It may be dark outside, but your house is all lit up because your early bird is ready to get out of bed at 5 a.m. Sigh. We feel your bleary-eyed pain. If only you could toss a blanket over the crib, like a birdcage, and get that kid to snooze a little longer. But since that trick won’t work and your kiddo isn’t ready for screen time before sunrise, we’ve got a few tips that will help you survive these early mornings.

Photo: HLIT via Flickr

1. Hit the mall. Lots of malls open up a few hours before the stores are ready for shoppers. Bring your stroller or baby carrier and walk along in the warm, cozy space. You can squeeze in a little window shopping and get to know the over-70 mall walking crowd.

2. Get appy. When you’re running on fumes, it can be hard to think beyond singing yet another nursery rhyme. Download a couple of apps – like this free anytime, anywhere music class or the brain-building tips from Vroom – that will spark new ideas to entertain your little one, like ways to turn the daily job of getting dressed into a game.

3. Hit the playground. If the weather’s warm enough, get outside. You will have your pick of baby swings at 7 am and can show up early enough to welcome all of the pugs to the dog park.

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Photo: Jay Erickson via Flickr

4. Go on a coffee date. If it has been said once, it has been said a thousand times, because it’s true: nap when you can. And if you can’t, there’s always coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Hop in the car and hit the closest drive-thru coffee spot.

5. Splash around. Flip bath time from pre-bed to an early morning splash fest. Break out your best bath toys, put on some beach music and have a swimming party.

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Photo: Donnie Ray Jones via Flickr

6. Be first in line. Be thankful you can be first to the zoo or the children’s museum. Bonus: you’ll get the best parking spot, and you never, ever have to set an alarm to make sure you get out of the house on time.

7. Take turns. Alternate rise-and-shine days with your partner, if you can. That way, you each get a little more shut eye one day and get a little extra one-on-one time with your kiddo the other day.

8. Explore something new. Fill up a big tub with dry oatmeal to scoop and dump, or try one of these ten ideas here that use stuff you’ve already got, like rice and yogurt, for easy-peasy sensory play that will fill up those early morning hours.

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Photo: Jim Champion via Flickr

9. Snuggle up with a good book. Babies love looking at faces, so pick out a few with photographs of other kiddos, or try a touch-and-feel book that gives your little one new textures to explore.

10. Play in the dark. When your baby’s up and at ‘em and it’s dark outside, you can make the most of the darkness. Now’s the time to make shadow puppets or cuddle by the fire – all those cozy evening activities can be trotted out for pre-dawn fun.

Tell us: what do you do to entertain your early riser?

-Oz Spies