Okay, I’m not really sure if any babies are called ‘Karen’ these days, but we’ve all seen these memes going around, right? Anyway, moving on…
Kids wake up early. Fact.
But do you have to start the day with them right away, even if the clock says 5:30am?
I usually recommend that parents should not officially start the day until
at least 6am. This is for several reasons:
1.It ensures your child has received adequate night sleep
2.If your child is still napping it can help ensure the naps occur during ideal sleeping times
3.No one likes getting up before 6am (well, I do actually, but that’s another story ;)
So, if you have an early riser, here are some ways to help them stay in bed a little longer, and maybe even get back to sleep until a more reasonable time:
1.Get on the right schedule. None of these other steps will work if your child isn’t getting enough sleep, or their best sleep. If bedtime is too late (overtired) or too early (under-tired), early wake-ups are almost inevitable. This might also mean a review of the nap schedule if baby/toddler is still napping.
2.Keep the room dark. If you don’t have room-darkening shades, try some tinfoil around the edges of the window. Check the room for any other lights that could be in your child’s line of vision and potentially keeping them awake.
3.Keep your child in their crib until at least 3 years of age. This can be a tough pill to swallow, and sometimes toddlers do need to break out of their crib before this, but if you can it’s best to wait. Sometimes when kids are transitioning out of their crib too soon or without proper guidance it can lead to early wake-ups and actually getting out of bed which makes this whole going-back-to-sleep thing a lot more challenging!
4.Invest in a wake-up clock. My favourites are the OK to Wake clock and the Gro Clock because they can stay dark all night (have to turn off the blue back-light on the Gro Clock in the settings) but will light up when it’s okay to start the day. If you are using this with your child, you must also do steps 4-7 or it might not work!
5.Have a family meeting. Everyone should be present at this meeting and you can all talk about how much you love sleep and the importance of staying in bed until the sun comes up (or light turns on the clock or mommy/daddy come to get you, etc.). This is where you lay out the ground rules for what’s to come.
Speaking of which.. have a plan for how you will deal with the early wake-ups (for example, silently returning them back to their room) and communicate that to your child so they know what’s coming if the rules aren’t followed.
6.Create a sleep rules chart. Call it whatever you want, but create some sleep rules or routine that everyone must follow. Get it down on a piece of paper or Bristol Board and have your child decorate it for extra buy-in to this whole idea. You can include your child’s bedtime routine on this chart, but the most important thing to have on here is that after saying ‘Goodnight’ and turning out the lights, everyone stays in bed until the morning comes.
7.Do a wake-up “announcement” when it’s actually time to start the day. Perhaps your child has slept through their usual earlier wake-up time or perhaps you’ve been dealing with the earlier rising, but now it’s 6am so it’s okay to start the day. When this time comes, go to your child’s room and say, “Good Morning!” in your best Oprah voice, turn on the lights, open the blinds and start the day. This will help re-set their body clocks for when daytime really begins.
8.Stay consistent. If you’re constantly changing things up to find the right thing that will work, your child will be confused as to what he/she is expected to do. Make a plan, communicate that plan in ways your child will understand, and follow-through until you see results. This will happen more quickly if you can stay consistent.
If you have any questions about whether your child is on the right schedule or you would like more specific ways you can help your child stay in bed/asleep until a more appropriate time in the morning, reach out for a free sleep check-up!
LOTS of progress! Each night I can see that the first half of Mabel’s night sleep – from bedtime (roughly 6:30pm) to about midnight/1am is becoming more consolidated. The second night she woke fewer times for maybe only a couple of minutes, and last night (Night 3) she only squawked a time or two and otherwise stayed asleep.
I noticed on Night 2 that she was still waking or staying awake for periods of time but not really upset… just kind of babbling and blowing bubbles. This meant I didn’t have to intervene at all but it kept me awake a lot of the night! I’d say I was more tired after Night 2’s shenanigans than I was after the first night. So for Night 3 I re-evaluated her sleep environment to see if there were any other changes that could further her progress. We have her close(ish) to a window along the same wall and a little bit of light comes through on the sides of the curtains, so we decided to have her face the other way so she at least wasn’t looking right at any light. There is also a green light from her sound machine that is pretty bright so we turned it around and moved it out of sight. These changes may not have made it completely pitch black in the room, but it did significantly reduce any light in her line of vision which can make a big difference.
So I encourage you all to take good look at your child’s sleep environment and ensure any bright/distracting lights are either covered or can’t be seen by your child when they are lying down. This can make a big difference in terms of how well they sleep.
Here's to another great night of sleep! (Hopefully ;)
I’m going to start this with a sentence I so often hear from many of the families I work with…
Last night went better than expected!
I honestly think having Mabel in a bigger sleeping space and just a little farther away from me (but still in the same room) helped immensely. She did wake a few times last night, but not as many times as she has previous nights and not for as long. We stayed consistent with our approach and she responded as well as can be expected. I was able to feed her twice and put her back down to sleep no problem. There was really only one wake up that was a bit more challenging and lasted longer than the others, but she (we) got through it and it felt like we all had some better sleep overall.
What worries me most about her wake ups is that her noises may wake up her older sisters. I know just about every parent who has more than one child feels the same, but keeping the other children from waking up should not come at the expense of the littlest one learning some very important sleep skills. If her older sisters do wake up (which they haven’t yet!) then we will explain what we’re doing and we know that if their sleep is interrupted it won’t be for long. Sleep training, when done properly and consistently, should not last very long.
Stay tuned for Night Two!
I would describe Mabel as a pretty good sleeper. She does amazingly for naps – she almost always wakes after a 30 minute sleep cycle but will put herself back to sleep for another hour or so. She’s done this since she was four months (** please note we worked hard to help her get here! My Instagram page during her first few months has the proof**). She’s also been very good at putting herself to sleep. All in all nothing to really complain about...