Remember the days when a sleep in meant waking up past 9am? And now there are days when you see 7.03am and think ‘Thank heavens for my sleep in…’
While the reality is you probably won’t return to those regular long, lazy mornings languishing in bed with a coffee or a book anytime soon, there are many practical ways to help if your little one is a super early riser.
Now, first things first. When we talk about babies and toddlers, an ‘early riser’ is not a baby who is up at 6.30am after a 12-hour sleep. That’s a definite win in baby-and-toddler-parent land. We’re talking about when your bundle of joy is beating the roosters to greet the day.
Of course, your baby or toddler will naturally go through disruptions and unsettled periods – teething, changes to routine, developmental leaps and stages. A few early mornings are not cause for concern. If your little ones’ early rising (before 6am) has carried on consistently for over a week, and you want to try and shuffle the wake time forward, here are some things to look at and address:
Sound: Are there noisy birds right outside your baby’s window? Neighbours revving their engine when leaving at the crack of dawn? An early alarm clock going off for another member of the family? There’s nothing like an external noise waking your peacefully sleeping baby, and while some things are truly out of your control, you can always try turning up the white noise machine to drown out some of the unavoidable noises. If you don’t have one already, we have a great little portable sound machine.
Temperature: Often the temperature can drop in the early morning – while we can easily pull up another blanket ourselves, babies don’t have this luxury. Being too hot can also be an issue. Check that the room is around 19-22 degrees, and that the sleeping bag TOG is appropriate for the climate and heating situation in your home. Plenty of brands that make sleeping bags have great resources about the ideal temperature and layers needed under their sleeping bags.
Light: Let there be… dark! A dark room increases production of melatonin, the sleepy hormone. Light sneaking in can affect quality of sleep, and your little ones’ ability to resettle themselves. As they get older, they may become distracted if they can see their toys, books, or shadows playing on the wall (it’s mind blowing how many creatures a two-year-old can see in the shadows…).
Aim for a totally dark room, if this is not possible with your existing blinds/curtains you can try blackout blinds, like these.
Hunger: Now unless you’re into intermittent fasting, most adults would not go for 12 or 13 hours between meals (or some pre bed toast or choccie biscuits). This is often the gap babies will go between feeds/meals so it is not surprising that many wake early due to hunger. Take a look to ensure they’re getting sufficient sustenance during the day – for smaller babes, check the milk/formula feeds recommended for their age and weight, and once solids are in the mix, check their protein and carbohydrate needs are met. Load then up with sufficient sustenance in the day to increase your chances of a ‘sleep in’.
It’s worth saying that some children simply are early risers – like some adults continue to be. Some babies or toddlers can happily start their day at 5.30am. Also, if your little one’s morning wake up time suits your family, and they’re getting enough sleep for their age, then that’s fine! Babies are not robots and nor are families. If you’re getting enough sleep, and everyone is healthy and content, there is no reason to change things.
There are a number of other factors to consider if the above don’t seem to make a difference. There’s plenty more information in our Sleep Guides, with complete checklists to cross off.
And if not, there’s a coffee with your name on it mama, you’re doing an excellent job.