Days are ROUGH when they start at 5am. Days can be rough when they start a little later too of course, but it helps to have an extra hour or two of sleep.
My son has gone through various periods in his short life where he decides 5 or 5:30 are good times to wake up. I wasn't well equipped for the first one and got up with him, but now I know there are ways to fix this! Read below for some possible causes -- and solutions (!) of early wakers.
It was just a night wakeup
If your baby is still waking up at night for some feeds, chances are if she's up at 5:30, it's just another feed wakeup. This applies even if this is the only feed of the night. Typically infants will sleep 11-12 hours at night, so if baby went down at 7:30, 5:30 is definitely not time to be up for the day.
What to do: Treat this wakeup like any other night wakeup. If you nurse/bottle feed them at this point, put them back in their crib once you're done.
Too much day sleep
This usually applies for toddlers but can also apply for infants. If a child is sleeping too many hours during the day, it will eat up their night sleep. Sometimes it can mean that they take hours to fall asleep at night- but sometimes it means they wake up an hour or two earlier than you would like.
What to do: cap naps at an age appropriate schedule (see below). For toddlers ages 2+ naps that are longer than 2 hours usually eat up night sleep, so cap naps at 2 if not 1 hour.
Inappropriate day schedule
Babies that have inappropriate schedules have a harder time regulating their sleep, going down at bedtime, waking up too much at night- but also have an even harder time finishing off their night sleep. Our last sleep cycle of the night (starting around 4:30/5) is the hardest one to transition into. If baby is overtired from having a bad day schedule, this may affect how they're able to do that last transition. What to do: Check out this blog post to see if you have an appropriate day schedule.
1st nap is too early
If Baby's first nap of the day comes too early, it tells the body to keep on waking up too early, so that their body's cycle is ready to take that first nap so early in the day. For an infant on a 2 nap schedule, this means any nap before 9am. For a one nap schedule, a 10 am naptime will have a similar effect. What to do: Keep baby up until at least 9 am for a first nap (for babies on a 2 nap schedule). If they are VERY tired, do this slowly. First move the nap back by 10 minutes, the next day another 10 minutes... etc. Same goes for a 10 am 1 nap schedule.
Baby wakes up Excited for the Day! Imagine being a kid waiting for Christmas morning. Or your first day at school, or a first day at a new job. Excitement doesn't usually let us sleep in too much. If your baby is excited for something in the morning, there is a big chance they'll wake up extra early for it.
What to do: Try to do something boring first thing in the morning. If something is going to get your baby very excited, you don't have to tell her about it the night before, tell her about it when she wakes up instead.
Sometimes babies wake up hungry because their last feed was too long ago. What to do: Make sure the last feed of the night is close to bedtime (but not right before it!). Some families like to have dinner at 5pm. That's great! But it could also mean that a 14 hour wait-time until the next meal is too long for a toddler. If family dinner at 5 is something that can't be changed, add a high protein snack before bedtime for your hungry kiddo, if you see this is causing an early wakeup.
This one applies mostly to older infants who are feeding a LOT at night. The more that comes in the more that will come out, right? And a VERY full diaper at 5 am is a tough thing to sleep through! What to do: If your baby is having two or three full diapers in the night, it may mean they are getting too many night calories. Reach out to me if you're interested in cutting these nights feeds out!
Light Coming in
This one applies more to the summer months, but it's good to keep in mind. The sun wakes us up, because we're human! So if light comes in too early into your baby's room, it's likely to wake them up. What to do: invest in good blackout curtains! (Or tin foil haha!)
This one is a rough one. Teething is so hard and it happens so many times! What to do: sometimes you just have to wait it out. Especially the canines coming in around 18 months are vicious: they are known for early wakings. Luckily it just means one or two weeks of early wakeups. While you're waiting it out, try not to expose your little one to much light or noise until your desired wake-time. But of course be there for them if they're uncomfortable or they're in pain. If the waking up early is going on for longer than a couple weeks, chances are there's a different problem going on.
There you have it! 9 of the most common causes for early wakeups- and what to do about them! If you have more questions or issues with an early riser, please contact me! This is one of my favorite problems to solve!