How to dissuade your child from starting their day too early – especially in the summer when mornings are light at 4.00 am.
Early rising is one of the most difficult sleep issues to resolve because, unlike their parents, most young children feel refreshed and ready to start their day if they wake at this time.
There are a number of measures parents can try to overcome this problem:
- Ensure your child is having the right amount of sleep (both in the day and at night) for their age. Having too little or too much sleep could contribute to this problem.
- Ensure your toddler’s nap is taken late morning or after lunch. Napping too early in the morning for their age, could perpetuate early rising.
- Try not to offer milk or food until after 6 am, so your child doesn’t have a “learnt hunger” at 5 am.
- Try not to “reward” early waking by bringing your child into your bed to sleep, watching fun DVD’s or playing games. Instead aim to keep them quietly in their bed until it’s getting up time, even if initially you have to stay with them in their room to do this.
- Keep the room dark and quiet until it is time to get up.
- Your child may not know when it’s OK to get up and need a point of reference. A simple lamp on a timer switch is cheap and works well.
- For a child closer to 3 years old a reward system in conjunction with a lamp on a timer switch may encourage your child to stay in bed in the morning. Initially set the timer to come on at their earliest waking time e.g. 5.00 am. Explain that if they wait for the lamp to come on they will get a special small treat or a sticker on a reward chart. After 3 days change the timer to come on 15 minutes later. Repeat this pattern until your child is waking after 6.00 am.