How to deal with early risers

Does your kid wake up at 5 a.m. on a weekend and ask you for breakfast? You're not alone. Here's what you should know and what you can do about it.

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It’s an eye-opening fact for many parents: Some kids just wake up early.

“There’s a natural, circadian rhythm to the body and, unfortunately, it’s hard to force change in a child’s physiology,” explains parenting expert and author Alyson Schafer.

The good news? Early risers are known for being more positive and productive. The bad news? They often go against the grain of the rest of the family, especially parents desperate for shut-eye.

Try these tips to get your tots to sleep in later:

Is he a true early bird or a light sleeper?
Schafer suggests sleeping in your child’s room to hear what he hears. Maybe he’s awakened by traffic on the street or your furnace kicking on at six. A white noise machine might help.

If your older baby or toddler stirs in the wee hours, give her a chance to fall back to sleep on her own. Blackout curtains are a huge help in convincing her that it’s not yet “morning time.”

If your child is just a natural early riser, and is old enough to play on his own, Schafer suggests keeping a basket of quiet, safe items in his room to play with, and let him know he can wake you when the clock shows seven (there are also clocks available that change colour at a pre-set time).

If your child is old enough, consider letting her watch TV quietly. Leave out her favourite dry cereal to enjoy (Desperate times…!) Or leave out her favourite books so she can flip through them until you can join her.

One cringe-worthy (but effective) solution is to just accept that for the next few years, you too will be an early riser and adapt your routine. You’ve always dreamed of having an extra few hours during the day to get things done — now you have them.

This article was originally published in December 2013.

Read more:
Are your kids getting enough sleep?
How to transition your toddler from two naps to one
Sleep solutions for all ages

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