It’s not a surprise that newborn infants have erratic sleeping patterns. However, babies should begin to sleep through the night at about three months old. At six months old, most babies should already be sleeping through the night. Unfortunately, some parents still find themselves waking up at 4 or 5 in the morning to the sound of a crying baby. Fortunately, there are some ways to deal with an early morning waking baby.
When babies wake up too early, you can help them get back on a proper schedule by making sure their nurseries are conducive for sleeping, they have enough sleep, and they get accustomed to a proper waking schedule.
This article will talk about early morning waking babies, why this happens, and ways to deal with it.
What is Too Early?
Babies are generally woken up early in the morning by typical factors such as hunger or the need for a diaper change.
Too early can mean differently from one household to another. It would typically depend on what time the parents wake up on a regular basis. For many households, being woken up by the baby at 6-6:30 AM is too early. For other people, it can mean being woken up at 5 AM.
It’s important to distinguish the difference between waking up too early and waking up early due to hunger. If a baby wakes up too early due to hunger and sleeps immediately after being fed, then that’s not an issue. The issue being discussed in this article is when babies are already ready to begin the day earlier than you’d like.
Ways with Dealing with Early Morning Waking Baby
Keep the Sun Out
Just like everyone, sunlight seeping into a bedroom would wake a baby up. Thus, it is important to make sure that their windows are securely shaded when leaving babies to sleep.
Aside from potentially shining brightly into your baby’s eyes, sunlight can affect a person’s circadian rhythm – the way a person’s body behaves following the 24-hour cycle. Evidence suggests that the presence of sunlight can trigger hormones for waking up while the darkness does the opposite. This is perfectly appropriate for people who can pattern their days after the sun, but that is not how most people operate.
You probably already have some sort of window curtains or shades installed in your baby’s nursery. However, one thing you can do is check the nursery early in the morning if sunlight can seep through it. It could depend on a number of factors, such as the angle of the early morning sun or the way the shades are installed. Regardless, it is important to make sure that the nursery does not let any light in from the outside unless you allow it.
Aside from visual disturbances such as seeping sunlight, a nursery conducive for sleep also means that the room should be able to minimize noise.
Is the nursery window facing the street? Are there passing cars in the morning? Does the garbage truck make its rounds in the morning? Are there dogs out on their morning walk barking out loud? These are some of the few things you have to ask yourself to make sure that your baby isn’t waking up too early because of unwanted noise.
There are several ways to help soundproof the nursery to ensure a good night’s sleep. An important part of soundproofing a room is to dampen the surface with texture so that sound will be absorbed right away. For example, a carpeted nursery will be significantly quieter than one with a hardwood floor. You can also opt for heavier curtains to help block off noise coming from outside.
Another option to consider is to get a white noise machine for the baby. White noise machines are very popular in helping maintain an ambient environment for the baby. The machine produces ambient noises that are not disturbing or irritating, thereby blocking out other noises that can be disruptive.
Portable White Noise Machine for Baby
Assess Nap Schedules
One common reason why babies wake up too early is that they’ve already had enough sleep. If your baby is consistently waking up too early in the morning, it is imperative that you assess your baby’s nap schedules and count how many hours of sleep they’re getting every day.
Up to three months old, your baby would need about 14-17 hours of sleep. From 4 months old to a year old, that would reduce to about 12-15 hours. A toddler of about a year or two old should have about 11-14 hours. Given these ranges, check how many hours of sleep your baby is having. If your baby sleeps more than the ranges given above, you can try adjusting it by reducing their nap time. Moving around the nap schedule can be an easy fix for an early morning waking baby.
Aside from nap schedules, it can also benefit you to assess what time your baby goes to bed. It may sound counterintuitive but having a bedtime that is too late can cause your baby to wake up early in the morning. Unlike adults, babies do not sleep in. Sleeping too late means that the baby is getting overtired – and being overtired can cause problems for sleeping schedules.
Experiment with your baby’s bedtime. You’d be amazed at the difference a 30-minute change can make to a baby’s behavior. If your baby is usually put to bed at around 8:00 PM, try getting them to bed at 7:30 PM the next day and see how it affects their wake-up time.
When parents are woken up by the sound of their baby early in the morning, it can take a moment before they can actually bring themselves to get up and check on the baby. Fortunately, babies can sometimes soothe themselves back to sleep.
The next time your baby gets up early in the morning and cries out for attention, try giving them a few minutes. Five to ten minutes should be enough to see if your baby was able to soothe themselves back to sleep. This is an easy way to deal with an early morning waking baby, but this is more for babies that can sleep through the night on most days. This is more for babies that seldom wake up too early.
If the problem persists, you should try out the other methods listed in this article because allowing them to self-soothe does not bode well for you and your partner since the baby will still keep waking you up early in the morning. Even if you don’t have to get up and deal with the baby physically, you will still end up waking early in the morning due to the sound of crying.
Adjust Breakfast Time
What time do you feed your baby breakfast? If you feed your baby breakfast at 6:00 AM, then that’s probably the reason why they’re already awake at that time. The human body tries its best to be an efficient machine which means it will try to remember what time it usually eats to prepare the necessary bodily processes that go with it.
If you’re feeding your baby breakfast too early, try adjusting breakfast time to a later time. Hopefully, that can stave off their hunger, preventing them from waking up too early because of hunger.
When adjusting feeding schedules, it is always recommended to contact and consult your pediatrician first to make sure any change you make does not pose any harm to your baby.
Get the Right Temperature
Babies will always wake up crying when they are uncomfortable. One factor that you have to look into is their temperature. Are they getting too cold? Are they getting too warm?
One of the best ways to ensure that your nursery is as comfortable as it can be is by being able to accurately control the room temperature. A room with its own thermostat is an excellent option, but not everyone can get their nurseries hooked up to their own microclimate.
If the baby gets too cold, they will wake up early in the morning in discomfort. Addressing this can be as simple as getting your baby swaddled correctly with the right blanket. A heater in the nursery can also help control the temperature during the colder months.
Being bundled up too much and being too warm is also very uncomfortable for the baby. One way to ensure that your baby does not get too warm is by getting baby clothes, blankets, and crib sheets that are made of natural fibers. Natural fibers such as cotton or wool help prevent the baby from getting too warm as these fabrics are much more breathable than synthetic polyesters.
Stick to a Schedule
Every parent knows that it can be quite difficult to keep a schedule with a baby around because anything can happen at any time with them. However, that doesn’t mean you have to give in every time – this includes waking up.
Let’s say you set a schedule where you won’t get up to deal with the baby before 6:00 AM. When a baby cries and wakes you up at 5:50 AM, you might think to yourself that you might as well go over there to soothe your baby since 6:00 AM is only ten minutes away. However, your early morning waking baby might wake you up the next day at 5:40 AM and then 5:30 AM the day after that. The point is, you can help yourself and your baby by setting a schedule that they can potentially get used to.