This is the number one question that I get from parents every day, their baby’s waking up too early. I’ve got 7 tips around that for you:
Tip 1 – Dark room, I want it to be as dark as it would be if you walked in, in the middle of the night.
Tip 2 –How are you responding, could baby be waking up early looking forward to something? This is typical of 10 months and up, especially toddlers. Sometimes babies look forward to nursing right away in the morning, or a bottle or TV right away, so put a little bit of a delay between getting out of bed and the morning treat. This has to treated as a night time wakening, encourage your little one to go back to sleep in their cot or bed.
Tip 3 - When is first nap? Is it too soon after wake-up that it is acting like an extension of the night? What many parents will do, is say, baby wakes up at 5am, they wait to get him at 6am, and then put him down for a nap at 7, thinking that he’s been awake for 2 hours. This is perpetuating the situation because it is just extending the night, and adding a night-snack. Kind of like if we got up in the night, went and rummaged through the fridge, got online and went back to bed.
Tip 4 - What time is bedtime? Could baby be overtired and bedtime needs to be moved earlier? Look at overtiredness first. This is more often the case.
Tip 5 – Making sure the bedtime feed is a good feed, dinner around 4.30pm.
Tip 6 - Make sure your child is getting the right amount of daytime sleep at the right times. Too much or too little daytime sleep can cause issues with wake up time. Also make sure that the naps are not too early in the day or too late in the day. The naps should happen close to your child’s wake time window which is based mainly based on your child’s age.
Tip 7- One final attempt that is a last resort. This is hard to do and risky. This is if baby is consistently waking up early. And consistently means within 30 minutes, so between 5:00 and 5:30 every morning. Mum or Dad should go in 10 minutes before baby wakes up and lightly rouse baby but not wake baby fully (this is the tricky part). Bring baby to stage 1 sleep if possible. Then quietly leave the room so baby doesn’t see you! If baby wakes fully, he should be left to his minimum wake up time regardless. And if baby sleeps longer, that is good. If baby sleeps longer but still not long enough, he still should be left to his minimum. This must be done for the full 7 mornings to see success.
The idea is that if he’s doing a 45-minute cycle, and the cycle ends at 5:00, and he’s thinking, “I’m good, I’ve had enough sleep, I’ll get up now.” We go in and interrupt that cycle, and pull him back under into deeper sleep again. Hopefully he goes back under to re-start his cycle, in a perfect world. Hopefully! It’s tough to ask you to get up in the night to do this when it may or may not work, but if done correctly, it usually works, and it’s worth a try if you have tried all off the other things and none of them have worked.
I’m also here for you if you need a little more guidance, book a free discovery call and let's work together in solving your little one’s sleep.