What to do when your toddler or baby wakes up too early
It can be roller coaster ride... but not the fun kindMost exhausted parents of babies and toddlers have their eyes fixed on one distinct goal: sleeping through the night. That’s understandable; after months (or sometimes years!) of night wakings, a full night’s sleep sounds about as good as winning the lottery! But as those of you with sleeping-through-the-night little ones can attest, sleep problems don’t miraculously disappear once you’ve reached that milestone. Your baby or toddler can master sleeping through the night, only to have another sleep issue rear it’s ugly, exhaustion-inducing head.
Case in point: the baby or toddler who is waking too early in the morning. Lots of parents contact The Baby Sleep Site with some variation of this story: “My baby/toddler is sleeping through the night just fine, but now he/she is waking way too early! Can you help?”
Determine if you actually have an early-rising problemKeep in mind that ‘early’ is a relative term – for some parents, a 5:30 wake-up time is ideal, while for others, anything before 8:00 a.m. is considered “too early”! Take a good, hard look at your child’s wake-up time – is it after 6 a.m.? Also, think about how your child wakes up – are they happy and energized? If your child is waking at or after 6 a.m. and seems refreshed and ready to tackle the day, then (as much as it may pain you to hear this!) you probably don’t have an early rising problem. Developmentally, a wake-up time of 6:00 or later is reasonable for most babies and toddlers, provided they are getting adequate nighttime and naptime sleep. However, if your child is waking earlier than 6 a.m., and/or if your little one quickly wears out after morning wake-up and is tired and cranky, then you likely do have an early-rising issue on your hands.
Root out and address the cause of your little one's early-rising problem
Lots of things can cause intermittent, occasional early rising: illness, teething symptoms, developmental leaps, growth spurts, life transitions (like the birth of a new sibling, or moving to a new house), potty training, transitioning from crib to big kid bed…all of these can result in a few days or weeks of early-morning wake-up calls.