This is the ONE topic, that we get the MOST amount of emails on. The dreaded 4.30am to 5am cry out – that sometime doesn’t stop.
So lets take a deeper look into early rising.
First of all, what’s considered early? I’m sure we all have a different opinion on this.
I consider early morning waking to be waking before 6am or waking before having 10.5 - 11 hours of nighttime sleep.
There are two main groups for this issues -
1) Children who wake up before they have had enough sleep - see most common reasons below.
Don't expect a child to go to bed at 7pm and sleep until 9am just because that’s what time you used to get up at before they were born or because you stayed up late last night having a glass of wine and watching a movie.
Most parents can kiss goodbye to lazy Sunday mornings in bed with a starbucks and paper (unless you trade off with your spouse at the weekend) - as children who go to bed at a reasonable hour are often rearing to go at 6am - after all - they have just slept for 11 hours and cant wait to see what the world has in store for them today.
Here is a list of contributing factors that can cause a child to wake up BEFORE they are ready.
Children who have not had enough sleep often wake up crying / grumpy and are ready to go back to sleep again within an hour or so of being up.
NOISE - If you live in a noisy neighbourhood / on a busy street or in an old house. There are lots of noises that can bring your sleeping baby to an awake state. To mask external noises I would recommend that you invest in a white noise machine, spa therapy machine as they are sometimes called.
LIGHT - During the spring and summer months light starts to creep into the bedroom earlier an earlier which can also assist in waking up your child. Through these seasons hang something thick up over the windows to help keep the room the same throughout the night. If you wanted something more permanent then you can invest in black out blinds.
Some children wake up early because they need to have a bowel movement. There is a correlation between giving a child too much fruit after dinner or foods later in the day that are high in fibre can cause a bowel movement early in the morning. Try tracking your babies diet and offering those high fibre or fruits in the early morning instead to see if makes a difference.
BEHAVIORAL OR HABITUAL
If you child has a sleep association or wakes up several times a night then I would also expect them to rouse around 5am - if this is the case then you would need to look at the overall situation and possibly execute some sleep training.
Children who are not getting enough sleep overall will also wake up early. In these cases you are aiming for 10.5 - 12 hours to be within the normal range. Children who are not getting quality nighttime sleep or poor naps are more prone to early rising. If this is the case then try moving you child's bedtime earlier - don't worry children rarely change their wake up time to earlier just because they went to bed earlier. Try it - you have nothing to loose and give it at least 3 days in order to see the effects.
2) Children who wake up early who have had enough sleep - this is there natural wake up time.
You may have a little lark on your hands – their natural waking hour happens to be before yours or the rest of the house. But just because your baby or child is awake does not mean that they have to get everybody else up nor does it mean that you have to get up. You control the time that they get up out of bed to start their day - you cannot control the time that they wake up. My daughter often used to be up before 7.00am (when her clock goes off) but she would sit on her bed and talk to herself until it went off.
TOO LONG IN BED
If you are expecting them to be in their bed for too long then this can also appear to be early rising. 11 hours is reasonable and if they are awake then it is fine to get them up after 6am or later. This would be for a child who has bedtime of 7pm. If you are putting your baby to bed at 6pm and they are rearing to go at 5am - then you may want to see if you can shift their bedtime around in 15 minute increments, it could also be that they are on the lower end of sleep needs, needing 10 hrs only so again a later bedtime may suffice in these circumstances.
YOU CHECKING IN
We very often advise against checking in on your child 'too often' after 5am or later - lots of children have had 90% of their night time sleep by then and have a lot more energy to fight off sleep and your presence will only stimulate them more so the chances of them falling back to sleep will decrease. Hold off until 6am at least when you can get them up for a nurse / feed and into daylight. Its okay for them to hang out in their crib for an hour - if you get them up because they want to get up then you are reinforcing that it is morning time after all.
There is only so much you can do, and you can't control when someone else falls to sleep or when they wake up -