Early mornings, possibly one of the most common sleep issues I hear parents ask about. It’s not unusual for babies to be bouncing out of their cot at 5am- for me that is still the middle of the night!
There are 2 typical scenario’s with early mornings;
1: Your baby wakes and is still obviously tired, grumpy and would fall back asleep on you, or in bed with you, then they need more sleep. This is common in babies that are still not completely apt at self-settling to sleep, maybe relying on a rock, pat or milk to go off. I also find that it is more common in babies that are not managing long day naps well in their cot just yet.
With a baby that is waking early, and still needing more sleep, then you must address their ability to settle well first. Once this is achieved these good habits can be carried over to the early morning wakes. This ability to self settle can be achieved by removing milk, rocking, patting or anything else they are relying on to go to sleep at bed and nap times (please get in touch for help with this without any need for controlled crying).
2: If however your baby is the opposite and is waking ready to start the day. This is where looking at their routine can help.
A baby that is waking ready to start the day too early is usually going to bed too early. The biggest misconception that I see if form parents of babies who are still napping in the day and are expecting 12 hours of sleep overnight.
A baby of 1 year only needs around 11 hours overnight, a baby of 8 months 10 hours, a baby of 5 months 9 hours and a baby of 2 months 8 hours.
To resolve this decide what overnight hours you would prefer for your baby. Then simply push your babies whole day forward until you reach this time consistent bed time for a minimum of four to five days, you wont see a change in your babies wake up time before that point. Of course with the clock change you can take advantage of this this weekend (see clock change information below!).
I have come across many parents who feel this doesn’t, work but it does, if you do it consistently for a period of a minimum of 4 days. Also ensure you push the whole day forward including nap times.
If your baby is waking early and you have worked out that they need a later bedtime this is the perfect week to achieve this naturally.
This ‘spring’ forward clock change is the easiest of the two, many parents can actually take advantage of the later bed time and as a result a later wake up time 🙂
It is however very easy to adjust your babies day without even realizing it, remember that the whole day needs to be kept on old time. Therefore if your baby (prior to Saturday) is going to bed at 7, up at 5, naps at 9 and 1 then you will (on new time) have a baby that goes to bed at 8, up at 6, naps at 10 and 2. If you stick to the old nap times then they will be too tired to make it until the new 8pm bed time and before you know it they will be adjusted onto old time and still waking at 5! The key is always to adjust the whole day.
What if you have a baby that is in a perfect routine for you?
Well done! Please don’t stress, babies adapt very quickly. Just go for the new times, on Saturday wake them a little early from their afternoon nap, put them to bed 30 minutes early and then wake them halfway in between old and new time. On Sunday aim for their usual nap and bedtimes and by Tuesday they should be easily on new time and back into your perfect routine.