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  • Beth Mattson

3 Tweaks to Make if Early Morning Wakings Are Becoming The New Norm

How annoying are those 4 or 5 am wake ups?! I think an early morning wake up is more annoying than any other time because I’m not quite ready to get up yet it’s impossible to get back to sleep!⠀

Sleep in those early morning hours is very light sleep (for all of us, not just babies!) and there are many reasons that cause a full wake up from your baby. Today I’ll be covering three tweaks you can make and hopefully those early wake-up calls can be a thing of your past.


Now, just to clarify, when I say “early morning wakings,” I’m talking about your baby who wakes up BEFORE 6:00 am.


A normal and healthy wake time for babies is between 6:00-7:00 am. This is just a typical circadian rhythm for infants, even though I know 7:00 am to 8:00 am would be so much nicer.


If it has been 3-6 weeks after you have implemented your new sleep plan with your baby and they are still experiencing early wake-ups these are some tips that can help your little one in the morning.


Check To See If Sunlight is Creeping In


As your baby stirs in the early morning, even the smallest traces of light can cause some stimulation and can fully wake your baby up. I recommend the room be as dark at 5 am as it is at 12 am.


Trust me, a dark dark room helps to keep baby sleeping. Use blackout curtains and eliminate night lights or lights from monitors. Even black construction paper taped over the windows works very well.


To test to see if it’s dark enough, the next time your baby wakes up early, go in and shut the door. Hold your hand up in front of your face and see if you’re able to see it. If you can, it’s not dark enough.


Adjust Bedtime


For most babies, a later bedtime does not encourage “sleeping in.” In fact, a later bedtime can do just the opposite and cause babies to wake earlier. What!


If your baby is struggling with early mornings, consider moving bedtime up by 30 minutes. I know it doesn’t seem to make sense, but I’ve seen this simple tweak in bedtime to do the trick. Consider a bedtime as early as 6:00-6:30 pm until these early mornings resolve.


Every once in a while, I’ll meet a baby who truly does better with an 8-8:30 pm bedtime; however, it’s rare. Try an earlier bedtime FIRST for at least one week before trying to push bedtime back.


Take a Peek at What Time You’re Laying Down Baby for the First Nap of the Day


One thing that parents sometimes don’t think are related is the first nap of the day and those pesky early wakings. However, if you’re putting baby down too early for that first nap, it could be the culprit.


These are typical wake windows based upon a baby’s age:

4-12 weeks: 60-90 minutes

3-4 Months: 75-120 minutes

5-6 Months: 2 – 3 hours

7-14 Months: 3 – 4 hours

14-24 Months: 4 – 6 hours


For many babies, the first wake window of the day is the shortest, but it should still fall into the wake window range for your baby’s age.


Let’s go over an example for this one. Say baby woke up at 4:50 am and never fell back asleep. The goal for her first wake window is two hours so ideally, you’re thinking she will go down at 6:50 am for her first nap. This is actually too early.


Why? Because baby’s body needs 2 hours of awake time after an appropriate wake time (6:00 am), not after the actual wake time.


Each morning, try to keep baby up for 10-15 minutes longer until they are reaching the appropriate nap time.


Want more tips on combating early morning wakings and all things baby and toddler sleep? Follow me on Instagram @littlerootsllc.


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