How to Help your Baby Sleep Past 6 am
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just place our babies in their beds and they would sleep until late in the morning so we could also sleep in? Ahhh, if it were only THAT easy. Most of us deal more with the child that wakes at the crack of dawn ready to start their day. But how can we help our babies sleep until after 6 a.m. and gently adjust this habit? Let’s take a good look at the bigger picture and ask ourselves a few questions:
Are you putting your baby down too late? A common misconception is that if you place your child to bed later, they will sleep later the next morning. That’s just not the case. If your child is going to bed too late and continues to wake up early, nine times out of ten, it's due to the fact that you have an overtired child on your hands. Find the right bedtime (between 6:30 - 8 p.m.) and be consistent about this set time. Don't let your child overcompensate in the day during their naps. I often see where a child will wake bright-eyed and bushy tailed at 5 a.m. ready to start the day and become so exhausted from the early morning that they sleep for hours for both their morning and afternoon naps. Cut some of the time down and bring up the bedtime to see if you can have a nice balanced schedule for your baby.
Is your child going to bed too early? If your child is going to bed too early, having an early wakeup time should be expected. On average, a baby should be getting roughly 10-11 hours of sleep a night. Ideally, I LOVE seeing a 12-hour night for a child, but realistically, that’s not what every child needs. If your child has a 6 a.m. bedtime and sleeps for what the given average is (10-11 hours), you are looking to see that beautiful baby rise close to 4 or 5 a.m!! Push back their bedtime a bit and adjust the naps in the day to help eliminate this issue.
Does your child have a sleep association? Does your child HAVE TO fall asleep with an item or with someone? If the answer is an absolute yes, then don't be surprised if you see those early morning habits continue. Whether it be a pacifier, being rocked to sleep, being nursed to sleep, taking a bottle, having a back rub, etc…when your child comes in and out of their sleep cycles, they look for support to get them back into that deep cycle of sleep. When your child doesn't know how else to fall asleep other then with a "prop" as we like to call it, they wake looking for that object. If they know how to self-soothe or fall asleep on their own, this isn't an issue. They will easily be able to get in and out of light and deep cycles of sleep without waking up or needing assistance.
Is your baby waking due to an internal body clock habit? This is the most common issue when it comes to an early riser. A regression may have hit, growth spurt, teething, etc…and all of the sudden, your child wakes in the early morning hours like clockwork — sometimes to the exact minute. And the worst part of it all? Your child is more than likely still exhausted but can't get back to sleep. Makes for a very LONG morning! How do you begin to help this situation?
- Make sure your baby's room is DARK! Any trickle of light can stimulate a child and create a wakeful state. The darker the room, the better. Get some blackout shades and remove any night lights.
- If your child is waking due to hunger, feed them immediately in their room with the lights dim. Do your best to keep them in a quiet and boring state. Any type of stimulation can cause them to get that burst of energy and want to stay up. Once you are done feeding them, immediately put them back into their crib and walk out the door. If this routine has been in place for quite some time and your child doesn't need a feeding anymore, begin weaning them from their feeding.
- Sleep Train. Choose a method you feel comfortable using and choose a time you are wanting your child to sleep until. Do your best to push towards that goal, but realize it will take some time. Be patient and consistent. It will take a solid week or two to really work on before seeing results!
If you find that you need additional help after trying all of the above, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our website at www.thecradlecoach.com to find the perfect sleep package to help break free of these early morning wakings! We can create a tailor-made sleep plan and dig deep into why your child could be continuing to wake early.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Nothing came close to preparing Melissa Perry for the birth of their baby, almost 7 years ago. The string of sleepless nights and exhausting days left Melissa feeling anxious, irritable, and unsure about her ability of being a good mother. That's when she founded The Cradle Coach, LLC. Melissa felt there needed to be a go-to place for sleep support. Since then, she has received a certification as a maternity and baby certified sleep consultant from the International Maternity and Parenting Institute. Melissa has a team of consultants who work with clients throughout the country specializing in baby and toddler sleep. To learn more about The Cradle Coach and the sleep packages they offer, go to their website at www.thecradlecoach.com.