So, D continues to wake at ungodly hours of the morning. It's funny how just a few weeks ago, a 5:30am wake up call seemed like cruel and unusual punishment. Now, it's a goal waking time.
We've been using the toddler alarm clock (the kind you set a time for in the morning and it glows green to signal that it's an ok time to wake). We've been setting it to 5:30am. The first morning D woke around 4:30, played in his room for a little while, then got tired and spent the next half hour or longer rattling the gate at his bedroom door and calling for us. He actually called out for "Zach! Zach!" a few times (yes, using Daddy's actual name) and then settled back on his chant of "Open the gate! Open the gaaate!" We had to come out a couple of times to remind him that we wouldn't be opening the gate till his alarm clock glowed green. He proceeded to toss toys over the gate and into the hallway.
The second morning he slept in a little, and only cried at the gate for about 10-20 minutes or so. The morning after that was a little better, and then this morning Zach said he heard D wake around 4:15 but after a brief bit of gate-rattling (no screaming) he went on to play quietly in his room up till Zach got up around 5:45am. AWESOME. I changed the clock settings so now it will glow green at 5:40 instead of 5:30, and the hope is to keep changing that every so often till hopefully establishing a 6am wake-up call (for us). I'm praying writing about this won't jinx us for tomorrow morning.
A friend gave me a copy of Parenting magazine that had an article in it about letting your kids be alone in the morning without waking you up right away. We got a few tips from that article that we implemented last night, like going into his room after he goes to sleep and leaving a basket of special "morning-time only" toys and also a snack and sippy cup with water. We have one tupperware container that he can open pretty well on his own, so have some cereal and his favorite freeze-dried fruit pieces in it to tide him over if he wakes up hungry.
I still worry that he's not getting enough sleep-- I swear he had bags under his eyes this morning, and his naps are getting earlier and earlier (he'll go down by about 11am now, for 1-1.5hrs). But, he wakes up happy in the morning and I don't see what else we can do to encourage him to sleep better, so *shrug.*