3 TIPS FOR YOUR EARLY RISER
FOR LITTLE ONES WHO ARE UP BEFORE THE SUN
Early wake ups. If this phrase makes you shudder then you're on my team. The moms who dream of a world where they could sleep in until the sun is up (and then a few...) every morning, or at least on the weekends - please, please, pretty please! By nature I am not a morning person. My son is like me in so many ways (we share a deep love for popcorn and ice cream, for example), but he didn't get this trait. I have seen more sunrises in the past 20 months than I have in my whole life combined. And you know what? I kind of like it. He has, in a way, turned me into a morning person. But that's only because he now sleeps until at least 6am and I have learned to go to bed earlier. Even now that he has some amazing sleep skills, and a mom who is a sleep consultant, early morning wake-ups are the biggest sleep struggle in our house. I am here to share some of my best tips on helping your little one sleep later. These tips come from research and experience as a consultant, and from a mom who has been in the trenches of an early riser. Here we go...
1. Dark isn't dark enough
I want you to rate the level of darkness in the room your baby sleeps in on a scale of 1 - 10, with 1 being as light as day and 10 being pitch black. If you did not say 9 or 10 it is time to make some changes. If your baby rolls over at 5am and notices even the slightest amount of light that's their cue to wake up and start they day, even if they haven't gotten all of the rest they need! There's no crazy like mom crazy, and here's your chance to shine. Blackout shades alone might not cut it, I recommend Blackout EZ Window Covers. I also recommend covering any light that is in your baby's room, like a light from the baby monitor, noise machine, digital clock, etc. You can tape a piece of folded black paper over the light. Somewhat extreme measure, but also an easy way to control how late your baby sleeps.
2. Put a pause on the morning snack
Set up a 10 minute buffer between when your baby wakes up and when you give them their milk/formula. This one is hard, and I have been guilty of breaking the rule. Your baby is up, you are tired, and sitting in a cozy chair quietly feeding your baby sounds pretty nice. I am here to tell you don't fall into the trap. It will not help your early riser case. Just 10 minutes is enough, though.
3. Early Bedtime
One of the biggest sleep myths out there is that if you want your baby to sleep later you put them to bed later. Makes sense, right? At first glance it seems logical, but if you try this it will almost certainly backfire. The truth is a later bedtime usually equals an earlier wake-up time. Yikes! Of course your little one should be tired at bedtime, but avoid overtiredness at all costs. Early to bed, later to wake is how the saying goes, right?
Bonus tip: If your little one is sleeping until at least 6:00am and they are getting all of the sleep they need at night (10-12 hours), then you might have an early riser, and that is just who they are. The best thing you can do in this case is what we as parents do all of the time - adapt. Even better, embrace it. As it turns out, sunrises are actually kind of beautiful.