Lindsay is the owner of Lindsay Peltsch Sleep Consulting and a mom of three kids under 5. As a Registered Nurse she has spent the bulk of her career working as a pediatric critical care nurse, as well as in labour and delivery and palliative care. She is deeply passionate about helping children and families through stressful and important times in their lives, with sleepless nights being no exception.
3 Tips to solve the case of the “Crack-of-Dawn Wake Up”
It must be said, no matter how well your little one sleeps otherwise, getting up at the crack of dawn leaves no one happy, and no one rested. I can’t even pretend to look at the bright side at 4:30am when I walk into my child’s room and they are partying like it’s 1999 and wanting you to join them…No sweetheart, just no.
This may happen from time to time… but what do you do when it picks up momentum? What if it’s a phase – or even worse – the new NORM??? No one feels like an awesome parent before 5am. It’s absolutely uncivilized to begin your day at the crack of dawn and it’s a sure-fire way to get you, your partner, and your child tired, unhappy, and off track in no time.
So what can we do about it? I have three tips to help take the edge off those crack of dawn wake ups.
Tip #1: Embrace the dark side…
Make it dark, and I mean really, really dark, like inside of a cow’s stomach dark. Even the slightest bit of light can stimulate a person to wake up, and while we as adults can look at the clock and realise it’s too early, babies and young children cannot (if only it were that easy).
Tip #2: Don’t feed the bear.
It should be noted that I am not referring to a necessary night feed for a very young baby here. But if your child who is otherwise sleeping through the night or would not normally get a feed at this time is waking early and you are desperately trying (and likely failing) to get them back to sleep by giving them a bottle or breast….stop. I understand the desperation to get even 10 more minutes of rest. But chances are this twilight snack is doing the opposite and stimulating them. You feed them and put them back in their crib and they are like “Heyyy now, what happened to partying like it’s 1999? Let’s go back to that!”
What’s worse is that their wake-up will likely shift EARLIER, so did you think 5am was bad? Soon it will be 4:30, then 4…. You get the picture. And suddenly you have unintentionally added night feeds, and still have not fixed the early morning problem. It’s a no win situation.
Tip 3#: Don’t let it mess with the sanity break … I mean nap
It’s very common with the early risers that they really struggle to make it to their first nap of the day, so we often move the nap earlier. Makes sense, right? However, it actually just messes with his or her body clock more (and negates all of your efforts from Tip #1). Starting naps earlier and earlier could add a third (or 4th) nap to the day, which would be a foreign experience for them and will wreak havoc on their daily schedule, bringing about a whole new set of problems. Even though it’s going to be tough, try to get them as close to their normal nap time as possible. Make sure they have snacks and activities to help get you through. Even taking them outside in the middle of the stretch can be a good change of scenery and a wake up for them (and you!!!).
Tip # 3b: DON’T PUT THEM TO BED LATER
Every single person thinks to try this. I feel so strongly about it that I can’t even think of a cute title. While logically putting them to bed later seems like it will make them sleep later, THIS RARELY EVER HAPPENS. Babies and kids are NOT logical (as all parents who have watched their child shove cheerios down a heating vent/into their nose know too well). This strategy usually has the opposite effect, and you create an even more overtired child with more fragmented sleep and even earlier wake ups (hard pass on that, thanks very much). If you feel the need to do anything, put them to bed EARLIER and have a glass of wine!
That’s it! Go forth and sleep in! …until 7am.
Check out Lindsay’s FB page at www.facebook.com/lindsaypeltschsleep for more advice on sleep or to book her services. Thanks, Lindsay, for your awesome tips!