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Help! How do I get my baby to stop waking at 5am?

Being a parent to a young baby is a joy, but it can also be exhausting, especially when your baby becomes an early riser. If your baby’s morning alarm is set way too early for your liking, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many parents face the same challenge.

Firstly, it’s important to note that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to baby sleep issues, including early waking. Babies are individuals with their own needs and temperaments. What works for one baby might not work for another​. Even celebrities like Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively can attest to the unpredictability of a baby’s sleep schedule, joking that their child must be allergic to sleep and determined to protect them from “sleep monsters”​.

Understanding Your Baby’s Sleep Schedule

If your baby is waking up too early, examine her sleep schedule to ensure she’s getting enough sleep overall. A baby who is too tired won’t sleep well​​. If she’s going to bed later than 7 or 7:30 p.m., try gradually moving up her bedtime by 10 minutes each night. Don’t expect immediate results; it can take a week or two to see a difference​​.

Conversely, if your baby is getting too much sleep, try moving her bedtime later by about 10 minutes each night until she’s sleeping about an hour later​​. You should also adjust her eating schedule so that hunger doesn’t wake her up too soon​.

The Importance of Naptime

Your baby’s nap schedule can also influence her night sleep. Babies who get too much or too little sleep during the day can have difficulty sleeping at night​. Some babies who nap early in the day go to sleep earlier at night and wake up earlier in the morning. Try adjusting the nap schedule earlier or later by moving it by 10-minute increments each day until you find a good rhythm​​.

However, be cautious when adjusting sleep schedules, as your baby could end up not getting enough sleep. If your baby seems tired or has trouble falling asleep at night, talk to your paediatrician. It may be that this is just a passing stage​​.

Other Tips for Training Your Baby to Wake Up Later

There are other strategies you can employ to encourage your baby to sleep longer. Babies can be very sensitive to light, which can cause them to wake up at dawn. Consider investing in room-darkening shades or lined drapes to keep the sun from waking your little one​​.

Sound can also be a disruptor. As the world wakes up, outside noises can disturb your baby’s sleep. Keep windows closed and consider using a white-noise machine to mask outside noise​​.

It’s also important not to rush to greet your baby at the first sounds from the crib. Wait at least five or ten minutes unless your baby is really distressed. She might soothe herself enough to go back to sleep​.

Gradually postponing the first feed of the day by a few minutes each day can help reduce early wake-ups due to hunger​. If your baby uses a pacifier to fall asleep, popping it back in her mouth early in the morning could also help her fall back to sleep​.

After 12 months, consider offering crib toys that can help your baby wake up slowly and play on her own before you even get out of bed​.

Bridging Naps and Sleep Cycles

Babies have a natural sleep cycle that lasts about 45 minutes. If your baby is waking up after a short nap or early in the morning, it could be that they are simply at the end of a sleep cycle and haven’t yet learned to connect two cycles together. You can help bridge this gap by going in a few minutes before you expect your baby to wake up and soothing them back to sleep. This might involve some gentle rocking, a soft lullaby, or simply a reassuring presence​​. Over time, your baby will learn to connect these sleep cycles on their own.

The Power of Babywearing

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of babywearing. Babywearing is a wonderful tool for creating closeness and trust between you and your baby, which can have a calming effect and encourage longer sleep. It’s also a fantastic way to respond quickly to your baby’s cries and needs, preventing them from getting overly tired and having difficulty sleeping​.

In conclusion, adjusting your baby’s sleep schedule to avoid early morning wake-ups requires patience and consistency. Remember, every baby is different, and what works for one might not work for another. Try different strategies and see what works best for your family. If your baby continues to wake up early, don’t hesitate to seek advice from your paediatrician or a sleep consultant.

Remember, these early days, while challenging, are also fleeting. Embrace these moments with your baby, as they will grow quickly. As the saying goes, “The days are long, but the years are short”.

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