There's nothing worse than having a baby who consistently wakes up before 6 AM. Don't they know no one should be awake that early? Before you panic and just assume that this is life now, I have a few tips to help eliminate that early wake-up.
Naps - The quality and length of baby's naps has a direct correlation to quality and length of nighttime sleep. If your baby is getting too much sleep during the day, they are likely making up for the lack of age appropriate wake time during the day by waking early in the morning.
On the flip side, if your baby is getting too little sleep during the day, being overtired at bedtime can also cause early morning wake-ups. Use the chart below to determine how much sleep baby should be getting and adjust bedtime earlier on days baby doesn't get the minimum amount of required sleep.
Bedtime - On average, your baby should be getting about 10-12 hrs of sleep at night depending on age. If you're putting your 2 year old to bed at 6 PM every night, it's reasonable to assume they'll wake up at 5 AM or earlier every day. If this is occurring, try moving bedtime later in 15 minute increments every 3-5 days. Depending on age, 6-8 PM is generally a healthy bedtime. Use the guide below for help determining when your child's bedtime should be.
4 months - 24 months: Aim for bedtime to be 11-12 hours before desired morning wake time.
2 - 2.5 years: Aim for bedtime to be about 11 hours before desired morning wake time.
2.5 - 4 years: Aim for bedtime to be 10 -11 hours before desired morning wake time.
How are you putting baby to sleep?
If your infant or toddler needs you there to rock, hold or lay next them to fall asleep, then chances are any early morning wake-ups are going to continue. Here's why. Every time your child wakes after a sleep cycle they're looking for exactly what was there when they fell asleep. If that's your rocking, nursing or sleeping next to them, that's what they'll be looking for. Helping them learn the skill of self-soothing and forming a healthy sleep association such as a pacifier, lovey or favorite sleep position, can help eliminate these early wake-ups.
This is where sleep training can be helpful! Find a sleep training method you're comfortable with and be CONSISTENT. Sleep training takes time, so be patient and do it all it love. Reach out to me for help!
Why is your baby waking?
While the above options are often the biggest culprits of an early morning wake-up, there are other possibilities as well.
Is the room dark enough? If baby is waking consistently when the sun comes up, check to see if the room is dark enough and install darker or heavier blackout shades.
Is your baby waking from hunger? Most pediatricians agree that babies no longer need a nighttime feeding by 10-12 months old (always check with your ped when in doubt!). If baby is waking from hunger and is not ready to drop a night time feeding yet, make sure to keep the feeding as quiet, dark and low key as possible. As soon as baby's done eating, put them right back down in their crib.
Is baby waking out of habit? When baby wakes at 5 AM are you reinforcing the wake up by going and getting them up for the day? This will only cause naps to be earlier, bedtime to be earlier, and encourage baby to continue waking at this time every day. To break this cycle, leave baby in their crib until the desired morning wake up time. I usually recommend a 7 AM morning wake time to my clients.
If you need help battling early morning wake ups or determining a sleep training method, set up a free 15-minute consultation with me to discuss!