Early Risers – What to do when your baby wakes up very early in the morning

download (8)

A few tips from my lovely friend and colleague from Sleep Stars Consulting:

Early rising is one of the most common problems that parents have when it comes to their little one’s sleep. The child may fall asleep with no problems, sleep through the night without a peep and then cock-a-doodle-do at 5 a.m.! They’re up and ready to start the day, whether you like it or not. Between 5am and 7am is a tricky time for babies as they are in the lightest stage of their sleep and most likely already have 10 hours under their belt so if they are woken, it is very tough to get them to go back to sleep. The reality is, early mornings are probably going to be part of our lives for a while (a side effect of being a parent unfortunately), but here are a few suggestions that I recommend you try to see if you can make that early morning not quite so early.

  • Is your child’s room as dark as possible? Even the slightest bit of light can encourage your baby to wake before an appropriate time, especially during these summer months. Humans sleep best in complete darkness so investing in good blackout blinds for you and your family will help encourage restful sleep.
  • Is there any environmental noise happening? Somebody getting up for work, neighbourhood/building noise, a garbage truck rolling by? Using a sound machine set to white noise can help eliminate the chance that something is waking your child. Make sure if introducing white noise that it is on when baby goes to bed and stays on all night long so their sleep environment is consistent.
  • Stick to your guns on wake-up time! I never suggest getting your baby out of bed prior to 6 a.m. If you start bringing them out earlier than this it will only persuade them to call for you at this time. Decide on a minimum wake-up time (within reason) for your family and make it a rule. If you have a toddler who is in a bed, introducing a night light that changes colour when it is morning can be very useful. I recommend the Gro Clock or the Good Nite Lite.
  • What time is your baby’s first nap? If you’re putting your little one down too early after rising then they will start to use this as an extension of their night time sleep.
  • What is happening when your baby is waking early? Could they be waking up early looking for something? Make sure to delay your baby’s first feed by about 10 minutes. If you rush to them and feed them right away when they wake at this time, you’re only supporting their decision that it’s time to get up.
  • What time is baby’s bedtime? It could be that your baby is overtired, which can lead to early wake ups. Ensuring that your child gets to bed somewhere between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. is ideal, depending on when their last nap ended. Keep in mind that when changing bedtime you often need to stick to the new time for a week or two to see any results, so be patient.
  • If after trying an earlier bedtime for a week to two weeks you don’t see any change in wake-up time it may be time to look at slowly moving bedtime later by 10 minutes every three days until it is 30 minutes later than normal. Again, you cannot expect to see results for at least a week, if not two; just be consistent and patient.
  • “Wake to Sleep:”
  • This is usually the last thing that I suggest to parents when nothing else has worked and you have looked at all other possible causes for the early rising. This can only be done if the wake-up time is fairly consistent.
  • Set your alarm for 10 minutes before the time your baby is currently waking.
  • Go into the room and lightly rouse baby, but not fully awake (this is the tricky part), then quietly leave the room.
  • If your baby still wakes at the same time then leave them until your decided minimum wake-up time. I suggest 6 a.m. at the earliest.
  • If your baby manages to sleep longer but still not until your minimum wake-up time, still leave them until that time.
  • This will have to be done for a full seven days until you will start to see any success, so be patient.