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.
Our Baby Sleep Program helps tired parents TO DEVELOP HEALTHY SLEEP HABITS BY FOCUSING ON NAPS, SETTLING AND NIGHT SLEEP.
- Empowered: Feel empowered as a Mum as you learn to understand your growing baby's needs and cues.
- Simple effective settling: Gentle, proven self settling, evidence based techniques.
- Content happy baby and parents: Better sleep creates content babies & happy parents.
- Freedom: Predictable routines and longer nights creates freedom. Solve your sleep problems for more freedom.
- Work with your babies circadian rhythm: Work with your babies biological clock for faster easier results.
- Awesome naps & nights: You'll create consistent naps and nights with our support.
Try our online sleep program, complete with FREE email support.
My baby has reflux can you help?
When your baby has reflux, feeds can be difficult and your baby can be in a lot of pain both during and after feeds. This pain can cause feeding aversions and failure to thrive. This is why true GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) needs to be treated by a doctor. Once your baby's doctor is satisfied your baby is feeding well, and you have the right medication or formula then we can start a sleep plan and you will be successful.
My baby has colic will this help?
Colic is defined as 3 or more hours of crying per day in infants. Crying subsides in the second second trimester. If you are still experiencing colic symptoms speak to your baby's doctor about whether this could be reflux, an allergy, or over tiredness. We can help you work on better sleep with this program at the same time as your doctor investigates the pain and crying.
What if the program isn't working?
We have a dedicated help line to ensure your success. Just email our team via the details in your program and a certified, experienced and friendly sleep consultant is ready to stare you in the right direction to ensure your success!
My baby was born early, can you help?
Sleep is neurological so we always work off your babies neurological age, that is their corrected age. When you look at our sleep programs purchase the program that your babies corrected age fits into.
What if I have questions or need more help?
Our sleep programs come with private email support. You don’t have to post in any public forums or groups, just email the exclusive helpline that our team of certified sleep consultants look after and we’ll answer all your questions and help you on your way.
Can this program help with my babies night sleep?
Yes, all our online sleep programs contain night sleep plans. We will teach you how to move from multiple night feeds to 2 or 1 or none (depending on what is age appropriate and appropriate for your baby.) Don’t worry we will show you to figure this out too. If your baby is unsettled at night but not feeding, our plans will help you with consolidate night sleep and self settling when age appropriate.
My baby is cat napping can you help?
Cat napping is a very normal physiological stage that your baby goes through. At this stage (3-8 months old), cat napping can start to be a long term issue and compound into over tiredness and affect night sleep and your babies happiness. Good news, this is a great age to work on re-settling, self settling and better longer naps!
I have 3 children, can this work with my family?
I totally understand how busy life is with 2, 3 or more children! Even if you need a flexible schedule we can still work on settling regular naps (some on the go!), and better evenings and night. Flick our consultants any specific questions about your family's schedule of activities and we can help you work out what is possible nap wise.
I don't want a fixed routine, can you still help?
Yes. A fixed routine is one option, regular naps and regular awake times is another. Both are valid and you are welcome to do what works for your family. We understand you are all different and what works best for one family won't be best for another.
I'm formula feeding, can you still help?
Yes we have specific advice for formula feeding parents, and we support your decision to feed any way you choose. We even have a special video series on formula feeding and everything you need to know. Just ask our consultants about this extra if you need it.
I'm exclusively breastfeeding, can I follow your plans?
Yes! While breastfeeding babies need to feed frequently they still need quality sleep day and night. We have specific advice for breastfeeding mums and an exclusive discount on Julia Daleys breastfeeding course if you need extra help.
I'm bed sharing, can your program help me stop?
Yes. We often fall into bed sharing, we call this reactive bed sharing. Or we have simply changed our mind, and moving on from bed sharing we need some support. Our programs and consults will guide you through gentle sleep methods, which are more appropriate for most bed sharing babies who are moving towards independent sleep in the cot.
I'm feeding to sleep, can you help me stop?
Yes. Feeding to sleep is a common sleep association and one that works well for lots of newborns. Often we need to move on from feeding to sleep when it starts to cause short naps, or prolonged settling or frequent night wake ups as baby looks for their association to go back to sleep over and over again at night. We can teach you how to teach your baby to self settle and move on from feeding to sleep when the time is right.
I'm rocking to sleep, is their a solution?
Yes. These are common sleep associations, we refer to this as assisting to sleep. Let us show you ways you can develop independent sleep and settling strategies with our online sleep program, or one on one consult.
Is this program based on Cry It Out?
No. Cry it out is the common name for a sleep training method where you put baby down and don’t respond or check until they are fast asleep. There is no CIO involved in this program as we feel this should be only done under proper supervision. Instead we have included all our very gentle approaches and more mainstream techniques for you to choose from.
Is this based on Science or Art?
Both! As a scientist I (Emma) have spent over 8 years researching the science of sleep. I have educated and certified over 500 consultants around the world as sleep consultants, and have worked with thousands of clients. I love the scientific explanations of why we see the sleep patterns we see, and this science helps us to shape plans and solutions that we know will work. But there's an element of art to getting a baby to sleep, understanding the right combination of things that will work best, and this is where your instinct comes in.
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