Do You Have An Early Morning Riser?
This is a question that I get extremely often, but not one that can’t be fixed. First of all, I think it’s important to celebrate the fact that your baby is sleeping through the night! This might be the first time in their little life that they have slept from for more than 3-4 hour stretches at a time. So the fact that they slept from 7pm – 5am is amazing! Let’s take a moment to do our happy dance before we go any further.
But let’s face it – who wants to get up at 5am? Certainly not me! So after we celebrate the fact that our baby is finally consolidating night time sleep into 10-11 hour stretches, let’s look at how we can get them to sleep in a little later and make everyone happier!
It’s important to note first that this is very, very common. These early morning wake-ups especially start presenting themselves during the first couple weeks of making sleep changes and this makes sense if you really think about it. If your baby has never slept longer than 3-4 hour stretches before at a time, it’s a big adjustment that they’re going 10+ hour chunks!
So the first tip is this: Give it more time.
Most of the time we just need to give our little one a little more time for their body clock to adjust to sleeping for 11-12 hours of consolidated sleep instead of just 10, making it until 6-7am instead of 5am.
So if you’ve been doing your sleep changes for about a week now, give it another week for that early morning wake up to gradually disappear. You might notice that during week 2 they make it until 5:30am. Then week 3 they sleep until 6am. This is the most common way for that early morning wake-up to disappear.
When I work with my families, I usually set up our “ideal schedule” to include a 12-hour night from 7pm-7am. This works great for some babies, and other babies simply don’t sleep this long. 6am is their wake-up time, making an 11-hour night their norm. And this is totally fine! 11 hours of night sleep is very common and nothing to be concerned about. 12 hours is great, too.
If it’s been more than a couple weeks and you’re still struggling with an early morning riser, the second tip is: Look at the darkness.
How dark is your baby’s room? When the sun comes up at 5am, how much light is coming in? Honestly, any tidbit of light coming in around the edges of the blinks can stimulate your child to wake up. Light plays a huge role in cueing our body clock that it’s morning.
As adults, we can be stimulated by the light coming in at 5am, roll over to look at the clock, and know it’s not time to get up yet and go back to sleep. Your baby or toddler can’t do this!
So when I say to make your child’s room dark – I mean dark! In my opinion, it should be as dark at 5am as it is at midnight. And it doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to be dark! So get some dark sheets, some black cardboard, anything to help block out those rays of light coming in with the sun.
It’s not a coincidence that early morning wake-ups are more common during the summer months. The sun is getting up earlier, and therefore so is your child! Having the room nice and dark will help with bedtime also if we’re putting them to bed before the sun has actually set. This will help with melatonin production and get them to settle down quicker for bed.
Third tip: Are there environmental noises waking up baby?
Our sleep in the early morning hours is usually REM sleep, which means a very light stage of sleep. It would be very easy to wake a baby during these hours with even the slightest noises outside their room.
A sounds machine can be a great remedy for this, creating some sound insulation in your baby’s room so those outside noises can’t be heard. A fan is a great idea also, especially in these hot summer months. You want a constant, steady sound that is present all night long until your baby wakes in the morning – hopefully at 7am.
The next tip I have for you is this: Stick to a minimum wake-up time.
This can be difficult is your baby is continually getting up at 5am and you don’t want yourself or them to be up until 6am. But it’s really important to stick to this minimum time of 6am! You must send a clear message to your baby, and your baby’s body clock, that 6am is morning and nothing before then.
What happens if your baby wakes at 5:50am one morning and you decide that’s close enough? Well, the next morning they’re likely to wake at that time again, and this time just gradually starts creeping earlier and earlier, until all of a sudden you’re getting up at 5am with your baby! This is what we definitely want to avoid.
So stick to the minimum! Eventually, with time and consistency, your baby will sleep until the minimum wake-up time – and possibly beyond!
Here’s the last thing to look at if none of the previous tips are helping: Is the first nap happening too soon?
This might sound odd, but if your baby is waking at 5am and exhausted by 7am so you put them down for their first “nap,” this bit of sleep is actually the baby finishing their night time sleep. So their body thinks it’s okay to wake early because they can just finish their night sleep an hour or two later. This definitely contributes to early morning wake-ups.
So as difficult as it might be, I would try to hang in as long as possibly and put baby down at their normal morning naptime regardless of how early they woke up. It’s okay to adjust this by about 30 minutes (so if nap is normally at 9am and you don’t think they can make it past 8:30am, that’s okay), but I wouldn’t push it up much more than that, otherwise it will just be contributing more to the problem.
So there you have it, 5 tips to help get your early morning riser to sleep in a little later! If you’ve tried these tips already over a several week period and they don’t seem to be working, please let me know! I have lots more tips up my sleeve. You can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or just give me a call at (712) 269-5676. You can easily book your Free 15-minute consultation call by clicking the “Book Online” tab.
I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Sweet Dream & God Bless You,
P.S. Looking for something fun to do with your family this Saturday? The first annual Breastival is going on July 30th from 10am-1pm at Ruby Hill Park! This event is being put on by the Colorado Breastfeeding Coalition and will be a great way to kick off world breastfeeding week! There will be a stroll around the park with Mother’s Milk Bank, a Denver fire truck will be there, along with an Infant Sign Language class, a Toddler music class, a Parent Baby Yoga class, and tons of great vendors! I will be there and if you stop by to say hi, I will give you 20% off any package price! Hope to see you there!