Q: How do you get a child to sleep past 430-500am? We've tried taking away naps, earlier bedtime and even a later bedtime!
A: Early rising is a common problem and 430 is way too early to start a mommy’s day!
Here are the four causes of Early Rising:
- Too late of a bedtime - for the 1st 5 years of a child's life bedtime is usually between 7-8pm!
- Not enough napping - too late of a bedtime and skipped or short naps will create, early rising, more night waking and poor quality of sleep. Plus an overtired and fussy child. Well napped children sleep better at night too! Not logical but sooo true.
- Too long between end of afternoon nap and bedtime - in order to catch the 7-8pm bedtime, you need to monitor how long of a sleep window there is between the end of afternoon/last nap and bedtime. There are general guidelines that are appropriate for most children. Under 6 months of age the last nap should end about 4.30/5pm. From 6-9 months most still need that short catnap before bed and can usually handle a 2-3hr window to bedtime. From 9 to 18 month (if sleeping through the night and napping well) most can handle a 4hr window to bedtime. From 2 yrs. we usually recommend that the nap end by 3-3.30 to preserve bedtime.
- Going to bed too drowsy - if they can't put themselves to sleep at bedtime, the easiest time of the day for independent sleep ... how are they going to be able to put themselves back to sleep without your help at 4am (the hardest time of the day)? Start by teaching independent sleep at bedtime.
My final tip tips for early rising:
- Check out the behavior modification clocks for those who are verbal enough to understand 'your clock is not green or the bunny is still sleeping (depending on the clock you choose). Email me for a list of clocks I recommend.
- You must be 100% consistent in your response and at that early bird hour ... go to them, tell them it is not wake up time. Then either leave them or sit in room until 6am.
- If you have been 100% consistent in your response and are doing everything above correctly, then I would look at a medical reason for the rising. Sleep apnea is frequently over looked in children and can cause a very suborn early waking.
Michelle Donaghy, Pediatric Sleep Consultant and Certified Gentle Sleep Coach is based in Orange County and has been helping sleepless families get a full night's sleep since 2005.
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