Why is my Baby Waking so Early?
Why is my baby waking so Early? Help Please!
No one likes being woken early in the morning, especially parents who are already exhausted from night feeds, or just the general day to day life of looking after children!
But solving early morning wake ups can be one of the most challenging parts of working on our children’s sleep. Often your baby or toddler has been in bed for up to 10 hours by the time 5am rolls around, even if they have woken for night feeds, they have still had plenty of sleep and we are asking them to go back to sleep for another couple of hours.
The sleep hormone melatonin has a natural cycle overnight.
It starts to build from 6pm and peaks at midnight.
From midnight, there is a steady drop until morning. This drop in melatonin along with the riser in cortisol over this time is the physiological mechanism which wakes us up, even if we are super tired!
These hormones are a powerful awakening system and they make solving early morning wake ups even harder!
The other contender with making early wake ups so hard to solve is zeitgebers. These are external cues which help our internal biological clock (circadian rhythm) to re-set each day and keep our rhythm in check.
The 3 main external cues which remind our bodies it’s the start of the day are light, food and social interaction.
If you are dealing with a little baby waking hungry at 5am, essentially they get all 3 of those cues at 5am, so it gets tricky to drop that wake up when they are older and no longer hungry at 5am.
If you prefer a gentle sleep training style, you will probably be more comfortable being in the room with your baby or toddler as they try to go back to sleep.
But this social interaction can make changing the early wake up habit difficult, as you settling can be enough social interaction for some children’s temperament that they continue to wake at that time!
Now that you know it’s not easy to fix an early morning wake up, what can you do?
Don’t give up!
Give the early wake up plan 2-3 weeks to work.
Especially if the early wake up is a residual issue left over after solving a night problem or nap problem, your child is adjusting to having more sleep and this takes time.
Make sure you have ticked all the basic boxes by eliminating light from the room at 5am, and ensuring that your children aren’t waking up hungry. Adequate protein in their diet if they are old enough, or getting enough milk throughout the day if they are younger.
Understand that 4am is not an early morning wake up, it’s a night wake up and should be treated as one. It’s definitely not time to start the day!
If you feel you have ticked all the easy boxes and your baby or toddler is still waking early, register for a consult with the team. We have a few more options to try, and can help you with some sleep training to sort the early wake up once and for all!
"Sophie had always woken at 5am, as a baby I could breastfeed her and she would snooze for another 30 minutes or so which meant I didn’t start her day until 6am, but as she got older that stopped working! I was having to start her day at 5am once she was 9 months old, and she wasn’t able to drop to 2 naps like her friends, she was exhausted by 7.30am! She was having 3 naps a day between 7.30am and 3pm, I felt this was part of the reason she was waking at 5am, but also she had always been like this, I really wasn’t sure anyone could help me.
I spoke with my sleep consultant who pointed out that the nap at 7.30am was basically a continuation of her night sleep and was encouraging her lifelong habit of waking at 5am.
My husband was hesitant to book a consultant as he got up for work at 5am every day anyway, but he then didn’t hang out with Sophie all day, she was grumpy and tired and I could tell she needed more sleep. I was still feeding her once a night, so getting up to feed her and waking at 5am meant I was shattered by 10am, and it was taking its toll on how I felt as a mum.
I explained all this to Tom my husband and he agreed we should go ahead with the sleep consult.
I had to adjust her routine and that took some time, I also had to change what and when she was eating her lunch. Becky my sleep consultant explained to me about light therapy, we used this to help give her a natural melatonin boost overnight. I knew Sophie was stubborn and we would end up having to sleep train her too, but I felt really confident that I had addressed all of her underlying reasons for waking early, so when it came time to sleep train her it wasn’t as bad as I imagined.
Becky coached me through the entire process and Sophie now wakes around 6.30am and only needs 2 naps to get through her day. Although it wasn’t in Becky’s plan as I told her I enjoyed my night feed, I also got Becky to coach me through dropping her night feed. You could say I got greedy for sleep once I solved the early wake up!"
What people are saying about the Early Wake up Master Class
“Five days into the course and I have to wake my 9 month old at 7am because he is still asleep!” ~ Esther
“Success!! I was so happy this morning! Bubs (in our bedroom at the moment) woke at 3.30am. With a short shush she went back to sleep until 4.30am. With another shush went quiet at least until 5am. Yet another quick shush had her fall back to sleep until 6 am. I feel like I’ve won a little battle!” ~ Karen
” I worked through the master class and had great success using option 2. Moved wake up times from 4.30am through to 6.30am in just 2 weeks!” ~ Melissa
“Emma, we are getting success with these early wake ups! It has been 8 months of early wake ups, he now sleeps until 6.30am most days. Thank you, thank you, thank you!” ~ Natasha
“I honestly thought my 3 year old would always wake at 5am, but this Master Class taught me exactly how to change it, and now she sleeps until 7am every day! Honestly best value product I bought this year.” ~ Natalie
Emma is the owner and founder of Baby Sleep Consultant, she is a certified infant and child sleep consultant, Happiest Baby on the block educator, has a Bachelor of Science, and Diploma in Education. Emma is a mother to 3 children, and loves writing when she isn't working with tired clients and cheering on her team helping thousands of mums just like you.
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