What is a dramatic wake-up, you ask?
The dramatic wake-up is a tool that I use to help a baby or toddler to understand that sleep time is over and it’s time to get up. I use the dramatic wake-up anytime mom has to go into her baby’s room when her baby is crying. It can be used to end the nap or start the day. It’s called a dramatic wake-up because well, you’re going to be DRAMATIC! The drama is meant to send a clear message and create a clear line in the sand that sleep time is over and it’s time to get up. The main reason I use it is to send the message to your child that you are getting them up, NOT because they are crying, but because naptime is over or morning is here. It provides a visual and audible way for them to gain understanding.
Here’s how it works…
Baby has woken from a nap early or in the morning earlier than normal. You want to see if they will put themselves back to sleep. So you wait….Unfortunately after 15-20 minutes, you can see that it’s not happening. Now what?? If you go in and scoop baby out of crib they are learning that all the protesting has worked. You will then be compounding a behavior that you would ideally like to extinguish. Here’s what to do instead:
This is how you would enter the room…
- Walk-in with a cheerful voice and face. Your overall energy is upbeat and happy
- Do not immediately go to the crib. Busy yourself in the room for 15-20 seconds or so before you even pay any attention to your baby. (this looks very different from a mom who is coming in to scoop up a crying baby) You can be talking to him by saying something like “Goodmorning” or “rise and shine, it’s time to get up!”. If it’s nap time you can announce “Naptime is over, it’s time to get up!”. Open the curtains, turn off the sound machine and turn on the lights. We want baby to pick up on your upbeat energy and not the other way around. We want your baby or toddler to understand that it is not his wake-up that determines when nap time ends or when the morning begins. This simple act is one way that we can help create boundaries around sleep. We can’t MAKE our kids sleep but we CAN keep age-appropriate sleep boundaries in place.
- Know that if a nap has been short or morning wake up has been earlier than normal, that will affect baby’s next wake window. Expect that the wake window will be shorter and watch for sleepy cues sooner than normal depending on the age of your baby.