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Early Rising in Babies & Toddlers!

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Who's feeling the super long days, with early rises and a lot of caffiene?!

Let's talk about the reasons behind Early Rises with your little one and don't worry - this is common!

Early rises happen when they are having trouble either getting back to sleep and staying asleep after a really long stetch of time - usually before 6am.

baby sleeping on white bed with window light
Sleeping Baby

Here are the main things I often come across.

1. Bedtime is too late - overtiredness can decrease the total night sleep, bringing awakenings and early rises. When this is the case, often we need to "top up the sleep tank" (and yes we can vision this like a water tank filled with sleep!). Early bedtimes and naptimes can help this - but it may take a week or two to completely see the changes.

This also rings true for reason no 2. 2. Too Little Day Sleep Again, topping up their day sleep and reducing wake windows can help here.

3. Bedtime is too early - not enough sleep pressure built up between last nap and bedtime!

If the last nap is falling too close to bedtime, stretching this out should help knock the wake time further forward.

And again.. links very much to reason no 4.

4. Too Much Day Sleep

If they are napping well in the day, but the night sleep isn't as full as it should be - then they could be taking as much as they need in a full 24hr period. So you can tweak the naps here and cap them. Or - are they nearing a nap transition? This can sometimes happen when they near the drop of a nap (3-2, 2-1 or 1-0 naps). If so - it's time to drop that last nap!

5. Hunger - could this be a genuine hunger wake?

How old is little one? And how are their feeds in the day? If they are not consuming as much as they should, then this could be hunger especially in the first 6 months. For some, implementing a Dream Feed at around 10.30pm can help top up their tummies - or you could do this at the later stage of the night to see if this helps the rise time (although takes dedication to set your alarm at 3am! So the late evening one may be the one for you). I'd recommend once feeding, seeing where you can help in quiet time or resettling to help extend the mornings.

6. Reinforcement - what happens when they rise at 5am? If they start their day then, this often reinforces the wake ups daily! Aim for quiet time in bed and attempts to resettle (even if it doesn't happen to start with, keep at it and set a time for when it's time to start the day)

7. Have they taken all the sleep they need?

Assess your little one's timings - have they genuinely taken all the sleep they need? For example, a 2yr old with a 2hr nap who sleeps 10.5/11 hours - has probably maxed what they can do with that nap length.

Or do you have a 4 year old who's going to bed at 6.30pm and waking just before 6am? Have a think about their sleep needs, as it's possibly a case of tweaking their day like a clock change to bring the morning later again.

8. Is the room too bright?

As Spring/Summer months approach it could be that as the lighter mornings appear, that there is too much daylight in the room causing the little one to wake. I 100% recommend either black our blinds or portable black out window tools such as the Tommee Tippee Blackout. This can help make a big difference to your morning rise if this is the case!

Top Tip - do try to keep calm and resettle where possible - setting that timer for at least 6am before starting the day. Once that time hits, next time you pop in make it a more of a "dramatic entrance" with a happy Good Morning! Time to wake sort of response to help them differentiate the different settles and responses.

If you have a toddler - Wake & Sleep Clocks can be really effective. There are great ones with red lights (important to not hinder the melatonin production), which then turn green on awakening! From 19months these can work well with that change in time or encouraging resettling.

If you are experiencing Early Rises - and you think it is in their settling which almost seems impossible, and aligned with other sleep challenges you can book in a Discovery Call here where we can chat it all through.

Jade x

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