Babies waking up too early is something I am very familiar with. Both of my little ones have been early birds so we have tried lots of tactics to get a few more minutes of shut eye around my house.
I probably shouldn’t be too surprised that both of my children like to be up at the crack of dawn as I am an early bird myself. When I get uninterrupted sleep I tend to naturally wake up at about 5am.
I love the quite mornings…and hearing the birds chirp. However it is not when I want my children to be up as it leads to a full day of crankiness.
Are you wondering how to stop baby waking at 5am? If so…read on!
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What is considered an early wake up?
I suppose this question could be answered in a variety of ways. Some people consider 8am an early wake up. I think if a baby wakes up at 5am…it is too early!
Many sleep experts go with 6am as the gold standard for a “normal” wake up time. The 6am rule is the one that we enforce in my home as well.
You can also look at cues from your child to see if they are getting enough sleep or if the wake up time is in fact too early for them.
If your baby is waking up crying and not a happy babble, it could be a sign that they may need more sleep. I have noticed that when my little ones are not getting enough sleep they wake up cranky.
If my baby is well rested she starts her day by cheerfully chatting to herself once awake.
When my toddler isn’t getting enough sleep he tends to cry easily and I will find him lying on the floor clutching his stuffed puppy throughout the morning.
When he does get enough sleep he is ready to play and generally more cooperative.
No matter what age your child is it is important to watch their cues and moods for clues on how well they are sleeping.
Does a later bedtime equal a child that sleeps in?
That is one of the biggest mistakes that parents make is putting their children to bed later in hopes that it will make their little ones sleep in.
Most of the time this method leads to your little one getting less sleep at night and you will still have your baby waking too early and extra cranky.
However, there is a few circumstances where this may actually help. If you are putting your little one to bed really early you can try to push the bedtime later by about 15 minutes. If that seems to help then stick with it or try to push it another 15 minutes later.
Solving sleep issues will take some trial and error.
Will cutting out naps help them sleep later?
Most sleep experts seem to give this a big thumbs down. However, I really think it depends on your own child’s sleep needs.
Babies need daytime sleep. How much they need will vary from one baby to the next. Your baby’s age will also play a big factor in how much day time sleep they will need.
Obviously a newborn’s sleep schedule will look completely different from a 6 months old’s sleep schedule.
My little guy seemed to always drop naps earlier then what was “typical”. This even stretched into toddler years.
We were having a very hard time getting my two year old to go to bed at night and he was waking up sometimes before 5am. He was also putting up a huge fight when it came nap time during the day.
Most sleep experts suggest that more daytime sleep equals better sleep at night. This was not the case with our son.
We cut out his daytime nap and went for an earlier bedtime (somewhere between 6:30pm-7pm). This worked for us. He stopped fighting bedtime and started to sleep in later! He now wakes usually between 6am-7am for the day! We are all in a much better mood.
Your baby or toddler will need less daytime sleep as they get older. You will want to pay attention to your baby’s mood and sleep cues to see when you should cut down on nap times.
With each nap transition you may have some difficult nights until their body adjusts.
How much sleep does my baby need?
All babies and toddlers sleep different amounts. You can find out how many hours of sleep is recommended for your baby by clicking HERE.
How to Stop Baby Waking Early
Control the Sleep Environment
On of the best ways to help prevent early wake ups is to make sure that the room is dark. Use blackout curtains (like these) so that light does not sneak into your child’s bedroom and make them think it is time to get up.
Not a fan of black out curtains? There is also blackout window film you can buy to prevent light from coming in as well (check it out here.)
A white noise machine (this is the one we have) or fan can also be your friend. If there are other noises in your house that could be waking up your little one you will want to drown those out.
Make sure the temperature in the room is comfortable for your baby as well. A room that is too hot or too cold can definitely make your baby wake up when they should be sleeping.
Have a Consistent Bedtime and Morning Routine
Have a routine with your little one in order to establish good sleep habits from day one. This means setting up a bedtime routine and keeping it consistent as best you can. Also having a good wake up routine is important too. Your baby should know what to expect at morning time as well.
This may mean turning on the light or opening windows so they can see it is day. Getting clothes on and being cheerful with your baby can be a good way to introduce morning.
We use the Sleep Sense program to create healthy sleep habits for our little ones. You can read more about the program my experience with Sleep Sense here.
Strategies for Babies Waking Up Too Early
Products that Help Babies Sleep Longer
I really like sleep. However my children have not been magical unicorn sleepers by any stretch of the imagination. So I have tried a lot of sleep products to help my little ones get more shut-eye. Here are a few that I would recommend:
Magic Merlin Sleep Suit
I wish I would have had this for my son when he was a baby. I did however get to borrow one from my sister to try out on my baby girl.
My daughter had colic when she was a baby and I did a TON of walking (great for losing baby weight) as it was the only way to get her to sleep.
Enter Magic Merlin Sleep Suit. I still remember the first time I put it on her. She actually smiled closed her eyes and went to sleep! I didn’t have to do my normal routine of laps around the house to get her lulled to sleep. It did seem like magic.
It helped us out for a period of time and aided in us getting her to sleep quickly. Like all things she eventually grew out of it and it stopped working for us.
For a while though…that thing was worth its weight in gold! You can check them out HERE.
Nested Bean Sleep Sack
As a sleep deprived mom I first learned about the nested bean sack from Facebook. My daughter was just a few weeks old when we decided to try it and I loved it.
It has a little weight sewn into the sleep sack to make it feel like your hand is on your baby (genius right?) This was one of the ways my daughter would go to sleep was having my hand gently on her. You can check them out HERE.
Swaddle Up Sleep Sack
We used this on my son when we were transitioning him out of being swaddled.
Swaddling helps keep baby’s arms still and fights against the moro reflex (read about that here.) As they get older it is no longer safe to swaddle and it is time to switch to a sleep sack.
The swaddle up still provides some resistance against the startle reflex but not is much as a traditional swaddle. It has a few different options on how it can be worn (check it out here) which is nice when you are trying to transition out of the swaddle.
What Should You Do When Your Baby Wakes Up Too Early?
There are a few different strategies to try out when you hear your baby waking up early.
Wait a Few Minutes
Is your baby actually awake? Babies tend to make a lot of noise when they are sleeping. You may want to wait a few minutes in order to see if they are actually awake before heading in their room.
Sometimes you can wake them up by going in when they are just making sounds in their sleep and not really awake.
This can be a tricky tactic. Sometimes an early feeding may make your baby think it is time to wake up and play! Sometimes it will lull your baby back to sleep for a little while longer. I have had both happen to me. I think it depends on your baby.
If your baby needs a little food or an extra snuggle to get back to sleep I say embrace it. You can read more about breastfeeding your baby to sleep HERE.
Pretend it is Nighttime
Handle the early wake up from your baby like you would a night-time wake up.
Has your baby ever woken up in the night WIDE AWAKE? This has been a common occurrence for my 5 month old baby. I usually try to rock her or feed her to get her to go back to sleep. I will check her diaper too as sometimes that can be what wakes little ones up.
If she seems like she wants to play, I lay her back down in her crib and let her play a bit on her own.
I limit my eye contact and I don’t talk to her as sometimes that can excite her which makes going back to sleep more difficult.
She then usually coos on her own for a bit. When she starts to fuss I go back in and attempt to get her to sleep again if she is having trouble or sounds upset. Sometimes though she just plays for a bit and goes back to sleep on her own.
I hope you find these tips helpful!
What advice do you have for other parents with babies waking up too early? Stop in our Facebook Mindful Parenting Group and let us know your thoughts.
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