The million dollar question, how do I get my baby to sleep in longer?
For some of us we might be thinking 6am is too early and rightly so but for others 6am might be a luxury if you have a real early rising problem.
My first baby had always been an early bird but never anything extreme. 6:30am was the norm. On and off we had a few patched of 5am starts where I couldn’t get her back to sleep but usually it wasn’t a problem. I followed a tight routine and I always questioned what I was doing wrong during a period where she would start the day too early. In hindsight I realise that small patches of early rising is not necessarily something your doing ‘wrong’ but usually a phase caused by their ever changing and developing little bodies.
Never the less, I found myself googling over and over what could be the reason and how could I resolve it. Was she too cold? Was she too hot? Was she thirsty? Was she hungrier than usual? Is she sleeping too much during the day? Is she overtired causing her to be unsettled? Am I putting her to bed for her first nap too early each morning? The list goes on.. these are all the questions we ask ourselves. Especially with your first baby.
When I fell pregnant with my second my first was one. Right then she decided to commit to early rising and at 5am every morning it was go time. There was no going back to sleep either. At some stages in life I would be able to manage this but my pregnancies are very difficult during the first trimester and I felt I couldn’t cope with what I was experiencing through my pregnancy and the 5am mornings. I had a severe case of exhaustion. I asked myself all the previously mentioned questions and I tried it all with no resolution.
I have always wanted a big family so I felt if I couldn’t handle my first baby then what hope do I have? Because of that, I am always fairly determined in finding solutions or improving situations. I had been reading a book called Terrific Toddlers and the author talked about how her children get up at the time she decides and they have an alarm which indicates it’s time to get up. There wasn’t a lot more information on the matter and my baby was only one, not really a toddler yet, so I wasn’t sure it was suitable. I actually wrote to her asking her to elaborate and for some advice.
The good news was that she suggested one is not to young and that I better get started so I can enjoy my pregnancy and have the issues ironed out before the baby arrives. I was SO relieved that I now had at the very least, a plan!
The plan: Choose a song your child likes and play this as an alarm. I played Twinkle Little Star. If your baby wakes at 5am you set the alarm for 5:10am. You mustn’t go in until the alarm plays. When it plays you go in and say, “Good morning, it’s time to get up now!” very cheerfully. After a few days your child will realise they get up when the music plays rather than just when they yell out. After a few days at 5:10am you move the time by 5 minutes and continue doing this over the course of the next several weeks until you reach 7am hopefully. But 6:30am is a compromise, especially if you can see that your baby is literally sitting there awake waiting for the alarm for quite some time. Camera monitors are excellent so you can see what’s going on. What you will find though, is that your baby will begin to sleep longer and longer over time, but if they do wake they will sit and wait. For this reason, it is suggested that you put a book in their cot in case they wake early they can look at it until the alarm plays.
My daughter really enjoyed it and when the alarm played I would go into her room and she would be humming and swaying to the music happily, plus she was happier considering she wasn’t over tired all day.
It amazed me that nowhere on the internet did I find this advise! Now that my daughter is two I have switched to the Gro Alarm Clock which has no sound, just a picture of a sun that comes up at the time they are allowed to get up. This way if they sleep in you can allow them to. If it is a sound alarm the disadvantage is obviously that on the off chance they sleep in, it’ll wake them. But a baby that is one or younger isn’t going to understand a visual clock, the sound is more effective.
If I had of known this trick earlier I would have saved myself a great deal of pain. I will do it with my second baby from earlier. It’s nice to go to bed knowing what time your starting the next day and having some control over that. Some people even set the alarm half an hr later for weekends.
Of course there are exceptions when there is sickness, teething or a sudden weather change and they are obviously too hot or cold. I find after a few days of a disrupted routine it goes back to normal afterwards and they still know to wait for the alarm.
I am so pleased I have a plan for my second child to avoid early rising. Of course all children are different but I really think this is a great option. Hopefully it works for my second and for your kids too if you have an early riser! 😴