Tips For The Early Riser

Who wants to start their day at 5am? Not me! If your baby or toddler is consistently waking up way too early in the morning, you’re not alone! This is one of the most common reasons parents call me for help. If you’re living with an early riser, I have three questions for you. If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these, it’s time to make some changes in order to get some extra zzz’s in the morning hours.

First of all, is your child’s room letting in sunlight? During the summer months, especially, this should be the first thing to check. Is there a spot where the blackout blinds are letting in bright cracks of morning sunshine? If so, fixing the curtains could instantly mean more sleep for your baby. Even a very small amount of natural sunlight can be enough to disrupt your child’s sleep in the early morning hours. Since your baby can’t tell time yet, he will take his cues from the daylight. Seeing the sun during a transition between sleep cycles will signal his body that it’s time to wake up. The next time your baby wakes too early, have a look around the room to make sure there isn’t any sunlight peeking through.

Second, are you feeding your baby when he wakes this early? Depending on the age and health of your child, he may not need to eat right now. By approximately six months of age, your baby should capable of making it through the night without a feed. Of course, this is a very general guideline, so make sure you chat with your child’s doctor if you have any question about whether or not he should be eating during the night. If he is not truly hungry, but simply begins to expect this feed, it’s very likely he will have trouble going back to sleep without it. Offering a feed may seem like it’s buying you a few extra hours of sleep in the morning (assuming he goes back to sleep), but it may also reinforce this as his new wake time. It may cause him to wake fully and become more alert during a time when his body should still be asleep.

Third, is he having a very early morning nap? If your baby is waking early, chances are good that he’ll be ready for a nap almost as soon as he’s out of his crib in the morning. Of course, when this happens, it throws the schedule off for the entire day. It becomes a cycle of waking too early, napping too early then either needing an extra nap and fighting sleep at bed time, or being cranky and fussy all afternoon waiting for dinner, bath and bed. It becomes a cycle that you really don’t want to get stuck in.

Think of it this way: If you woke up at 4 am, went to have a snack in the kitchen, maybe read a book for 15 minutes then went back to bed until 7, you wouldn’t consider 4 am to be the time you got up for the day, you’d say you got up at 7. It’s the same with this early wake and early nap. The early nap simply becomes an extension of his night time sleep. This can build up quite a sleep debt for your child, making it even more likely that he’ll wake early again the next day.

Even though it will be tough for a few days, I encourage you to stick it out until his normal morning nap time before putting him down, even if he’s been awake since 4:30. Consistency is very important when it comes to sleep. If he’s been awake longer than usual for the morning because of an early wake, he’ll be fussy and tired, but after that first nap, things will be back on track. Take him outside for some fresh air if you can, or keep him occupied with a new toy or game if he’s having a hard time. The rest of the day should play out as normal. And, as long as you handle those early morning wake ups appropriately, his body will take over and he’ll start making up that lost sleep in the morning.

Another mistake that parents often make regarding early wake ups is to move the bed time. It’s never a good idea to keep your baby awake past his bed time. This can actually make the problem worse! When a child becomes overtired at bed time, he is actually more likely to wake during the night and too early the next morning.

As always, I’m here if you need help with this or any other aspect of your baby or toddler’s sleep. Give me a call at 250-552-5080 for a free 15 minute consultation.

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Dani Summer

Certified Sleep Sense Consultant

Cloud 9 Sleep Consulting

dani@cloud9sleep.net

250-552-5080

Certified Sleep Sense Consultant

Safe Sleep and SIDS Prevention

If you are a parent, chances are you’ve spent time worrying about SIDS.

I remember the first time my daughter slept through the night. I woke up feeling wonderfully rested and alert. Then I remembered my baby girl and I panicked. SIDS ran through my mind and I prayed she hadn’t stopped breathing during the night. I shot out of bed so fast that the cat went flying and I ran to my daughter’s bedroom. I threw open the door and ran to the side of her crib to find her sleeping peacefully. Right then and there, I made the decision to stop worrying. Of course, I still thought about it occasionally, but I didn’t fear it like I used to. I knew that we were following all of the Health Canada guidelines¹ and she was as safe as she could possibly be in her crib.

My advice to you, is to take every precaution possible, read the guidelines on safe infant sleep and let go of your fear. Enjoy your new baby and stop worrying about SIDS because you’ve done all you can do to prevent it.

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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), is the unexplained death of a seemingly healthy infant (0-12 months of age) during sleep with no medical explanation. SIDS is a very rare occurrence (0.5 per 1,000 live births in Canada), so don’t let worry and fear take hold of you. Since the Back to Sleep Campaign started in 1994, the rate of SIDS has dropped drastically.

There are plenty of things you can do to lower your baby’s risk:

Start prenatal care as soon as you find out that you’re pregnant.

Have a healthy pregnancy – Take prenatal vitamins, eat a healthy diet and don’t smoke or drink alcohol.

Keep your baby away from cigarette smoke – If you, or anyone in your house smokes, change clothes and wash hands and face before holding the baby.

Put your baby to sleep on his back – This can reduce the risk of SIDS by up to 50%

Breastfeed your baby if you can – SIDS rates tend to be lower for breastfeed babies. If you smoke cigarettes, do so immediately after a feed to allow your body time to eliminate the chemicals from your milk. It is better to breastfeed than formula feed, even if you smoke.

Provide a safe sleeping environment – No soft cushions or pillows, bumper pads, loose blankets or stuffed animals in the crib. Make sure the crib or bassinet mattress fits properly into the frame with no gaps where your baby could become trapped.

Never bed-share if you have taken medication that causes drowsiness (primary or side effect), or consumed alcohol or drugs.

Never co-sleep with your baby on the sofa, reclining chair, or anywhere else he could be dropped, suffocated, rolled on or become trapped.

Does bed-sharing increase the risk?

This is a controversial subject. Some experts say bed-sharing can reduce the risk of SIDS, while others claim it can be dangerous for your baby.

While this is a personal decision and one best made by you and your partner, my professional stance on this subject is that a baby is safest in his own crib or bassinet.

Room-sharing is a form of co-sleeping, and not to be confused with bed-sharing. Room-sharing is when the crib or bassinet is in the parent’s room and can even be directly beside the parent’s bed. The baby and the parents do not share a sleep surface. This is preferred by most parents in the beginning for ease of breastfeeding and peace of mind. Bed-sharing is when the baby is sharing a sleep surface with one or both parents. If you choose to share a bed with your baby, make sure you understand how to do it safely.

If you have any questions about safe sleep, please contact me at 250-552-5080 for a free 15-minute consultation.

¹ http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/dca-dea/stages-etapes/childhood-enfance_0-2/sids/index-eng.php

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Dani Summer

Certified Sleep Sense Consultant

www.cloud9sleep.net

250-552-5080

dani@cloud9sleep.net