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Early riser - try to sleep train, or live with it?

(19 Posts)
cornflakegirl Thu 26-May-11 14:13:54

DS2 (21m) is an early riser. He has never been a great sleeper, but has been mostly sleeping through the night for about 4 months. He goes to bed at around 8pm, after a bedtime feed - sometimes he feeds to sleep, sometimes he will into the cot awake and settle himself. He naps quite well in the day time - 1.5 to 2 hours.

Until recently, he was waking at 6am, which I could deal with. However, in the past week or so it's been getting earlier. This morning it was 5 - DH tried to resettle him for about 20 minutes, but to no avail - when he wakes up, he tends to be wide awake and ready to go. He came into bed with us for milk like normal - fed for around an hour, and then fell asleep till about 8am - this is unusual, which makes me think that 5am is just too early for him.

He does seem to need less sleep than DS1 did (or does now), and it doesn't seem to affect him in the daytime - although sometimes he will need his nap much earlier (but then seems perfectly fine to go through to his normal bed time). I'm not sure whether we should try to train him to sleep longer, or just accept that he's an early riser, and go to bed earlier ourselves.

RAlover Thu 26-May-11 14:20:12

Hi,
I also have an early riser!! DD is now 7 and has never really needed much sleep. The strange but great tip I learnt was to drop the daytime nap and put to bed earlier.
Sounds strange but it did work for us. DD used to fall asleep whilst having tea and I would give her 10 minutes and then wake her up.
It did make for a tearful bath/ bed routine sometimes, but then she would sleep until 6 which (for me) was sort of doable grin
Now when she gets up (at the moment 5.30am) I send her back to her room to read until 6 - 6.30 when she goes downstairs.

isthismadness Thu 26-May-11 14:23:12

Dd2 is similar at 18 months. What has helped spot is giving a post bath snack eg cheese on toast or weetabix with milk and limiting nap to an hour to hour and half

SindyTellsMe Thu 26-May-11 14:23:24

Mine have always slept a bit longer with black-out blinds & heavy curtains at the window.

I also make a point, if anyone does get up before about 6am, of keeping things as boring as possible until about 7am, so that there isn't much to be gained by getting up early. Small snack & drink, then lounging around quietly until breakfast at 7am. Works for me.

cornflakegirl Thu 26-May-11 14:50:12

Thanks all.

He has a blackout blind.

We don't eat dinner till 6/6.30, so there's not really an opportunity for a pre-bed snack. He doesn't always eat well at dinner, but there doesn't seem to be a correlation between that and the time that he wakes.

I'm not sure about dropping the nap - some days he really needs it - falling asleep at lunch (or earlier). Might try limiting it to 1.5 hours - although again there doesn't seem to be a correlation between the length / timing of nap and how well he sleeps at night.

Keeping things boring in the morning is basically what I'm not sure about. Originally DH and I said if DS2 woke before 6am we'd try to resettle him - but it never works. He never goes back to sleep. So all that happens is that we spend half an hour (or however long) sitting in his room while he lies in his cot with his eyes open. At least if I bring him into bed with us, I can lie there with my eyes shut for a bit, even if I'm not asleep. But I don't want that to just encourage early waking...

13lucky Thu 26-May-11 20:23:32

I would persevere with leaving him in his bed for as long as you can - otherwise, in my opinion, you are encouraging him to wake early because he knows he'll get a cuddle in mummy's bed. My ds woke at 5 for months and months - from about 9 months old till he was 2 years. We were strong with him and tried as much as possible to leave him till at least 6. This sometimes meant going in and shushing etc as we also have an older dd who I didn't want woken up. It is incredibly hard and worse because it is so early and you're tired. BUT the hard work paid off - when he was 2 yrs and 2 mnths he understood about waiting until his digital clock had a 7 at the beginning (don't ask me how - he doesn't know any other numbers!!!! But this is what his sister does) and he doesn't get out of bed or cry for us until his '7 comes on' (7 o'clock) and then he gets up. He still wakes between 6 and 6.30 but happily chatters away. It was agony at the time of the 5am wakings but I am pleased we stuck to our guns as now both children (4.10 yrs and 2.7 yrs) both know they are to stay in bed until 7 o'clock. Good luck.

wearymum200 Thu 26-May-11 20:42:37

DS1 is still an early riser at age 5. he has woken between 5 and 6 every morning since he started sleeping through the night (at 3 months). We have blinds, curtains but he still wakes up. has been 4 or earlier a couple of time recently.....
However, I think that if they're an early waker, that's the way they are and it's unlikely you're going to hugely alter tha, tho' you might be able to tweak it a little later.
DS1 still has a big cup of milk at bedtime, which I often add double cream to, to bump up his calories (good appetite but skinny and very active). We had a night light on a timer long before he could tell the time, when that came on he knew it was "morning" and could (and does) get up and play by himself. Before "morning", he gets no attention, bar a bit of carrot and stick to be quiet.
Good luck....

cornflakegirl Fri 27-May-11 09:45:40

Well, he had no nap yesterday (because he flat refused) and although he was sleepy at dinner time, he then perked up and went through to normal bed time. And woke up at 5.30. So I'm not sure dropping his nap will be the answer.

Hmmm - I wonder if he is old enough to start training him with a rabbit clock or a light on a timer? He's much better now in the mornings, and will call for me instead of crying like he's bereft. If I stuck some books and things in his cot, he might be happy to play quietly.

Thanks for the help guys.

Notanexcitingname Fri 27-May-11 12:11:38

sympathies, cornflakegirl. My DS2 has been up at 5 for the last year. We've had small improvements in that he at least reliably sleeps through now, and these days it 5.30 more often than 5. Keeping it boring has had no impact for us-after 8 months of sitting in a dark, toy-less kitchen with an increasingly grumpy toddler I decided to feed him in bed as soon as he woke. I get some time lying down, and I don't get to start my day dealing with a strop. Despite this he's still continued to improve, so I say if it works for you, do it.

I'd also add that just because there not a direct effect from yesterday on last nights sleep, doesn't mean that over a period of time no nap wouldn't give you more time in bed in the morning.

I reckon quite likely old enough for a sleep training clock-a friend has had success with her dd aged 22 months who was waking at 5. I'm trying with ds2 (27 months) next week...

Magicofthinkingbig Fri 27-May-11 12:31:14

Sympathies here too cornflakegirl! We've never quite cracked this until she (3) was old enough to benefit from a 'Groclock' (see their website). Now, at least, she can be persuaded to stay put until 'her sun comes up'. Then shes allowed in bed for cuddles. This is still 6-6.30 but an improvement on 5-5.30 and I can, as you say, lie with my eyes shut while she watches Peppa Pig on Daddys i-phone!

Think she was around 2 when she went with the clock idea btw.

Link: www.gro.co.uk

cornflakegirl Fri 27-May-11 13:17:32

Thanks both for the sympathy!

Not - good to know that your DS has improved even without being hardcore. I get what you're saying about one day's evidence not being conclusive on the nap affecting wake up - but it makes me less inclined to investigate that option first. (Plus, I work full-time, and DH is at home with DS2, so it would actually be him losing his lunch break, and I'd feel mean pushing him to do that without any real evidence that it would work.)

Magic - having said about the rabbit clock, I googled, and rapidly formed the impression that the groclock would be a much better option. So it's really good to know that it worked for you - thanks.

Octaviapink Fri 27-May-11 13:49:26

We never found that dropping naps, blacking out the room or feeding more made an iota of difference. Both children are up at 5 at the moment - we just count our stars that it's not 4 (as it was the last few days). Dropping a nap just made DD foul, feeding her more doesn't work as she just won't eat it, and blacking out her room made no difference at all. I think it's a body clock thing! As neither of us can bear to listen to yells of "Mummy! Daddy!" for terribly long, five o'clock it is. We go to bed at 9.30.

plipplops Fri 27-May-11 13:49:56

We got Groclocks for both our DDs about a year ago so they'd have been about 18 months and just 3. They work ok for us as a tool - at the moment their suns come up at 6.10 but I'm trying to work it back 5 mins at a time! They're not a miracle but as long as you stick to your guns with it (so if they're up before their sun you just put them back in bed and they'll have to wait) I think they're pretty good.

Quenelle Fri 27-May-11 17:30:17

DS was like this until a few months ago. He's 23 mo now. Not really sure what changed tbh but now he usually goes until 6-6.30. Occasionally nearer 7, although that never happens at weekends hmm

I do remember one time he woke at about 5am and we were so fed up with it that we left him chatting and sort of grizzling (not crying) in his cot and he finally fell back to sleep after about 30 minutes. And since then he's slept later.

Last week he went back to waking around 5.30 and I think it was because he had got really overtired. He goes to a childminder 3 days a week and doesn't nap at all there. One good 3 hour nap on Sunday and he's back to sleeping until 6am+ again.

I think my short and not very helpful answer is, get early nights and repeat the mantra, this too shall pass.

cornflakegirl Mon 30-May-11 21:45:14

Well, the shock news of the weekend is... he skipped his nap yesterday, practically fell asleep in his tea at 6pm, and slept through till 7am this morning. Which I think is a record! He had a half hour nap today - he got grumpy, fell asleep while having milk - so then we took him out shopping, and he woke up when a small child started bawling in ELC. Will have to see how tomorrow morning goes.

But I shall be getting an early night tonight as usual - pretty sure that yesterday was a fluke! <this too shall pass...>

bluesmile10 Tue 31-May-11 16:10:08

Read your post with interest cornflakegirl, as we too have a 1 y o 5 am riser!!! HV has suggested (if you're going to keep naps) not letting him go back to sleep before 10 am and not letting him sleep after 3 pm. We're working towards this!!!! Like you, I kind of think its just the way he is and hopefully he'll grow out of it. I have been told just to leave him in his cot with some toys but he absolutely screams the place down so no joy there!! Roll on the days when he can learn to use something like a groclock!

twofalls Tue 31-May-11 16:22:18

In my experience (2 early risers), there is not much you can do about it until they understand the concept of a gro-clock and stickers as rewards. DD 2 was about 3 when we brought her a gro-clock. She is now 5 and can tell the time and would play quietely until 7 if it wasn't for her sister (15 months) being up and making a racket. Put a different book/toy in this cot everynight - this can buy you some lie in time whilst you come to the terms with the fact your day has started so bloodyearly!

cornflakegirl Tue 31-May-11 17:41:56

blue - I don't think he ever naps before 10am, and is always awake before 3pm on weekdays because of the school run - it hasn't helped! If he sleeps later in the day it takes longer to get him to go to sleep in the evening, but doesn't seem to affect his morning wake up time.

He woke up at about 6.15 this morning - don't know if that was the effect of the shorter nap or just random. Better than 5, anyway ;)

RalphGnu Mon 06-Jun-11 09:25:56

Just been reading this thread with interest as have an 18 month old who has for the past few mornings been waking up at 4:45! Was wondering if the shorter naps have continued to work for you cornflakegirl?

If I give him a cup of juice and put him in bed with me he will sometimes go back to sleep for an hour or so, but more often than not he'll be full of beans and raring to go. I just don't have the energy at that time in the morning to do much other than doze on the sofa while he brings me endless books to read him, but by 8:30 we're both bored rigid. What on earth do you do at that time in a morning?!

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