I have always been an early riser. Before having kids, I would love to wake-up early on weekends when most of of city is still asleep to go for a bike ride or run. In those days I would get a lot of gratification out of getting more done by noon than most people get done in an entire day. Back then, my definition of waking up early on the weekend was 8:00 AM and getting a lot done consisted of a work out, a mani/pedi and maybe a load of laundry. Well, now that I am a parent, a LOT has changed. Early morning bike rides have been replaced by early trips to the park, it’s a miracle if I am to squeeze in a shower before noon let alone a mani/pedi (have you seen my feet?) and now I consider 8:00 AM sleeping-in!
I used to think that I was epitome of a morning person until I met my son B. Now B, he is the definition of the ultimate morning person. He would be up at 5:00 AM every day if I let him. Even after getting him to “sleep-through-the-night” there were weeks when he would wake up around 4:30 AM ready to take on the day. This is way too early even for this self-proclaimed early-riser. Thankfully after some changes in my approach and a some persistence, those days are behind us and B sleeps-in until late hour of 7:00 AM every day .
Now that I am Sleep Consultant, I know that I was not alone and this is an extremely common issue even after getting the baby to sleep for long stretches. Lucky for you, I also now know some sure fire ways to help make the early morning wake-up calls a thing of the past. Let me share my, “Top 3 Tips for Getting Your Baby to Sleep Later”, with you (you can pay me later with a Facebook “like” or by sharing this blog)…
1. Make black is your happy color! The room should be pitch black. All my clients tell me that their child’s room is pitch black since they are using black-out curtains. However, I find that black-out curtains get you only 99.9% of the way to the goal of complete and utter darkness. Even the smallest glimmer of daylight is enough to stimulate a child. Remember, they are anxiously awaiting morning so that they can PARTY! I want it so dark in there that you can not even read a book. It should look like it is midnight when you walk-in. To accomplish this you need eliminate any gaps in the window by using a window cover. My go-to window covers are by Blackout EZ Window Cover and can be found on Amazon. Also, albeit it not the most attractive solution, tin foil is a quick, inexpensive and very effective fix.
2. Stick to your regularly scheduled program. Do not, and I repeat, do not move the nap time up. I know that this is a hard rule to follow as if they are waking at 5:00 AM instead of 7:00 AM, they will be ready to take their nap 2 hours early. And if you make them wait an additional 2 hours they are going to be absolutely unbearable. The problem with putting them down for their nap early is that it throws off the entire schedule and ultimately sets their body clock to wake-up early. Instead, do whatever it takes to get them to the normal nap time without combusting. Take them outside. Fresh air does wonders to stimulate a tired baby. Just don’t put them in their stroller as they will surely fall asleep! Give them an extra snack to increase their blood sugar. Put on some music and have a dance party. It’s going to be rough, but it will pay off in the long run. Keep your eye on the prize!
3. Do not feed the “mogwai” before the desired wake-time, no matter how much they beg (remember the Gremlin’s?). I was guilty of breaking this rule and I know many of you are guilty too. At first this strategy works lovely! When you feed them at 4:00/5:00 AM they will usually go back to sleep for a couple more hoursThere are two problems with this well-intended approach. First, you are motivating them to continue to wake-up early. If you take away the motivator they will eventually sleep longer and feel better rested as a result. Secondly, the early morning wake up may become earlier and earlier and even lead to additional wake-ups. As it goes without saying, babies can not tell time. If they happen to wake-up at 2:00 AM instead of 4:00 AM, they are going think it is time to eat.
Give these tricks a try and I am confident that your early riser will start to sleep longer in no time!