Let’s face the reality: early wakings aren’t most parent’s favorite phase of parenting. Sure, we know that the mid-day sleeping in is mostly a thing of the past (if that was your thing pre-children).
However, when your child is waking earlier than usual-it can take a toll on your entire day.
Afterall, many parents enjoy waking before the children for a morning workout, cup of coffee or simply that quiet time before going full force with the day.
What is an early morning waking?
Anything before 6am is considered early. Waking for the day before 5 am is considered a middle of the night waking. Anything after 6 am is really fair game, and the great news is that you are often able to shift your child’s sleep to help support their days starting after 6 am.
Early rising for the day can be caused by a few things:
Amount of sleep needed
Your child’s sleep is naturally lighter as the night progresses, as their sleep pressure decreases and nears morning time. This means that light can really interrupt sleep, along with noises in the home and room temperature. A few tips for their sleep environment to help early waking:
-Keep their room dark. Use blackout curtains and be sure light isn’t coming through at 5 am, especially in the summer months.
-Use white, brown or pink noise for some continuous noise buffer in the night while they’re sleeping. This also helps drown out noises from other household members getting ready for the day early, as well as those neighborhood dogs barking early in the morning.
-Watch the temperature in their room so they aren’t too cold or too hot in that early morning range.
This can take playing around with a bit, but bedtime is the biggest culprit in early wakings. Depending on when your little one naps, their bedtime being too late can create an early wake up.
Yes…you read that correctly. An overtired child is a child who wakes more often in the night and earlier for the day.
Try an earlier bedtime for at least 5 nights. If this isn’t shifting things, you can try a later bedtime. Always be sure bedtimes and their waking for the day line up appropriately for how much sleep they need. This brings us to the next point
Amount of Sleep:
It is paramount to look at how much sleep your child actually needs when diving into their early rising. This crucial step allows us to make some magic and shift your child’s sleep as needed.
For example, on avaerage a 16 month old needs between 12-14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. If your toddler is then napping for 2 hours and going to bed at 6pm, waking at 5 am, it can be that they’re simply at their sleep limit for overnight sleep-which at 11 hours is very normal for this age.
In the above example, you can move bedtime to 7 am, and see how the early morning wake ups go.
When changing your child’s bedtime, it is important to give it around 5-7 nights to see a difference before trying a different time, such as taking bedtime later instead of earlier.
It’s important to note that a huge part to the puzzle of early rising in babies and toddlers has to do with sleep habits. How your child falls asleep at bedtime impacts how they handle wake ups during the night and the early morning.
If you child needs heavy amounts of assistance to fall asleep, chances are they also need this in the early morning and throughout the night.
As your child learns to self settle more at bedtime, they can do so more in the early mornings which can drastically help with the very early wakings.
Remember-waking early is often a phase that passes or is fixed by addressing one or several of the above aspects to sleep.
If you’re still struggling with early morning wake ups and want to work through them, let’s talk!