How can I get my baby to sleep later?

Q: My 9-month-old baby goes to bed at 8 and wakes up between 4 and 5:30 every morning. How can I get him to sleep later?

A: Some babies are early birds by nature, but that doesn't mean you can't train your baby to wake up at a more reasonable time -- say, 6 a.m. First, try putting him down a bit earlier. It may seem counterintuitive, but bumping his bedtime up to 7 or 7:30 may actually get him into a deeper sleep pattern, helping him to doze longer come morning. And when you do hear him stirring, leave him alone for a while. Sometimes babies make noise during a "partial wakening" between sleep cycles, but will conk out for another 60 to 90 minutes afterward. If you show up, however, that partial wakening will become a full wakening, so try to wait as long as possible before going into the nursery. Finally, avoid feeding your baby when he wakes at 4 or 5 a.m. That's actually considered a night feeding, which a 9-month-old no longer needs. If you offer food, he'll remain a trained night feeder -- not the goal you're after.

Copyright 2009

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