Updated: Jun 2
Remember when you could sleep in as long as you wanted?! Man, those were the days *sigh*
As soon as you become a parent, the luxury of sleeping in becomes a distant memory. Now, we wake up when the kids do. If they slept in until a reasonable hour, that wouldn’t be so bad. It’s when they wake at 5am that it becomes painful. I am not a morning person, so I always feel especially empathetic for parents who have to deal with the early morning wake ups.
So, what can do you? There are many things that could be contributing to early mornings. First of all, you want to consider what type of early riser your child is, are they cheerful or cranky? The causes and the solutions will differ depending on your child’s mood when they wake.
The Cheerful Riser
Typically, if your child is waking up in a good mood, they likely still had a good sleep and they are waking feeling well rested. You want to aim for a minimum of 10 hours of sleep each night (up to age 6), so if they have hit the 10 hours and you cannot get them back to sleep, it is time to get up and start the coffee pot! While they may be waking earlier than you’d like them to, they have met their sleep requirements and are ready for the day.
With that being said, there are still some things to consider, or implement, to help them sleep in later….
🐑 Be sure to have blackout blinds that block100% of the light
🐑 Limit light and noise after dinner
🐑 Are they sleeping too much during the day
🐑 You can move their bedtime to a later one, be sure to only shift their schedule by 15 minute increments so they can adjust more easily. Sometimes moving bedtime by 15 minutes is all it takes!
Some babies are what we call “larks”. They wake up early but are happy, then they get tired in the early evening. They also tend to wake up around the same time every day. Changing their bedtime doesn’t seem to resolve it. Being a “lark” is genetic and difficult to change. Try the above tips before you assume anything! If you do have a lark on your hands, I hope you are one too so the early morning doesn’t bother you too much!
The Tired, Cranky Early Riser
If your baby is waking up early and is super cranky, they likely have not slept 10+ hours and may not be meeting their daily sleep requirements. You might notice that they are tired throughout the day and they may have broken sleep, day and night. Always do your best to get them back to sleep when they wake early in the morning, and if they wake early from their naps.
An early wake up can be caused by several reasons….
🐑 Environment (light, noise, etc.)
🐑 Discomfort (sick, wet, poopy, cold, etc,)
🐑 Habitual Waking
I want to touch more on this because it is often the main culprit of a poor sleeper. Too often parents think that if they put their child to bed later, their child will sleep in later. In reality, the opposite is true! It’s important to be very mindful of your child sleepy cues and put them to bed before they become too tired.
Lastly, and most importantly, it's all about how you react! Any time your baby/child wakes up too early, you want to treat it like you would if it were the middle of the night! Your baby doesn't know what time it is, and they don't remember if they woke up once, or twelve times already. So, react the way you would if it were 1:00AM and they will be more likely to follow your lead and go back to sleep. Then when it is actually time to wake up, don't hesitate! Go in with some energy and get them out right away! We want it to be very clear that it is morning time now and time to start the day! This will make those night wakings easier and less confusing for them. I also suggest giving it 10 minutes before feeding them or cuddling. This will prevent them from waking up because they're excited (see above!)
If you believe that your child is waking out of habit, or if you try any of the above changes and they don’t seem to help, please reach out to me! There is a method I can teach you if you believe the early wake up has become habitual, and I can make other suggestions based on your child’s schedule, age, behaviour and personality. My “Ask Me Anything” package ($40😉) is perfect for this!
I hope that this insight has helped you, please let me know if you found it beneficial! I LOVE hearing when my advice provides someone with a better night's sleep! If you continue to struggle, I am always here to help 🥰