top of page
  • Taylor Scott-Wood

Understanding Early Morning Wake-Ups: Causes and Solutions

Early morning wake-ups can be one of the most challenging aspects of parenting, especially for first-time moms. It can be exhausting and extremely confusing when your little one is up and ready to start the day before the sun has even risen. In this blog, we'll explore why early mornings happen, what an appropriate wake-up time is, the common causes of early wake-ups, and solutions to help you and your little one get more rest. Grab your coffee and let’s dive in!

What is an Appropriate Wake-Up Time?

For most babies and toddlers, an appropriate wake-up time is between 6:00 - 7:30 am. This timeframe aligns well with their natural circadian rhythms and ensures they get the right amount of overnight sleep, ideally between 10-12 hours. Waking up before 6:00 am is typically considered an early wake-up, which can lead to fatigue and crankiness for both you and your child. You also might be doing everything “right” and still be experiencing early wake ups, some babies are just naturally early risers.

Common Causes of Early Wake-Ups

  1. Too Late of a Bedtime: When babies are overtired, they may have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep in the early morning hours. This can be caused by a late bedtime, skipped naps, or disrupted sleep during the night.

  2. Too Early of a Bedtime: On the opposite side, too early of a bedtime can cause your baby to max out on their overnight sleep needs, causing an early waking. To avoid the early wake up cycle, start your baby's wake window from 6:00am even if they woke up early!

  3. Too Much Daytime Sleep: Baby sleep is all about balance. Too much daytime sleep can interfere with your baby’s sleep pressure for bedtime and they can have all their daily sleep intake too early, causing them to fill up on their daily sleep needs before 6:00am.

  4. Light Exposure: Early morning light, especially in the summer months, can signal to your child's brain that it's time to wake up. Even a small amount of light can be enough to disrupt their sleep. 

  5. Sleep Environment: Noise, temperature, and comfort in the sleep environment can significantly impact your child's ability to sleep through the early morning hours. Any discomfort can lead to an early wake-up.

  6. Sleep Associations: If your child relies on certain conditions to fall asleep (such as being rocked or fed to sleep), they may struggle to self-soothe back to sleep when they naturally wake up in the early morning. 

  7. Reinforcing: If your baby’s early wake ups is met each time with playing, a feeding, being brought into your bed or any other engaging activities, you could actually be causing their internal body clock to wake up early. Over time, this will cause the cycle of early morning wakings to become the new norm.

Solutions for Early Wake-Ups

  1. Adjust Bedtime: Ensure your child is going to bed at an appropriate time. For most babies and toddlers, a bedtime between 6:30 and 8:00 pm is ideal. Consistency is key to preventing overtiredness! 

  2. Create a Feeding Schedule: If hunger is causing early wake-ups, consider offering a dream feed or adjusting your child's feeding schedule to ensure they are getting enough calories during the day.

  3. Darken the Room: Use blackout curtains or shades to keep the room dark in the early morning. This can help prevent light from signaling to your child that it's time to wake up.

  4. Optimize the Sleep Environment: Ensure the room is quiet, cool, and comfortable. A white noise machine can help drown out any external noises that might wake your child. 

  5. Encourage Self-Soothing: Help your child develop the ability to self-soothe back to sleep. This might involve gently weaning off sleep associations and encouraging independent sleep. If you need any help with this, send me an email and we can talk about how I can help!

  6. Be Patient and Consistent: Changes in sleep patterns can take time. Be patient and consistent with any new routines or adjustments you make. It may take a week or two to see significant improvements.

  7. Rise to Wake Clock: If your toddler is constantly waking up early AND getting out of bed, try a rise to wake clock! It’s a light that signals when it’s bedtime, almost morning, and when they’re allowed out of bed for the day. Best part, you can set it to your families schedule! I have a product I highly recommend, if you’re in Australia, New Zealand or the UK, send me an email and I’ll send you the link plus a discount code!

Baby Sleep Needs Based on Age

To help set your little one up for success with their sleep, following age appropriate wake windows and schedules can make a huge difference. Grab a copy of my free Wake Window and Sleep Schedule Guide, it includes a chart outlining the average sleep needs for babies up to 3 years old and sample schedules for babies 4 months to 3 years old. 

Next Steps

Early morning wake-ups can be challenging, but understanding the underlying causes and implementing some practical solutions can make a big difference. By adjusting bedtimes, creating a calming sleep environment, and being consistent with routines, you can help your little one sleep longer and wake up at a more appropriate time. Remember, every child is different, so it might take some trial and error to find what works best for your family. Keep at it, and soon enough, you'll both be enjoying more restful mornings.

If early risings continue, it might be time for a deeper look into your baby’s sleep habits. Reach out for assistance by booking a Support Call or messaging me on Instagram to talk more!

Feel free to share this with your friends and family that are dealing with early morning wakings. We're here to support each other on this journey to better sleep!


bottom of page