Do you ever ask yourself, “Why is my baby waking up so early!?” If so, you’re not alone. This is one of the top three questions parents ask me, and for good reason.
Now before we dive into this, I want you to know that anything after 6:00 AM is considered “normal” for babies who are over 12 weeks old. However, if your baby is waking up between 4:00 AM-6:00 AM, I would qualify this as an early morning waking that CAN be fixed. With that being said, I also believe you can teach your baby how to sleep in later than 6:00 AM (I have with all four of my babies!), but for now we will discuss what to do with those extra early wakings.
Why Does My Baby Wake Up So Early?
First, it’s important to understand why this is such a common issue for babies. Our bodies, babies included, are designed to be in a deep state of sleep the first half of the night, which is why you might notice your baby’s best sleep is early into the night. Then, as the night goes on, we slowly come into a lighter state of sleep so that our bodies can get ready to wake up and start the day. Think about it–it’s much easier to wake up at 5:30 AM than it is at 1:00 AM, right? This is because your body is in an extremely deep sleep at 1:00 AM, and a much lighter state of sleep that second part of the night. As adults, we understand that anything between 4:00 AM and 6:00 AM is very early and we can roll over and go back to sleep if we want to. Babies, however, do not understand this. So, we must do two things: one, set our babies up for success and two, teach them that it’s still time to sleep.
In this post, I’ll take you through nine reasons that could be causing your baby to wake up earlier than their desired wake time. The good news is, the solutions for early morning wakings are fairly simple! Assess your baby’s situation, adjust accordingly, and the hope is that you’ll both be sleeping in much later in less than a week.
Here are the top nine reasons your baby might be waking up too early:
- Bedtime is too late. If your baby is going to bed after their ideal bedtime, chances are they are overtired. When they go to bed too late, they can get a second wind, which makes it really hard to start off in a deep state of sleep. This in turn makes that second half of the night, or that lighter sleep window, much lighter than normal and they can wake up early, very easily!
- The room is too bright! Black out your baby’s room completely. You can use blackout curtains, removable blackout film, or whatever works best to delay that early morning light from coming in. If you’re traveling or room-sharing, I HIGHLY recommend using the SlumberPod. Use code THESLEEPFAIRY to get $10 off your purchase!
- Extra noise. If you aren’t using a sound machine, something as simple as your neighbor slamming their car door or your husband going to the gym at 5:30 AM can be waking your baby. Using a sound machine not only acts as a sleep trigger during the bedtime routine, but also it can help block out those small noises that we can sleep through as adults–but to a baby, they are like an alarm clock!
- Hunger, but only if your baby is not eating enough during the day. Make sure your baby is getting plenty of calories during the day to sustain them at night.
- Not enough wake time before bed. Make sure your baby is getting plenty of wake time before bed that is age-appropriate. I have a FREE wake windows guide if you aren’t sure what a normal wake window is for your baby.
- Sleep regression. If your baby is going through a sleep regression or a developmental milestone, this can cause frequent night wakings as well as early morning wakings.
- Too much day sleep. If your baby sleeps too much during the day, they won’t be tired enough to sleep all night. Have you ever taken a nap that is several hours long and then you have a hard time falling asleep that night? Babies are the same way!
- Not enough day sleep. If your baby is overtired, it makes it really hard to fall asleep and stay asleep at night, causing both night wakings and early morning wakings.
- Waking out of habit. If your baby wakes up at 4:30 AM and you get them out of bed and feed them when they no longer need it, this can form a regular habit of waking up for social interaction early in the morning.
If any of the above situations apply to you and your baby, make the necessary changes and give your baby a full week to adjust. It takes time and consistency to learn a new skill, including sleeping while in a light state of sleep. If you give your baby enough time to learn how to connect those last couple of sleep cycles, I think you will be blown away at how quickly they can catch on. If you find you need more help, don’t hesitate to reach out! I’d love to help.
Happy sleeping! Jessalyn
Hi! I'm Jessalyn Romney. As a baby sleep consultant and a mother of four, I've made it my mission to simplify sleep so that families all over the world can get the rest that they deserve in a clear, gentle and effective way. To learn more, visit my website: https://www.thesleepfairyway.com/