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Does our baby wake you at the crack of dawn? Is this a new habit? Or has your baby always done this? Let’s discuss early morning wake ups!
What is Considered an Early Morning Wake Up?
Well of course this depends on you the parent and what you would consider to be an early morning wake up? 4am? 5am? For clarity, let’s just say that a baby that wakes before 6am is probably getting up too early. Of course this depends on the rest of the household and if you’re a family of early risers you might find 5.30am is a perfectly acceptable time for getting up. If you’re a bit of a night-owl or you have other children who like to sleep later then you might find a 6am is a tad too early. We’re just giving this time as a ball park time!
It all depends on what is sustainable in the long term. If you can handle a 5.30am or 6am wake up then that’s fine but if you’d like to try pushing sleep back a bit, then why not have a go?
Of course some biological clocks cannot be changed and babies may wake up earlier depending on what time they went to bed and how old they are. It is also good to check that baby is not waking earlier due to being unwell, teething or having a sleep regression (see our blog How to Get Through A Sleep Regression).
It is worth checking our list to see if there are any additional factors that might be contributing to baby waking a little early. Some small adjustments could make a big difference!
At this time of year, warmth can be a big factor. If your little one might be waking because they are cold, this is easily fixed by adjusting their sleep wear. A room thermometer is a very useful too and you could also keep a diary to analyse the range of temperatures in your baby’s bedroom.
The early morning is usually the coldest part of the day, so making sure baby is dressed for the coldest temperature will ensure better sleep. Bubbaroo takes the guess work out of dressing baby for bed. Using the room thermometer and Bubbaroo’s “What To Wear Guide” can help you dress baby correctly. You can then select your Bubbaroo Baby Sleeping Bag accordingly. Here is what we recommend your baby wears for varying temperatures:
What To Wear Guide
A baby who sucks their thumb may have a better chance of self comforting and falling back to sleep than a baby that relies on a dummy. A dummy (or pacifier) can be both a blessing and a hindrance. On the one hand it provides instant comfort, yet on the other hand it can be a nuisance trying to locate the dummy and popping in back in every time baby spits it out.
It might be a good idea to keep a dummy at the ready. If baby wakes early, walk in very quietly; pop the dummy in; give baby a little pat and then leave. You may find that baby returns to sleep. This could have the added affect of extending baby’s wake up time. For example, if baby “trains” to stay asleep slightly longer say until 6.30am, you might find that this is all that you need to break the cycle. As babies grow they become very deft at finding their own dummy and putting it back in their mouth.
Some babies wake easily if exposed to light during their day time naps. Others only wake up early in the summer time when the sun gets up! If this is your baby, perhaps you could try taking them for a sleep in the pram a few times a week to accustomise them to “daylight sleeps” (you can get some exercise at the same time).
If you think that your baby is particularly sensitive to light, I would suggest that you invest in some block out curtains or heavy curtains (without cords as they are a safety hazard). Perhaps you could try a makeshift quick fix to see if light is causing the early morning wake ups before you spend a lot of money. A good quality blind or curtain can eliminate both light and noise.
Sometimes an early morning bird call or the bark of a dog can create a problem for parents trying to get their baby to have a nap. If noise is a big issue where you live, try using some background noise within the room. You could try some white noise on an untuned radio for example. You can also buy machines that make white noise or mimic the heartbeat of the mother!
The down side of white noise is that you don’t want baby to become dependent on white noise every time they go to sleep. You might need to experiment with this one. Perhaps using it overnight only or for the afternoon sleep only and then letting baby become used to some noise at other times. It is important to remember that if baby sleeps better in the day when using the white noise, it may translate to better sleep at night (even without the white noise).
Amount of Sleep
As mentioned above, better day sleep can translate to better night sleep. So look at all the hours your baby sleeps in a 24 hour period and see if baby is sleeping too little or too much. There’s that old adage “sleep promotes sleep” so good day sleeps can help at night too.
For more information read our Baby Sleep Stages – What to Expect.
If baby is waking up early and feeding straight away, her body clock will be triggering her wake up time. Try delaying breakfast for 10 minutes or so each day. Have a little cuddle, change her nappy and play a little before you give her the first meal of the day. Try to delay breakfast by a few more minutes each day to find out if it creates any change with the early morning wake ups.
Do you think baby is waking up early due to hunger. You can experiment with dreamfeeding before you go to bed. A dream feed helps to “top baby up” with extra food with the goal of pushing out their wake up time. See our blog on “Dreamfeeding” to see if a later bedtime snack can help push out the early morning wake ups. My daughter as a baby and even after she turned 12 months would wake up at around 5am every morning. I would breastfeed her and then put her back down to sleep and she would always go back to sleep for an hour or 2.
Babies are noisy little creatures, especially if you are sharing a room with them. If baby makes a peep, hold off on rushing in. If baby knows that you will rush in to pick her up every time she makes the slightest sound, she will learn to call out for you. It’s a really great skill for a baby to be content in their own surroundings without calling out urgently the moment she wakes. If she really needs you, you will know by the type of cry she makes.
When I say “skill” you may think this a funny word for a baby. Some babies are conditioned to the way we train them. Others have their traits firmly marked in their little personalities from birth. It really is up to the parents to decipher when they are really needed. Waiting a minute might let baby resolve the problem. A couple of minutes pausing won’t hurt and doesn’t make you a bad parent. In no way are we saying that you should let your baby cry it out or use controlled crying.
You might like to read our blog about parenting around the world and in particular, French parents who “take a pause”. The idea gained traction after author Pamela Druckerman, an American Living in Paris, wrote the book Bringing Up Bébé. During her time living in Paris, Druckerman noticed that the French parent their children very differently. The main difference being that the baby should fit into their life, not life revolving around a baby. In the article Modern Parenting – Is Bringing Up Bébé still relevant? Alex Berezow agrees that the tips learned by the French “make kids realize that the universe does not revolve solely around them”. An advanced concept for a newborn, but one that can be implemented gently from an early age. It may even help build resilience as your child grows.
Give It A Go
Babies will have their own likes and dislikes and there are definitely some that like to wake early. You give these strategies a go to see if you have any influence. If you’re the kind of person who likes a lie in, then you may find experimenting with different strategies in the morning may help to gain you a few extra minutes each day. It all depends how much early morning wake ups bother you and exactly how early your baby is waking! We’d love to hear your feedback on how you get on with our suggested strategies. Be sure to comment below by “Leaving a Reply”. Good luck!