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6 steps to follow to get your little one waking up later each day. You can do these steps to get your baby or child to sleep later and start each day at a later time.
Remember the days when you didn’t have to get up to take care of living creatures in the morning? When school or work drove what time you had to wake up, but that was it? You could have variability in there. Hit snooze some mornings. Sleep in on weekends. Go to bed early every once in a while.
Then came parenthood. And out went the snooze button.
Being a parent is tiring.
What you would give for your child to sleep just that little bit longer in the morning!
Maybe you are a morning person, so waking up early isn’t that big of deal for you, but it would be really nice if you could get a workout in before your little one woke up, so shifting your schedule so your baby sleeps in later would be awesome.
Maybe you have a need in the schedule to have your little one wake up later, whether that be because of your work schedule or your child’s school drop off or pick up schedule.
Whatever the reason, you really need your little one to sleep in later in the mornings.
How do you get there?
1. Feed At Same Time Each Morning
The first rule for getting your first morning wakeup time to a certain time is to be consistent with that time of day.
You will want to be super consistent while you are establishing this wake up time. After the consistency is there, you can flex within 30 minutes on a regular basis and then flex further when needed. Just keep consistency the norm rather than the exception.
Have breakfast at the time you want your child eating breakfast. This means if you want a 7 AM wakeup time, do not be feeding breakfast each morning at 6:30.
There can, of course, be an exception to that. If you have a baby, your baby might not be able to make it to 7 AM. That is why I wrote a post for those 5-6 AM Night Wakings. Check that out for what to do.
- You want to be as consistent as you can be with what time you start each day.
- Once your little one is consistent, you can have a 30 minute window of flexibility. That means you can have your little one sleep in a little later one day if needed or start the day a little earlier if needed and be just fine.
- Once you are solid on that and you know how well your little one handles flexibility (some are just not very flexible!), you can be even more flexible at times if needed. Flexible is an occasional thing, not a regular thing.
2. DO NOT Get Child Out of Bed
Along the same line of thought as above, do not get your child out of bed before the time you want to consistently start your day.
I get it. You are tired.
The day will come that you will just want to get your toddler up and stick her in front of the television so you can try to sleep a little longer. Don’t do it! Do not do it unless you want to do it the next day. And the next. And yet the next. And on until you finally decide that needs to go.
I know because I have been there! Kaitlyn was a newborn. Her late-night waking woke Brayden up one night (or morning, depending on who you talk to). He wasn’t quite two. I was tired. He was wide awake. I had the “awesome” thought of, “I will just let him get up and watch PBS so I can sleep.”
Not only did he not let me sleep (because what toddler wants to sit alone watching TV in the wee hours of the morning?), but he woke early the next day, too, even without the baby having woken at the same time. He wanted to watch TV again! If TV was fun yesterday, it will be again today!
Just don’t start it.
That doesn’t mean you have to ignore your children. Once I realized my mistake with Brayden, I would go into my children’s rooms in those early morning hours and said, “It isn’t time to wake up yet. It is still night time.” Then I would tuck them back in and leave the room.
Did they fall back asleep? Sometimes. Other times they just lay there until it was time to wake up. But they did not start a new tradition of waking early each day.
3. Slowly Shift to Get to Desired Time
When I have a child waking before the best time of day to wake up, I like to slowly shift toward the preferred time. So if baby is waking at 6 AM and you really want 7 AM instead, spend a week having baby wait to get up and be fed until 6:15. A week later, move that to 6:30. Continue to move slowly until you have it to your desired time.
You can read the details of that process in this post: Tips for Shifting Your Schedule
4. Be Realistic in Expectations for Wakeup Time
You might have dreams of sleeping in until 8 AM each day, but dreams are not always reality.
Brayden is 14, and I can count on one hand the number of times IN HIS LIFE that he has slept until the 8 AM hour. No kidding. His natural disposition is just to wake early in the day. So work toward a time your child can reasonably attain.
That time might shift over time. My third and fourth children shifted slowly to waking up later and later. So just because you are looking at 7 AM with a 3 month old doesn’t mean it is a life sentence (though it might!).
5. Do Not Assume Later Nights Will Equal Later Mornings
Later nights do not lead a young child to later mornings. It leads them to earlier mornings. Or night wakings. It is an idea that backfires big time. Sleep Begets Sleep. You need bedtime to be at a reasonable hour to set your child up for a good night of sleep.
A consistent bedtime each night is important, just as it was important to get up at the same time each day. See Importance of Consistent Bedtime for more.
6. Be Sure the Environment is Set Up For Sleep
If your child’s bedroom is above the garage, your husband leaves for work at 6 AM, and your child wakes at 6 AM each day, then you have a safe bet the garage is waking your child up.
Be aware of environmental things that can be waking your child up. Noises? Get a sound machine. Too hot? Think of ways to get the room cooler. Too cold? Put your child in an extra layer of PJs. Be aware of environmental factors that impact sleep. See my post on Optimal Sleep Temps or Dressing Baby for Sleeping for help figuring this out.
These six steps can help you get your little one to sleep in as late as is reasonable for your individual child. It can take time and it definitely takes consistency, but you can get there!
- How to Use Cluster Feeding to Get Baby Sleeping All Night
- How to Drop Middle of the Night Feeding
- 5-6 AM “Night” Wakings
- Sleep Begets Sleep
This post was originally published on August 31, 2016
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