Stop my 1-year-old from predawn rising?
June 4, 2007 9:16 AM   Subscribe

Help us deal with our early-rising one-year old.

We were lucky with our first child -- she didn't require too much in the way of sleep training, and at 3 1/2 continues to sleep well from 8:30 at night until often 7AM or so (but see below).

With our second daughter, it's a different story. She's responded pretty well to a very low-key form of Ferber's method for getting to sleep, and we've long since eliminated midnight feedings with no problem. For a short while we had two kids who slept through most of the night. But over the past several months the young one's gone from waking in the morning at 5:45 or so (tolerable) to 5 or even 4:30. And once she's awake at that point, she might be persuaded to doze in our arms for a bit with a bottle or on the breast, but she won't go back in her bed. She yells her head off (sometimes waking her big sister in the same room) stands up in her crib, and generally won't take "go to sleep" for an answer. The Ferber tricks (comforting then leaving for 5/10/15 minute stretches) don't work in the way they do at night when the inevitable destination is slumber.

We don't think serious physical discomfort is an issue, as she's often chatty and playful as soon as she's with us. It just seems to be that she wakes up, and can't or won't fall asleep again, and hence demands that we get up with her.

Has anybody else dealt with this? All of the sleep books (I think we've got most of them) imply that getting a child to extend their in-bed hours in the morning is the hardest sleep trick of all to pull off. We've heard of an alarm-clock method (whereby one sets a clock in the room for a given time, and teaches the child that they have to stay in bed until it goes off). But I think that one year old is too young for that to make sense. Do we just have to live through this, or are there things others have done to get a child her age to sleep until a human hour? Even 6 AM would be a blessing.
posted by BT to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
what about keeping her up a little later? my friend has this problem, so i'll be watching this thread.
posted by thinkingwoman at 9:19 AM on June 4, 2007

Best answer: This thread may help:

Good luck!
posted by firstdrop at 9:24 AM on June 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: thinkingwoman, we've thought about that -- although the research in Marc Weissbluth's book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child runs the other way -- the argument being that many sleep difficulties are exacerbated by fatigue, and that an earlier bedtime is a good first step in dealing with night waking. He argues that moving the bedtime later (unless you've got it crazy early already) isn't probably the best way to go. Not saying he's right, but his book includes a lot of sleep research and he makes a convincing case.

As it is, we have her going to bed about as late as she (and we) can take it. Much later and she's just a bear. And on nights when she has stayed up later (say, we're out with friends and don't get the kids home until 9 or so), we haven't seen a corresponding later rising in the morning.

But we might be forced to try a consistent later bedtime, just to see if it would work.
posted by BT at 9:40 AM on June 4, 2007

Response by poster: Interesting and possibly useful mine of other folks' experiences firstdrop -- thanks!
posted by BT at 9:41 AM on June 4, 2007

Is the problem that your little one wakes up that early or that she may be disturbing her older sister?

My son routinely went to bed by 8:00 and was awake anywhere between 4:30 and 5:30 in the morning. We're not morning people and hated this. However, like your daughter, he was awake, chatty and playful. So, we'd take turns and get up with him, keeping the lights low or off and giving lots of cuddles along with his bottle. We tried moving his sleep time at night to a later time by keeping him up an additional 10 to 15 minutes for a week and then incrementing it again. Unfortunately, this didn't work. He would still wake at the same time. We realized he'd just sleep a bit longer during his nap. We tried to keep him up from nap a little longer. We then had a cranky child. We decided to accept his early rising schedule.

If your daughter doesn't respond to having her bed time adjusted, is it possible to move her out of the shared room? Is it possible for switching off who gets up before the sun with her? (I never realized just how many beautiful sun rises I missed before. It helped, but I still wanted my sleep.)

Now, our son is finishing up kindergarten. It has only been this year that he has started to sleep past 6am on a regular basis. So, yeah, the early rising can last a long time. And, unfortunately, for some children, this is just how their body works.

Good luck.
posted by onhazier at 9:48 AM on June 4, 2007

Best answer: Is she waking with the sun? Even at 4:30, it's a little bit light, right?

Blackout curtains. We bought 2 sets at $50 each and it was well worth it. Our 17 month old is now starting to wake earlier, just from the tiny amount of light that pours in underneath the curtains.

I'm begging my husband to let me put foil on his window, but that's apparently a line he won't cross!
posted by peep at 9:54 AM on June 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Let her cry it out. It is the only thing that works. No matter what time it is. Kids that are a year old clearly understand what you want them to do. You must be patient and consisitent. When she wakes up, go in there and tell her its time time to go back to bed. Yeah, it will be murder the first couple go arounds, but she will get it and learn to pacify herself back to sleep. Good Luck.
posted by repoman at 10:23 AM on June 4, 2007

Dark room.

White noise (fan, etc.)

Scatter cheerios to hell and gone in the crib or your room where she can't get into trouble. Later bed time never works - they just wake early and under-rested.
posted by docpops at 10:35 AM on June 4, 2007

Also, I think your concern is actually somewhat unreasonable. If your kid will go to bed with a good routine/schedule, expecting her to magically hang out in her crib an extra hour until you are ready to get up is nuts. Just get out of bed and take care of her.
posted by docpops at 10:37 AM on June 4, 2007

What's her bedtime and what's her nap schedule like? Is she on a regular schedule with eating, napping, and bedtime? Or are certain days different than others?
Is she on breastmilk only or does she have a little cereal as well in the morning?

I think books can be useful, but sometimes I think they take away our ability to observe what's going on.
posted by czechmate at 10:49 AM on June 4, 2007

Seconding blackout curtains. Then move her bedtime back. And then move your own bedtime forward so one of you gets up earlier.

As with all parenting challenges, yes, it goes away. No teenagers wake up a 4:30 AM of their own volition. it will end, eventually.
posted by GuyZero at 10:49 AM on June 4, 2007

Why not do the attachment parenting thing and sleep with your child?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:52 AM on June 4, 2007

Make her first feeding in the morning later. She may be waking up because she's hungry, and that can happen because her body is anticipating being fed soon.
posted by kindall at 12:20 PM on June 4, 2007

KokyRyu took my words - Co-sleeping can be an excellent solution if it makes everybody happy.
posted by grateful at 12:21 PM on June 4, 2007

The fact that you quote child rearing books chapter and verse leads me to believe you might be overly concerned. Kids sleep patterns change quite a bit (yes this is first hand experience). You're just going to have to deal with it until your childs pattern matches yours, and that may never happen.

-10 points to anyone who knows what a 'Ferber' or a 'Weissbluth' is.
posted by voxpop at 1:07 PM on June 4, 2007

Deciding to cosleep at this age is a fairly certain way to guarantee you and your spouse are at the mercy of your kid's sleeping patterns indefinitely. Deliberate cosleepers are OK with the potential disruptions, but most people with 3/5/7 y/o kids that are pathologically disrupting their parents sleep/marriages/sex lives/sanity, are doing so because the parents started cosleeping out of a desire to gain short term, in sleep hours, instead of doing the hard work of enforcing terms of sleep that would ultimately suit the child and the parents.
posted by docpops at 2:10 PM on June 4, 2007

We put in dark blinds and dark curtains. This helped tremendously. We moved and ran into the problem again. Installed a blind behind the curtains this weekend...little guy has been sleeping till 7:30 or 8!
posted by acoutu at 3:23 PM on June 4, 2007

Response by poster: Yeah, we've pretty much opted out of co-sleeping entirely. It never worked well for either us or the girls -- none of us have gotten sleep well in the same bed. Works for some, not others.

We've had the room pretty dark (blinds plus a shade), and the white noise is already standard for us, but I've made some adjustments where light's been coming in around the corners in the morning. And I think the advice to pay closer attention to her nap/feeding schedule makes sense. We wrote it down for a while when we were first getting a handle on her sleep rythym, but it's probably the case that she's changed her game up a bit and paying close attention to it again may reveal a pattern that's influencing these early wakings.

Appreciate all the good suggestions, guys.
posted by BT at 5:46 PM on June 4, 2007

Response by poster: To clarify the above -- what I meant to say was that after reading so many of the above comments about light, I've tried to make the room a bit darker...
posted by BT at 5:47 PM on June 4, 2007

Books in the crib? I can usually get at least 20 minutes more rest out of a stack of books...
posted by leahwrenn at 7:13 PM on June 4, 2007

Wiggles DVDs and a good blanket so you can doze on the couch. We went through this with both our kids and they simply got over it of their own accord.

Sometimes the best thing you can do as a parent is just suck it up and wait for things to improve, it sure beats the added stress of whether or not your chosen remedy is working.
posted by bangalla at 7:50 AM on June 6, 2007

Response by poster: For anyone coming to this at this point...I wanted to come back to the thread to say that I appreciate (in a way that I didn't at the time) folks pointing out that sometimes you just have to wait it out. Our problem isn't by any means "solved" (she gets up earlier than we'd like), but we're not feeling quite so overwhelmed by it.

Which is to say that the answer given by several above -- "there's not much you can do about this except try to make up some sleep at other times"-- may have been correct. Not what I wanted to hear -- but there you are.
posted by BT at 7:22 PM on July 30, 2007

I would suggest to look closely at your routine. A lot of people posted concerns about when the nap time was and when you had your child go to bed. My husband and I had an a.m. baby, about 6 a.m., and it was exhausting because neither of us were morning people. We finally adjusted her schedule to go along with ours. In the very beginning, we would put her to bed, around 8 or 9 p.m., but we would not go to bed ourselves until 2 a.m. because we were catching up with school work (we were both in college at the time) or just cleaning the house.

We decided to have the baby up with us until about 10 or 11pm., but we also adjusted her naps to be at 5 p.m. instead of 2 p.m. We also added the night time routine of getting her settled with th baby bath water and the Johnson's Baby Nighttime Lotion. With all of these soothing steps, plus a bed time story, it was not a big issue that she was sleeping 3 hours later than usual because we were hanging out with her (granted we got less done, but at least we got more sleep).
posted by dnthomps at 4:13 AM on August 3, 2007

« Older Backwards water drops on third rail   |   Toronto's Best Burger? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.