Coping with early risers from Sleep by Kate Johnson
In the second of her series of guest blogs Kate Johnson, Sleep Consultant shares her advice on how to cope with early risers (a problem in her house since the clock change!) Kate will be covering a different topic on ‘sleep’ each month, please feel free to email your questions for Kate to answer.
Since my last blog post, I have been very busy helping many families overcome their sleep problems. You may be surprised to hear that in all cases, there was usually only one thing that needed to change in order to solve a sleepy issue. Whether it was introducing a dream feed, or learning a settling technique to aid parents who want to reduce feeding in the night, all have been achieved with minimal fuss and very few tears! One of the most common themes for the last month was early risers, so I am going to share some of the experiences I have with you about how to tackle this.
When you are looking at any sleep issue, it is important to look at what is typical for your baby at that age and stage of development. For example, it isn’t really worth trying to get a newborn into any sort of sleep routine as they need to be waking frequently to feed in the night, as well as having nice big chunks of sleep in the day. However, as babies change and develop, they are able to stay awake longer in the day and as they are taking on more solids, you can start to see a pattern emerging as their circadian rhythm develops. Whilst this pattern is becoming more predictable, you can start to plan holistically about how to aid your little ones into a better night time sleep routine. Below are some examples of things that may be causing your little ones to wake too early!
Daytime sleep insufficient
One thing that many people don’t know is that the more rested a baby is in the day, the better they will sleep at night. Sleep feeds sleep! So by trying to keep your little one up through the day, you are actually making things worse for yourself at night as your baby will be overtired and then struggle to get good quality sleep due to the amount of cortisol in their bodies. This can lead to early rising! So instead of trying to keep babies up, have a look at how much sleep they need in the day for their age and don’t keep them up too long. Average sleep needs can be found on my facebook page. Look out for their sleep cues like yawning, eye rubbing or pulling on their ears and try and settle them before they get over tired.
Inconsistent response to early rising
Babies rely on you to know what to do when they wake up. If on Monday baby wakes at 5am and you take them downstairs to start their day, then on Tuesday they will expect the same. If you are happy to start your day at 5am then that’s brilliant – your baby will expect this response every day. If you are not ready to start your day at 5am, then you need to be consistent with settling your baby at this time so that they know it isn’t time to start the day.
Some babies will be waking because they are hungry. Your baby will go through big development leaps and this will cause your little one to need more food – day or night! If you know your little one is going through a big milestone, then this is more than likely why your little one is waking early.
Ready to drop a nap
Between the age of 12 – 14 months, your little one will transition from 2 naps to 1 nap in the day. You will know that they are ready as they will start to resist the second nap of the day and begin to wake up very early! If this is the case, then keep them up a bit longer in the morning, have an early lunch and let them sleep for a couple of hours in the afternoon. You may need to bring bedtime forwards a bit too until they get used to it!
If you have any questions at all or need some support, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me. I have the first of a series of workshops coming up this month for 0-3 month old babies and how to promote good sleep habits. You are able to book your space through the facebook page @sleepbykate