Many parents complain that their children are waking up too early. This definitely makes parenting experience more challenging as they need to start their duties earlier than expected.
I have noticed that there are 2 groups of children who are early risers: children who get enough sleep and children who don’t.
Well-Rested Early Risers
- Some well-rested children are early-risers by nature as they have no sleep debts (lost hours of sleep) to pay. They have been getting enough consolidated night-time sleep and, therefore, could wake up early in the morning looking happy and well rested. So, how can we make them rise a little bit later?
We could delay their bedtime by half an hour for 1 week and see if there is a change. If there is still no improvement, we could delay it by another half an hour.
- Another factor making rested kids early risers could be long naps during the day. As each of us requires a certain number of hours of sleep, so do the children. Just think about yourself when you overslept during the day and then woke up early in the morning ready to start the day. The same thing happens to the kids. A 2-year-old boy who naps 4-5 hours during the day will not be able to stay asleep 12 hours at night because he would over exceed his sleep requirement.
Normally, consistent daily routine helps to avoid such scenarios by ensuring that daytime nap is not over-extended and does not interfere with night-time sleep.
Tired Early Risers
I would like to be honest with you and share that most of the early risers fall into this category. One way to know if your son is awake before getting enough of sleep is to look at his behavior. Does he seem more sleepy than usual? Does he want to return to sleep an hour or two after the early morning rising? Also remember, that infants and toddlers need more than 9 hours of sleep during the night. So, if your boy is ready to start his day after a short night and you know that he requires more rest, look for a reason.
There are quite a few reasons allowing this to happen:
Even the slightest light in the morning will stimulate a wake up for all of us. Light exposure sends a wake-up message to our brain, suppressing the production of sleep-inducing hormone – melatonin, responsible for our sleep. Once this happens, we have difficulty to fall asleep and stay asleep. Just think, how often you wake up in the morning after the sun is up, to check the time and then you try to go back to sleep? Sometimes, you succeed and sometimes you don’t…
Now, think about the babies… Once they wake up in the morning, they do not have the ability to check the time like us, therefore they decide to start the day.
So how can we solve this? The best solution to this problem is to keep the tiniest bit of light out. My advice is to use blackout curtains. If you have an older child (2 years and up), you could use a toddler wake-up clock, so he has a clear sign when it’s time to wake up.
During early morning hours, we spend a lot of time in REM sleep, which is very light sleep. That makes it is so easy to wake up somebody at this time, especially if someone in your family has to go to work early.
I advise to block the noise out by using white noise, fan, and insulated curtains.
It may sound crazy, but early rising is often caused by a late bedtime. Many parents believe that the later they will put their child to sleep, the longer he or she will sleep in the morning. The truth is, that is rarely a case. Most of early morning wake ups are happening because of overtiredness. Overtiredness is child’s worst enemy when it comes to sleep. If your kid went to bed overtired, he or she will sleep restless and will have high chances to raise early. Don’t forget about the naps! If your kid is not napping well, he will definitely be overtired in the evening. So, if you don’t put him to bed 1 hour early, he could become an early riser.
This is why I always advise parents to pay attention to child’s bedtime. Even if they are not very willing to accept, I still advise to have bedtime earlier by 30 minutes and see if it brings any changes to the morning wake-ups. Also, keep in mind that our bodies normally require some time to adjust. So, don’t panic if you have moved the bedtime one evening and have not seen any change in the morning. It doesn’t mean that it is not going to work! You need to stay consistent at least for 1 week to see any improvement.
Now, I have to ask you, what do you normally do once you kid wakes up early in the morning? How do you usually respond to that? Do you go and feed him? Do you take him into your bed? How fast does he see you?
If your child loves to nurse and nursing was a part of his sleep association, he could be waking up early looking forward to having that. Likewise, who wouldn’t like to get your full attention early in the morning? Remember, if your child learned to get it, he will continue doing it. Which kid would resist landing in parent’s bed for early waking? All these are early-waking bonuses, which are usually being overlooked.
My suggestion is simple. Stop rewarding your child if you don’t want it to continue! How?
Hold on to your minimum once the kid is awake. I would advise treating early wakings before 7 a.m. as a night time. If you allow your baby to get up earlier than that, then most likely this is going to stay. So, if your little one is up at 5 a.m., treat it as a nighttime wake up. Do exactly what you would do if it was 3 o’clock in the morning. If you can’t wait for long start with the minimum and increase it gradually.
If feeding is the early waking bonus that your child is getting, delay it. Make a distance between wake up and getting what he wants. In this way, you can break the connection between waking and feeding.
I would never advise you to put your child in your bed just because he woke up early. Stay consistent and do not reward him for something that you don’t want to see happening on a daily basis.
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4 thoughts on “Here’s Why Your Baby is Waking up so Early”
Superb Article, very informative.
Always happy to be helpful!
Great information. I’ll keep my eye out for your great posts!