I agree that your little night owl is ready for an earlier
bedtime. She’s gone from having a very loose, flexible internal clock, to having
an internal clock that is quickly maturing and favoring an early, regular
bedtime. Getting her to eventually tuck in for the night between 7 and
8 p.m. will help her get the 11- to 12-hour night of sleep that she needs.
Shifting her bedtime earlier by four to five hours may seem like
an impossible feat, but it’s not. You can do it gradually by putting her to
bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier each night—or even every other night. You can also try
just putting her down at 7 without the gradual backing up to that time. She may wake after a brief nap at
that time for a week or so, until she gets used to it, but eventually she will
adjust. If you take the jump-in approach, be sure to keep the room dark after bedtime, make her
feedings very mechanical and with little social engagement (in other words, keep
it dark and boring). This will help tell her body it’s time to be asleep.
have to be patient with her because she’s still little—it’s not until closer
to 6 months when we can expect her internal clock to be mature to the point of
sleeping a full night with few or no feedings.
One of the most important things to remember is that her
waking time in the morning strongly affects her bedtime. In other words, if she
doesn’t start her day until 9 a.m., she’ll have a hard time starting her
night at 7 p.m. We want to press “go” on her internal clock by 7 a.m. to
get her ready for that early bedtime you’re working towards.
Do you have a sleep question you want Heather to answer for Sleep Fix? Email her at email@example.com. Sleep expert Heather Turgeon, co-author of "The Happy Sleeper: The Science-Backed Guide to Helping Your Baby Get a Good Night's Sleep—Newborn to School Age," will fix your family's sleep problems in this space as she does in her Los Angeles-based sleep consultations. Turgeon's solutions are nonjudgmental, kind and—best of all—based on science.
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