Hands up if you’ve needed to set an alarm since you’ve had kids? We thought so. You become a mother, and that shouty electronic wake-up sound becomes a thing of the past – but only because it’s been replaced by an equally shouty (and more demanding) human.
Sadly, we can’t help you convince your little one of the bliss of a morning lie-in. But we can help you buy a few more minutes.
4 ways to get your baby to sleep later
Move bedtime forward
Yes, really, says Jolandi Becker, owner and MD of Good Night Baby. “It seems counterintuitive – after all, if someone’s waking up early, the last thing they need is more sleep, right? But, actually, your child may be waking up super early because she’s over-tired.” Ideally, kids should be asleep by 7pm so that they wake up between 6am and 7am. If you’re not hitting this sweet spot, try moving bedtime forward by 10 minutes.
Banish the light
You know how that morning light creeping into your room feels like someone screaming in your ear? Your baby feels exactly the same way. Invest in a heavy pair of blackout curtains, Jolandi advises, especially since your baby is particularly sensitive to the circadian rhythms which govern sleep and wakefulness, and those rhythms are also sensitive to light. By the same token, any loud household noises may catapult a happily drowsing babe to full-on wakefulness, so consider buying a white noise machine that can drown out the dogs or the sounds of your neighbours getting ready for their early-morning cycle.
There’s nothing quite like a lazy Sunday morning, is there? Sadly, though, your little one doesn’t yet know her days of the week, so she’ll treat them all the same – and you’ll have to, too, if you’re hoping for some semblance of a decent morning. This all goes back to routine, and although you may find it tedious, the reality is that the more predictable life is for your baby, the easier it will be for you. One way to manage this, according to Jolandi, is to create a non-negotiable wake-up time. If she wakes up before this, treat the wakeup as you would any nighttime wakeup – feed her, change her if necessary (without unduly stimulating her), and leave her to lie peacefully. Toddlers, meanwhile, may benefit from a colour-changing light, such as a Gro Clock, so that she knows when it’s time to wake you.
Don’t rush the morning
It’s a natural reaction to give a crying baby a bottle, especially when it’s breakfast time. But, Jolandi points out, rushing to feed her might not be the answer. Try a dummy first – you may find that all she really needs is a little self-soothing, and she’s lights out once more. Of course, you might also find that your baby is an early riser and there’s simply nothing you can do about it, except embrace the extra time an early morning gives you!
More about the expert:
In her 16 years as journalist, Lisa Witepski’s work has appeared in most of South Africa’s leading publications, including the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Entrepreneur and Financial Mail. She has written for a number of women’s magazines, including Living & Loving, Essentials and many others, across topics from lifestyle to travel, wellness, business and finance. She is a former acting Johannesburg Bureau Chief for Cosmopolitan, and former Features Editor at Travel News Weekly, but, above all, a besotted mom to Leya and Jessica. Lisa blogs at whydoialwayscravecake.blogspot.com and lisa.witepski.blogspot.com, and tweets at @LisaWitepski.