Does your child wake up alert and ready to start his or her day BEFORE 6am? If so, your child is experiencing the difficult dilemma of Early Rising. Early Rising is one of the most difficult sleep concerns to resolve. The first step is to identify the “red flags” that trigger early rising events. Keep a sleep log of your child’s schedule to see if your child’s early rising is caused by one or all of the following:
o Your child is not reaching the age-appropriate daytime sleep expectations;
o At bedtime your child is “conking out” in your arms or on the breast or bottle;
o Your child is“too drowsy” when you actually put your child down to sleep;
o Your child is staying awake too long between afternoon nap and bedtime.
§ A child that is 0-6 months is typically asleep within 3 hours after afternoon nap.
§ A child that is 6-24 months is typically not awake any more than 4 hrs from afternoon nap until bedtime.
§ A child that is 24 months to 5 years of age typically needs to be asleep within 5 hours of waking from the afternoon nap;
o If your child’s bedtime is too late, you will most likely have a child that wakes up early;
o Until a child learns how to self-soothe to sleep at bedtime, your child will have a harder time resolving early rising and will often “need” their sleep crutch in order to go back to sleep after an early rising event. Unfortunately, the longer early rising remains, the harder this habit is to break.
Tackling early rising is a two-step process:
First, parents need to evaluate the child’s schedule and try to eliminate any “red flags” I listed above. However, sometimes even after attempting to minimize these “red flag” situations, parents may only have minimal success. In this case, it is evident that the child has not yet mastered the ability to self-settle and self-soothe to sleep without their sleep crutches.
The next step is to consider exploring sleep coaching methodologies so parents can teach their child the all-important life skill of independent sleeping. If you want to know if you or your child is ready to sleep train, I recommend reading my post “Is my child Ready to Sleep Train.”