Babies Waking Up Too Early? Our Top 11 Sleep Saving Tips | Kidadl


Babies Waking Up Too Early? Our Top 11 Sleep Saving Tips

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It is a well-documented fact that with a baby around, you aren't going to be getting much sleep!

This is something all parents and caregivers come to accept, and we know the sleepless nights won't last forever. But how about those early mornings?

Babies and children for that matter are early risers by nature, this all changes as they approach the teen years but that's not for a while yet! With very young babies, we need to follow their cues, but around the age of six months, as your baby starts to sleep a little longer at night and you have more of a routine, there are a few ways you can try to get an extra hour in the mornings.

It is very normal for little ones to be awake and ready to start their day between 6 and 7 a.m., so when we say early start, we are looking more at the 4 to 5 a.m. gang! If you are after a proper lie-in, you may have to bring in back-up or take it in turns with a partner.

If you enjoy this article, why not check out some of our other baby advice pieces, such as why a [baby cries while nursing] and what to do if a [baby hates tummy time].

Why Do Some Babies Wake Up So Early?

There are some things you can try to get baby back to sleep in the mornings.

So why is baby waking so early? What is the best time to wake up? Scientifically speaking, it is best to go to bed early and wake up early, but this is not always possible, especially if you spend all day at work or with your kids, when can you get anything done? The next best way to get good quality sleep is to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday, even on the weekends! Our circadian rhythm, or internal clocks, gets used to the times we sleep and wake, and having a huge lie-in can throw that off, and actually leave you feeling more tired. If you can reset your circadian rhythm you will not only find yourself more in tune with your early riser baby, but you could find you have more energy and better health overall!

If your baby is up in the middle of the night, an early morning wake-up time could be your worst nightmare, and resetting your circadian rhythm certainly won't be top of your to-do list. There can be lots of reasons why your baby wakes up too early, here we have outlined the key things that might set off your baby-shaped early morning alarm clock, and how you might be able to adapt your routine to help them sleep later.

Tips For Dealing With It

We have found some key reasons why your little one is up with the birds and added some tips to make it all a bit easier to deal with. Some of these tips may seem a little contradictory, too much sleep versus not enough sleep, but all children are different and you will probably recognize the tips that are most relevant to your early waking baby.

1. Review Your Sleep Schedule

Sleep schedules are so useful for working out the best times for your baby to nap, fall asleep and wake up in the morning, not to mention routines can help our babies to feel secure. If you are finding your baby is waking up earlier than before, perhaps after a sleep regression, it could be time to review the sleep schedule as a few simple changes could be all it takes to get your baby waking up just a little later.  Maybe the last nap is a bit too late in the day and your baby is waking early because they've reached their sleep quota. A bigger gap between the last nap and bedtime could help to push their wake-up time later.

2. Change Up Bedtime

Could you be starting bedtime too early? If your child is taking naps in the daytime, and going to bed quite early, then they are most likely waking early because they just don't need any more sleep.  You can slowly push back bedtime by around ten minutes a night, and see if it makes a difference to how early they are waking up in the morning. If you push bedtime, you may also need to take a look at your feeding schedule, if you have a big gap between dinner and bedtime this can cause waking early too. If you are feeding through the night anyway, then dinner time shouldn't be a problem.

3. Look Out For Overtiredness

Being overtired at bedtime can make our happy little babies super grouchy and irritable, and sometimes you don't see it coming until it's too late! It sounds a bit silly, but when babies get too tired, it actually prevents them from sleeping well which can result in those early wake-up calls. If you think your little one isn't getting enough sleep, try gradually bringing their bedtime forwards by ten minutes or so each night and see if it makes a difference, this will take a week or two to take effect, try not to rush and make the change too drastic as that could be unsettling for your baby, which will also result in less than perfect quality of sleep for them. An earlier bedtime could be the answer to the early morning wake-ups.

4. Do They Need To Poop?

You may find that your baby wakes up very early because they've pooped! It is actually more likely that they woke up, and then had a bowel movement. Our bowels generally slow down while we are sleeping which is why we don't usually wake up in the night to poop, TMI sort of topic, but everybody poops! When we wake up, our internal organs wake up too. Remember your baby has absolutely zero control over their bowel movements and if they cry out because they've filled their diaper, it's one of our many jobs as parents, we've got to be there for them and help them out! If your baby is waking up super early, this is likely why they are experiencing some 5 a.m. or earlier pooping. So by helping your baby to sleep a little later, you could postpone this. If your baby has moved onto solid food, take a look at what you are feeding them later on in the day, if it involves lots of fruit or fiber, try and include these foods earlier on in the day instead and see if this makes a difference.

Another reason your baby could be pooping in the early hours is if they were constipated the previous day, it might be that they are just finally able to go. If constipation is the problem then working on fixing this might help with the early wake-ups and subsequently, the early poops!

Early morning wake-ups can be tiring for baby too!

5. Check The Temperature

Being too hot or too cold is a worry when it comes to our baby's bedroom, both can wake them up but cold is a more common reason for waking. At this age, it is good to still have your child sleeping in a baby sleeping bag as a duvet can easily come off in the night. If your child doesn't like the restrictive feeling, you can now get sleeping bags with fitted legs! It is also important to have bare feet at night for temperature regulation, so a 2.5 tog sleeping bag with bare feet works well. Getting the temperature right can help your baby sleep more comfortably and sometimes a little longer at a time.

6. Reduce Daytime Snoozing

Between the ages of four to six months your baby needs around 12-16 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period, so for some little ones, if they have a couple of naps, they may only need nine or so hours at night and if they have an early bedtime they are definitely going to be up and about super early. It is important to follow your child's cues. If they haven't napped all day and they are super sleepy at 3 p.m., a short nap and slightly later bedtime is a better option than dealing with a grumpy baby for the rest of the day, so play it by ear but often, too much sleep can be the cause of early wake-ups.

7. Are They Hungry?

Your baby might still be feeding through the night, this is completely normal and natural and can even increase during sleep regressions. But being hungry can be a reason why little ones wake up at the crack of dawn. If your baby is onto solid food, make sure they are eating enough at tea time, generally babies are excellent at knowing when they are full, so possibly pushing dinner and bedtime a little later could be a better solution here. Alternatively, if baby is getting enough sleep, enough dinner and still wakes due to hunger, the best option could be to feed them first thing and they might even fall back to sleep, waking up at 4 a.m. might be too early for baby too, and all they need is a quick snack!  

8. Adjust The Lighting

Before modern technology came along, our natural circadian rhythm told us when it was time to go to sleep and when it was time to wake up, darkness meant nighttime and sunlight meant daytime. However we have managed to trick our own biological clocks with all our fancy electricity, now when it gets dark outside we simply turn on the lights and we can stay up as long as we like. Hundreds of thousands of years ago you quite simply couldn't see anything at night, and with the risk of predators added in, it made a lot more sense to hide away in our caves until the sunrise told us it was safe again. Babies also need a little help with their circadian rhythm, it is very common for newborn babies not to know the difference between day and night, and they learn from us.

We can help our babies to understand when it is time to go sleep by dimming the lights for their bedtime wind down and keeping their room very dark too. When it comes to waking up, black-out blinds are your friend! Sunlight streaming in is of course going to wake baby up and tell them "it's light outside, time to get up!" So blackout blinds can work wonders to help your little one sleep later, even if they wake early for a feed, if the room is still dark it is quite likely they will go back to sleep, meaning you get to go back to sleep too!

Sometimes older children can become afraid of the dark, so a pitch-black room might not help them sleep at all. A night light can be a comfort, just make sure the light isn't blue, green, or white as this inhibits melatonin production drastically and can make sleeping tricky. The best color to go for is red, or amber. Red and amber night lights have been proven to barely impact melatonin, if at all, so, in fact, create the same ambiance as total darkness, which is what we want to encourage optimum sleeping time. 

9. Is It Too Noisy?

Early morning noises can definitely make your baby wake up early, especially if they are a sensitive sleeper. To reduce noise outside their windows, heavier drapes can help to block noise. If your baby enjoys falling asleep to music, keep it playing through the night and hopefully, it will mask any noisy neighbors or traffic outside that could be causing your baby to wake up early.

10. Playtime

If it seems completely impossible to stop your baby from waking up too early, you could let them have some early morning independent play instead. This is only safe for older babies, as before 12 months your baby's crib or sleeping area should be totally clear for safety reasons. But as they get a little older, you could get some toys that safely tie onto the crib, such as scrunchy sensory toys, and mirrors (which are always popular with little ones). They could spend a good half an hour rolling over to look at themselves and during all of this awake time, you can snooze! If your baby is in the same room as you this is a great option, you might find yourself dozing while they play as opposed to actually sleeping, but hey, it's still rest!

11. Is Early Rising Here To Stay?

If you have gone through everything on this list, tried some of the tips and nothing is working, then acceptance might be the final option. These sleepless baby years can feel so long but when you look back they will have sped by! As your baby gets more and more active, reaches more milestones, and carries on growing, their sleep will naturally change and you may find those wake-up calls get a little less early. If all outside influences like noise, light, and being hungry are taken care of and your little one still wakes early, then this is just how their body clock works at the moment.

The thing with infant sleep is that there is no real rhyme or reason. Often we can establish a routine of sorts but it's all about trial and error and working out what works best for you and your baby.  Ultimately one of the best tips for life with an early riser is to try your best to get an early night too, easier said than done especially if you have other children, but even if you only manage to fall asleep early yourself a few times a week, it can make all the difference and leave you with more energy for when baby wakes up at 5 a.m. Focus on looking after yourself, getting enough sleep, and staying hydrated and before you know it, you'll be up bright and early while your teenager sleeps half the day away!

If you found this article helpful, then why not take a look at how to deal with [baby sunburn], or how to get ready for [baby's first Christmas].

Kidadl Team
Written By
Amy Lines

<p>With a degree in Fashion Design from Falmouth University, Amy has a passion for textiles, tiles, art, ceramics, and houseplants which she enjoys filling her beautiful home in Hampshire with. She also has a keen interest in infant and child sleep patterns and mindfulness for adults and children, inspired by her energetic and chatty three-year-old daughter. When not exploring the outdoors, Amy can be found painting, knitting, and dancing at home.</p>

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