The only things certain in this world are death, taxes, and early mornings when you have a toddler in the house. Maybe that last bit isn’t part of Benjamin Franklin’s original quote, but clearly he was never pounced on at the crack of dawn by a 40 pound toddler. As any parent can attest to, there is no right or wrong way to get a child on a sleep schedule and try as you might, you will forever be wondering how to convince your kid to sleep in. Maybe sometimes it’s a matter of figuring out the right bedtime and subsequent wake up time rather than bargaining with your little one, but both tactics make a difference in their own ways.
First, it’s important to understand why kids wake up so early at all. Even when you give them a little leeway in their bedtime, it seems to do little good in getting them to sleep in to make up for the sleep time that was lost. The short answer is that kids might have just inherited the need to wake up early on their own. And since their bodies get on a schedule that involves a 6 or 7 a.m. wake up routine, it’s hard to break them of it. Eventually, your little guy or girl will be a sullen teenager who prefers to sleep in until noon. Until that time comes, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to convince them to sleep in now.
Offer A Gradually Later Bedtime
Although it probably wouldn’t take much to convince your kid to go to bed later than their usual bedtime, doing so at once could lead to an extra cranky kid by the time their new bedtime rolls around. Instead, convince them to go to bed later by 10 or 15 minutes more every few days. Eventually, they will have a new, later bedtime. This could lead to a later sleeping in time. If your child’s inner clock is really on point, it might not make a difference, but parents desperate for a few precious minutes of sleep will probably do anything when they reach their breaking point.
Promote Quiet Morning Play
If you have a toddler who climbs into your bed as soon as they wake up, which happens to be right when the sun comes up in the morning, then consider not giving them the boot right away. Sometimes, walking them back to their bed is preferred to having a squirming kid in your bed so early in the morning before you have had your own eight hours. But if you promote quiet morning play, it can tell your toddler that this isn’t the time to start screaming songs from Frozen at the top of their lungs. Allow your child to bring small quiet toys in your bed so you can keep them close while you catch a few extra Z’s. You might even get lucky and have your little one copy you in the sleep department.
Adjust Their Nap Schedule
It might also be beneficial to your child to adjust their nap schedule. This is a little different than adjusting the time they go to bed. In this case, you can gradually shorten your child’s nap. That is, if you are lucky enough to still have some semblance of nap time in your home. If you can get your kid to take shorter naps, then he or she might inadvertently feel the need to make up for that lost sleep by sleeping longer in the morning. You could be stuck with a few ornery nights before bed first, but in the end, it might all be worth it.
Make Their Bedroom More Sleep Friendly
One of the more obvious things you can do to help your child sleep in to help everyone avoid early mornings on weekends when sleeping in is key is to keep their bedroom sleep friendly. This means room darkening curtains or blinds and even a white noise machine or the constant hum of a fan to keep your child lulled to sleep. Not only do these steady “noises” help some little ones and even older kids get to sleep and stay asleep, but they can drown out other sounds in the house. So if you have pets who also happen to be early risers, these little changes can help your child sleep in more easily.
Teach Your Child How Early Is Too Early
A clock could be what your kid needs to understand why they should try to sleep in a little longer. If they can tell time, then teach your child that 5 or 6 a.m. is too early to get out of bed and out of their room and they can see the time before they start to give in to their habits. Gradually change that time to 6:15 and 6:30 and so on. You might still be stuck taking them back to their bedroom at first, but eventually, they could start to learn the new routine.
Sometimes, it’s not as much about training your child to lay in his or her bed for an extra half hour in the morning, but more so about giving them the proper tools to get used to better sleep habits. If you can get to the root of their issues, you can help them to sleep in later than the crack of dawn. And once you get to that point, it’s a seriously big parenting win.