Don’t we all just adore the beautiful faces of our babies when we first wake up in the morning? Nothing starts the day off on such a high note as the look in the eyes of your little one when they’re first getting up for the day.
But when that moment hits at 5:00 in the morning, it can certainly take the blissful
nature out of the situation. An early morning wake up is rough on everyone. Your little one is likely not properly rested, and might therefore have a bit of a rough day, and you as the parent could certainly use an extra hour or two of sleep!
If you find yourself struggling to cope with those early wake-ups, I’m happy to tell you that there’s almost always an explanation for why it’s happening, as well as a solution close at hand. Check out the following tips and see if anything applies to your baby’s situation, then make the appropriate changes and you should start seeing a turn towards those blissful mornings you’ve been striving for.
ASSESS THEIR SLEEP ENVIRONMENT:
It’s super beneficial to your baby’s sleep that their sleep environment is conducive to a good night’s rest. Consider factors like room temperature, noise levels, and lighting. Babies are more likely to wake up early if they’re too hot or too cold, so ensure they’re dressed comfortably. (Typically one layer more than an adult would wear while sleeping in the same environment.) Use white noise machines or soft music to drown out any disruptive sounds. Dim the lights in the room during nighttime and invest in blackout curtains to block out early morning sunlight.
ESTABLISH A CONSISTENT BEDTIME ROUTINE:
Babies thrive on repetition and predictability, and a structured bedtime routine can work wonders for their sleep schedule. Create a soothing routine that signals to your baby that it’s time to wind down. It could include activities like a warm bath (which is my personal preference as the “first step.”), gentle massage, lullabies, or reading a bedtime story. Consistency is key here, as it helps your baby anticipate sleep and prepares their body for a nice, long snooze.
MONITOR DAYTIME NAPS:
Surprisingly, too much daytime sleep can contribute to early morning wake- ups. Ensure that your baby isn’t getting excessive sleep during the day, which may leave them less tired at night. Strike a balance between appropriate nap durations and an age-appropriate schedule. Observe your baby’s sleep patterns and gradually adjust nap times and lengths as needed to find the sweet spot.
I know it seems counterintuitive, but an earlier bedtime can often help combat early morning wake-ups. Overtiredness can lead to restless sleep and more frequent awakenings. Try out a slightly earlier bedtime and keep a really close eye on your little one’s sleep cues (pulling ears, rooting, drooping eyelids, etc.) to ensure your little one is well-rested but not overtired. A well-rested baby is more likely to sleep longer and wake up at a reasonable hour.
ENCOURAGE SELF-SOOTHING SKILLS:
Babies who have learned to self-soothe are more likely to go back to sleep independently if they wake up too early. Help your baby develop these skills by putting them down drowsy but awake. Give them a chance to settle themselves back to sleep before intervening. If they cry, wait a few minutes to see if they can self-soothe. Over time, they’ll become more skilled at drifting off to dreamland on their own.
STICK TO YOUR MINIMUM:
If your baby has slept from 7:30 PM to 6:00 AM in the past, then they’re absolutely capable of doing so regularly. When baby wakes up at 5:00 as opposed to 3:00 AM, we’re more likely to give in and assume that they’re just not tired anymore, but if you’re shooting for a 7:00 wake up as “the norm,” then you should treat anything earlier than that as a nighttime wakeup and respond the same way you usually do if baby wakes up in the middle of the night.
Early morning wake-ups in babies can be challenging, but with patience and a few tweaks to their sleep routine, you can improve their sleep patterns.
Remember, each baby is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Be consistent, observe your baby’s cues, and be flexible in your approach. Before you know it, those early wake-up calls will become a thing of the past, and you’ll all be enjoying a few more blissful hours of sleep in the morning!