Early Wakings Suck.
A Plan to Stop Kids from Waking before the Sun.
“Go Back to Bed.” – mumbles mom from under the covers.
A likely phrase in your house, especially with a child who has determined they are ready to get up for the day before the farmers. The issue of early wakings is quite common, even for children who are sleeping through the night. I will explain how to curb early morning wakings, keep your children in their beds, and allow every to get the full night of sleep they need.
They May be Overtired.
The biggest culprit for early wakings is actually overtired, which sounds a bit off, considering they are waking early, not sleeping in longer. So ensure you take a look at my sleep chart by age, to understand where your child fits in the total sleep range for their age.
Not Enough Total Sleep.
If they are falling short on sleep, move bedtime earlier by 30 minutes. I know that sounds like the opposite of what you should do. It often helps because the sleep cycle timing adjusts and sleep begets sleep. This is not an overnight success, it usually takes about a week or so before you will start to see improvement.
Too Much Total Sleep.
If you tried for at least one week to move bedtime earlier and that didn’t help, your child is easily within the range and seems well rested, then try moving it later. I usually only recommend going 30 minutes later (than it was before you moved it earlier). Make sure your child is getting into bed before 8:00 PM-8:30 PM. Give this about a week to work.
Don’t Feed too Close to Bedtime.
If your child has a feeding in the bedtime routine make sure it isn’t too close to going down to bed. It should be at least 15–20 minutes from the end of the feeding and your child down to sleep. Make sure this feeding is a full feed. You want to ensure they are not getting to sleepy or simply eating/nursing to sleep. Children under the age of 1 need between 24 & 32 oz of milk on a daily basis. That’s a good gauge to tell if baby may be waking because of hunger. If you suspect that’s the case, try to give them a small little 1 oz top offs to feedings throughout the day or at bedtime. Doing so essentially replaces that feed in to the middle of the night.
Schedule Out the Day.
Make they are getting the right amount of daytime sleep at the right times. Too much or too little daytime sleep can cause issues with wake up time. Also make sure that the naps are not too early in the day or too late in the day. The naps should happen close to your child’s wake time window which is based mainly based on your child’s age. If your baby takes three naps a day, it might be time to shorten up the 3rd nap or pull it all together (if baby is over 6 months old). If your baby takes two naps a day, try shortening the morning nap to one hour.
Total daytime sleep for a baby between 6 & 12 months should be 3 hours. Also make sure afternoon nap is not too close to bedtime. It should be at least the right number of hours of wake time your child needs. (Ex. 8 month old has a 3 hour wake window).
Make the Room a Bat Cave.
It is very helpful to keep your child in bed in the dark room until 6:00 AM, by either staying out of his room until 6:00 AM or going in there and sitting with him until 6:00 AM. If you don’t keep your child in the dark room it can make the child’s body clock and melatonin levels set to waking before 6:00 AM regularly, which is usually too early for babies and young children to be waking to start the day.
Make sure the room is as dark at 4:00 AM to 6:00 AM as it is at midnight. Children are starting to move through lighter stages of sleep at that time. The body is also preparing to wake for the day. Check out my Insta Stories where I show you the difference that blackout blinds can make.
Set the Rules for Wakings.
If your toddlers are coming in to visit — invest in an OK to Wake clock (affiliate link) and set boundaries and rules around when a child can get out of their bed. Ensure it’s set for a realistic time as well… most kids won’t stay asleep until 9am, despite your wishful thinking 🙂
The above tips and tricks should help you curb that early waking and ensure you all get the best sleep of your life. If you are still struggling and need some private sleep consulting to get back on track, we are always happy to help. We offer a complimentary call to discuss your challenges and struggles with sleep. It also allows you to learn more about what a sleep consultant can do for your family. Let’s chat and get everyone some sweet dreams!