As a parent just trying to get some shut-eye, one of the hardest things can be to do everything right and still have a baby waking up too early.
You can follow all the bedtime routines, follow all the recommendations, and still, your baby wakes up at 4 am and won’t go back to sleep.
The first thing you should know is that you’re not alone. Lots of parents struggle with their babies’ sleep and, frankly, a lot of babies are struggling with their own sleep.
Learn more about why the first three months of baby’s life are an adjustment to both them and mom here.
Guide to this post
- What does it mean if baby is waking up too early?
- How do I stop my baby from waking at 5 a.m.?
- How do I get my baby to sleep later in the morning?
- Things to do if baby is waking up too early from a nap
- Tracking and regulating your baby’s sleep
What does it mean if baby is waking up too early?
First of all, let’s be clear on what it even means that baby is waking up too early. It’s not exactly that they’re waking up hours after being put to bed. Most young babies are! Shortly after, they’ll usually go back to sleep after a feeding and a diaper-change.
If your baby is getting up at 5 a.m. and not going back to sleep, they’re waking up too early. The effects that waking up early can have on your house are mainly just a mood shift. Your baby might be moodier and on edge due to being overtired.
These early wake-ups can be caused by a sleep regression, teething, even your baby being sick. Keeping an eye on what other symptoms or signs you’ve seen lately can help you figure out if the problem is that or an irregular sleep schedule.
Read our post on the 3-month-old schedule.
If you’re seeing some irregularities, check with your pediatrician to be safe. It could be normal for their age as they go through important baby milestones.
The Ferber and other sleep training methods also talk about baby waking too early. Read more about the Top 5 Sleep Training Methods
How do I stop my baby from waking at 5 a.m.?
Some parents will default to this (frankly logical) idea:
If we could insert a slow-mo mom running at you, arms outstretched, yelling “nooooooo!” we would.
Basically, this idea will come back to bite you, maybe literally, in the form of a small unhappy, sleep-deprived baby.
Your best bet will be to put your baby to bed earlier, not later. If your little one’s baby is after 7 p.m. try moving it earlier by 10 minutes every night to have the least amount of resistance. Push their eating schedule later so that they won’t wake up hungry that soon either.
How do I get my baby to sleep later in the morning?
If you read that in the voice that you imagine this emoji 😩 makes, you read it right.
Hang in there! These small adjustments have been tried and tested by parents around the world to get just an hour or two more of sleep.
1. Block the sunlight
Hello darkness, my old friend…
As cute as a bright decorative nursery is, sometimes you have to strip down to basics and become a cave parent. More so just in the way that you want to encourage your little one’s instinct to sleep more “until the sunrise.” Little do they know, you’ve hidden the sunrise from them.
Some parents block the windows with black trash bags and blackout curtains. How you do it is up to you, but it works for a lot of families.
2. Clear all possible noises
If I hear that lawnmower ONE more time…
Hopefully, you planned the location of your nursery to be far enough away from where most of the noises in your home are made. If not, try to make sure alarm clocks are set to after 7 a.m. or on vibrate (it’s possible!) and keep other noises to a minimum. Of course, if your neighbor is up early mowing the lawn, well, there’s little you can do.
3. Don’t rush to console
Hush little baby don’t say a word…
With a high-quality baby monitor, you can keep an eye on your baby from the moment they wake up and see if you need to come in or not. Some stirring can just be a sign of a short wake-up before settling back to sleep. With Cubo Ai Plus, you can play lullabies for them from your own bed and soothe them back to sleep without overstimulating them with your presence.
4. Push breakfasts (just a bit)
But first, a snooze.
If your baby is used to waking up and feeding right away, start pushing those feeding times by 10 or 15 minutes until they’re used to eating a little bit later. That way, even if they wake up early, they can wait a little while before calling you in to have breakfast.
Things to do if baby is waking up too early from a nap
Your baby’s naps should last about an hour on average, which is why it’s so frustrating when they keep falling asleep in the car 5 minutes before you get home.
In fact, naps are a substantial part of you and your baby’s daily schedules and pushing those schedules as you might know can have serious consequences (to your mood and to-do list, at least).
If your baby waking up too early from a nap for any reason there are a couple of steps that you can take:
- Cut one of their naps during the day. If they’re resisting naps, it can mean that they’re taking too many naps. It also depends on their age so make sure this is the right step for this age before you do that. It could also mean they’re going through a regression, so it could also get better within a week or two.
- If they’re 12 months or older, keep an eye on them. Keep your toddler entertained with toys, books, and other things that they can reach for when they wake up from that nap. If they’re younger than 12 months, you’ll want to keep that crib clear.
If neither of these work, take a good look at your sleep schedule, how they’re sleeping at night, and what could be causing the change. We’ll talk about how to do that next.
Tracking and regulating your baby’s sleep
The first step to fixing sleep problems is understanding them. Do you know how long your baby slept last night or how many times they woke up without crying? Are nights so blurry now that you forgot how many times you checked in on them?
Maybe you’re tracking with an app or a physical log. You can use that to see what the difference has been between, say two weeks ago and now, right?
Another alternative, of course, is tracking with Sleep Analytics. This option tracks your baby’s total sleep time, time to bed, number of wake-ups, caregiver visits, and cries. With tools like this, you can see when your baby’s nights started seeing changes and if that can be what’s affecting their daytime sleep.
Regardless of what methodology you take to keep your baby sleeping just a little bit longer in the morning, know that all phases are temporary, both good and bad. If you’re having a rough time at night can seem like an impossible hurdle to overcome, but you’ve got this!