Early wake ups can be very frustrating for parents. Just when you think you’re going to get a full night sleep – BAM! Baby starts waking up at 5am. This is a really common problem and there are a few things we can look at to help babies sleep for longer.
Keep it super dark in baby’s room
If possible, as dark as it would be in the middle of the night, especially in the summer months. It’s really important to keep the light out because even the slightest change in light variation can stimulate anybody to wake up.
As an adult, you can look at the clock and notice that it’s not time to get up yet. A baby can’t do that.
If possible, have a system that allows for the baby’s room to be maintained around 18-21 degrees throughout the night. This is especially important in the early hours of the morning (around 4am is often the coldest part of the night). If baby wakes up in the early morning due to being cold, it can often lead to an early morning wake up. It can then be tricky for them to go back to sleep.
Just as the change of light in the early hours of the morning can stimulate wake ups, so can changes in noise levels.
Babies are often in a very light sleep around 5am. If you have someone in the household getting up for a shower to go to work, or have a family of magpies outside that like to sing at the crack of dawn, I highly recommend a white noise machine.
Put it on at the bedtime routine. Turn it off once baby wakes for the day. I would also use it for day naps to drown out inside and outside noises.
A lot of people make the mistake of keeping their child up later so they will sleep later in the morning. That’s a myth and hardly ever works. What you actually end up doing is making your child over-tired which leads to night wakings and early rising.
So make sure you stick with a nice early bedtime to make sure your child is getting as much night sleep as possible.
Food intake throughout the day
I know a lot of people tend to force large dinners on children hoping they will sleep longer overnight. That can sometimes backfire. If you have a really big dinner and full when you go to bed, you can actually be kept awake from tummy pains while your body is trying to digest. If bub is awake for a long period prior to falling asleep, this will cause over tiredness. This often results in early morning wake ups.
One thing you can try, is to make sure you give your child a decent size afternoon tea. Preferably something healthy and filling, like fruit with yogurt, milk and some sugar free cookies. Then reduce the size of dinner.
Delay morning feed
If you get into the habit of feeding him at 5am, his body will start waking him up at 5am for that feed. Try to drag it out until at least 6am or 6:30am. Ideally don’t take baby out of the cot until 6am at least. That way you are helping to train his body to wake up later and have a fixed breakfast time.
If you have tried all of these things and your baby is STILL waking up early, hang in there. It’s normally a temporary thing. If it turns out to be constant, rather than temporary, you may have to look at your baby’s overall sleep pattern.