Of course we look forward to the hazy days of summer, but for parents of young children, those light mornings also threaten to bring hideous early mornings. Read on for tips on how to avoid those dreaded 5am starts!
Lots of us encounter struggles with our children during these months, when daylight at 5am can make even the most solid sleeper think it’s time to get up. It’s hard for little ones who can’t yet tell the time to not see daylight as a wake-up or stay-up cue, especially if they don’t have a secure settle or are struggling with overtiredness.
There are lots of things we can do to help our children to keep on sleeping even though it’s light outside:
- Fit quality blackout blinds to completely block the morning and evening light out so that a not a scrap of light gets through. By always keeping the room dark, your little one’s routine will barely change regardless of whether it’s June or January. If necessary go for a low-wat amber nightlight.
- Spend time outside during the day. Daylight is fantastic at regulating our internal clocks.
- Make sure they’re getting enough sleep. Know your child’s Wakeful Window and look out for their sleep cues, especially as they settle into their new Spring rhythm. If they’re unsettled or you’re seeing a consistent early rise, respond with more naps or early beds to ensure your child doesn’t end up overtired. If they’re struggling to make it to bedtime, an emergency catnap of no more than 30mins before 4pm will see them through.
- A Sleep Clock is fantastic for toddlers from around 2-2.5yrs. They give children a really simple visual cue of when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to get up – this is super helpful when it’s light at 4.30am!
The key to keeping things running smoothly during times of change, however, is to be absolutely consistent in your routine. If your little one is suddenly struggling to adapt to the lighter mornings, or is finding bedtime a challenge and you’ve gone through all of the above, have a look at what’s going on overall with their sleep: any child that’s waking regularly at 5.30am is displaying classic signs of overtiredness, and falling asleep easily at bedtime is an even bigger clue. If this is your child, go for early beds for at least a week, and review their naps: despite what your little one is telling you, most children will still need a daytime sleep of sorts until they’re around 3.5.
Be consistent, be proactive and be aware. And you’ll all be sleeping like babies!