You’re laying in bed and all of a sudden your baby wakes up early at 5am. Prior to this they were consistently sleeping through to 7am but all of a sudden they’re waking up early. We’ve been there and can relate to how difficult it is especially after you’ve gotten used to getting some sleep again!
We created this guide on what to do when your baby is waking up early and some tips we’d recommend to get them back to sleeping to 7am (or whatever time).
What is an Early Wake Up?
Before we jump into why your baby might be waking up early and what you should do about it, it’s important to look at what’s actually an early wake up and what’s normal.
We tried to split this up a bit into 3 different slots of the morning:
- If your baby is waking up at 4 am then this is still night time and a night wake up.
- If your baby is waking up between 5 and 6 am then while this is early, it’s actually quite normal
- If your baby is waking up at 6 am or later then this is normal and really should be your target state.
We’ve been through phases where our boys woke up at 5 am and unlike some of our friends, we didn’t embrace this as the new norm. Instead we looked to work out why this was happening and get them back into their normal routine of waking up at 6:30-7 am which we discuss in the following sections.
Why Your Baby Is Waking Up Early?
One of the more confusing things as a new parent is you get your baby into a good sleeping pattern where both you and the baby are getting plenty of sleep and boom! They start waking up early all of a sudden. Once you understand the reasons why babies wake up early it becomes a heck of a lot easier to put in changes to get them back into their normal routine. Some of the reasons babies wake up early include:
Getting Too Much or Too Little Sleep During the Day
It may be that your baby is getting too much or too little sleep during the day which in turn, results in them sleeping unsettled during the night. Too much sleep during the day can make it hard for your baby to fall asleep while too little sleep can result in over tiredness.
There.s some great apps out there like The Wonder Weeks which are used for tracking your baby entering into developmental leaps. These can sometimes cause your baby to fall out of their sleep routine.
Is your baby waking up in the early part of the night? It’s possible that they could be hungry. One way around this that worked well for us was offering them a dream feed during the night. Dream feeding is a technique where you softly take the baby out from their cot and offer them a feed in the early part of the night. Based on the name, you’re trying to feed them without waking them up. It’s thought that the dream feed gives them enough food to keep away any hunger that might wake them up early.
Do you or your husband get up to go to work before your baby wakes up? It’s possible that they may be making enough noise to wake up your baby. If you have the option, close any hallway doors and try be extra quiet in case they’re accidentally being woken up.
It’s recommended by medical experts that the sweet spot of room temperature for when your baby is asleep is around the 18-21 degree celsius mark or 75 to 72 degrees fahrenheit.
When your baby gets sick they’ll also throw out their regular sleep pattern. If you think how you feel when you get a cold, laying in bed congested can be awful and makes it hard to sleep. Being a baby is no different and for this reason they can wake up early and break out of their regular sleep pattern when they’re sick.
Similar to feeling sick, when your baby begins teething this can throw them out of their sleep routine as they may wake up with discomfort from their little teeth making their way through. From our experience, we found the boys were worst with their first 2-3 teeth and after that it became less of an issue.
Are you reading this article and currently on holidays wondering why your baby suddenly isn’t sleeping? We went away when the boys were 9 months old and all of a sudden they were waking up at 5 am! This is largely due to being placed in a new environment they’re not used to which may also mean earlier natural light if the sun rises earlier than at home.
Tips to Get Your Baby Sleeping Uninterrupted
We’ve created the below list of tips on how we recommend getting your baby back into a regular sleep routine after trying most of these with our twin boys.
Rule out Any Sleep Issues
The most important tip that you should first do is to… Consult a medical professional to confirm whether there could be medical factors at play like sleep apnea, reflux or other related illnesses.
Keep a Log
Before jumping to conclusions that your baby has broken their sleep routine, it could just be a blip on the radar and part of a development cycle. For this reason, we recommend keeping a log tracking your babies sleep routine so you have an idea of whether this is a consistent new pattern or just a temporary phase.
Don’t Give in Straight Away
If your baby wakes up early when it’s far too early to get up, give your baby a chance to resettle. If they regularly use pacifiers, try them with a pacifier to see if this helps them. Or if they don’t normally use pacifiers, give them 5-10 minutes to try resettle on their own without support.
While we note to give your child 5-10 minutes to resettle, there’s a difference between a baby that’s grizzling and properly upset. Try to keep an ear out and if your baby sounds like they are properly upset, enter the room and try comfort them.
Make Them Comfortable
It may be that your baby is constantly waking up with a dirty nappy that’s uncomfortable. It might be worth looking for bigger nappies from other brands or sleep pants which are also good for holding on longer.
Drop or Reduce Nap Times
Try dropping a nap during the day in case your baby is getting too much sleep during the day. If dropping a nap feels drastic to you, experiment first by reducing their nap time first and ensure they don’t nap too close to bed time.
Avoid Early Light
If the sun rises early where you call home, try make sure the room is blacked out to avoid any early morning light coming through and waking up your baby.
Keep Things Quiet at Home
If you or your husband are early risers and have to go to work before your baby wakes up, try to work out ways you can keep the house quiet so you don’t accidentally wake them up.
Make Sure Their Room is Warm
Like we mentioned earlier in the post, make sure your babies room is warm (18-21 degrees celsius) so they are warm enough. the same applies with ensuring they have an appropriate amount of clothes and layers on to keep them warm depending on the conditions.
Give Them a Pacifier
If your baby gets comfort from using a pacifier, why not experiment with giving them a pacifier if they wake up a few hours before their normal wake up time? With any luck, it’ll help them resettle and you can get a few more hours sleep.
It’s tough when your baby goes through a phase of waking up early especially if you’ve just gotten used to getting more sleep yourself! We hope this list of tips help you through and gets you some peace of mind again.
Thanks for reading!
My name’s Alex and I’m a husband, dad to beautiful identical twin boys, cyclist, photographer and connoisseur of great coffee!
Help I’m Having Twins has been created for me to share what I found useful as a new parent and dad to twins.