While children’s' sleep concerns come in all shapes and sizes, few cause as much disruption to parents as the early risers - (any time from 4am) who are raring to go!
Invariably the cause of the problem lies elsewhere in the sleep pattern. Although toddlers are recommended 12 hours sleep per night, they won't have more which means that if you want them to sleep until 7am, don't put them to bed before 7pm. Daytime sleeps play their part as well. Too much or too little and by bedtime your little one is sleep deprived or has slept too much and they will struggle to sleep through the night.
Whilst each family dynamic is different as is each child's sleep pattern, we have heard this problem a lot recently and so here are our top tips to your child being less disruptive first thing in the morning!
1) LOOK AT THEIR OVERALL SLEEP PATTERN: Ensure that their nap times are not leading to the problem and if they are try to make changes. For children transitioning from 2 naps to 1 or out of naps altogether, keep a diary to see if there is a change to the time they wake up in the morning when they do have a nap and for how long.
2) DECIDE WHEN MORNING IS AND BE CONSISTENT: If you decide that morning is 6.30am, if your child wakes before that, treat them as if it is the middle of the night. Quietly and calmly take them back to bed and explain you will see them in the morning.
3) BLOCK OUT OUTSIDE DISTURBANCES: These can take the form of light or noise. Black out blinds are a must for many children especially in Summer months as well as having some background music or white noise playing in their room to block out the dawn chorus of birds and rubbish trucks.
4) DON'T POSITIVELY REINFORCE WAKING EARLY: If when your child wakes early, you put them in your bed, chat with them or give them a bottle you are reinforcing bad sleep habits! Rather, gently explain it is night time and put them back to sleep. Follow the same pattern you would before bed regarding light in the room and door being open or closed.
5) SLEEP TRAINER CLOCK AND NOT WAKING MUM AND DAD: For children from the age of 2.5 years who are able to understand, a sleep trainer clock of which there are many available is a tool that can be used to teach them when morning is. Sometimes they will go back to sleep and other times it is about teaching them what they can do quietly until morning. For children aged 3 and up positive reinforcement can be effective at keeping them in their room's with a quiet activity eg: pile of books until the morning.