Babies waking up too early: another one of the many unforeseen challenges of child-rearing.
So, mama, your days of hitting the snooze button appear to have come to an end. Your alarm clock is now that sweet sound of your little one’s morning roar. And while you may have known that sleep would be in shorter supply when your little one hit the scene, this dawn (or earlier…) wake up call is getting ridiculous.
Seriously folks, when your baby wakes up at 4am (Every. Single. Day), they better be turning on the charm if they don’t want to be evicted. (For real, they’re not even paying rent.)
And this is not just about the luxury of sleeping in. Sleep deprivation is serious and can affect your health in all sorts of ways.
So, yes, we hear you. This matters. And, no, you don’t have to throw in the towel and start going to bed at 7 every night.
Let’s figure it out together, shall we?
How do I get my baby to sleep later in the morning?
Sleep training theories abound. There are all sorts of techniques that require varying degrees of commitment. While these techniques are good to know, this is ultimately your baby, your body, and your life. So understand your options, then figure out what works best for you.
How do I stop my baby waking at 5am?
If your baby wakes up at 5am every morning and it works for you and your schedule, then it’s all good.
If however, your baby wakes up too early and it’s disruptive to both you and them, it’s worth looking into. It might also make a difference if they are waking up early for a feed or a change then going back to sleep, vs. waking up early ready to take on the day.
If your baby wakes up early in the day and won’t go down again, there’s a chance that they might be:
- Getting too much sleep. If daytime naps are too long or too frequent, they may have reached their sleep quota by the early morning.
- Getting too little sleep. Thou shalt know it by their crankiness. It’s counterintuitive, but when babies go to sleep overtired, they may wake up too early. So getting them to bed at an earlier time may mean a longer sleep for all.
The amount of sleep your baby needs is age-dependent (and individual-dependent—not all babies need the same amount of sleep). Newborn babies need as many as 18 hours of sleep. When they reach about two months, this goes down to about 14/15 hours. Once they are toddlers, 14 hours max should do the trick.
So, basically, nap time and bedtime will both change as your baby grows.
Why does my 12 month old wake up so early?
If your baby wakes up too early at 12 months, and it’s not the norm for them, it may be the result of a sleep regression. You may have heard of this particular sleep adventure. Essentially, after being pretty good at the whole sleep thing, your baby suddenly becomes pretty bad at it.
Sleep regressions can be caused by a number of factors. They usually signal some sort of transition period, including growth spurts and teething issues. A new daycare, moving to a new house, and travelling can all cause sleep issues. If you’re planning a big trip with your baby, make sure you know where the coffee is at all times, mama.
Sleep regressions typically last for about 2 to 4 weeks. They are disruptive, but fortunately, they don’t last too long. Phew.
How do I stop my baby from rising early?
Simple answer: trial and error. The uniqueness of your baby and your household calls for your own particular response.
As you embark on your quest, here are some tips you can try:
Lower the lights. Just like us, babies are at the mercy of circadian rhythms. Basically, along with many other organisms on this planet, we humans love routine, and our bodies have a strong drive to sleep when it’s “sleep time” and wake when it’s “wake time.”
But where do our bodies get the message that it is “wake time” and “sleep time”? One of the major cues is light. So if there’s light streaming through your baby’s window, reach for the blinds/curtains/poster board/etc.
It’s important to note that blocking the light source is not necessarily an overnight fix. Because your baby’s routine may already be well established, it may take a little time to correct itself.
Try dream feeding.* Between about 10 pm and midnight, offer your baby an additional feeding without waking them up. Basically, you’re getting them just awake enough to have a munch, but no more.
A good time to get going on the dream feed is when your baby is about 3 months old. Again, schedules matter, so if you find that dream feeding works for you, try to do it at the same time every night.
Explore the various sleep training methods out there to establish a routine. The Ferber Method can help your little one establish a sleep schedule by leaving them alone for progressively longer intervals of time. There’s also the Chair Method, the Wake-and-Sleep Method, and the Fading Method. Again, there is no one way to do this. See what works for you. Adjust accordingly.
Check-in with your healthcare provider. There’s a chance that your baby is waking early because they are suffering from an underlying medical condition. If they have GERD (acid reflux disease) or are ill, they may wake up early to let you know they’re not feeling too well. Particularly if the early rising is accompanied by any other symptoms, such as a fever or congestion, better to check in with your doctor as soon as you can.
Okay, mama. Good luck. You will sleep again. Promise. 💤💤💤