can happen for children too.
What to try: Add an extra layer (I love sleep sacks for this!), check your thermostat temperature for the night time, or add a small space heater to warm up your child's room ( if they are safely in a crib).
Too much or not enough daytime sleep
As I mentioned at the beginning of this email, early morning wake-ups are tricky!
If your child is having too much or not enough daytime sleep for their age, it can cause early morning wake-ups. Looking to see if your child is having enough sleep for their age, and their own individual needs are important here.
What to try: If you suspect that your child is napping too much during the day, try capping one of their naps at the 2 hr mark. If they are napping too close to bedtime, skip the last nap, and move up bedtime slightly.
If you suspect they aren't sleeping enough during the day, then see if you can sneak in some more sleep. Even a 30-minute catnap can help take the edge off of being overtired.
A quick note about toddlers!
If your child is around age 2, and they are waking up early, you can use a groclock or something similar!
Set the clock for 7 am and tell your child that they need to stay in bed until they see the sun come up. If they get out of bed before then, you'll have to take them back to their room, put them back to bed, and tell them they have to wait until the sun comes up. It may take a few days, but they will eventually understand!
You may need to implement some consequences and/or rewards at this point! A reward can be as simple as a sticker, a small toy from the dollar store, or a small treat. If you implement a reward system, only do it for a week or two, otherwise, you'll be giving your child a treat every day for a looonng time.
I hope this helps as I love to sleep and waking up early is just not my jam!
Need some help in the sleep department? Let me know what's going on here.
Happy sleeping! Melody Patton