Early Rising- Help! My child is waking too early!!!

Are you reading this because your sweet baby, toddler, or preschooler is waking too early?   

Before 6am? 

Perhaps your child is waking everyday at 4am, 5:30am or 5:45am. It’s still dark out and you still want to be sleeping. And you’re right, before 6am is what I call night time too!

When I speak of early rising I consider it anytime before 6am. 6am and earlier is still nighttime.   While I would love my children to sleep in, most children will wake and be ready for their day sometime between 6am and 7:30am. This is a very normal and common pattern for children and their circadian rhythms. While I wish 8am or 9am could be the norm, especially if you are a stay at home mom or your schedule allows flexibility and you can go to work later, unfortunately that is not how children are naturally wired.  

You may or may not know this, but going back to sleep is hardest between 3am-6am, which is when children typically wake the most when they are in a lighter state of sleep.  And if you are lucky, they may wake, go back to sleep, to wake just 15 or 30 minutes later… and it’s still not 6am.   Their sleep is more fragmented.   Your child disrupts those last hours that you are trying to snooze too.  

The most common reasons children are waking too early are:

  • Go to bed too late
  • Nap deprivation
  • Too big of a wakeful window between the time they wake from nap until bedtime.
  • Put down too drowsy
  • Timing issue
  • Out of habit 

Early rising can sometimes be a lingering habit that we might not even know is a habit that creeps in during the first year of life.  For example, if your child is sleeping from bedtime until 5am, wakes up for a feed and then goes back to sleep, over time, our child may have learned: wake up at 5am, eat, take a little cat nap, and start the day.   This pattern and habit can also sabotage your daytime naps.   While one time ago going back to sleep worked, as children get older, more alert, their feeding and sleeping needs change.   Helping you child establish healthy feeding and sleeping rhythms can help shift the early rising pattern.  

If you have done any sleep coaching work you may know that the last part of night sleep to get organized is this 3-6am timeframe.  This is where utilizing your consistent response for ALL of your child’s night waking’s is key.  Some parents start strong and find bedtime to be fine, but may find that the night wakings are reoccurring night after night and could be in need of a consistent response. 

Watch the video to learn the details about each of these reasons and the next steps you can take to work towards eliminating those early morning wake ups for your family. 

Next steps- what can you do to help eliminate early rising in your home? 

If your child is putting him or herself to sleep at bedtime, your bedtime is reasonable and the timing of naps and bedtime are age appropriate, then let’s figure out your best next step.  

  • Review your current routine and what response you are offering your child in the wee hours of the morning.   
  • Have I helped my child’s sleep get fully organized and helped them learn how to get back to sleep through the entire night? 
  • What is your current response?  Is this helping your child sleep in longer?  
  • How will you respond to your child so they know what to expect at 5am?  Are you communicating that 5am is still sleep time? 

Early rising can be an engrained habit and can take 1 to possibly 3 weeks to shift. Consistency, consistency, consistency will help you get through it. 

Let me know what you discover about early rising in your home.  Leave a comment or message me.   

Schedule a time on my calendar to get answers to your personal sleep situation.  

Make it a great night! Sweet dreams! 

If your child is 15 months or older check out my free sleep resource video on how to use a night light as a tool to help with early rising. Clients have access to this in your client portal.