I'm an expert in child sleep – how to encourage your little ones to sleep later in the morning, even in the summer | The Sun

IT can be more than a little frustrating – and exhausting – if you have a little one who wakes up super early in the morning.

And while there are millions of tips out there on how to get your child to sleep through the night, they often forget to offer advice to parents struggling with an early riser.

We spoke to child sleep expert Hannah Costello, of Sleep Well With Hannah, and asked for her best suggestions on encouraging babies and young children to sleep for longer.

"If your baby or toddler is waking too early to start the day it's important to pinpoint whether they are ready to get up, or are still tired and need more sleep," she explained.

"If your baby is waking and is falling straight back to sleep on you with cuddles, a feed or with help then they need more sleep."

If you have a baby that isn't yet self-settling – i.e. independently going to sleep without any help from you – then ideally you need to teach them how to sleep independently.

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You can then practise this in the morning if they wake up too early.

"If they are needing you to go to sleep at the start of nap time and at bed time, then it is natural they will also need you to return to sleep when they wake from a sleep cycle," Hannah continued.

"This can be as often as every five to 10 minutes as they approach morning time."

But if you have a little one that does self-settle, there are a few things you can do to help them sleep for longer.

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Firstly, Hannah advises having "good black-out blinds, and curtains, to stop the early morning light getting through".

This is especially vital in the summer months, when it gets lighter earlier and stays lighter until later.

You also need to make sure your child isn't cold.

"Often the bedroom is 5-10 degrees hotter in the evening than in the early morning," Hannah said.

"Maybe go in and pop another layer, or warmer tog sleeping bag on before you go to bed."


UNDER FIVE MONTHS – No more than nine hours

FIVE MONTHS TO TWO YEARS – 10 to 11 hours

TWO YEARS AND OVER – 12 hours ideally

If you have a child who is waking up happy and ready to start the day, and is lasting until their first nap, "this is an indication they have had the sleep they need".

"In this situation, the number one reason for babies waking early is bed times being too early!"Hannah said.

"This should always be the starting point for any resolution to a baby’s early morning wakes, especially if they are refusing to go back to sleep, even with help."

If your child still naps during the day and you're putting them to bed at 7pm, they are likely to wake up before 6am.

But summer is the perfect time to encourage a later bedtime, Hannah explained.

"Have some time in the garden, enjoy dinner out or visit friends and put baby to bed later," she said.

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"Within a few days you will see a change in their wake-up time, just like when the clocks change."

For more tips on how to solve early morning wakes, and also tips on travelling through times zones if you are lucky enough to be going on holiday, check out Hannah's free guide here.

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