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If you have a child who has started waking early in the morning, be sure to take into consideration the possibility that the sun is what is waking him or her.
My children are sun risers. As Spring has turned to Summer and the sun has risen earlier and earlier each day, they have woken up earlier than is typical. When we have a cloudy, rainy morning, I usually have to wake them up. Brayden (4) is more of a sun riser than Kaitlyn (2). Age has nothing to do with it, though. Brayden has always been a sun riser–even as a newborn. When he nursed in the early morning hours, I always hoped he would be done before the sun rose. Otherwise, he was ready to start the day.
I am also a sun riser. Even when McKenna was waking twice a night, I found myself waking up at 6 AM as the sun entered my room. It isn’t because I didn’t want to sleep–believe me, I did!–but it is because the sun was up and I found it hard (or impossible) to sleep. If I am that way, you can understand that a child would be that way.
Young children have no concept of time. The sun comes up and that must mean it is time to get up and start playing. Just this morning, Brayden came to visit me at 6:15 asking for breakfast. I told him it wasn’t breakfast time and he replied, “But the sun is up!”
So what do you do about it? There are a few things.
- Darken: One thing you can do is try to block the sun. You can get dark blinds or hang a dark sheet or blanket over your child’s window. If you can block out the sun, you can prevent the sun from waking your child.
- Accept: Another thing to do is just accept that your child is going to wake earlier because of the sun. In my experience, it is really only an issue for a few months. During this time, you can possibly have a longer nap in the day or an earlier bedtime to compensate for the early mornings.
If you choose to accept it, I would suggest that you do not start breakfast as soon as your child wakes up. At our house, breakfast is at 7 AM whether the kids wake up at 6, 6:30, or 7:00 AM. I don’t want their metabolism to get used to eating early because then they will wake early from hunger long after the sun is a non-issue. If your child is still staying in bed until you get him out, I would try to not get him out of bed until it would be time to get him up.
At our house, Brayden (4) is allowed to get out of his room when he gets up. He has certain activities in the family room he knows he is allowed to do. He isn’t allowed to wake up Mom unless it is an emergency. Of course, there are days like today that he doesn’t follow through :). Kaitlyn (2), however, is not allowed to get up until a parent gets her. She stays in her room until Mom goes to get her in the morning.
- Clocks: Brayden could start to read important times on his clock around 3.5 years old. If your child is 3 or older, consider if he might be able to read a clock to know when it is okay to get up.
If you are experiencing early mornings suddenly, be sure to consider the sun the culprit.
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