They say that being a parent means having long days and short years. But, what about the sleepless nights? Babies have unpredictable sleep patterns. As such, many parents find it extremely difficult to deal with an early morning waking baby. We’re here to help you.
Above all else, it’s crucial that you don’t allow frustration to get the better of you.
Yes, it’s important that your baby gets enough sleep, but it’s just as important that you get your rest, too, because otherwise you won’t be able to function throughout the day.
A baby waking up too early and refusing to go back to sleep is a common problem that many parents have to face and overcome. Luckily, solutions exist to help you regulate your baby’s sleep schedule. This article explores causes, solutions and strategies.
Early morning wakings occur for a variety of reasons. That’s why it’s important to isolate the cause. Understanding why your baby gets up early is the first step towards improving your baby’s sleep and inevitably providing yourself with the rest that you well deserve.
Before we explore tips and solutions, let’s define the main causes behind your baby’s sleep irregularity and help you understand the importance of a regulated sleep schedule.
Understanding the Causes
Early morning wakings happen for a good reason. While the cause may initially seem indecipherable, leaving you uncertain in regards to the best course of action, we’re here to help you determine the cause. Identifying it allows you to prepare an efficient strategy.
First of all, it’s important to note that babies go through a lot of changes in short periods of time. Some of these changes apply to their sleep patterns. Every passing month brings something different. That’s why you have to stay flexible and to adapt when necessary.
Every new developmental milestone, such as crawling or walking, is a good reason to celebrate. However, these milestones are also known to disrupt your baby’s sleep, often resulting in early morning wakings. You have to familiarize yourself with sleep patterns.
As babies get older, they need less naps and less sleep in general.
Just when you think that you have it all under control, your baby grows and changes their routine. Staying on top of things is going to take a lot of trial and error, a lot of patience.
Despite your baby’s ever-changing sleep schedule, another common reason behind early morning wakings is hunger. Little babies come with little stomachs. Therefore, they need to eat more frequently. Waking up hungry makes it hard for your baby to fall back asleep.
So, hunger is a common early morning wake-up, especially if you’ve organized a schedule for your baby to eat as soon as they wake up. This doesn’t imply anything negative in regards to your baby’s health. Still, you will have a do a little bit of schedule correction.
Other than that, you have to consider environmental factors, too.
Where does your baby sleep?
Various things, such as noise, light and temperature, all determine the quality of your baby’s sleep. For example, babies sensitive to light are vulnerable to early morning wakings unless they sleep in a dark and cozy space.
At this sensitive age, babies wake up for all sorts of reasons.
Some additional causes include medical conditions. A baby waking up too early could be experiencing pain and discomfort caused by teething. If the signs are there, your baby needs extra care.
Additionally, your baby could be suffering from an ear infection, infant reflux or even a sleep disorder. More so, early morning wakings can happen if your baby’s a light sleeper.
With so much to consider, it’s important to realize that an early morning waking baby could, in fact, imply a combination of factors. Finding the cause is a challenge in and of itself, but identifying it allows you to proceed with efficient methods and strategies.
Before we start exploring solutions, let’s recap the main causes:
- Changes in sleep schedule.
- Your baby could be hungry.
- Consider environmental factors such as light and sounds.
- Is your baby teething?
- Is your baby a light sleeper?
- Your baby could be sick.
- Other underlying issues.
It might take some tinkering around with different strategies until you find something that works. However, if the problem persists even after you’ve tried everything, then the best course of action is to seek medical guidance in case if it’s something more serious.
Strategies for an Early Morning Waking Baby
A baby waking up too early is a big cause of stress for parents. Luckily, solutions exist to help you improve your baby’s sleep, and therefore your own. We’ve complied a list of solutions and strategies for you to try out, but you have to prioritize consistency.
None of these methods will work unless you’re fully patient and clearheaded. Of course, you might feel a bit frustrated, but it’s crucial that you focus on resolving the problem.
The first thing you should try is adjusting your baby’s bedtime routine.
For an early morning waking baby, a healthy bedtime routine means everything. Babies understand and appreciate consistency. The routine you set up needs to encompass not only bedtime, but your baby’s waking time and their naps, too. It all has to work fluidly.
So, what makes a bedtime routine good in the first place? Well, its consistency, of course.
During the day, your baby should learn to anticipate when it’s bedtime, when it’s time for naps and form a natural alarm through consistency of schedule as to when to wake up.
Consider also the quality of your bedtime routine. Does it soothe your baby? Babies need calming activities before going to bed to ensure a good night’s sleep. This includes a wide range of activities such as story time, changing into night clothes and maybe a bath, too.
An early morning waking baby needs consistency and quality bedtime activities in equal measure. However, don’t expect your baby’s sleep schedule to be fixed overnight. This takes time, and that’s precisely why we aim to highlight the importance of consistency.
Sticking to a fixed schedule is crucial if you want to stop early morning wakings.
Aim for your little one to go to bed at the same time every night and to wake up at the same time every morning. This helps establish an internal clock, but you have to stay flexible and adaptive with your baby’s sleeping schedule as they grow and develop.
That’s why you also have to keep in mind your baby’s age. Knowing how much sleep your precious little angel actually needs is just as important as ensuring a good night’s rest.
Next, you want to make sure that your baby sleeps comfortably. Reconsider the quality of their sleeping environment. Lights and loud sounds can cause early morning wakings. So, you want to ensure that your baby always sleeps in a dark and peaceful environment.
On top of that, you have to regulate the temperature of the room. At this age, babies are vulnerable to the cold and the heat. As such, the room they sleep in should range from 16 to 20 degrees Celsius. This provides a comfortable temperature for your baby to sleep.
Dimming the lights and trying out baby sound machines can help you create a soothing sleeping environment and prevent early morning wakings. Also, it’s important that your baby feels safe in their sleeping space. Be there to provide comfort whenever necessary.
There’s a lot more to take into account. For example, if your baby is for some reason finding it difficult to sleep in a crib, it could be worthwhile to explore alternatives.
Still, there’s more to unpack. From pacifiers to swaddle blankets, there’s practically an endless amount of resources parents can use to help their little ones maintain a healthy sleep schedule. Yet, it all comes down to exercising consistency and flexibility.
But, what happens if you’ve tried everything?
Nothing seems to work out of all the different strategies. In that case, give it time. Yes, it can be infuriating because you’re in for another sleepless night, but we guarantee that these tips will pay off in the end.
Besides, every baby is different. What works for someone else may not work for your child, but by staying on top of things efficiently, you will reduce the amount of early morning wakings in your baby and help them create a fully functional sleep schedule.
Now, let’s do a quick recap of all the areas you have to improve:
- Adjust your baby’s sleep schedule accordingly.
- Stick to a fixed schedule and be consistent.
- Consider the quality of your baby’s sleep environment.
- Explore crib alternatives.
- Experiment with lights and sounds.
- Regulate your baby’s room temperature.
- Inquire into baby sleep aids.
Stick fluidly to these guidelines and adjust accordingly and we guarantee that you will see a notable improvement within weeks, if not days, to your baby’s sleep schedule. A baby waking up too early is a common problem, but the solutions come in ample supply.
Extra Tips, Hacks and Methods
None of the suggestions listed above seem to work as efficiently as you thought? In that case, you have to find your inner strength and remain consistent and patient. Still, as your baby’s early morning wakings grind to a halt, we have more tips to share with you.
An early morning waking baby needs all your help if you want to resolve the issue.
Here’s a few additional practical ideas for you to implement:
1. Reduce stimulation before calling it a night.
What kind of activities do you do with your baby before going to bed? Instead of playing games and stimulating your baby’s brain, engage in activities such as reading books or listening to calm music. An early morning waking baby needs to fall asleep relaxed.
It goes without saying that watching TV before bedtime is a big no-no.
2. Use blocking curtains or shades to keep the room dark.
Some light-sleeping babies wake up due to sunlight pouring through the windows. To prevent that from happening, purchase blackout curtains for your baby’s bedroom.
By using shades, the sleeping environment you create when it’s night stays the same in the early dawn, too. When you’re ready for your little one’s day to begin, simply remove the blinds or the curtains and allow for natural light to rouse them gently from their sleep.
3. Consider your baby’s eating schedule.
As mentioned above, an early morning waking baby could be getting up early because they’re hungry. As such, it’s important that you adjust your baby’s feeding schedule in a way that promotes healthy sleep. Do so by making sure they’re fed when it’s time for bed.
4. Work together with your partner.
Although the stress is real and the parents are well aware of it, it often goes tolerated.
Parents have to take proactive steps to ensure that these early morning wakings don’t impact their own sleeping schedule to the point where it makes them miserable.
Sometimes you have to take turns. Sometimes you have to make up for the sleep you lost during the night due to an early morning waking baby. Help each other as much as you can. It’s only by working together that you preserve your well-being during this period.
When your partner needs a nap, cover for them. Communicate with each other openly by taking turns, naps, and staying organized so as to minimize the impact on your daily life.
5. Adjust your baby’s sleep schedule gradually.
Just like grown-ups, your baby’s sleep patterns can’t be remade overnight.
If you have noticed the need to make changes to your baby’s sleep schedule, then you need to make those changes gradually, little by little. Instead of suddenly rescheduling their bedtime for an hour later, make it fifteen minutes and repeat as long as it takes.
6. Help your baby go back to sleep.
An early morning waking baby doesn’t have to wake up if you react fast. For example, some babies respond well to cuddles and a warm embrace. When you hear your baby waking up too early, react quickly and comfort them gently, lulling them back to sleep.
Work with different soothing methods until you find something that works.
7. Preparation is key.
If you have an early morning waking baby, prepare in advance. Prepare not only mentally, but with a plan as to what to do when your child inevitably wakes up. This includes a variety of parenting strategies, so it may take time until you find an efficient method.
From pacifiers to soothing cuddles, explore different options.
8. Practice patience. Don’t expect miracles overnight.
None of these tips and hacks will completely eliminate early morning wakings by day one unless you’re extremely lucky. Instead, little by little, you will work to reduce them and help your baby establish a proper sleep schedule. Until that happens, try to stay patient.
Keep in mind that every baby is different. Some of these techniques will yield poor results, while other methods will work wonders for you. As such, experiment and expect a lot of trial and error as you and your partner work together to fix your baby’s sleep schedule.
9. Recognize the importance of daily naps.
Depending on the age of your baby, their sleeping varies. Newborn babies sleep up to 16 hours a day, only spending two hours tops awake. However, as your baby grows and develops, their sleep schedule changes. You will have to plan for naps as well as bedtime.
Stick to a fixed schedule that equally prioritizes the early stages as much as the later stages, depending on your baby’s month age. So, it’s important that you stay on top of things by remaining flexible with your baby’s sleep schedule on a month to month basis.
Some babies give up their naps earlier than others. However, it’s likely that your baby is going to nap often throughout the day by two years of age. Until then, you will have to take into account your baby’s naps as well as bedtime in order to ensure quality sleep.
10. Tire out your baby throughout the day.
A tired baby sleeps better and has less chance of early morning wakings.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t stimulate your baby’s brain just before bedtime. That’s when you’re supposed to soothe them. Still, your child should be exhausted by night.
11. Try massages and baths.
An early morning waking baby would benefit greatly from late night baths and massages, helping them relax before they go to sleep. For massages, you can use essential oils to soothe your baby additionally. These baby-safe oils can be used during bath time, as well.
As previously mentioned, having a relaxing and calming bedtime routine before your baby goes to sleep helps prevent early morning wakings. So, take the extra time to plan out your routine. Stimulate your baby’s brain throughout the day and relax them during night.
12. Use a nightlight to create a calm ambience.
Some babies find darkness comforting, but some babies can’t stand it. If your baby hates darkness, you’re going to need to dim the lights when it’s time for them to go to sleep.
Using a nightlight allows you to create a relaxing mood to help them fall asleep.
Combined with blackout curtains or blinds, you can create a night atmosphere that lasts for as long as you want it, regardless of sunlight. This can help you regulate your baby’s sleep schedule. It means that you decide when it’s time to wake up and let the light in.
For an early morning waking baby, this can mean a world of difference.
13. Consider underlying issues.
It’s not uncommon for an early morning waking baby to wake up early rather than later due to some kind of underlying issue. For example, early wakings could point to teething discomforts, ear infections and other medical conditions that have to be examined.
If none of your methods are working and your baby is displaying symptoms of a medical condition, it’s important that you consult with your pediatrician as soon as possible.
14. Try using a baby sleep tracker.
Keeping track of your baby’s sleep schedule is all the more difficult if you’re going by gut feeling or simply trying to memorize it. By using a sleep tracker, you can monitor your baby’s progression towards a good night’s sleep as you apply your best strategies.
This is a great idea because it encourages parents to persevere, to stay persistent and devoted to their parenting strategies. Seeing small progress displayed on the sleep tracker means a lot for parents that are struggling with their early morning waking baby.
15. Consult a medical professional.
Lastly, don’t hesitate to seek outside guidance. Ask for help if you need help. It’s too often that parents neglect their own well-being as they struggle to solve their baby’s issues.
Don’t neglect your health and don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance. Reach out to friends and family. Reach out to parents that have had trouble with an early morning waking baby. Ask them for help and to share what kind of solutions worked for them.
If nothing seems to work for days, weeks, month in, month out, then it could be something more complicated. Not all of these tips and methods will help your early morning waking baby – but some have to work. Otherwise, it could point to a serious medical condition.
If you sense that something’s wrong, seek medical guidance at once.
All things considered, it’s consistency that matters most. We know how frustrating it can get when you have an early morning waking baby making it impossible to get the rest you need. You’re taking a nap whenever you can just to catch up and recharge your energy.
It takes a lot of trial and error until you resolve the issue. That said, understanding the cause allows you to implement effective strategies towards improving your baby’s sleep.
From adjusting your bay’s bedtime routine to regulating their internal clock, a lot can be done to improve the quality of your baby’s sleep, but it will take significant effort. So, make sure that you and your partner help each other throughout this difficult period.
You’re in for a lot of sleepless nights, but you’re in it together.
Remain patient. Some of our recommended methods and techniques may not work for all babies, since every baby is different. With enough time, you will find a way to implement a successful sleep schedule and to finally enjoy the journey of parenthood stress-free.
Mother of three and a primary school teacher. I’ve always loved being around children and helping them, so I chose my path as a teacher. It is sometimes hectic with three children, but I am 100 percent into it and wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.