Most people don’t wake up at dawn. If your baby does and won’t go back to sleep even after eating or a diaper change, it can deprive you of needed sleep and indicate that your baby’s sleep schedule is not ideal. Babies naturally wake up early, but dawn (or earlier) can sometimes result in lack of necessary sleeptime.
What is An Early Morning Baby?
At first, you’re just glad that your baby sleeps for longer stretches of time. It’s such a relief to not be awake in the middle of the night or every hour or so. But it doesn’t take long for dawn wakeups to wear out their welcome. They may indicate that your baby is getting too little or too much sleep.
Babies’ biological rhythms are set to wake up earlier than adults. Six to seven o’clock in the morning is a good time for a baby to wake up. If they are waking up between 4:00 and 5:00 before dawn, it would be considered night waking. However, if your baby wakes up between 5:00 and 5:30 in the morning, this is considered early rising and not sufficient sleep. Waking between 5:30 and 6:00 am may be okay if your baby slept well through the night and shows no signs of being overtired.
Why Babies Wake Before 6 am
There are lots of reasons why your baby may be waking up so early. He or she may be disturbed by light, teething, an illness, or sleep regression. You can address each of these issues individually.
Your baby may also be getting too little sleep. Babies who aren’t getting enough sleep can have an excess of stress hormones like cortisol in their bodies that actually makes it harder for them to sleep, creating a cycle of sleeplessness. You can tell if this is happening with your baby because you know they are getting less than 12 hours of sleep per day and/or they show other signs of overtiredness like crankiness.
Your baby could be getting too much sleep or going to sleep too early. Either one can make them naturally want to wake early. They simply aren’t sleepy anymore.
Tips to Help Baby Sleep Later
- Wait. Give your baby five or ten minutes after waking up before you go to them. They may go back to sleep or just be okay to lie there, giving you more time to rest.
- Push back feedings a little each day so your baby won’t associate this early time of day with eating.
- Keep dawn outside. Your baby may be waking because it’s getting brighter in the room. Minimize this by adding room-darkening or lined drapes or simply covering the windows for the time being. It may also be getting noisier inside or outside your home around this time of day from traffic, neighbors, or family members starting their day. Use white noise or storm shutters to block noises that may be waking your baby.
- Adjust their schedule. If you think your baby is going to bed too late or too early, you can gradually change their sleep schedule by starting their sleep routine ten minutes earlier or later each night until you reach your desired sleep time. You may not see results right away. Wait a week or two for their system to adjust before you determine if it helped or not. You might also need to adjust their eating and napping schedule to match their sleeping schedule.
- If your baby is 12 months or older, you can add toys to the crib like a crib mirror, soother, or keyboard. These will help occupy your baby so they stay cozy and entertained in the crib longer so you can get more rest.
Call Petite Dreamers
Sleep training helps your baby develop a healthy sleep schedule. If you are struggling with a baby who won’t sleep through the night, a certified sleep consultant can help. Contact us to get started with a free discovery call.