If your baby regularly wakes before the sun, try these tactics to keep her sleeping (or at least quiet) a little longer.
- Keep her room dim. Invest in room-darkening shades or lined drapes to keep the sun from rousing your rooster.
- Keep the noise out. Street noise (like cars and barking dogs) can lift a light sleeper from slumber. At the very least, keep her windows closed, and if that does n’t help, hang some heavy drapes or blankets in front of them. You might also try putting a fan or white-noise machine in her room, and, if all else fails, try a move to quieter quarters, if possible.
- Experiment with different bedtimes. It may sound counter intuitive, but putting your baby to sleep earlier may get her to sleep better and longer. The reasoning behind this? If a baby goes to sleep early — around 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. — she won’t be overtired at bedtime and thus will sleep better throughout the night. Give this tactic a solid try for a week or two and see whether it leads to a later wake-up call. If it does n’t, consider the opposite approach. Move your baby’s bedtime up ten minutes a night until she’s hitting the hay an hour or more later. (This works better if you move naps and meals forward as well — see below.) Again, give this strategy a week or two to see whether it results in a later wake up. One word of warning: If your baby goes down later and still consistently wakes before dawn, she might not be getting all the sleep she needs. In that case, go back to her regular bedtime.
- Move her naps. Some babies who nap early in the day go to sleep earlier at night and — you guessed it — wake up earlier in the morning. So try to push that first nap forward by ten minutes or so every day until she’s going down for naps (and for the night) an hour or so later.
- Shorten daytime snoozes. Too much sleep during the day may lead to too little sleep during the night. Try limiting naps by eliminating one or making them all a bit briefer. (But tread lightly here — if your baby seems overtired or has trouble falling asleep at night, back off this strategy; she still needs those naps.) Don’t rush in. No need to greet your baby as soon as she crows in the morning. Let her be and she may doze off again or entertain herself for a while.
- Stack the deck. That means stock the crib with items that might engage her for a bit — a crib mirror, crib music machine, a soft book, or some safe toys (no small pieces, sharp edges, or plushies).
- Hold back her breakfast. A baby who eats upon waking will get used to an early meal, so try to postpone feeding, even if you’re wide awake yourself. Hang in there. If you try these tactics and the bugle still blows before six a.m., try turning in earlier yourself and/or taking turns with your partner on predawn duty.