First of all, what is early rising? Your baby waking up at 6:00 am is actually normal for this age.
Regular wake-up time for a baby and toddler up to 5 years is 6:00 am to 7:30 am.
A baby waking up before 6:00 am is considered an early riser, and there are things you can work on to fix this.
I am a morning person; I love waking up at 5:00 am and having a routine, but if one of my kids is awake by that time, it just sets my day off! I love having this time for myself to meditate, read, work, check my to-do list, and drink a cup of coffee in peace. I can tell the whole day I'm moody and a bit irritable (and I'm not proud of it).
So, if you are a morning person and need your alone time or if you are NOT a morning person and want to sleep as late as possible; here are six tips to follow if you have an early riser:
Try an early bedtime.
Keeping your baby awake at night for them to sleep longer will probably not work; your baby will wake up at the same time (or probably earlier). Why? Because babies get overtired, and it gets harder for them to fall and stay asleep. What you can try is putting them to bed earlier. Start by 30 minutes for a few days and see what happens; most babies sleep for longer.
Blackouts & white noise
If your little one's room is not completely dark, this is your sign to do it. Especially during the summer when days are long, it's going to be hard for your little one to fall asleep when the sun is still out. You don't need to invest in blackouts; you can use portable blackouts or black trash bags! (see a tutorial here). Also, if your little one can hear lots of noise early in the morning, try using a white noise machine to block all these sounds.
Good daytime sleep leads to good nighttime sleep. If your little one's schedule is right, and he is sleeping enough during the day, his body will react better to nighttime sleep, and he won't be overtired. Make sure his naps are good, and by that, I don't mean only lengthwise but also consider if the environment is appropriate. A nap in his room with the right environment is always better than a nap on the go.
Right schedule & wakeful windows
With early risers, the last wakeful window of the day has a direct impact on early rising. For example, if your little one's wakeful windows go from 5 to 6 hours, try to have a short one (5 hours) in the afternoon and the long one in the morning. Wakes up at 6 am, stays awake for 6 hours, naps at 12:00 pm, wake up at 2:00 pm, stays awake for 5 hours, and is asleep by 7:00 pm. You can find more sample schedules here:
How we respond to our babies at 5 am should be the same way we respond at 2 am. Sometimes we do things because "it's almost wake-up time"; so we take them to our room or just start the day. When your little one wakes up before 5 am, do whatever you would do in the middle of the night; if he knows or senses it's almost time, he might not go to sleep again.
This becomes very important with toddlers, just telling them "it's too early" might make them want to stay up, but if you say something like "It's still night night, go back to sleep" it will have a more positive effect and they will actually try to go back to sleep.
I've tried this with my 2-year-old, he always wakes up after 6:30 am, so if he wakes up before that time, I go in and soothe him and he goes back to sleep.
Double-check your little one's feeding schedule.
This does not apply just to babies that still have middle-of-the-night feedings but also to toddlers. If they have dinner very early (say 5:00 pm) they might get hungry by 5:30 am and that could be waking them up. You can either move their dinner a little later or give them a late-night snack.
I do this with my daughter, we do bathtime first and then dinner so dinner is basically the last thing she does before bed (she brushes her teeth and reads after). And sometimes, when it gets early, we do a late-night snack.
For babies, try to do their last feeding closer to bedtime and if you are still doing a feeding during the night, try as late as possible. Instead of 12 am, try 2 or 3 am.
When working with early risers there is no one right answer, most of the time is the combination of all these actions that can lead to success. Start working on these small changes and let me know if you need any help!
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