My youngest woke up at 5am this morning. Ouch. I wouldn’t mind so much if he didn’t wake up early every single morning! I know what I should do (according to my sleep consultant): set the wake-up time for him (e.g. 7:00 am) and let him fuss until that time. Eventually, babies are supposed to learn that wake-up time is at X o’clock. Logically, this makes sense. If I go to him when he wakes up at 5:15am, 5:30am, etc., then I am rewarding him for waking up early (if I wake up early I get milk! cuddles! play!).
I have a hard time doing that, for no good reason really. But I think: if he slept from 7p-5a, that’s actually pretty good! Or: maybe he’s not tired. Or: maybe he’s just an early bird (before kids, I used to be an early riser). And most times I just can’t deal with the crying. In sum, I make a lot of excuses for him. I did the same with my first. He used to wake up 4:30a-5:30a! I would prep my walking/running gear the night before, wrap him up first thing in the morning, and set off for the park to let my husband sleep in a bit. Other times I would try to see whether he would fall asleep again (he was much better at doing so than my second, who never falls asleep once he’s up in the morning). And probably 70% of the time I’d make coffee and see what games we could play that involved my laying horizontally the entire time.
Two weeks ago, I tried to nip this early wake-up behavior in the bud. I had razor-sharp focus because we were awaiting a family visit and I knew that the kids would be sharing a room. Now, I can deal with one child up at 5a, but I do not want to deal with two children up at 5a, especially when one is a toddler and nothing is worse than a sleep-deprived toddler! So when my little guy woke up at 5a, I let him fuss until 6a. It was easy to do because I was so tired that I just kept drifting in and out of sleep. Lo and behold, the first night they were in the same room, he slept until 6:45a. But this slowly deteriorated to 6:30a…6:00a…5:45a…5:30a…5:15a…and, today, 5:00a. But I don’t have the courage to let him fuss in his brother’s room at 5:00a because, again, the horror of sleep-deprived toddlers.
I just keep holding out hope that this early-rising phase will soon come to an end. My first started “sleeping in” somewhere between 18-20 months, and he was a terrible sleeper. So this little guy, who sleeps better overall, should start sleeping in soon, right? Fingers crossed. Until then, I’ll keep drinking that coffee…