10 Reasons Why Your Baby is Waking Early

10 Reasons Why Your Baby is Waking Early

Babies waking early can be a common concern for parents, and there are various reasons why this may happen. While research may provide insights into these factors, it's essential to remember that each baby is unique, and not all of these reasons may apply to every child.

Here are the top 10 reasons why babies may wake up early based on research:

1. Hunger: One of the most common reasons for early wake-ups is hunger. Babies have small stomachs, and they need to eat frequently, especially during the early months of life.

2. Discomfort: Discomfort due to a wet nappy, uncomfortable clothing, or feeling too hot or too cold can wake a baby up early.

3. Digestive Issues: Gas, colic, or indigestion can cause discomfort and disrupt a baby's sleep.

4. Sleep Associations: Babies may wake up early if they have become dependent on certain sleep associations, such as being rocked to sleep or using a pacifier, which they can't replicate on their own when they wake up.

5. Overstimulation: Babies can become overstimulated easily, and an overly stimulating environment or day can lead to early wake-ups.

6. Inconsistent Sleep Schedule: Inconsistent sleep routines or not having a regular bedtime can disrupt a baby's sleep patterns.

7. Teething: Teething can cause discomfort and pain, leading to early wake-ups.

8. Growth Spurts: Babies go through periods of rapid growth, during which they may need more nourishment and may wake up more frequently.

Babies typically experience growth spurts at various points during their first year of life. These periods of rapid growth are characterised by an increased appetite, more frequent feedings, and sometimes fussiness. While every baby is different, here are some approximate timeframes when growth spurts tend to occur:

  • Within the first few days: In the very early days of life, often around the first week, babies may have a growth spurt. This is when they regain their birth weight, which can lead to increased feeding.
  • Around 2-3 weeks: Another growth spurt may occur at around 2-3 weeks of age. During this time, babies may become more fussy and want to feed more frequently.
  • 6 weeks: Some babies go through a growth spurt at approximately 6 weeks old. This may coincide with the "six-week growth spurt," which can lead to more frequent nighttime waking and increased daytime feedings.
  • 3 months: Around 3 months of age, babies may experience a growth spurt. This can involve increased feeding and may be accompanied by some changes in sleep patterns.
  • 6 months: At around 6 months, when many babies start solid foods, they may go through a growth spurt. Their nutritional needs change as they begin to transition to solids.
  • 9 months: Some babies experience a growth spurt around 9 months of age. This may coincide with increased mobility as they start crawling or cruising, which burns more calories.
  • 12 months: Around their first birthday, some babies may have another growth spurt as they continue to grow and develop.

It's important to note that these are approximate timeframes, and not all babies will follow this exact pattern. Some babies may have more frequent growth spurts, while others may have fewer or less noticeable ones. During growth spurts, it's essential to respond to your baby's increased hunger cues by offering more frequent feedings and ensuring they receive the nourishment they need to support their growth and development.

9. Developmental Milestones: As babies develop, they may become more aware of their surroundings and eager to practice new skills, which can lead to waking early to explore.

10. Sleep Regression: Babies often go through sleep regressions around certain ages, such as 4 months, 8-10 months, 12 months, 18 months & 24 months old, which can lead to changes in their sleep patterns, including waking up early.

It's important to note that some of these reasons may overlap, and addressing them may require a combination of strategies, such as establishing a consistent bedtime routine, addressing hunger with appropriate feeding schedules, and providing a comfortable sleep environment. Additionally, consulting with a paediatrician or a sleep specialist can be helpful if your baby's early wake-ups persist or become a significant concern.

So what are some things you can do to help your child with early morning wakings?

  1. Feed them every 2.5-3 hours: For babies who are younger than 6 months and aren't on solids yet, it is important to keep their calories up during the day by offering them a bottle or breastmilk every 2.5-3 hours. This will ensure they are full throughout the day, so they will not look for food at night. Please note that a healthy baby should be able to make at least 4 hour stretches at night. If your baby is waking hungry every 2 hours, it would be helpful to see a lactation consultant to check your milk supply.
  2. Dress them comfortably: Ensure you're dressing your bub comfortably by putting on one extra layer of clothing than what you would wear to bed. Babies under 12 months of age cannot regulate their own body temperature and it is common for little ones to have early morning wakings due to being cold. If possible, keep their room at about 20-22 °C, which is normally a comfortable temperature range for little ones.
  3. Keep your them upright for 5 minutes after a feeding: For little ones who get quite gassy or has reflux, it is helpful to keep them upright for 5 minutes to burp them and keep their milk down.
  4. Use a consistent resettling technique: Babies start to develop strong sleep associations from around 3-6 months of age. This is often when they become more aware of their surroundings and are better able to recognise specific soothing cues, such as a rocking to sleep, use of dummy, or feeding to sleep. None of these are "bad habits", but they only become a problem when they start to wake up looking for these sleep associations to help them go back to sleep. One way to move away from a sleep association is by replacing it with a resettling technique such as resettling them in their cot through the use of soothing touches. If you need more help with this, I have proven strategies available in my Sleep Guides to help your little one sleep independently.If you'd like more support and need someone to coach you through moving away from sleep associations and helping your little one self-settle, please know that there is help. Book a Free 15min Discovery Call with me to find out what it might look like to work together on your journey to raising a healthy little sleeper.
  5. Create an optimal sleep environment: Get rid of mobiles above cots, these actually are way too overstimulating for babies. Instead, you can hang them above their change table (it's a great distraction for them whilst you change their nappy).Keep their room dark! They don't need night lights. They don't develop a fear or darkness until they are about 2 years old. Darkness help promote the production of melatonin (the hormone that makes them sleepy). If you haven't already invested in a blackout blind, it's not too late!Use a white noise machine. This helps block out external noise that may wake your little one up and it is very soothing for them.
  6. Establish a consistent bedtime routine: Little ones like predictability. They need to know what is going to happen next for this gives them a sense of security. Having a consistent bedtime routine allows them to know that sleep is coming, and therefore prepares their little bodies for sleep.A bedtime routine doesn't have to be elaborate and complicated. It can have simple steps such as bath, nappy change, getting into their Pyjamas, breastfeeding/bottle, story time & bed.
  7. Offer comfort during illness or discomfort: Your little one needs you especially when they are going through illness, growth spurts and teething. Your baby is rapidly changing and growing, so it is important to meet them where they are developmentally. It is more than okay to offer them extra comfort during these phases. If they are sick, seek medical advice from a doctor. If teething, offer paracetamol (younger than 6 months) or ibuprofen (6 months +). Ensure you follow dosage instructions to prevent overdosing (this can actually happen easily). It is good to record the time you give your baby medicine.
  8. Practise new skill during awake times: When your little one has learned a new skill, it tends to interrupt their sleep because all they want to do is keep practising! During awake times, encourage them to practise their new exciting tricks so they are not likely to want to practise them during sleep time.
  9. Stay consistent: During a sleep regression, it can be tempting to go down the easy road and just give into feeding them to sleep or rocking them to sleep. These can definitely help but they are only temporary fixes. If you don't want your little one to develop a new sleep habit, be consistent in your resettling approach.
  10. Give yourself some grace: Raising little ones is hard work! You won't always get it right and you will make mistakes down the road. Just remember that you are the perfect mumma for your child/children. Also know that is is okay to ask for help. Round up your village and ask your spouse/partner, friends or family to help out when they can, to release you to do something that will fill up your cup (exercise, coffee run, nap, read a book etc).

It is never too late for your baby or toddler to become a great sleeper! Help is available. Book a Free 15min Discovery Call with me to find out what it might look like to work together on your journey to restful nights.

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