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4 Reasons Why Your Baby is Waking Early

If your baby has decided they would like to be a morning person and you're looking for a golden ticket to a 7am sleep in, be rest-assured there are things you can do to get your baby waking closer to 7am. Some babies sit lower on the sleep needs spectrum, which means they may only sleep 11 hours overnight. In my experience, babies who are sleep trained early will sleep for longer durations than those who are sleep trained later than 6 months.

It is important to know that the early morning is a hard time for baby to re-settle as sleep hormones are low and cortisol is starting to rise, to wake them up for the day. Sleep environment should be conducive to sleeping-in (dark, white noise for young babies or babies living in a noisy household/busy street). Worried your baby is starving when they wake early? Offer a feed at that early wake, are they still hungry at 7am? In most cases, baby won't be hungry. You can start to eliminate the feed at that early wake, by reducing time at the breast or reducing the amount of formula prepared.

  1. Is your baby undertired?

If your baby is napping well and sleeps for a solid 10-11 hours, they may not be tired enough to sleep any longer. Know your baby's sleep quota. Maybe they need to be kept up a little bit longer before bed? Maybe all their awake windows need to be extended by 10-20 minutes? An undertired baby will wake chatty and happy (although this isn't always accurate). An undertired baby will last their usual awake period without looking/ acting like they are exhausted.

2. Is your baby overtired?

An overtired baby will have restless sleep. They will wake frequently, often overtired newborns will wake 1-2 hourly after midnight. A 3-12 month old will likely wake around 9pm and then rise early the next morning. An overtired toddler may cry out occasionally and rise with the birds at 4 or 5am. Check baby is not awake too long before bed. Did baby have a shocking day of naps the day prior? Was their longest nap less than 90 minutes?

3. Does your baby require assistance to re-settle?

A baby who doesn't love sleep will resist a re-settle in the early hours of the morning. This baby will sleep the bare minimum and both you and they, will find sleep a hassle as there's a long production beforehand (rocking/signing/ sitting beside/holding). Teach your baby to self-settle and you will see a huge difference in their morning wake time.

4. Is baby waking out of habit?

I get it-I myself have been known to take my newborn son out for a walk at 5:30am because I was plain-sick of re-settling. I recall feeling excited by the rising of the sun and felt nervous for the sun to set because I knew that meant very broken sleep ahead. Sometimes, it is easier to just go with your child's demands rather than putting in the hard yards...especially at 5am. What might happen here, is that your little one may continue to wake between 4:30 and 5:30am and their body clock will set this time as morning wake time.

Depending on the age of your child, they might need a nap soon after this early rise, or their lunch nap will be really early. You'll end up either holding your baby out until a reasonable bedtime (hello more adrenaline or cortisol) or you will offer an extra nap. Whatever you choose, it is likely you are re-enforcing the early wake. The first step to rectifying this issue is to consider a new nap plan. A nap too soon or a nap that is too long, will encourage an early rise, so you might gradually push the nap later, or cut it shorter. The second element will be re-settling. Yes, it may not be the easiest re-settle of your life. Consistency will get you great results. Short term pain for long term gain. Having a baby is not a 4 year sentence of early waking.

Would you like to get this early rising solved, once and for all?

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