What can I do to get my baby to sleep in longer in the morning?
Early wake ups can be very frustrating for parents. Just when you think you´re going to get a full night sleep and bam! Baby starts waking up at 5am. This is a really common problem and there are a few things we can look at to help babies sleep for longer.
You need to keep it as dark as possible in the baby´s room. If possible, as dark as it would be in the middle of the night, especially in the summer months. It´s great living in places such as Spain because most apartments are fitted with black out blinds which keep the room like the deepest darkest of caves. It´s really important to keep the light out because even the slightest change in light variation can stimulate anybody to wake up. As an adult, you can look at the clock and notice that it’s not time to get up, yet. A baby can’t do that.
Another tip is to make sure you have an early bedtime. A lot of people make the mistake of keeping their child up later so they will sleep later in the morning. That´s a myth and hardly ever works. What you actually end up doing is making your child overtired which leads to night wakings and early rising. So make sure you stick with a nice early bedtime to make sure your child is getting as much night sleep as possible.
Look at food intake throughout the day. I know a lot of people tend to force large dinners on children hoping they will sleep longer in the morning. But that can also backfire. If you have a really big dinner and are so full when you go to bed, you can actually be kept awake from tummy pains while your body is trying to digest. One thing you can try is to make sure you give your child a decent size afternoon tea. Don´t skip over afternoon tea, it´s really important. Preferably something healthy and filling, like fruit with yogurt, milk and some sugar free cookies.
Another important thing is try not to feed your child as soon as he wakes up. If you get into the habit of feeding him at 5am, his body will start waking him up at 5am for that feed. Try to drag it out until at least 6 or 630. Have a play, have a cuddle, read a book all in a darkened room – but don´t feed him until later. That way you are helping to train his body to wake up later and have a fixed breakfast time.
If you have tried all of these things and your baby is STILL waking up early, you will have to just stick it out for a while. It´s normally a temporary thing and in a couple of weeks your child will just start naturally sleeping for longer. Any changes you make you will need to stick with for around 2 weeks to see any permanent changes. It takes a while for our bodies to accept change and new routines.