Baby Waking Too Early? 7 Tips to Help Them Sleep Longer

Author Image By Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH •  Updated: 07/20/23 •  Sleep / Sleep Tips

Are you struggling with your baby waking too early? I know from experience how frustrating it can be when the family is not getting enough sleep, and it can be really tough to figure out what’s causing your baby to wake up very early.

Understanding the root cause of the problem is the first step in finding a solution. With a little patience and some helpful tips, you can help your baby get the restful sleep they need, and you can get some much-needed rest too!

Common Causes Of Baby Waking Too Early

Here are some common reasons why your little one may be waking up early:

Causes Of Baby Waking Too Early (1)
  1. Baby is overtired: I know this might sound strange but one of the most common reasons for early waking is overtiredness. If your baby is not getting enough sleep time during the day or is going to bed too late, they may wake up earlier than usual. Overtired babies struggle to stay asleep for long periods of time. To prevent this, make sure your baby is getting enough daytime sleep and going to bed at an age-appropriate time.
  2. Bedtime is too early: It is important to consider the age and developmental needs of your baby when setting a bedtime. While it may seem counterintuitive, an earlier bedtime can actually lead to more night waking and disrupted sleep. If your little one is consistently waking up too early in the morning hours, it may be time to adjust their bedtime to a slightly later time that aligns with their natural sleep patterns.
  3. too much daytime sleep: While napping is an important part of a baby’s sleep routine, too much daytime sleep can interfere with their ability to sleep through the night. If your baby is consistently taking long naps during the day and struggling to sleep through the night, it may be time to adjust their daytime sleep schedule.
  4. Napping too late in the day: Nap times can also impact a baby’s nighttime sleep. Napping too late in the day can interfere with the ability to fall asleep at night and can lead to night waking and early waking.
  5. Inability to self-settle: If your baby is struggling to fall asleep on their own and relying on external factors such as rocking or feeding to fall asleep, this can mean that when they wake they cannot fall back to sleep without you or are unable to play alone in their crib on waking.
  6. Baby is hungry: If your baby is hungry, they may wake up earlier than usual. Make sure to feed your baby before bedtime and consider offering a dream feed if necessary.
  7. Bedroom is too light: Sometimes, especially in the summer months early morning light exposure can be the cause of your baby’s early waking.
  8. They are going through a bout of illness or teething: If your baby is sick, they may wake up earlier than usual due to discomfort or pain. Make sure to check for any signs of illness, such as a fever or cough, and consult your paediatrician if necessary.
  9. They’re naturally an early riser: Remember that we all experience our lightest period of sleep (light sleep pressure) from 4-6am, so it’s not uncommon for babies to wake up during this time. And some babies are just naturally early risers and wake up at the crack of dawn.
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Practical Solutions To Baby Waking Early

If you’re struggling with your baby waking up too early, there are practical solutions you can try and address the issue:

7 Ways To End Baby's Early Morning Wakings

1. Gradually Adjust Baby’s Sleep Schedule To Eliminate Early Waking

Your baby’s sleep schedule plays a crucial role in their sleep patterns. If your baby goes to bed too early, they may wake up too early.

Try adjusting their bedtime gradually by 10-15 minutes each night until you find the sweet spot when they wake up at a reasonable hour.

Also, take a close look at daytime sleep, awake times and the timing of naps as it will have a huge impact on nighttime sleep and its success.

Here are some articles dedicated to perfecting baby’s sleep and nap schedule for different ages:

2. Adapt Baby’s Sleep Environment

The environment in which your baby sleeps can affect their sleep quality. Make sure the room is dark, quiet, and the right temperature.

Use blackout curtains to block out any light, and a white noise sound machine to mask any outside noise.

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3. Understand The Importance Of A Bedtime Routine

Establishing a bedtime routine can help signal to your baby that it’s time to wind down and go to sleep. A typical bedtime routine should include a bath, a story, and some cuddle time.

Stick to the same routine every night to help your baby develop a strong sleep association.

4. Teach Your Little One To Self Settle

Teaching your baby to self-settle can be a very helpful solution for early waking. Because by giving your baby the tools to fall asleep independently, you can help them stay asleep longer and reduce the likelihood of early waking.

To help your baby on the path to self-settling try putting them down drowsy but awake and gradually reduce the amount of assistance you provide.

This can involve gradually increasing the amount of time you wait before going in to comfort your baby, reducing the amount of rocking or feeding you provide, or using a consistent calming technique such as patting or shushing.

It’s important to be consistent in your approach and avoid creating new sleep associations that may disrupt your baby’s sleep.

5. Recognise Sleep Cues To Prevent Overtiredness

An overtired baby may have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Make sure your baby is getting enough naps during the day and that they are not staying awake for too long between naps.

Pay attention to your baby’s cues and put them down for a nap before they become overtired. Common sleep cues include:

6. Look At Baby’s Feeding Schedule

Your baby’s feeding schedule can also affect their sleep. Make sure your baby is getting enough to eat during the day, so they are not waking up hungry during the night.

Offering a dream feed before you put baby to bed may also help in preventing them from waking too early in the morning hours due to hunger.

7. Investigate The Possibility Of A Sleep Regression

Sleep regressions are periods when your baby’s sleep patterns may change, and they may start waking up earlier than usual.

These regressions are temporary and usually last a few weeks. Be patient and stick to your baby’s sleep routine as much as possible.

If you suspect your baby is experiencing a sleep regression, read these posts for more information:

Understanding Baby’s Sleep Cycle

Understanding your baby’s sleep cycle is essential to help them sleep better and for longer periods. It will also help you understand why they may be waking early in the morning:

You can see that understanding your baby’s sleep cycle and creating a sleep-friendly environment can help your baby sleep better and for longer periods.

How Much Sleep Should My Baby Be Having?

These are the recommended hours of sleep in a 24-hour period that your child should be getting at their age:

Age Appropriate Sleep Recommendations

Looking to get your little one to sleep quickly and effortlessly? Check out my Bedtime and Nap Cheat Sheet and master the art of making daytime naps and bedtimes as seamless as possible.

When To Consult A Pediatrician About Baby Waking Too Early

If your baby consistently wakes up too early despite implementing the tips I’ve provided for more than a week, it may be time to consult a paediatrician. A paediatrician can help determine if there is an underlying medical condition causing your baby to wake up early.

If your little one is experiencing other symptoms such as fever, vomiting, or diarrhoea, it’s important to consult a medical professional as soon as possible.

It’s also important to seek medical advice if your baby’s sleep patterns have suddenly changed or if they are experiencing difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

Your paediatrician can help evaluate your baby’s overall health and provide guidance on how to improve their sleep patterns. They may also recommend further testing or refer you to a sleep specialist if necessary.

Early Waking Considerations For Toddlers and Newborns

When it comes to early rising, toddlers and newborns have special considerations that need to be taken into account.

For newborns, it’s important to remember that they have not yet developed a sleep schedule. They will sleep for short periods throughout the day and night, waking up frequently to eat. It’s normal for them to wake up early in the morning, and it’s important to respond to their needs promptly.

For toddlers, it’s important to ensure that their sleep schedule is developmentally appropriate. They need a certain amount of sleep each day, and it’s important to make sure they are getting enough.

It’s also important to teach toddlers how to self-soothe. This means helping them learn how to fall asleep on their own without needing to be rocked or held which can help with early morning waking.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Baby Waking Too Early

Looking for more information about baby waking too early and what to do about it? Here are the answers to the most common questions.

How Can I Establish A Consistent Wake-Up Time For My Baby?

Establishing a consistent wake-up time for your baby can be achieved by setting a regular bedtime and gradually adjusting it over time. Be consistent with wake-up times, even on weekends, to help regulate your baby’s sleep schedule.

Why Is My Baby Waking Up So Early And How Can I Fix It?

There are many reasons why a baby may wake up early, including hunger, discomfort, or a disrupted sleep schedule. Fixing it may involve adjusting the sleep schedule, creating a calming bedtime routine, or addressing any underlying issues such as hunger or discomfort.

Should I Feed My Baby If They Wake Up Early In The Morning?

If your baby wakes up early in the morning, it is important to assess whether they are hungry or simply waking up due to a disrupted sleep schedule. If they are hungry, it may be appropriate to feed them. However, if they are waking up due to a disrupted sleep schedule, it may be best to avoid feeding them and instead focus on creating a consistent sleep routine.

How Do You Wean A Baby From An Early Morning Feeding?

To wean a baby from an early morning feeding, gradually reduce the amount of milk or formula given during the feeding and gradually shift the feeding to an earlier time in the night.

Try a dream feed to prevent your little one from waking early due to hunger.

Be patient and consistent, and over time, your baby should adjust to the new feeding schedule.

What Are Some Strategies To Help My Baby Fall Back Asleep If They Wake Up Too Early?

Some strategies to help your baby fall back asleep if they wake up too early include creating a calming sleep environment, using white noise or singing a lullaby, and providing baby with comfort such as a pacifier.

At What Age Is It Appropriate For A Baby To Wake Up On Their Own?

Babies can start waking up on their own at different ages, but typically around 6 months old, babies may start to sleep through the night and wake up on their own in the morning. You do not need to rush in a pick up your baby on waking. Let them play alone for a while on waking.

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Author Image Bio
Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and a highly qualified childcare expert with over 40 years of experience as a Norland Nanny. She holds a BA (Hons) in Early Years Development & Learning (0-6 Years) and the prestigious Norland Diploma. Paula has worked as a night nanny, run a successful daycare center in London, and helped raise countless children using her tried and tested developmental and guidance methods.

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