Early waking (I would say that it is anything before 6 am) is a very common issue with the families I work with and can be one of the most challenging sleep challenges to resolve. This is because by 5 am, your baby’s system isn’t producing so much of the lovely sleep hormone melatonin, plus the other hormone adenosine (or sleep pressure) has also pretty much depleted. So it can make it much more difficult to settle a baby that has woken at that time and often means that you have to start the day WAY too early!
Don’t worry, though, if your baby is a constant early waker; there are things that you can do to try and help them sleep a little longer each morning. And means that you don’t feel that you’ve already lived through half a day and it’s only 9 am!
Find Out the Cause
There will always be a reason that your baby is waking at this time, so you need to work out what that is.
Could it be light coming into the room causing the wake-up? This is particularly relevant now that it’s getting lighter earlier in the morning. I vesting in good blackout blinds can help in the summer months.
Or could it be noise that’s causing them to stir? This could be noise from inside your house, so think if it could be something like a boiler coming on at that time each day. Or it could be something outside that’s waking them – a neighbour starting their car early to leave for work, perhaps? Playing white noise for the entire night can help drown out any noise that could wake your little one too early.
Is it hunger? Your baby may still be hungry at that time. Try feeding them when they wake and see if that helps them to settle back to sleep for a couple more hours. You could also try a dream feed when you go to bed, which may be enough to see them through to a more reasonable time the next morning.
Are They Getting the Right Amount of Sleep for Their Age?
Keep an eye on how much sleep your little one is getting over 24 hours. Are they getting too little sleep overall, or is the balance of sleep between day and night not quite right? Little changes to your baby’s total sleep can help balance things out and make for more rested nights. If you’re unsure how much sleep they need, you can also go back to my earlier blog about average sleep needs, which gives you a guide depending on their age.
If It Feels Like a Habit, There Are Ways You Can Help With This Too
If you feel that it’s just become a habit that your baby wakes at the same early time each day, think about how you react when they do wake. Make sure that you treat this wake up as you would any other night waking – keep the lights low and speak in calm, hushed voices. If you usually chat to them, move them out of their cot and maybe even take them downstairs, they may be waking at this time as it feels like this is when the fun starts!
Your baby can’t tell the time, so make sure that when you go in to get them at the time, you’re happy for them to wake, that you make this seem very different to a night waking. Speak in a cheerful, chatty voice, open the curtains and be very enthusiastic about it being a good time to get up!
Good luck, and I hope you get later wake-ups very soon – I know how draining it is to have to start your day so early.
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