Tuesday, 12 July 2022

Why Does My Child Get Up So Early?


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Young kids typically want to get up earlier than adults. But just how early is too early? The average time in which kids get up is between 6am and 8am. If your kids regularly get up before 6am, this could be considered too early and may be something that you want to put a stop to. But just how do you stop a child getting up before 6am? To get them to sleep later, you need to first work out why they’re waking up so early. Below are a few causes and solutions. 

The early morning sun is waking them up

Young kids don’t have a good perception of time. All they know is that it’s dark at night and light during the day. As a result, many young kids think it’s time to get up as soon as the first rays of sunlight arrive - even if it is 4am. 

Blackout shutters and blinds can be worthwhile for this reason. They can block out the early morning sun so that your child is encouraged to sleep longer. Just bear in mind that such shutters and blinds will make the room pitch black, so you may want to keep a night light on for your kids if you don’t already have one. 

They’re getting woken up by noise

Your kids could be getting woken up by early morning noises such as a neighbour's car starting up or the binmen’s lorry. If you or your partner gets up early for work and turns on the kettle or TV, this could also be waking them up. This is often because it’s been silent all night and this silence has now been interrupted. 

Some parents find that playing white noise can provide constant background noise that can prevent these early morning sounds from being as jarring. Alternatively, there could be ways of muffling outdoor sounds with certain curtains, shutters or even window insulation. 

They’re going to bed too early

Toddlers need around 12 hours of sleep, while kids between three and six can get by on 10 hours of sleep. This means that a toddler going to bed at 6pm is likely to wake up at 6am, while a child over 3 may be inclined to get up as early as 4am. 

Consider whether bedtime needs to be so early. For toddlers, you’re better off aiming between 6:30pm and 7:30pm, while 7:30pm to 8:30pm is acceptable for slightly older kids. 

They’re going to bed too late

Some parents think that putting their kids to bed at 9am will guarantee them a lie in at the weekend, but this is rarely the case. Beyond 8:30pm, many kids will start to get overtired. This triggers the stress hormone, which can lead to poorer quality sleep. Many kids that go to bed late have a much more interrupted sleep and are more likely to get up earlier. 

If bedtime is very late, consider pushing it back gradually by 10 minutes each day until it’s before 8:30pm (ideally before 7:30pm for toddlers). This will stop your child getting overtired and will help them to hopefully sleep longer. 

They’re napping too much in the day

Too much napping - particularly late in the day - could encourage your kid to get up earlier in the morning. The nap could be counting towards their hours of sleep, preventing your kids from needing to sleep as long at night.

Most toddlers need naps, but this shouldn’t be anything longer than two or three hours and should ideally be between midday and 4pm. Most toddlers don’t need two naps unless they’re two short naps.  

They’re waking up hungry

Some young kids wake up early simply because they’re hungry. This typically comes down to how much they’ve eaten/when they’ve eaten the night before.

Ideally, kids should have something to eat 1 hour to 45 minutes before bed to stop them waking up early feeling hungry. This means that if kids are eating dinner at 5pm and not going to bed until 8pm, you may want to consider giving them a 7pm snack on top of their dinner (avoid anything too sugary). Alternatively, you could allow them to eat later. 

They’re drinking too much in the evening

Babies and toddlers in nappies are more likely to get up early if they’ve been drinking throughout the night as their nappy is likely to be soaked by the time morning comes around. Older kids meanwhile wake up early in the morning needing the toilet and then may not be able to get back to sleep.

Avoid giving your baby or child too much to drink before bed. If you find this is the best time to get them to feed or drink liquids, then just make sure to change their nappy before bed or get them to go to the toilet before going to sleep. 

They may have a sleep condition

If none of the above seems to be the problem, it’s possible that your child may have a sleep condition. The likes of sleep apnea or night terrors can affect children. In some cases, there may be medical treatment available. Check out this guide to sleep disorders in kids and what to look out for.

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