Sleep consultant Brisbane

Early Rising in Babies and Toddlers and how to Solve it

Is your baby or toddler up with the sun and the birds? This has to be one of the most common problems parents have when it comes to sleep. Its right up there with catnapping but the parents I work with find this one of the hardest things as you are just so tired that you just want them to go back to sleep and this often results in what I call ‘accidental parenting’ such as bringing them into your bed or getting them up which just reinforces the wake ups. I get it – believe me I’ve been there! All you want is to get them back to sleep as quick as you can so you can get those last couple of precious hours of sleep yourself. This is the time of night that we are least well equiped to deal with a crying baby or toddler.

Is your baby just not needing more sleep? Many parents, health nurses and even some sleep consultants will tell you that some babies just don’t need 12 hours sleep overnight. So you might be thinking your baby must just be one of those that is happy with just 10 hours sleep at night so you should be happy with that. Believe me this is not one of the reasons your baby is waking at this time! All babies are capable of sleeping through a 12 hour night. If they are little they may be waking at this time because they truly are hungry but if they are older then there is definitely a reason why they are waking early and that means there is something we can do about it. Even younger babies can benefit from these things as it will make it easier for them to drop that last feed when they are ready

So why is your baby waking around 5am and what can you do to help

  • The sun is up so it must be morning – this would have to be the number one reason. Babies can’t tell the time. They don’t have a little clock saying it isn’t 7am yet so I should still be sleeping. So they see that light streaming in and think hello it must be wake up time!! This one is a fairly easy fix. Blackout your babies room. There are numerous ways to do this and they dont need to be expensive. Just don’t do alfoil on your windows as this can cause them to crack! If they are a toddler a sleep training clock is also really useful
  • They are cold. I find this is the second most common cause for babies and toddlers waking early. Now heaps of parents will ask me why are they cold at 5am but not the rest of the night when room temp, bedding etc is all the same. The longer your baby is asleep the more their core temperature drops so while you can do your best to keep your room temp from dropping your baby will always feel the cold more in the early morning. To help with this make sure your babies room isn’t dropping below 20 degs at the height they are sleeping and have a good look at their bedding. Its a great idea to add some more blankets when you go to bed to allow for that core temp drop
  • Their morning sleep is too early. If your baby’s first sleep of the day is too early they will often wake earlier in the morning so that they are tired enough for that first sleep. This is a bit of a trap parents can fall into as their baby is tired from waking early so they feel they need to put them down early for that first sleep but this just results in a baby who just keeps waking early – sometimes even earlier! So stretching out that awake time and moving the first sleep later will often result in them waking later the next morning and getting your closer to the 7am wake up
  • They are getting too much day sleep or need to drop that 3rd nap. If your baby is around 4-6 months and you have tried everything above then dropping that 3rd nap will often help with early rising. Too much day sleep will often result in an early riser
  • They are hungry. Yes this is an obvious one. If they are little then this is perfectly normal. If they are a bit older then they may be waking hungry because they aren’t getting enough milk or solids during the day or not the right types of solids so addressing their diet is really important
  • You have reinforced it. Often a baby will have been waking for one of the reasons above and you may have addressed this reason but they keep waking. This is where you need to look at your behaviour. How are you dealing with the early wake ups? Are you bringing your baby into your bed? Are you getting your baby up to start the day? Are you interacting with them when you go to them instead of treating it like a night wake? This is where accidental parenting comes in. You may well have created a different expectation to what you want by how you have responded and now it has become a habit. If this is the case and you know you have covered all the other reasons for waking then you will need to look at changing that habit using your settling method so that your baby realises they actually are expected to sleep in their cot for longer

If you have tried to work through all of these yourself and you still have a little early riser then the answer is still the same -they are not just an early riser –  they just may need a little extra help. This means going through the whole picture and that is where Dream Winks comes in. Let us look at everything holistically and work to get your family a whole nights sleep again