Early rising has to be one of the hardest and most challenging aspects of parenthood, it can literally put a dampener on the entire day. Days feel incredibly long, sleep envy kicks in and no doubt your over tired toddler will dish out an unrelenting amount of whinging and whining, not to mention the odd tantrum thrown in for good measure. Welcome to the world of the early riser!
We all know that gone are the days of our children ever sleeping beyond 7am but 5am just isn't acceptable on any level.
Bring in the sleep trainer clock.......
These clever little gadgets have been around for a number of years with newer models being introduced to the market all the time. The idea behind a sleep trainer clock is to gradually teach your child to stay in bed for longer and wait for the clock to signal when it's time to get up. To maximise your chances of success, it's really important to consider a few factors first before introducing one to your child.
Is your child ready?
Most children are ready to use a sleep trainer clock successfully from 2 years of age, however this will depend very much on your child's language and comprehension skills. If your child can follow simple instructions such as.. 'find me your shoes' or turn the light off', they are likely to be ready.
Choosing a clock.
There are many different brands to choose from each with similar functions. The award winning Sam The Lamb clock is my favourite choice as it comes with some great functions and it's both mains and battery operated too.
Before you introduce one to your child, have a play with it first to familiarise yourself with its different functions.
Trial it out at night to ensure the screen isn't too bright so adjustments can be made. It's best to have it set to the lowest level to avoid it distracting your child. Make sure you explain fully to your child what is expected of them, it might be worth having a little practice with it in a darkened room so your child gets used to the screen and understands when it's time to wake up.
Choose the right place
Place the clock either by your child’s bed or high up on a shelf if they are likely to be distracted by it. Always use the clock in ‘key-lock’ mode to prevent your child from tampering with it or adjusting the time. (Your worst nightmare!!)
Is under tiredness a likely cause?
There is no point in using a sleep trainer clock if your child is waking up early caused by having too much day sleep or being under tired at night. Most children between 2-2 1/2 years need an average of 60-90 mins of sleep per day with this cutting down to 45 mins between 2 1/2 - 3 years. If your child is napping more than this it's worth cutting it back first to see if changes occur to their wake up time.
Take it slow
The key to successfully shifting your child's wake up time is to do it gradually. Rushing the process will not give your child's body clock the chance to shift and adjust.
For the first 5-7 days it is really important to set the clock to come on close to your child’s usual wake up time. For example, if your child usually wakes around 5am but you would like them to wake up at 6am, set the clock to come on around 5:10am to start with.
When your child wakes at their usual time of 5am, pop in briefly and tell him it's still night time and he must wait in bed until the screen turns green and Sam's eyes open.
After 5-7 days, and sometimes longer, your child will have learnt to wait until the clock signals when it's time to wake up . Once you are confident your child has understood and grasped the concept, you can start to adjust the time. For best results move the time forward by 10 minutes every 5-7 days until you reach the desired time. Your child will not notice these gradual adjustments but their body clock should shift accordingly.
The sleep trainer clock can be used effectively for day time naps too and is particularly useful if you just want your child to have quiet time in their room.
You can also use the clock during daylight savings and when travelling on holiday, this will ensure your child gets sufficient sleep and doesn’t get over tired.
Reward your child
Introduce a reward chart to help motivate your child and make the experience a positive one. Children love getting stickers and small incentives and this will only further help and encourage your child's compliance.
By following these simple tips and rules, you will significantly improve your chances of success and optimise your child's sleeping potential.
If you are having trouble tackling early rising and would like further advice and support please don't hesitate to get in touch.