Early Rising: The Sneaky Causes

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  • February 27, 2018

Hi, I’m Kim West, the Sleep Lady. In today’s video, I’m going to answer Lilia’s question about early rising:

“Hi there. My baby girl has just turned 7 months and her sleeping patterns are rapidly going downhill. From 4 1/2 to 6 months, she was sleeping from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., lucky me. Life is great and I was a happy mom. We had loads of energy to play with our baby and our 3-year old son. Over the last month, my baby went from waking at 7:00 a.m. to waking at 5:00 a.m. (wide awake). And she’s now waking at 3:00 a.m. (wide awake) until 5:00 a.m. I’ve introduced solids in that time thinking she was hungry, but that doesn’t seem to help.
“I tried giving her bottle at 3:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. when she wakes but she just doesn’t seem hungry and she only takes 15 milliliters. I’ve tried resettling her in her bed but that always ends in tears. I’ve tried resettling her with the dummy but that doesn’t work. How do I go about sleep training and not leaving her to cry it out. I want to be a happy mom again. Thanks so much for your help. -Lilia.”

Lilia, here are some things I want you to consider to help with early rising:

Is she well-napped?

Since she’s at the perfect age to sleep coach — 6 to 9 months — you can get a lot changed with minimal crying. Hopefully, some of that has to do with temperament, and a few other things. In about 7 nights, you can have her largely sleeping through the night and address those early risings and night wakening.

About naps:

Is she getting enough naps?

• Are the windows of wakefulness on target for her age group?

Please look at the sample schedule on my blog or in my book and make sure she’s not nap deprived. Make sure that the window between her afternoon nap and bedtime is not too big. Lots of times at 7 months, babies need about 2 and a half naps, maybe 3 naps. So, maybe try a third “bonus nap” that helps her make it to bedtime without being overtired. Good naps are essential when you’re dealing with early rising.

Is her bedtime early enough?

You didn’t mention what time her bedtime was. Usually at this age, it’s between 7 and 7:30p.m. Often, babies this age can sleep for 11 hours, so please make sure she’s not going to bed too late and that she is awake at bedtime. This is important because bedtime is the easiest time to put yourself to sleep, and if she can’t master that at 7:00 p.m. then she won’t be able to do it at 3, 4, or 5:00 a.m. It’s much harder to go back to sleep at those time.

RELATED: Drowsy But Awake — The Cornerstone of Successful Sleep Training

I know if I get up at 5 or even 5:30a.m. and I’m awake a little too long, my brain starts to tick-tick-tick-tick with all the things I have to do, and I have a hard time going back to sleep. I’ve gotten enough sleep to take that sleep pressure off to go back to sleep. But really, it’s not enough sleep to be restorative, which means that I’m tired somewhere midday. With babies, they tire really quickly in the morning.

Again, don’t forget to make sure she’s awake enough. Between that 4 1/2 and 6 months when everything is sort of beautiful, were you putting her in to a cot completely asleep by holding or rocking — or whatever you are doing now — and now she’s used to you helping and is waking up early in the morning.

Double Check with your Doctor

Please speak to your doctor and make sure there is no underlying medical condition that may be causing her to wake early in the morning.

I hope this helps!

Video filmed by In Focus Studios

If you have experienced a baby who has been waking too early, please share your experience below. Please click the “reply” link under this article and leave this mom a comment. Supporting each other makes parenting so much easier!

Kim West
Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 24 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. She is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight, its companion Workbook and 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. Click here to read more about her.

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