Israeli sleep coach, Batya Sherizen is taking questions from Kveller readers. Send your problems to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My 11-month-old son had been sleeping well (going to bed at 7 and sleeping straight through the night to 7) for a while. The past few weeks he has been getting up very early at 5 and is clearly still very tired. I have been trying to get him to sleep later in the morning by not responding to him and letting him kvetch until at least 6, but he is waking my older children and is not falling back asleep. He is cranky when I take him out and ready for a nap by 7:30. I tried making his bedtime later in hopes that he would sleep later but that didn’t help. Any other ideas to get him to sleep later in the morning? I know he needs it as do I! Also, he takes two good naps per day, each lasting between almost two hours.
Early rising is a very common problem for toddlers and older babies. Usually it can be caused by one of two main issues: Either he needs his internal clock readjusted by making his bedtime slightly later, in hopes that he will eventually wake up later, or his overall sleep distribution needs to be fine-tuned.
Even though you’ve attempted to make his bedtime later and it didn’t help, it takes 6-8 weeks of continually putting your baby to bed later to see significant progress. Therefore, trying it out for a few days cannot determine whether or not it is what his body needs. If you feel you have the patience to commit to this, it’s definitely worthwhile as based on what you’ve written it seems this would be the most helpful for him. Do it slowly. If he normally goes to sleep at 7, make bedtime 7:15 for a week or so. Then slowly bump it up to 7:30. I wouldn’t make his bedtime any later than 7:45, as over-tiredness would make it more difficult for him to settle. But, by the 7:30/7:45 mark, his body will eventually regulate which will in turn help him to sleep later than 5:30 in the morning!
If that doesn’t work after a good two months, then it would seem he needs to redistribute his day sleep. Most 11-month-olds still require two naps daily, but when early rising like this occurs consistently, it demonstrates he may need to tweak his existing nap routine. Assuming that each naps is consistently the 1.5-2 hr mark, I would start by trying to combine his naps into one. If he normally goes down around 9:30, slowly offer his nap later and later (by 15-20 minute intervals ever few days) until you’ve combined the naps into a nice, late morning nap (usually if a baby wakes around 7 am, then 11/11:30 is an optimal time for this).
It’s also very important to ensure that there are no streams of light at that early hour of the morning so make sure you have good blinds that block out the light. Some babies are extremely sensitive to their visual sensory input.
Remain patient with all of this and as long as you’re consistent his body should readjust. Good luck!
Contact Batya and mention you saw her on Kveller for a free phone consultation! www.BatyatheBabyCoach.com.