There is no doubt that parents absolutely love their children and love spending every minute they have with them. But if there is one time they wish their children would just leave them alone, it’s at the crack of dawn. More often than not, our kids like to jump on our beds before the light of day peaks through our bedroom window blinds.
Luckily, parents have a solution. That’s because there are several tried and tested ways that you can encourage your child to sleep in, and especially on the weekends. Nurse Practitioner Maile Moore from Boston Children’s Hospital Sleep Center tells Fatherly in an interview that getting your child to sleep in is an attainable goal, believe it or not.
“There is a genetic tendency for people to be larks, as opposed to night owls,” Moore explains. “And that can run in the family. So because of that genetic tendency, some kids are just naturally waking up early.”
So, how do you get your toddler to sleep in? There a few things you need to keep in mind. The first thing that you can do is make sure that your child’s room is sleep friendly. Before you begin insisting your child stay in his room all night, make sure that it’s a room that makes you want to say ‘sweet dreams’ the moment you walk into it.
Also, renegotiate nap time schedules. Children should not be napping for at least 4 hours before their bedtime. “Avoid sleep past 3:30 if their bedtime is around 7 or 8 pm,” Moore says.
Another thing that you can do is adjust sleep associations. One of the reasons why a child might wake up early is because he or she probably can’t fall back asleep. Remove all bottles, pacifiers, etc. from their toddler beds. Something else that you should keep in mind are physical factors. Limit fluids so they don’t have to run to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Offer just a light snack before bed in order to avoid digestions problems. And keep all of the “pillow talk” limited, which might be hard if you have a chatty toddler.
Also, remember that you should always be consistent with your child and create clear expectations. And remember, you won’t always be guaranteed that your child will sleep in, especially if they have a good reason to be up (like if they are hungry and are looking for breakfast or went to bed too early the night before).