When Your Baby Keeps Waking Up at 5AM
(The Best Tips That WORK)
Babies are notoriously early risers. I know that feeling –– mine decided for a while to keep what my husband jokingly called “farmer’s hours.”
In other words, as soon as the sky lightened a tiny bit (well before technical sunrise), she’d be up and at ‘em, ready to play.
I didn’t know it yet (I had to find that out for myself!), but there were a few things I was doing wrong. And now that I do know, I’m passing that golden info on to you –– so you can all finally get some sleep.
A Baby That Soothes Herself to Sleep at 5am?
It’s not a dream!
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But First: Is Your Baby Really Waking Up “Too Early”?
Before revealing my top tips for getting your baby to sleep in later, I’d like to discuss what “too” early really means.
The reality is that most babies need 10 hours of sleep a night. So if you’re putting your baby down at 6:00 PM, and she wakes at 4:00 AM (ouch!), technically, that’s not too early. In fact, for her body and her needs, that’s just right.
“Too early” doesn’t mean before you’re up, fully awake, and ready to cartwheel all over the house. (Doesn’t every parent wish –– I hear you!)
Instead, experts usually define waking up as “too early” when your baby keeps waking up at 5 AM or earlier and she has gotten fewer than 10 hours of sleep during the night.
Your Baby May Be an Early Bird
Another possibility to consider is that your baby may simply be an early riser.
Some people remain “early birds” for life. We all know that cheerful person who wakes up before sunrise and is raring to go.
That person was probably an early bird as a baby, too. That’s just his natural sleep/wake cycle.
So how do you know whether waking at 5AM or earlier is natural for your baby?
Your baby may be an early riser if he’s two months or older, and:
- His morning wake time is generally consistent (give or take half an hour)
- He wakes up at that same time, no matter what time you put him to bed
- He wakes up cheerful and eager for his day
- He has a pattern of happy play during the daytime, then increased fussiness from dinner time onward
On the other hand, she may be waking too early if she’s two months or older, and:
- She seems to need more than two naps a day, or she takes very long naps
- She seems fussy and tired throughout the day
- She wakes up crying hard
Changes in your baby’s sleep schedule along with early rising training can help shift her wake up time to something much more bareable for all of you! Let’s get started today!
Can You Change Your Baby’s Natural Sleep Cycle?
(And Should You?)
If possible, work with your baby’s natural sleep cycle. However, there can be a range for any baby. So if your baby wants to wake up at 4:30 AM, it may be possible to stretch things out over time to, say, 5:30 AM.
Please note that the above is just an example. Don’t go too far out of your baby’s natural sleep cycle. Babies in sync with the sun are following what their bodies need.
On the other hand, not all babies naturally fall into a pattern, and some have not yet experienced gentle reliable sleep training.
So if your baby is waking early but seems cranky, move along to the following tips.
How to Get Your Baby to Wake Up Later
If your baby won’t sleep past 4:30 or 5 AM, try these tips:
- Get blackout curtains. These are the best! I tried them with my baby and they worked like a charm. They also don’t require any hardware. When it’s time to get up, open the curtains a little to allow the morning light in. Over time, your baby will respond to the cue of light = time to get up.
- You may be putting your baby to bed too early. Try putting her down at 8:30 for a 6:30 awakening (or the best time that works for you to give her ten hours of sleep).
- Your baby may need some time to transition to a slightly later bedtime. Try entertaining him gently, or let him nap just a little longer during the day for the first week so you can put him to bed a little later.
- Try a white noise machine. It will help mask the noises of a neighbor who leaves for work very early in the morning, a nearby lawnmower, etc. The Dohm sound machine is the only sound machine I recommend, here’s why.
- Teach your baby to soothe himself back to sleep. Your baby may not be trying to wake for the day at all. Instead, he may be waking out of habit; you’re assuming he’s ready to get up. Need help? Contact me! I’ve helped hundreds of families teach their baby to fall back asleep naturally after night wakings.
Whatever method you choose, be consistent. You’re training your baby’s brain and body to respond to certain cues; for example, when it’s dark out, it’s time to get sleepy. Give both her and you time to adjust.
Sleep, Baby, Sleep® to the Rescue!
Still having trouble keeping your baby in her crib past 5AM? I’ve helped other couples, and I’d love to help you too. Check out my baby sleep services here. Sweet dreams!