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I sheepishly admit to jonesing for a child-sleep aid. In our house, currently occupied by a 3-year old and 7-month old, early risings are a daily occurence, though blessedly, we usually reach 6am.

Last summer, when I was pregnant and miserable, my then 2 1/2 year old would wake consistently at 5:30am. It drove me batty. I'd leave her in bed and she'd simply whine "Mooooommmmmmmyyyyy!" over and over until finally I caved and brought her downstairs.

When she moved into her big kid bed that September, we also got shades for her room. Those seemed to help, but only for a little while. It is like her little body is pre-programmed for 5:45am -6:15am. It doesn't help that DH gets up for work at 5:45am either. And we have a white-noise machine for both kids.

The babe, whose bedtime hovers around 7:30pm, wakes frequently before 6am. Annoying as that is, it doesn't worry me as much as the sleep patterns of my eldest.

Our 3-year old still takes a nap, because she doesn't sleep usually more than 9 hours a night. But then because of the nap, she doesn't usually fall asleep until close to 10pm, even if she's in bed at 8:30pm.

Moxie, would the sleep/sticker chart work for your eldest? You know, stickers for the days of successful bed-staying-in, and then a nice reward after a handful of stickers? I haven't tried it, only because I know that if our baby Lily is up, Hannah will want to be up too.

I tell my DH, I hope we both make it to retirement age, but I'm sure as shit gonna enjoy sleeping in!


What has helped ease the early rising (and my son ALWAYS has been an early riser - not a phase, he just is) is to bring him into bed with us when he wakes at 5 or 5:30. He'll usually snooze some more (sometime up to a couple hours more) snuggled with us, whereas he will never settle back down in his own bed. Sadly, I don't think this will work as well once #2 arrives in the fall.

Cat, Galloping

One of my (co-sleeping) 8-year-old twins gets up at the crack of dawn, like a rooster. Last spring/summer I used it as a good excuse to be at the gym by 5:30am but this year, not so much. They also both still need to be fed in the middle of the night, usually at different times, and sometimes more than once each. I've tried letting them cry it out, but they can cry and jump on us for hours, so it's easier just to give in right away.

Oh. You weren't talking about cats?


If my son runs around like a fool all day and goes to bed early, he only wakes up early sometimes. If he goes to bed late, he'll sometimes fall back asleep in the morning, but not always. His room is dark enough that blackout shades wouldn't make any difference. He's almost 2, and yes, I'd give Ambien and/or opium in a heartbeat if it was legal (although I wouldn't confess that at playgroup).


Here in Australia, I'm not finding it as bad as it was at the end of summer; it doesn't get light until 7am now. But maybe it's just that the child is 12 months rather than 6 months old.

To me, it seems the earlier she goes to bed, the later she wakes up. Sleep begets sleep and all that. Bedtime at 6.15pm often gets us a 7am wakeup, but a busy night and bedtime at 8.30pm often gets us a 3am bottle call and a 6.30am rising.

No correlation between activity level and early rising. Which is weird to me, but if she sleeps 2pm-4pm then spends most of 4pm-7pm in the car or pram, she can still sleep 12 hours. (Not always, but most times).

Cot in own room seems to work relatively well for the moment, but we've never done anything else.

If she wakes early, and persists beyond a few minutes of chatter, the only thing that will get her back to sleep is a bottle. But only if it's before 6am.

I got blackout blinds in desperation at the end of daylight saving. Have to admit, it hardly made any difference.

If only I had a dollar for every time someone in their 60's suggested a strong dose of Panadol for any sleep problems! I love it when she genuinely has a cold, because Demazin definitely helps her sleep.


When our first child was about 10 months old we took a road trip to visit some relatives. Their guest room was in the basement which yielded very little sunlight. For the first time our precious little angel who liked to wake at the crack of dawn slept in and napped like she had never done before. Upon returning from the trip we went straight to the store and purchased room darkening shades. Best investment we ever made! Turned her room into a dark pit but our anti-napper became a consistent napper and her wake up time extended to around 8:00. It was heaven. Now that she is two she has reverted to waking up earlier but we have recently added twins (now 5 months) to the family so she is going through some adjustments. We have just added room darkening shades to their room. The darkening shades also made it easier to put her back to bed when she wakes before 6:00 am as we tell her the sunshine hasn't come out yet and to stay in bed until it does.

p.s. Please add us to the waiting list for a few monkeys. We could use some extra help here!


Hmmm, I think it's one of those things that a person just is or isn't. Our son (7 1/2 y.o.) has Always been an early riser -- he's usually up by 5:45 most days. Doesn't matter what time he went to bed the night before. We tried keeping him up later when he was younger and that backfired because he'd still get up at 5:45 and be a Crank all day. So he's still in bed between 7:30-8:00 pm every night now. Black out shades didn't work. Time of year doesn't really matter. It just seems that he was meant to be a farmer. I can count on one hand the number of times he slept in past 7:00 am. We joke that we haven't needed to set an alarm since he was born. We also did the digital clock thing with him -- it worked to a certain extent. The rule was he had to at least stay in his room and play quietly until 7:00 if he wasn't going to go back to sleep. Now he wakes up, reads a bit or plays some, gets dressed, and is usually down in our basement playroom watching TV by 6:15 am until the rest of the house is awake.

My daughter (5 y.o.) on the other hand is more of a night owl. She would happily stay up later than her brother (but that's not gonna happen, heh) and she tends to "sleep in" -- funny when 7:30 am is considered sleeping in. Sometimes (like today) she's up at 6:00, but many days I'm waking her up at 7:15 before I leave for work.

So, at least in my house, it's a nature thing -- they were born that way.


P.S. How about that LOST finale?! Whoa. Gotta go read your other site now to see what everyone thought.


This is why I think the Weissbluth* book really is helpful, even if just for the “science of sleep” sections. For me, some aspects of mothering are very intuitive, but nothing about sleep has been! He stresses that not only does sleep beget sleep, but also that you can often control the wake time by changing the bedtime. However, the method is counterintuitive. He suggests putting very young kids (babies and toddlers) to sleep as early as 6 if they need to catch up on sleep, and never later than 7:30. It’s something about the body’s sleep rhythms – kids that have later bedtimes may sleep later or may not, but almost always sleep less overall. We had an early waking problem with our twins at about a year, and we started putting them down a half hour earlier. They now go down at 6:30 – 6:45 ish and sleep until 6:30. When we were putting them down at 7:15, they woke at 6. The part that drives me nuts is that other parents are always commenting on how “strange” it is that we put 14-month-olds down so early, and ask if it’s normal that they sleep so much. They sleep 14.5 – 16 hours out of every 24 –which is perfectly normal and healthy for kids their age. In my country of origin (the Netherlands), a 6:30 bedtime is perfectly normal for toddlers, and I do think kids there seem more well-rested. You don’t see little kids out in restaurants with their parents at 8 PM either, at least not where I lived as a little kid.
*The book is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. While he personally advocates CIO if “needed” and writes at length about why, he acknowledges that not every parent is willing or able to do that, and offers alternatives. Most of the book is about the “science of sleep”, so that might be helpful even if you’re totally opposed to doing CIO.


I wholeheartedly second the Weissbluth book recommendation. It seems like long ago, but we followed many of Dr. Weissbluth's methods, especially when the kids were under 2 years old. We also had people looking at us cross-eyed when we put the kids to bed no later than 7:15 pm. It has been harder to get them to bed earlyish as they get older, though, when you factor in homework, sports, two working parents, etc.


I just want to note (because I loathe Weissbluth and his dogmatic attitude so much) that the earlier bedtime = later wakeup time idea is also something many many people of older generations know and is featured prominently in other sleep books as well. (I think there's even a woman who wrote a book saying that people of *all* ages should go to bed at 7 pm.) It's not his unique idea.

Carry on with the comments. They're very helpful.


I have noticed a change lately too, and I've been wondering if it's the morning sunlight and the warmer weather. Makes sense to me.

Moxie - I also gave my 4yo a digital clock radio and "don't get up till there's a 7 on the clock" but then I found that what really worked for us was a "don't wake mommy" sticker chart! He was allowed to play quietly in his room when there was a 7 on the clock. I set the clock radio for 7:30 and he was supposed to wait till the music played to come wake me. If he did, he got a sticker, and after a row of stickers (first 5, then 7) he got a prize - a matchbox car or similar small toy. Highly recommended - one of those situations where bribes can really work. (I confess that a few times I set the clock back a little so that "7:30" came a little later that morning...)


Am I the only person for whom the early bedtime stuff did NOT work at all? When we gradually moved the bedtime routine to have her in bed by 7, instead of 8:30ish, we went right back to getting up 2-3 times in the night for nursing, the 5:30 wake-up didn't budge, and naptimes almost disappeared. After a week and a half we returned to the previous bedtime. Other than teething and upheaval in the routines, she sleeps for 9-10 hours at night (up once, if at all)and 1-2 hours in naps during the day.

I've given up on the getting her to sleep in in the morning and just go to bed earlier myself. This is not easy, since I am a life-long night owl with frequent insomnia. It also means next to no kid-free time in the evening, but I'm too exhausted by then to be productive anyway.

Carla Hinkle

When my daughter was 8-10 months old, she went through a phase of very, VERY early waking (sometimes before 5 am).

Nothing worked except in a few months, she grew out of it. And believe you me, in desperation I tried EVERYTHING (dark room, early bedtime, later bedtime, late night nursing, etc etc). Oh, except bringing her into bed with us -- sometimes (SOMETIMES) that worked. But only sometimes.

She is 2 and now wakes up sometime between 6 and 7. I'll take it.

Cat, you are hilarious -- you really had me going for a minute there ...


Boy, this got to be the creepiest thing that I'm reading about this b/c I'm about to go batty w/my kids' sleeping habit, or lack of, this morning.

There is no rhyme or reason as to when they (my 3 y/o and 15 months old and sometimes 5 y/o) decide to wake up in the morning/late night etc...in our house. And there are 3 of them and only 2 of us adults! Well, make that 1 adult since the other one just sleeps through anything, and I mean anything!! *UGH!*

So, I tried/did everything, so now I'm resolving to just get up after letting them cry for a little bit unless there's screaming involved. Needless to say, there's a 50 pounds bags under my eyes, nothing a lot of concealer can't help. ;-)


DS#1 has always been an early riser and when she wakes up, she instantly fully awake and ready to go. This is handy for early morning airplane flights, but not so good for getting back to sleep. Now though (age 5), when she gets up early she is old enough to come into my room for a quick kiss and then head downstairs and read quietly to herself for half an hour or so. We are all happy with this.

DD#2, on the other hand, is not a natural early riser and has always liked to wake up slowly and doze and cuddle. So when he started waking up early, back at the start of spring, just after his 3rd birthday, I suspected an new cause. What fixed it for us was to cut out his afternoon nap. Now that he no longer naps, he is sleeping in until 7 or 7:30 again and we are all happy with that too. So for us, sleep has not begotten sleep, necessarily.

BTW, when DD#1 was a baby I tried many things to get her to sleep later and was ultimately unsuccessful. What helped me to deal with it was to tell myself "Time is the same on both ends of the day" and to just try to enjoy the hour between 5 and 6 AM as much as I did the hour between 9 and 10 PM. Especially in summer...go for a walk around your neighbourhood and check out the dew on the grass, the early morning deliveries, the energetic dog-walkers, whatever early morning features you've got. If you spend that hour just wishing you were back in bed, it is a recipe for crankiness.


Aluminum foil. I thought it was a joke until daylight savings time hit and we couldn't get Little Man to go to bed at 7 like we had before. We're in a basement apartment and his room is on the north side of the building-not a side people really see-so when Dooce mentioned foiling Leta's window I thought "Why not?". It worked like a charm. Naps go SOOOOOOOOOO much smoother (and longer-we're talking 3 hours here) with the darkness, but he does still sleep if the room isn't pitch black, just not as long or as soundly.

I don't even buy the good stuff-Target brand heavy duty aluminum foil works just fine. A little tape and cover the window with blinds and voila!


If you guys can figure out how to get the kids to sleep in I will try it on my dogs. Little buggers get up at 5:30 like clockwork every damn day of the week all year long. Haven't found a solution yet.


The ONLY Thing that has worked for me 80% of the time is total blackening shades for his room. And when I go in in the middle of th enight or when he is crying (he is 16 months) I don't talk to him really. I may "shhhhh" him or something but I don't like acknowledge much thus leading to interest to talk or he gets too excited. So I give him a bottle in the morning and that usually fills his tummy enough to go back to sleep and sleep in till 9-10 the days I an home and being single mommy.



What? It has nasal-drying properties, but not as harsh as sudafed. Plus, lovely side-effects. Sometimes.

Jamie has always had periods of extreme restlessness between 4-6 pm, a kind of reverse witching hour I guess. I do think our current issue with early rising (6ish) is because he's been in bed with us and we have a couple of our shades raised. This light sensitivity is something new, and I did put foil on his windows after the time change and bedtime kept creeping southwards, as late as 9:30. The hand foot and mouth last week didn't help either, and now we have a canine trying to come in.

I will confess I wanted to wring his neck this morning because he was thrashing around the bed from 5-6, to the point that I finally ordered him to "Lay down, dammit!"


Forgot to mention the bedtime/wakeup time correlation. Most nights he falls asleep around 8:15, give or take 10 minutes. Some nights he's wound super-tight and it's 9. Those nights, he almost always wakes up early.

HOWEVER, he sleeps at most 13 hours a day, total. So moving the bedtime up more would just mean an earlier wakeup. It's a careful balancing act, but I now know that, if by some strange fluke, he had a 3-hour nap, bedtime will be at 9, at the earliest.


Two data points from me: My first child slept through the night (from 8 p.m. or so) at about 9 months, in a crib in her own room. From then through about 16 months (January to August) she'd wake up between 4:30 and 5:30 no matter what. I'd take her in my bed and nurse her, and very occasionally she'd drop back off. But most of the time she was Up For Good. The only way we got through it was to thoroughly childproof the living room and enclose it. She'd putter around while one parent slept on the couch. For some reason the TV had to be on for this scheme to work--I think the sound kept her company, because she didn't really watch it. We tried later bedtime, earlier bedtime, letting her fuss (not cry) in the a.m., keeping room v. dark (but we didn't have the shades); nothing worked. She just grew out of it at 16.5 mo and has rarely woken up before 6:30 since. Usually closer to 7 (she's now 4 years old).

Child #2 is now nearly 14 mo. He wakes between 4 and 5, I nurse him in an armchair in his room, and he usually goes back to sleep until about 7. Before long, though, it'll be light out at 5 a.m.--I'm afraid that will keep him from falling back to sleep. We'll see.


Black out shades do work. They keep my up-with-the-sun son asleep until 6:30.

Now that he's 4, I send him into the guest room (the only upstairs room with a tv) to watch the Disney channel and let us get some more sleep.


My little guy woke up before 5 am for more than 50% of the days between 5 and 24 months. He's just an natural early riser. I agree with most of the suggestions in your comments, especially the room darkening shades. They really work, especially for naps.

I just wanted to add that white noise is a big help too. Our little guy is an extremely light sleeper - just like me. I finally discovered that he started waking up at 4:45 because that's when our freaky neighbors leave for work. He'd wake up in his dark room when the sound of their car filtered through the closed window. He might settle back to sleep after that, but then wake up when the birds started singing just before sunrise. We put an air filter with a loud fan in his room and that really helped to muffle those same-time-every-day sounds that were re-setting his internal alarm clock.


I'm in Australia - and I'm not having any particular sleep problems these days - probably due to the dark, wintery mornings we are currently experiencing (it is so cold out and with no central heating no-one wants to get out of bed).

My 6.5 year old loves to sleep and will sleep in until 8am most mornings.

My 3.5 year old is unpredictable. She can wake anywhere from 6am to 7.30am. I prefer the latter. If she goes to be earlier (eg, 7am) she tends to sleep later. I find a dark room helps and lots of warm cosy blankets. I tuck her in tightly so she can't kick them off. A warm cup of milk helps too (if she wakes early) because that will keep her in bed for another half hour.

My 7 month old sleeps until 7am most mornings... but I'm not too fussed what she does these days so long as I get a decent stretch at night.

Slightly off topic - my 3 year old still wakes up in the night (nightmares?) and needs resettling 2-3 times every 2-3 nights. I'm currently taking her to an osteopath to see if cranial osteopathy can help with the sleep disturbances. I'm not sure if it could help with early wakings??


My daughter has always been an early riser and still is, at age 3. In the winter my husband told her that she couldn't get up until the sun was up, and that worked pretty well, though I'd hear her babbling to herself in her room. Now that the sun's coming up earlier, she's back to leaping out of bed around 6:30.

I have no solutions, I have tried every possible bedtime permutation I can think of. To date, I have always found that wearing her out and/or letting her stay up later has had the opposite effect you might think. She still gets up early, but is cranky all day.


it's after 7 and i think my slugs are STILL in bed. they slept until 9 (!!!) the other day. i was so jealous that i was pouty about it--i am in the office by 6.

i don't know why CX is not an early riser. i was apparently a night owl even in utero; CX was the same. NC, CX, and I all seem to be 'night people'. maybe we're just living on the wrong side of the world.

a later (or earlier, HA!) bedtime doesn't seem to make much difference. CX's default rising time is between 7 and 8. it may have helped that he was not a day care baby until he was about 18 months old and NC went back to school; CX gets up with us those mornings--VERY unwillingly, he'll burrow under the covers and say, "sleep! sleep! LIGHT OUT! TURN OFF LIGHT!" SLEEP!"--and then other days we all just wake up whenever. don't get me wrong--we'll sleep as late as CX will let us, so he's always the earliest riser among the three of us, but we're not getting out of bed with him at 5:30 unless it's a school day (and even then, we get up, get ready, and THEN wake him up).

for the record, CX's bedtime is between 8:30 and 10, depending upon if we're traveling, if there's a special event, or what have you. most nights he's in bed by 9 and asleep by 9:30.


Just an aside - you can get the fabric for black-out curtains at a fabric store. Then you can cut it to fit the windows - prettier than foil (slightly), and probably cheaper. I'd imagine it would work better than curtains anyway if it's right against the glass.


My girls always went to be early as babies and young toddlers. With my oldest, it started when she started giving up her third nap around 6 months. She wanted to take a nap about 5:30, so I put her to bed for the night at 6. Now (at 3 years) I put her to bed about 7:30 and she usually sleeps until 7-7:30 A.M.

Nap or no nap, my younger daughter has always preferred an early bedtime. Sometimes it was a struggle to keep her up until 6! She dropped down to one nap early -- about 12 months -- and I think this is part of the reason. She goes to bed about 6:30 and wakes between 6 and 7. What I did notice with both girls early bedtimes is that it took longer for them to stop needing a night feeding. I never pushed it, because if I went to bed at 6, I'd be hungry too!

So I guess what I'm saying is that I think the early bedtime is key as well. They still both get up around 7 if they stay up late, so they definitely lose sleep if they don't go to bed early. But the early rising? I have no answers for.

And while I'm pretty sure I wouldn't use opium even if it was legal, Moxie, there have been numerous times when I wished my kids had an "off" switch that I could use just for an hour or so!


I'm seconding the blackout option. Putting our son to bed earlier has helped when he was about two years old, but this spring he kept waking up earlier and earlier and being cranky for lack of sleep. (Oh, he's 3 1/2 now.)
Then we put a big piece of cardboard over one of the windows in his room, and voilà, he's sleeping until 7.30 or even 8.00. All in all he's getting about 11 hours of sleep.
Since then we've been installing blackout shades, but only on the one window near his bed, not in the other. He's afraid of sleeping in total darkness.
(After he slept longer, we found that now my husband was waking early despite being tired, so now the cardboard is in our window!)


I don't really have anything to contribute just yet, but I'm going to bookmark this thread for future reference. My 2-month-old sleeps from 8:30ish to 5:45am and has done so since 3 weeks old. He naps occasionally during the day, but usually it's just catnaps after feeding. I have no idea what I did to make him sleep so long at night, but he's very healthy and growing fast!

I'm curious to see how his sleeping patterns will change as he gets older.


Oh, the endlessly boggling topic of sleep!

The best thing I can offer up is: this too shall pass. My now five-year-old son has to be pryed from his bed every morning at 7:15 to get up and get ready for school. On weekends he often sleeps until 8. Yet this is the same child that had us so sleep deprived as new parents that we had no idea what hit us. Even as a toddler, he used to wake up at 5:30, and often, despite one of us crawling in his bed with him, wouldn't go back to sleep.

Having said that, a couple of recommendations:

1) Black-out shades. I have them in the windows of both of my kid's rooms and think they're great. Especially for naps.

2) Weissbluth. Moxie, I hear what you're saying about his "dogmatic attitude," but for me, that book was a god-send. I read it when my oldest was 12 weeks old and was astonished by all of the things I learned. His discussions on how to read sleepiness cues in your children were eye-opening for us, and really helped us to better manage the sleep situation. While I don't strictly adhere to his practices, I do recommend his discussions on sleep science and patterns to all new parents.

3) Sleep begets sleep. In general, the later my kids stay up at night, the earlier they get up the next morning. My 5 year-old seems to be outgrowing this pattern, but it absolutely holds true for my 2 year-old. My kids both go to bed by 8:00 in the summer and by 7:30 in the winter. They sleep straight through until 7:00 a.m.

4) Digital alarm clock. We got one for my son when he was 3, and tape a sign next to it that says in BIG letters "7:00." He knew not to get out of his room until his clock and the sign matched. Worked great.

5) Loveys and books within reach. Both of my kids will stay in their beds and read books for a while before calling for us. They also both have special blankets and sleeping buddies in their beds.

6) Naps. I guess this is really a copart to the sleep begets sleep point, above, but I honestly think many kids today are over-tired. My son JUST gave up his nap in the last 4 months. Even though I had tons of people telling me they'd never heard of a napping four-year-old, he needed one. When he skipped it, he was a crank, and always woke up earlier the next morning, thereby setting off a pattern of even more over-tiredness.

7) Boring mornings. If you have a kid who has gotten into a pattern of early rising, I suggest making mornings boring. (Basically the same theory that I used to drop night time wakings -- go in, tend to their needs, but keep stimulation to a minimum.) If they know that waking up at 5:30 gets them a couple of hours of TV, or play time with mom, I think they'll be more inclined to keep it up (especially if they are older).

And if all else fails, see my initial point above: this too shall pass!


What a perfectly timed post for me! My 13-month-old son has been getting up at 5 am for the last month. I blamed it on him starting day care full time at that time and me going back to work. Quite honestly I have blamed EVERYTHING on that lately: picky eating, clinginess, biting, tantrums etc and so on ad infinitum. All perfectly normal behaviours for a one-year-old. The funny thing was that my husband and I had a conversation about two weeks before his first birthday about how easy-going and pleasant our little high-need – but always wonderful - baby had become. Ha! Rambling on when all I really wanted to do was to add another data point...


Hey, well first of all, I'm so glad to read I'm not the only one with this rather annoying problem. It's easy to fall into that, "I'm obviously a bad mom because I'm the only one in the world who can't get a full night's sleep" thing, and thankfully that's clearly not the case. My husband has been advocating for the digital clock solution, so I was glad to hear you tried it, but what a bummer that it ultimately stopped working for you. I think we will try it and see what happens.

Complicating our issue is the fact that our kid only naps at school during the week, or if we drive her around on the weekend. She will not just go take a nap at home. So her nap schedule is inconsistent. I don't think there's any correlation between her activity level or amount of sleep or previous night's bedtime and the time she wakes up in the morning. Some mornings she doesn't come in until after 6:30 and other mornings, it's before 5:30. It sucks!

I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on this tomorrow.

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  • My expertise is in helping people be who they want to be, with a specialty in how being a parent fits into everything else. I like people. I like parents. I think you're doing a fantastic job. The nitty-gritty of what you do with your kids is up to you, although I'm happy to post questions here to get data points of how you could try approaching different stages, because, let's face it, this shit is hard. As for me, I have two kids who sleep through the night and can tie their own shoes. I've been a married SAHM, a married freelance WAHM, a divorcing WOHM, a divorced WOHM, and now a WAHM again. I'm not buying the Mommy Wars and I'll come sit next to you no matter how you're feeding your kid. When in doubt, follow the money trail. And don't believe the hype.
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