If I wanted a 5am wakeup call every morning, I'd buy a rooster. Or better yet, I'd hire someone to gently place a hand on my back telling me it's "time to get up", whom then hands me a hot coffee and turns on the news, then quietly leaves to tend to my children for the rest of the day.....ok WAIT that's a nanny.....and not my reality, unfortunately! What is reality: it's your baby, your toddler, or BOTH children up at the crack of dawn, either bouncing off your bed or screaming over the monitor to be picked up out of the crib...EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. If you're anything like me, I put my children down to bed at a decent hour, enjoy a glass of wine occasionally and then stay up to spend time with my husband. Up until my daughter Elle was 8 months old, I was greeted DAILY with a 5:45am wakeup, regardless of what time she went to bed that night. "WTF" I would think, "Why is already awake?! **I want to make a note here that 6am and up is a normal time for young children to wake up, and ideally they should wake up between 6-7:30am every day.** I was so over it. And comparing her to my sleep-king son wasn't helping. If you have a child that wakes before 6am every day ready to PARTY, and you're looking to change this, or you're simply losing your mind like I was, then my dolls, this post is for you. Read below to see my realistic, most modernized TOP TIPS TO SHIFT EARLY RISERS whom wake up before 6am.
Tip #1: Create & maintain a sleep log. Why is this important? In order to understand how many hours your child needs to sleep in a 24-hour period, you're going to need to calculate that average over 3-4 weekdays. Depending on your child's age, they need anywhere from 10 to 18 hours of sleep per day, so it's important to know where they fall in that range.
Tip #2: Invest in some blackout shades and white noise. These are two of the TOP ITEMS I suggest to all my clients. Black outs block out unwanted light which can accidentally signal the body's internal clock that it's "daytime", and white noise blocks out unsolicited noise (garbage trucks, Dad leaving for work, the dog barking, me tripping over the baby gate while I'm sneaking downstairs for coffee). This custom black out shade is under $50 and can easily be taken off during the day, and it's much easier than tin foiling up that window. The white noise we are currently using here in our home is actually a humidifier from Crane, and it ships for free here!
Tip #3: Create or tweak your schedule. Missing naps, short naps, bedtimes too late, bedtimes too early, or having unrealistic expectations ALL cause early wakings. If your 2-year old is going to bed at 6pm (this age group sleeps 10-12 hours on average at night) and is waking at 5am- that's 11 hours i.e pretty textbook!! If this is you, your bedtime needs to move back. When it comes to missing sleep (vacation, overstimulation, poor napping), an overtired child has a harder time going to sleep AND staying asleep, and thus this causes early rising.
Tip #4: Ready & Get Set. Now you understand Little Jack needs 11 hours of sleep per night and you understand what the best time for bed is (if he sleeps 11 hours and you want him up at 7am, then 8pm is your new bedtime), you have your tin foiled window & radio all set, and you've figured out an age-appropriate schedule (don't have a schedule? Click to this blog post to get examples!), I want you to START USING THEM for at least a full week. Yes, a full week. I never said this was going to be easy, but you have to make the changes before you want perfection. Child sleep is rarely a "sprint", always a marathon.
Tip #5: AND GO! Using the example child above, you will now not allow Jack to get up for the day for at least 11 hours after bedtime. This means you'll start treating that 5am wakeup call like a night waking. This can either be a brief visit in the dark, or you can watch over the monitor. Do NOT get them up for the day, whatever you do. THIS WILL TAKE A WEEK or so, just like a time change, it takes TIME to shift a little one's internal rhythm.
Tip #6: Be realistic with your expectations. My daughter was quite young during her early-rising days, so it wasn't realistic to expect a newborn to go 11-12 hours at night without a feed, or sleep for that long at night quite yet. If your babe is waking at 5am still when you're "doing everything right per the above", most likely your child is: under 6 months old, has a medical issue (that you may or may not know of), still waking multiple times at night, experiencing trouble gaining weight, going to bed too early/late, or missing sleep during the day (short and/or missed naps). Why was my daughter waking up at 5:45am at 5 months old with a 8pm bedtime? SHE WAS HUNGRY. However, I mistook her waking as her wanting to get up for the day, when I should have fed her and put her right back in her crib, sigh. (She would often fall asleep again at 6am while breastfeeding, BIG flag that she needed more sleep.)
Is all of this information blowing your Mommy mind? You are NOT alone- did you catch my Instagram post about why I started this business? I sobbed to my husband one night after reading all the sleep help books with our first child!! Infant/child sleep is HARD WORK, and trust me, it's work to figure out & narrow down exactly what's happening with your little, but shifting them to a later wakeup time is completely possible. It's a lifestyle, and you have to find a program that fits within your morals & values that you enjoy doing with your children. My business is JUDGEMENT FREE, so please let me know if I can help you sort through this via the Mini Consultation. Drop me an email, or Contact Us here for more information about how we can work together and create a bedtime, sleep-inducing room, schedule & shifting program for your little!