Who needs an alarm clock when your baby wakes up at the crack of dawn? “Early rising is a common problem for babies and toddlers – and even some preschoolers,” says Kim West, LCSW-C, aka The Sleep Lady. “Once a baby is sleeping through the night and no longer needs a middle-of-the-night feeding (usually around 6-8 months), then the average wakeup range should be between 6:00 A.M. and 7:30 A.M. If it’s still dark out, then it’s probably too early.”
And while 10 to 15 percent of kids are natural early birds, most are getting up too soon for outside reasons. “If your child is getting tired and cranky well before naptime, then he’s waking too early,” says West. “Luckily, this is usually an easy fix, once you’ve identified the problem.” Here’s what to do if your baby wakes up too early.
Be a sleep detective.
First, see if there’s an outside source that’s causing your baby to wake up early, such as birds chirping right outside her window or too much light streaming through from a streetlamp, etc. “Set your alarm to wake you up 10 minutes before baby normally wakes up,” says Rebecca Welton, a child sleep practitioner and author of Baby Sleeping Trust Techniques. If the main culprit is noise, a white noise machine can help drown out any outside commotion, while room darkening blinds can keep light out.
Try an earlier bedtime.
It’s counter-intuitive, but often a child will sleep in later in the morning if they go to bed earlier at night, says Jenn Kelner, a certified infant and child sleep consultant with BabyZzz. “One of the main reasons children wake early is because they are overtired. Simply move your child’s bedtime 20 minutes earlier. If there is some improvement, continue moving the bedtime earlier until the ideal wake-up time is reached.”