Every week I get dozens of questions about short naps and early morning wakings.  My first piece of advice is always the same:

Darken your baby’s room!

As an adult, when we wake around 5:30 a.m. because a little sunlight is sneaking into our room, we can take a look at the clock, realize we still have an hour (or two if you’re lucky!) to sleep, and continue right into the next sleep cycle.  Unfortunately, our kids can’t do that.

Let’s take a moment to back track and put ourselves in our child’s shoes (or booties).  When our little one wakes in the morning and sees even the tiniest bit of light coming into his room, his brain tells his body that it’s morning and it’s time to wake up.  The chance of him falling back to sleep like he would when it is dark drops significantly.

As we know, unless you're a nocturnal animal, darkness is an indicator to the brain that it’s time to go to sleep/back to sleep.  Additionally, light inhibits melatonin production and throws off one's circadian rhythms and, therefore, causes a baby to start the morning earlier than you would like.

To prevent this cycle of undesired sleep schedules, I recommend blackout curtains for keeping outdoor light away no matter the time of day!

There are a variety to choose from but my favorite are Blackout EZ Window Covers: http://www.blackoutez.com/217.html as they are 100% black out (not a even a sliver of light will sneak through), easy to install, and affix directly to the window. The best part is that you do not have to remove your current decorative nursery drapery or curtains.

Now, once you install some blackout shades, remember this isn’t an instant fix (although with some kids it can be).  Your baby’s body clock is set to waking early.  Give the blackout covers a few weeks to work their magic and always stick to a minimum wake up time with your little one. Before you know it, everyone will be peacefully sleeping until YOU decide it’s morning!

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