Once upon a time, a long long time ago, before kids and when your stamina was at it’s peak, an early morning wake up was, dare I say…romantic. Getting up with your partner to watch the sun rise together, going for an early morning jog in the fresh morning air, enjoying the stillness of a new day with a cup of coffee….
Well now you have a baby. And that baby is testing the limits of your sanity with their early morning wakings. And you don’t want to sound dramatic, but one more early morning wake up and your baby just may have to find their own place to live.
I get it. I totally get it. Sleep is LIFE! There is nothing I want more than to help you get allll the sleep you need, and one way to do that is to tackle your baby’s early morning wakings. In this blog, I will discuss (click to jump to that section):
Let’s dive in!
What is an Early Morning Waking?
First of all, how early is too early? I mean, I think it’s safe to say most of us would like our babies to sleep until 8am. Ok, if I’m being honest and dreaming big here, it’s actually 9am. But the sad truth is, that’s just not developmentally realistic.
The optimal (and reasonable) time for your baby to wake up for the day is between 6-7am. If you want to aim for later, all the power to you! But if your little one has you up with them before 6am, that’s just not cool. And I can help you fix that early morning waking!
Why is My Baby Waking Earlier?
There are many reasons why your baby is waking up earlier than that early bird trying to get the worm. The likely reasons are (click to jump to that reason):
The unlikely reasons include trying to see how much money you are willing to spend on caffeine, and the sheer thrill of breaking unwritten house rules.
How to Handle Early Morning Wakings
So now that you have an idea of WHY these early morning wakings are happening, I’m sure you would like to know how to stop your baby from this unseemly nonsense. So let’s break it down.
If your baby is younger than 9 months, then they are likely waking up around 4-5am because they are hungry. Most babies hang on to this “early dawn feeding”, even after all other nighttime feedings are dropped. If this is the case, I recommend feeding and putting baby right back to sleep.
If they don’t fall back to sleep immediately, that’s ok! Stay consistent and you will be sending the message that 5am is not the time when Mama is her best self- try again in an hour!
It’s possible that your baby is used to that early morning feeding but doesn’t actually need it. This is likely true if they are over 9 months old. But every baby is different, and you know your baby best!
If you are looking to drop this dawn feeding, then grab my troubleshooting guide “Extending Wake Up Time” which you will find in my 4-24 Month Guide Pack. Of course, you can always let us walk you through how to drop night feedings with a quick and easy 30 or 60 min consultation.
Preventing overtiredness is always the key to success! If your little one is overtired from the day before, then it can cause early morning wakings. The chart below is a helpful guide for the age-appropriate amount of sleep your little one should be getting. Remember, these are averages, and every baby is different, so use it as a guide/starting point and then tweak as necessary.
|Age||Number of naps per day||Ideal length of naps||Awake time between naps||Awake time before bed||Average amount of daytime sleep||Average amount of Nighttime sleep||Average amount of TOTAL sleep|
|0-3 months||4-7||45-60 min||60-90 min||1-2 hours||5-8 hours||9-10 hours||16-18 hours|
|4 months||4||60+ min||90 min||2 hours||3.5-5 hours||10-11 hours||15-16 hours|
|5 months||3||60+ min||2 hours||2.5 hours||3.5-4.5 hours||11-12 hours||14-16 hours|
|7 months||2||60-90 min||2-3 hours||4 hours||3-4 hours||11-12 hours||14-15 hours|
|14 months||1||2 hours||5 hours||5 hours||2-3 hours||11-12 hours||13-14 hours|
The flip side of the coin can also be the culprit; your baby is getting too much day time sleep. How much sleep is too much sleep, you ask?
Check out this Instagram Reel where I break down the average amount of daytime sleep babies should have, by age. Remember, these are just averages, and every baby is different. Use this as a starting point and tweak as necessary.
If your baby is getting too much daytime sleep, it may be time to drop a nap, cut naps that are too long, or push bedtime a little later.
Tummy troubles can flare up more in the night. Partly because your baby is lying on their back (think heartburn at night!) and partly because there is less to distract them from any discomfort or pain.
If you suspect reflux, I highly recommend speaking with your pediatrician. Gas can also be the culprit, so try lots of bicycle kicks and don’t forget about the magic burping technique!
Inability to Self-Soothe:
Your little one may be waking up early and want to go back to sleep, but they don’t quite have the skills yet to do that. If your baby is older than 4 months, then teaching your baby to initiate sleep on their own is so important! Not just for falling asleep at bedtime and naps, but also for when they wake up in the night.
If they have the skills to initiate sleep on their own, then when they wake up in the wee hours of the morning, you can be confident that they know how to put themselves back to sleep.
How does one teach this, you ask? Sleep train!! In my 4-24 month video course, I teach you FOUR methods to sleep train your little one (including a no-cry option) and how to tailor each method to fit YOUR baby. Getting great sleep, in a way that is comfortable and works for your family, is totally possible!
If your schedule is perfect, AND your baby does not need or want to eat, AND they are sleep trained, AND you’ve ruled out any potential tummy troubles, then these early morning wake-ups can very likely be part of a sleep regression.
Those dang regressions sneak up at the best of times and throw everything off course! They’re the worst!
The best thing to do in this case, is to stay consistent. Try to be patient and ride it out; it shouldn’t last more than a week or two. I don’t recommend shifting nap time too much to compensate, as it may throw everything off schedule even more. Hang in there, and I give you permission to double up on the coffee (and wine).
Recap on Early Morning Baby Wakings
So in summary: Early morning wakings are the worst. Early morning wakings don’t have to be your reality!
Whether your baby is waking early because of:
- Tummy Troubles
- Inability to Self-soothe
It CAN be fixed! And if trying to determine what the reason is and how to fix it, is overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be!
We would be more than happy to help you ditch those early morning baby wakings and have everyone start their days at a reasonable hour (read: who really cares about the worm anyway!?). End those early morning wakings NOW; click here to check out all of our individual consultation options!