I have good news and I have bad news. When we're talking about kids, we really don't label any wake up after 6am as 'early'. Between 6-8am is a biologically normal time for children to wake up.
That's the bad news.
The good news is that if they are waking up early, we can fix it! Keep reading to learn about why your child might be waking up early and how to solve it.
As much as it's nice and quiet when our kids are sleeping, they can only sleep so much! I recommend calculating your child's total time spent sleeping in a 24 hour period. If it's near the top of the range for sleep needs by age, you may have to consider cutting back on their time spent sleeping. It's entirely possible that by 530am they've just had enough time sleeping. In this scenario, it won't matter which trick you try, they won't start sleeping in until you either cap their naps or move bedtime later.
As previously mentioned, you may have to move bedtime later if they're getting too much sleep. However, there is a fine line here! Especially if you have a younger baby who is more prone to becoming overtired. Pushing a baby's wake window too long before bed to keep them up later or trying to make them more 'tired' will backfire. Baby's can easily slip into an overtired state. Their bodies produce a hormone that will actually help them stay awake which can make bedtime more difficult and cause early morning wake ups.
So, don't keep them up too late in an effort to move morning time later. Follow age appropriate wake windows (or at least stay on track with what your baby has shown you they need).
Does your child have a sleep association? The early morning hours are spent in one of the lightest sleep stages so it's easy to be woken up and because we've just had almost a full night of sleep it can be hard to go back to sleep. If your baby has even a slight sleep association with being fed or rocked to sleep, this can announce itself at 4am. Take a look through your bedtime routine, is baby using anything to make themselves drowsy? Are they going into the crib fully awake at bedtime?
What is the environment like? As mentioned, this is a light sleep that is easy to wake from. Any light creeping passed the curtains, vehicles driving by on the street or people getting up making coffee can wake your child up and make it difficult to go back to sleep. I recommend black out curtains or blinds (garbage bags will do) to block light and a sound machine to block external noises.
Last but not least...
Do not move the morning nap earlier to make up for the early morning wake up if your baby is older than 4 months. Younger than 4 months, our days are still pretty unpredictable, you can add in an extra nap to make up for the early morning. After 4 months, I want you to keep the first morning nap as close to the time it would be after the desired morning wake up time as possible.
For example: baby usually wakes up at 7am and naps at 9am. Today baby woke up at 530am, you are still going to push that nap to as close to 9am as possible, maybe you'll make it to 8-830am. The first wake window of the day is the easiest to push without causing a disturbance for the rest of the day. Remember, you don't want to push that last wake window of the day (because that can lead to another early morning) and you also don't want to let your baby have their usual naps all day then go to bed at 6pm (because they'll have had enough sleep and wake up early again...) So push that first wake window!
Can't figure out which one of these is disrupting your peaceful mornings?
Schedule a phone call and let me help you sort it out!
Let's get some sleep!
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