Early Morning Wake Ups
How To Fix Early Morning Wakings
I get this question so often. No just as a Sleep Consultant but I hear mom’s all the time ask in my mom circles “why does my infant/toddler wake up before 6am?” It’s very common so don’t feel like you are alone. There are a ton of things you can do to help your infant or toddler sleep until 6-7am. This is what I would tell a paying client and this is what I’m going to share with you!
First off, we really have to make sure there are a couple things set in place first. If your infant is still waking up every 2 hours at night and they are older than 4-6 months old this is more than likely a sleep association problem. If your infant cannot self soothe early morning wake times will continue to be a problem.
Second, if your infant and toddler do not have a conducive sleep environment morning wake times will continue to happen. Read the attached blog on sleep environment, why it’s so important and how to fix your child’s sleep environment to get them sleeping in later.
Lastly, the most common cause of early morning wake ups is because your child is extremely over tired and continues to be overtired. If you read this article you can see that all data supports that until the age of 3-5 most infants & toddlers function much better with bedtimes of 7pm or earlier. Meaning, some infants AND toddlers NEED to go to bed between 6-7pm.
Our son is 20 months old and if we don’t put him to sleep by 6:30pm he will take 1-2 hours to fall asleep and then wake up at 6am on the dot. If we get him in bed and calm by 6-630 he sleeps until 7:30am
What is normal wake times?
According to the biological clocks in infants and toddlers between 6-7am is when they should be waking up and going to bed around 7pm every night. Although this can differ based on age. Younger infants tend to go to sleep earlier (between 6-7pm) and older infants & toddlers can go to bed between 7-8pm but no later than 8pm!
When infants are little their wake times are extremely important. If your child is staying awake too long or not taking good naps they will become overtired and early morning wake ups will be chronic.
So how can we help?
Bedtimes need to be fixed. Having the same bedtime every night is a great way to get your infants body ready to sleep. Obviously, you can adjust this if your baby takes a terrible nap (wakes up before 2pm) and they need an earlier bedtime. OR, if they are getting older and don’t need 12 hours of sleep any longer you can push bedtime by 30-60 minutes as long as it doesn’t go past 8pm.
Wake times: if your infant is 6-12 months old they should only be awake a certain number of hours before they need to go to sleep. If they are kept awake too long then they will be overtired and wake up in the middle of the night and early in the morning.
Nap times: for infants we need to be sure they are taking good naps every day that are at least 60 minutes each. At this time you also don’t want any single nap to be longer than 2.5 hours, otherwise they won’t need as much sleep as night. Depending on their age they need a certain amount of naps every day.
If you have a toddler and they are getting too much sleep during the day it probably means they have met their sleep quota for the day. Around 2.5-3 years old children start needing only 12-14 hours of sleep a day. If they are taking a 3 hour nap then that cuts into their nighttime sleep. You need to cap their nap times at 1-2 hours max over the age of 2.5 or 3 years old. IF THEY DO NOT have any sleep issues then don’t shorten their naps. Some children sleep more than others.
Schedule: infants 4-12 months old need consistent feeding and sleeping schedule. If they do not have consistency every day they will not sleep well through the night or for nap times and wake up as early as 4am.
Wind down routine: you need a good bedtime routine. Nothing long! At most 20-30 minutes. Start off with fun stuff like playing or taking a bath and then move to brushing teething, lotion, diaper, and pajamas. End by reading a short story with a dim light on or turning the lights off and singing a song while rocking. Then, lay down and bed and say goodnight.
Environment: you can click the link above to see what the best environment is for your baby. IF your baby’s room is too bright they will wake with the sun. If your baby’s nursery doesn’t have a noise machine you risk any early morning noise (birds, cars, trains, trucks etc) waking her up! Make sure your baby’s sleep environment is the best for long stretches of sleep.
When a child is overtired or doesn’t have an age appropriate schedule for their age they won’t sleep as long or as well as they should. When people approach me about sleep training but are hesitant about self soothing techniques I always remind parents that any type of sleep training is really only 1/4 of the work. When you have an infant or toddler well rested on a good sleep & feeding schedule they will sleep better. Why? Because infants and toddlers have internal clocks and circadian rhythms. These internal clocks tell little baby bodies when it’s time for sleep and when it’s time to wake up. If we miss their “sleep time” then we miss the perfect time to lay them down for a nap while their body is releasing melatonin and ready for sleep. When we miss it they become overtired and their naps aren’t restorative.
Knowing more about REM sleep, circadian rhythms and the biological sleep clocks of infants is why Sleep Consultants are invaluable. They will sort all of that out for you and create the perfect sleep plan for your infant.
If you ever need help just reach out to us!