My son who is now 7 months old started waking up an hour early for about the past 3 weeks. He does not do this consistently. I was looking over my notes and it seems that he has been waking between 5:45-6:30 but occasionally sleeping in until 7am (which seems to happen mostly on weekends). I should add that I have dark out blinds in his room and a white noise machine running all night long.
Here’s my theory for why he is waking an hour early:
First, it is getting lighter sooner. I think this is setting off a natural alarm clock in Cooper that says, “rise and shine”. Unfortunate for Chris and I because our alarm clock says, “no thanks we need another hour”. I have tired to darken the room even more than it was, but there is still a faint bit of daylight creeping through, enough to make it appear to not be night but morning. The hormone that signals sleep, melatonin starts to decrease in the early morning hours, causing us to have lighter sleep. Sunlight also decreases the amount of melatonin that we produce.
Second, our neighbors above us (we live in a condo) have been waking up early in the morning it seems. I hear them somewhere between 5am and 6am. I can hear their footsteps and water running. Occasionally, I might even hear their dog tramping across the floor or let out a bark. They are not being overly loud, but the noises are enough to stir me awake. (I am a light sleeper to begin with.)
Conclusion: I think I am just going to have to accept the fact that Cooper is waking at 6am. I cannot not tell God to make the day light come up an hour later and I cannot tell my neighbors above us to wake up later. This just means that Chris and I need to go to bed an hour earlier at night and wake up at 6am instead of 7am. Oh well!
Future Action: Since we are moving to Texas in a month, the time zone will change and we will be an hour behind Maryland time. This might be the chance for me to get Cooper back to waking at 7am. I will be in a quieter house with no condo neighbors and the time change will make it easier for me to just shift his schedule.
There are many reasons your little one could be waking early in the mornings
- might need less sleep– check my post about the average amount of sleep your infant should be getting daily. It could be that your child is older and now requires less sleep at night or during the day. If your baby is getting too much daytime sleep, it could be causing him to wake early. Or if you little one is sleeping too long at night, they could be waking up. https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/sleep-requirements-for-infants/
- morning nap is to close to nighttime sleep- if you don’t keep your baby up long enough in the morning, your little one could be confusing the first nap of the day as part of his nighttime sleep. Try extending his wake time between the time he wakes from nighttime sleep to the first nap.
- afternoon nap is to close to nighttime sleep- the last nap of the day or the afternoon nap if you are down to two naps is to close to nighttime sleep, this could also cause your child to possibly wake up early.
- hunger- your child could be going through a growth spurt or just need more food. Try feeding him more solids or offering bottles/ nursing more frequently during the day to prevent him from waking early in the morning. You can also try to offer a later dinner that has more carbohydrates to keep him fuller longer. You can also do a late night feeding (some people call this a dream feed). A late night feeding is when you feed your baby after already being asleep for the night between 10-11pm. This might help to hold his hunger out longer in the morning.
- needs a longer awake time- you might try keeping your child up longer in between naps and nighttime sleep. Your child may not be tired enough to sleep for a longer stretch. If you adjust their awake time, they may sleep longer. See my post on infant schedules, it includes average awake times for infants. https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/infant-schedules/
- overtired/ overstimulated- if you child has been not sleeping well and may have had a lot of disruptions to his sleep, then that too could cause him to wake early. Try to get your baby to bed during their “sleep window” before they become overtired/ overstimulated. Stay as consistent with your schedule as possible too- this helps to get your little on back on track. See my post on sleep windows https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/sleep-windows-get-them-to-bed-before-its-too-late/
- too bright in bedroom- the room may be to bright in the morning. Invest in some darkening blinds or put cardboard up to block the light.
- too noisy- invest in a good quality sound machine/ white noise machine, run a fan, or play soft music in the background to block out external noises from loud neighbors, your own home, or outside.
- room temperature is too hot or too cold– make sure to dress your baby appropriately for bed. If they are either too hot or too cold they will wake more easily, especially in the morning when melatonin, the hormone that helps us to sleep, is wearing off.
Some kids are just early birds
If your child wakes up happy, you have tried all the suggestions above, and you have seen no improvement, then you might just have to accept the fact that your child is waking early. Some children just wake early. Just adjust their schedule as needed to accommodate the earlier wake time.
Other Resources About Early Risers
Note: many of the ideas were pulled from Good Night, Sleep Tight p. 98-100 and the internet resources provided