Your Baby Is Waking Up Too Early? Find Out How To Help

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While it's normal for most babies to be morning risers, it's not ideal to have your baby waking up too early. Sleep is essential for parents just as it's vital for our little ones, and with better sleep, we can better look after our children.

Several factors contribute to early waking in infants, from sleep regression to illness to teething. While various circumstances can cause early waking, this doesn't help the fact that most of us still function better on a regular schedule.

It can make life considerably more difficult when your little one is ready to take on the day while you're still deep into your REM cycle. Read on for our expert tips on how you can avoid this issue.

Why Is My Baby Not Sleeping Until Morning?

If your sleep monster is still an infant, it's entirely typical for them to be waking up every few hours to feed. Because babies are so tiny, they can't hold many nutrients inside their tummy before they digest them and get hungry often.

Don't be discouraged; there is good news. If your tot is between three to six months old, sleeping through the night could be a higher possibility; as they grow and mature, they'll become capable of sounder and more prolonged snooze behavior. Until they develop further, however, you may just have to grin and bear it.

Below we'll explore various reasons why your newborn isn't sleeping later and how to solve them.

Illustration of a Baby Waking up and Crying at 3am

How Much Sleep Do Babies Need?

Infants need a tremendous amount of rest, so if your baby is waking up considerably early, this could be a sign of something worthy of a pediatrician visit. However, most of the time, this can be expected and mitigated with a few clever tricks.

Most babies at around six months old need between 12 to 15 hours for each 24-hour cycle, with 10 to 12 hours being during the night with the rest split between daytime naps. If your munchkin isn't getting this much rest, read on to explore for some common sleep issues and how to solve them.

Wake Windows Between Naps by Age

The term “wake window” means how long your body is awake between naps, and it will vary as your little one grows. When they're newborns, they will doze off and on most days with few periods of sleep longer than two hours. Once they grow to about three months old, their naps and periods of rest will become more substantial during the nighttime, finally allowing you to get some quality shut-eye!

Average Wake Windows by Age 
4-12 weeks:60 - 90 minutes
3-4 Months: 75 - 120 minutes
5-6 Months: 2 - 3 hours
7-14 Months: 3 - 4 hours
14-24 Months: 4.5 - 6 hours

When Do Babies Start Sleeping Through the Night?

Sleeping through the night can mean different things for different kiddos. While newborns are capable of resting 10-hour stretches, this often isn't the case while they're little.

Typically, sleeping through the night refers to when a tot dozes for a six to eight hour stretch with no wakings. Sleeping for these larger chunks usually begins to occur when they're anywhere from three to six months old.

While this may seem like the promised land of snoozing, this doesn't necessarily mean you will be dreaming the whole night through. Even if you put your munchkin down at 8 in the evening, your babe could still wake at 2 in the morning after six solid hours.

How to Help My Baby to Stop Waking Up Too Early

If you're struggling to get a full night's rest, you're not alone. Many other parents are probably struggling with the exact same issues as you. Hold tight; there is hope!

Adjust the Sleep Schedule

You're likely feeling frustrated if your little one is waking up daily before 5 AM. Being unable to get a solid 8 hours—or even a solid 3—can leave anyone feeling less than prepared for the day. Don't worry; there are ways to help.

Just like you can go to bed a bit earlier and wake up earlier, you can essentially do the same with your infant as well. However, this doesn't mean suddenly forcing your tyke to stay up hours after their bedtime to suit your schedule. Tots can be sensitive to changes in their sleep schedule, so it's best to approach any alterations with care.

Consider if someone made you stay awake an hour longer than you wanted. You may not feel thrilled as a result, so it's wise to take a gentle approach. Slowly adjust your infant's slumber patterns by 10 to 15 minutes a day until you reach the routine that suits you best. This way, you won't have an overtired cranky baby keeping you up more hours than before.

baby sleeping in a crib during naptime

Reschedule Naps

Slightly adjusting the time of your newborn's naps is a great way to improve their sleep patterns. However, do so with care. It may seem reasonable to simply change the time of their naps from one day to the next, and then, ta-da! It's fixed. However, forcing your tot to make such a drastic change over just one day can result in a worse situation than before.

If your little one's afternoon nap is a bit early and you'd like them to fall asleep later in the evening, to allow for a later family morning wakeup, you can adjust this. However, infants are sensitive to changes in their slumber schedules, so it's best to do so gradually.

The first day, try to keep your sleepyhead awake just 10 or 15 minutes longer before their nap, then see how they adjust. Once they're resting the appropriate amount of time, slightly change the timing a bit more. Soon, everyone should be happy and rested.

Average Bedtimes

Bedtimes will vary from family to family. What matters most is that your baby is getting the sleep they need to develop appropriately.

Nighttime routines should have your newborn in bed anywhere from 8 to 11 PM when they're one to four months old. Once they're four to eight months, you can start tucking them in earlier, anywhere from 6 to 7 PM.

Potential Reasons why Baby Wakes Up too Early

There are several reasons your little one could wake up in the wee hours of the morning, ranging from drowsiness, hunger, to plain, old “morning bird” syndrome.

Hunger

If you think your baby may be waking up due to hunger, try to add more calories into their routine throughout the day. Adding a few extra ounces into bottles, an additional nursing session, or helping them eat more snacks should help them stay fuller longer; this should minimize the chances of them waking early to feed.

Personality

There is an idea in the baby world that implies some children, unfortunately for parents, are simply wired to wake up early. No matter what time your kid goes to bed, they may still wake up between 5 and 5:30 AM. If this is the case, simply make sure you put them to bed early, ensuring quality sleep, and enjoy your quiet evenings.

Medical Conditions

If your little one does not typically wake up early but is behaving this way suddenly, it may be due to a medical condition. They may be coming down with a cold or flu and are having trouble sleeping due to a fever. If you're unsure, it's best to consult your pediatrician.

Sleeping Environment

An infant's sleep environment can make a world of difference. They may prefer an atmosphere similar to that of their time in the belly, taking them back to “the good old days.” You may be surprised how loud a womb is. Blackout curtains and white noise machines could woo your baby to dreamland.

white noise machine for babies

Developmental Advance

A burst in development, or what's commonly known as a growth spurt, can cause a sudden change in snoozing habits – even sleep regressions. While frustrating, try not to worry; these setbacks are temporary. Due to the overflow of biological shifts occurring in your baby's body, this is ultimately a good sign of healthy development.

Drowsiness

Your little one may not be getting enough sleep—seems counterintuitive, right? However, have you ever been so tired you couldn't sleep? This is similar. If your munchkin is not getting enough sleep at night or naps during the day, they could be waking out of drowsiness.

They've Gotten Enough Sleep

On the contrary, your kiddo may be getting enough sleep and is ready to tackle the day, just far earlier than you'd prefer. Try adjusting their bedtime slightly later. Do so gradually, only 10 or 15 minutes at a time, and see how your child improves.

Tips and Tricks for an Early Waking Baby

Fortunately, there are many ways you can combat an early rising child. Read on for our expert tips for getting a better night's sleep.

Maintain Consistent Sleep Times

Consistency is key. Most adults function best when they are moving along in a predictable routine. You know what to expect, and it feels comfortable. Our tots crave the same security to function at their best.

Prevent the Sunlight From Coming In

Keeping your newborn's nursery dark can help encourage your babe to doze longer. Closing curtains tight and eliminating any glare sources such as nightlights, or even brightness sneaking in under a door, can prevent your tiny monster from catching precious zzz's. Blackout curtains can cost as low as 40 dollars to install and are relatively easy to hang yourself.

Keep a Healthy Nap Schedule

Keep Away the Outside Noise

While white noise machines can improve your little bundle’s snooze quality, it's still wise to minimize external sounds. However, you don't want to eliminate household noise completely either. If you don't want to be constantly tip-toeing around your house every time your kiddo takes a nap, your wee one will need to get used to snoozing in a home with everyday noises. When they grow accustomed to these, they'll be better sleepers.

Reset Baby's Biological Clock

When your infant is born, they have yet to develop their circadian rhythm, the function inside their bodies that tells them when it's night and when it's daytime. As they grow and become acclimated to real life, this will develop, but it takes time.

Be sure when your tiny bundle wakes in the middle of the night, you keep everything dark, quiet, and peaceful. This signals to your newborn that it is still nighttime, aiding in the development of their biological clock.

Postpone First Feeding

If your little hungry hippo wakes up wanting to nurse first thing, they may be waking up due to hunger. Try to incorporate more calories in them during the day, and they might stay fuller longer.

Additionally, you can try postponing their first feeding. This way, when they wake up, they may stop associating waking with eating.

Delay Responding to First Wake Up Call

If you can, delay attending to your tot's needs at their first call for a bit. While it may feel cruel to ignore them, think of it as reserve sleep training. You can gradually delay a bit longer each morning, and this could help signal to them that it's simply not time to wake up yet.

Keep Your Early Riser Busy

If there is something they enjoy playing with or watching so that you can have a bit more rest in the morning, this may ease your woes. A bouncer seat is often fun for babies, and looking at the hanging toys while sucking down a bottle could keep them busy for another 30 minutes or so.

Illustration of a Baby Crawling with Toys all around Them

Postpone First Nap

If your family is desperate for more shut-eye, shifting your infant’s sleep schedule can help when adjusted slowly. While doing so drastically or all at once isn't recommended, pushing it back 10 or 15 minutes per day can create a much more agreeable routine after a week's worth of adjustments.

Conclusion

If you're feeling frustrated trying to get your little one to sleep longer so you can get a solid night's sleep, you've probably got company. Sleep issues are a typical challenge for parents, and others are likely struggling with similar problems.

Raising a little one is full of trials, and despite parenthood being a rewarding job, it doesn't ease sleep deprivation. Remember, there are solutions, and in a year, you may be wishing to turn back the clock to enjoy those 2 AM cuddles once again. Try your best to soak it up while it lasts.

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