Friday, June 19, 2009

Early Morning Waking and the Sun

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If you have a child who has started waking early in the morning, be sure to take into consideration the possibility that the sun is what is waking him or her.

My children are sun risers. As Spring has turned to Summer and the sun has risen earlier and earlier each day, they have woken up earlier than is typical. When we have a cloudy, rainy morning, I usually have to wake them up. Brayden (4) is more of a sun riser than Kaitlyn (2). Age has nothing to do with it, though. Brayden has always been a sun riser--even as a newborn. When he nursed in the early morning hours, I always hoped he would be done before the sun rose. Otherwise, he was ready to start the day.

I am also a sun riser. Even when McKenna was waking twice a night, I found myself waking up at 6 AM as the sun entered my room. It isn't because I didn't want to sleep--believe me, I did!--but it is because the sun was up and I found it hard (or impossible) to sleep. If I am that way, you can understand that a child would be that way.

Young children have no concept of time. The sun comes up and that must mean it is time to get up and start playing. Just this morning, Brayden came to visit me at 6:15 asking for breakfast. I told him it wasn't breakfast time and he replied, "But the sun is up!"

So what do you do about it? There are a few things.
  • Darken: One thing you can do is try to block the sun. You can get dark blinds or hang a dark sheet or blanket over your child's window. If you can block out the sun, you can prevent the sun from waking your child.
  • Accept: Another thing to do is just accept that your child is going to wake earlier because of the sun. In my experience, it is really only an issue for a few months. During this time, you can possibly have a longer nap in the day or an earlier bedtime to compensate for the early mornings.

    If you choose to accept it, I would suggest that you do not start breakfast as soon as your child wakes up. At our house, breakfast is at 7 AM whether the kids wake up at 6, 6:30, or 7:00 AM. I don't want their metabolism to get used to eating early because then they will wake early from hunger long after the sun is a non-issue. If your child is still staying in bed until you get him out, I would try to not get him out of bed until it would be time to get him up.

    At our house, Brayden (4) is allowed to get out of his room when he gets up. He has certain activities in the family room he knows he is allowed to do. He isn't allowed to wake up Mom unless it is an emergency. Of course, there are days like today that he doesn't follow through :). Kaitlyn (2), however, is not allowed to get up until a parent gets her. She stays in her room until Mom goes to get her in the morning.
  • Clocks: Brayden could start to read important times on his clock around 3.5 years old. If your child is 3 or older, consider if he might be able to read a clock to know when it is okay to get up.
If you are experiencing early mornings suddenly, be sure to consider the sun the culprit.
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40 comments:

Heidi said...

great words of wisdom all around on your blog. ;)
I am a mamma to a 4 year old and a 1 year old (both boys) and both of them are sun risers as well. I've begun darkening my one year olds room and have really found it has helped. When my 4 year old was around 2 1/2 we got him a special nightlight that we hooked up to a light timer set to go off at 7am. We told him that until the light came on (which happened to be a sunshine, tee-hee) that it was not time to wake up yet. Still works great!

Kristi said...

Darkening worked great for my babies too. It even improved their napping.

Jenn said...

After reading this post, you really shed some 'light' into the sleep problems my 16 month old has suddenly developed. It was taking him longer and longer to fall asleep at night, and he would wake up as early as 6am when he used to sleep til 7:30. We had very dark brown curtains in his room, but they still let in some light. We decided to experiment and buy the room darkening curtains. Not only did he fall asleep before it was dark out, I had to go and wake him up at 8am! I'm hoping this will solve more than just the night time sleep, but also the temper tantrums and general grumpiness that have come along with the shortened nighttime sleep. Thank you so much for being a recourse to parents!

Rachel said...

I LOVE the black out curtains!! I use them in my 2 year olds room- we bought a double curtain rod so the black out curtains go behind her decorative ones! The other great thing about them is they block out some of the heat from the sun in the summer and make her room warmer in the winter!

The Udokas said...

First of all I want to say thank you for your blog! I was so excited when I found a place where real moms did babywise and could offer some real life experiences. I need some help with napping! My 3 month old baby girl has always had terrible napping habits. She wakes up after 30 or 45 minutes and most of the time is pretty cranky. We are on a three hour nursing schedule and it really makes it hard to keep when she only takes 45 minute naps. She doesn't act like she is hungry when she wakes up, she's just really tired. I have tried letting her cry it out before but it took thirty minutes for her to stop and she didn't get progressively better, so after two days I stopped doing it. I tried cutting back her waketime, only it made it more difficult for her to fall asleep because she wasn't as tired. Her waketime is about 45 minutes to an hour. I just don't know what to do! She is fussy and I am wanting to move on towards a four hour schedule sometime soon, but don't see that happening until she takes longer naps. I work two days a week as a nurse so I have my husband giving her a bottle of breastmilk and I pump. Thankfully she takes a bottle. She sleeps about 8-9 hours two or three days of the week, waking up at four to nurse. Usually she sleeps about ten hours and wakes up at 5 or 6 to nurse. After she nurses she will go back to sleep for a couple hours. I know this isn't put together well, but I am just desperate and frazzeled to get a happy baby!

Plowmanators said...

Heidi, that is a great idea! Thanks!

Plowmanators said...

Kristi,

You have probably read by now, but I started closing the blinds for McKenna in the day and it helped a lot, too.

Plowmanators said...

Jenn, You are welcome! I hope it all worked out. Lack of sleep really does bring out the tantrum in kids.

Plowmanators said...

Thanks Rachel! That is a great idea to put the blackout behind the decorative.

Plowmanators said...

Udokas, if shortening waketime doesn't work, try adding waketime. Also try adding more stimulating activities and more physical activities for her (like tummy time). If you add waketime, do it slowly in about 5 minute increments.

Mary Ann said...

Hi,
I have a 5 month old who naps well, falls asleep on her own,etc. but awakens hungry at 4-5 AM each day. She drinks 6-7 oz and falls back to sleep (I put her in the crib awake, so that's not a prop.) She goes to bed at night at 7:30 PM and sleeps through. I've tried a dream feed but it seems to only push the awakening until 5-6, which is still too early, and frankly I'd rather be done with parenting by 7:30 for the evening. I'm trying solids, but not much yet of course. I guess I wouldn't complain, but her sister, now 3, slept 12 solid hours at her age. Her sister was also fatter :) --my baby is long and lean. Thoughts on this other than "babies are different?"
Thanks

krista said...

Hey! I will join the many others that say this blog is great! I have read so many and it's been quite helpful! I just wanted to share my little experience and maybe it will help someone else. My baby is 7 weeks old and a few days ago he started waking up early from his naps. I assumed it was the 45 min. intruder so I read lots and tried everything I could think of. (BTW...this was only for a couple days. I don't see how some of you can take this for days, weeks, even months! Bless you for your patience!) Anyway, this is what I discovered. My son is a sun riser (which I knew), but I wasn't taking that into account for his first waketime. I try to have his first feeding between 7-7:30 but often he's awake for a half hour to an hour before that. He will just lie in his cradle talking to himself until he decides he's hungry. I started putting him down at his first yawn (even though he was still happy) especially for the first nap and problem solved! If I don't get his day started off right, I found out it is pretty much impossible for me to correct it and he will wake up from every nap early even if I put him down early then. I love naptime again! He has been such a good baby! I started BW loosely at 5 weeks and after 1 day of serious CIO he kept getting better and a week later he didn't hardly ever cry at all! It's so nice not to stress as much when they cry too because you know what it's time for! Thank you for all the time you devote to answering people's questions and writing about your own experiences!

Plowmanators said...

Mary Ann, since she is waking hungry, you really have no choice but to to wait :) Once she takes more food in the day, she should be able to make it longer. I think she is doing quite well since she goes to bed at 7:30. She is sleeping 9-10 hours, which is right on for her age.

So either add a DF (which I just really wouldn't do at this age because she would be dropping it soon anyway), add a feeding to the day (again, not really fun), or wait :). Good luck!

Plowmanators said...

Thanks Krista! It is always helpful to have the experiences of others :)

Mary Ann said...

Thanks for the help. I did add a DF and it seems to help (now getting up around 7 and curiously, not starving hungry). She will not eat unless she's good and ready, so adding an additional feeding in the day didn't work either. Things are much better, now if she could just figure out how to roll back onto her back when she rolls onto her tummy! :)

jenna said...

i have loved your blog! it has honestly helped me through all these months of having my firstborn son! so thank you!

my boy is eight and a half months old and i put him down at nine and he is now waking at 6:30 am {the last couple days.} He normally wakes up around eight.He has been crying in his crib for twenty minutes because i DEFINITELY do not want 6:30 am to be his wake time. any suggestions? he is in a PITCH dark room. should i nurse him? That will still instigate the problem. help?

Anne said...

Hi, I have been doing BW with my 5 week old since he was born. I am really starting to question if I am doing the right thing. He has reflux really bad (much better now that we're treating with prevacid) so we have had some trying times. He is just now finally going down for naps better. I have used CIO and it seems to be showing some rewards, however...he is not even close to sleeing through the nights and I am TIRED! Days go pretty well, he eats @ 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, dreamfeed @10pm and then like clockwork he's up at 2am and 5am...then I wake him again to start @ 7am. I feel like he should be able to start stretching some of this nighttime stuff so I tried feeding a bit less at the 2am feeding and this did not go over well! He stayed up until 5am and I fed him then and and stayed up crying again until the 7am. This has gone on for 3 days now (I no longer try small feedings @2am, just feed him all he'll take). I just feel like, "why am I doing this when my friend who has baby the same age demand feeds and she actually gets things done during the day since her baby sleeps 5 hour stretches and she still sleeps through some nights. I get nothing (most of his time is spent crying during the day) done and haven't slept past 2am for three days straight. He just doesn't seem like a happy baby as he keeps getting woken during the day to eat when he's finally asleep from crying and he's always soooo mad to go down for naps (have tried going earlier etc, usually wake time is only 45min to 1 hr 10min). He's just not a happy baby and I feel like I'm making him that way and I am getting NO SLEEP which is making this much worse (I have NO help....just me and I really need some nighttime sleep..I can't sleep during the day cuz his naps are so short since most of it is spent crying). It seems like a viscous cycle!! Please help!!

Mary Ann said...

Anne, it will get better, and you'll survive :) I am sure others will have more suggestions, but elevating the end of the crib below their heads with a pillow or something under a mattress helped both of mine with spitup and I imagine it would help with reflux too since it would keep the acid down. Also, are you swaddling? I swear by it. I went to great lengths to keep mine swaddled, with both those "pesky little hands" kept in. Good luck!

Alison Franke said...

I didn't know where to post this question, but I searched for my answer in the 'waking early' section, so I'll post here.

My son is 11 months old and usually sleeps until 6:30. He takes good naps and they are a combined 3 - 3.5 hours a day. His bedtime is 7 pm or 7:15.

The problem is that he is waking unusually early in the morning. 3 of the last 4 days have been as early as 5 am or 5:30 am with no return to sleep. He is fine to stay in his crib and coos and talks to himself until his normal wake time.

I think it might be one of the following things:
1. Developmental waking - but in the past he has woken much earlier (3 or 4) and fallen back asleep
2. Room temp
3. Growth spurt
4. Need for less daytime sleep

I am curious for your thoughts. I am ruling out a growth spurt b/c he is not angry or crying for food. I should still evaluate room temp, but here the air doesn't kick on as much at night. I can tell that this time frame is his last sleep transition before wake, but can't determine the triggers for him not to fall back asleep. I don't want to get him up and feed in order to keep his routine, but I am praying that this does not become the norm.

Thanks for your thoughts and your continued great postings!

Mary Ann said...

I'd try reducing the daytime nap and see what happens. You might have to get through a difficult few days to do that though. With both of mine (3 yrs & 6 months) if they took a 20-30 minute power nap in the AM they could hold out for a longer PM nap.

Plowmanators said...

Jenna, I would try an earlier bedtime. Most babies will go to bed around 7-8 PM. I would move it back by 15 minute increments and see if you get one that sticks. See also the post "5-8 Month Sleep Disruptions."

Plowmanators said...

Anne,

First, he is really quite normal for his age. I wouldn't worry about that.

Second, realize that a baby with reflux is harder. I have a friend with three month old twins who is doing BW. They both have reflux, but one is mild and they other severe. The severe one is much more difficult than the other. She doesn't sleep as well. Same mom at the same time under the same system. Reflux is just hard.

I suggest you see the blog label "reflux." See also the post "waking early from naps/won't fall asleep for naps."

Right now, if he needs to sleep in the swing or something, let him. Reflux is painful and makes it hard to sleep.

Anne said...

thank you for the reply. His reflux seems all better now that he is on meds. I have read both links that you suggest. I was wondering if we should be trying to drop a feeding? He is always unhappy to be woke from daytime naps. He is spending less time crying before but still some. I always wake him at the three hour mark should I still do this during the day since trying to cut back on the amount of milk @ night did not go over well (he stayed up all am after)? he has 8 feedings and seems to need 4 oz at each or he will not sleep well at all. Seems like a lot for a 6 w/o that's 9lbs. What do you suggest? Should I try again to drop a feeding or just wait? Thanks.

Anne said...

As an update...he just woke up from his 7pm nap and he woke on his own (at 3hr 15min), happy! And now he is in a much better mood. So, I am really questioning if I should just let him sleep and wake up on his own during the day?? I know BW says not to, that you need to wake him during the day every three hours and it will help get him to sleep longer at night but I have yet to see this and I would love to have a happy baby during the day!

Anne said...

Mary Ann...do you have any tips on keeping baby cool while swaddling? We do swaddle, it seems to be a must for him to fall asleep (even then he still cries for 10-15 minutes, sometimes twice, but this is much better than it was...by the way should it still be taking this long after 5 weeks of doing this?) He is usually only in a onsie short or long-sleeved and then two flannel swaddling blankets...this is barely enough for him he still breaks out! But he gets so hot. It's usually about 70-72 in his room but I do NOT like a cold house!

Anyway, anybody that has any suggestions I would really appreciate it!! Thanks!

Mary Ann said...

Anne,I am the queen of swaddling :) When I finally gave it up with Clara (6 months now) I put her in just a diaper and used an old bed sheet I cut down to an appropriate size. I also safety-pinned it together too, and used another sheet on top of the swaddle that was long enough to tuck down underneath the mattress to keep kicking to a minimum. Also,those "kiddopotamus" "Swaddle Me" things are helpful too--made with velcro. She wasn't escaping at 5 weeks I don't think, but then she was small. My family laughed at me, and I laughed at myself, but it worked :) Now that she knows what her hands are and can't slap herself, I do put her in a "sleep sack" which calms her too. Also a cieling fan or other fan in the room might help. At least it will be cool soon! As for the continued crying, differentiate between screaming and just fussing--fussing is definitely to be expected. Probably on this blog, or at least in the book "Baby Whisperer" are tips on soothing a baby without creating sleep props. I never did strict CIO, I went in to calm her down if she got too upset by patting her, rocking some, singing, but not to put her to sleep, just to calm her down so she wasn't hysterical. I put her down completely awake--but both of mine, the more they screamed the more upset they became, so I tried to keep it to fussing. Hope this helps!

Anne said...

Mary Ann...That does help. Thank you very much! I think you're probably right, it is mostly fussing because it is not like the all-out scream I hear when he's hungry (usually anyway, though today there was one of those before a nap he was very tired for and it was more short-lived than usual...5 min max!). Thank you again, I really appreciate it. I'm definitely going to try the sheet thing as he is getting too big. Oh, by the way...he was only 6lb 1oz when he was born and has been escaping from swaddle since week 1 but we truly felt he needed it. He actually escapes less now!

Mary Ann said...

Anne,
Glad to be of help! You really have to be firm with them to keep them swaddled :) Good luck!

Cliff and Abby Tippens said...

My son is 13 weeks old and we are doing babywise, just a little modified. He never sleeps longer than 45 minutes if we let him CIO for naps, so we let him sleep in the swing for his naps (I know it's a no-no, but it is the only way to keep him from being cranky and sleep deprived!). He still sleeps in his crib at night, going to bed at 8-8:30 with a bottle. Then he wakes at 1-2 for a feeding. After the 2 AM feeding though, he wakes at 5:00 AM, when we want him to wake at 6:00 AM (when I have to get up to get ready for work). So for most of the past two weeks when he did this we would put him in the swing for that last hour, just so I could get my last hour of sleep! But, the past couple of days the swing has not worked to put him back to sleep and he is not satisfied unless I feed him at that time. So - I started with a dream feed because I know that's what a babywise schedule would normally include. But, he will now eat at 10:00 for the DF and then still wake at 1:30-2:00 AM for the middle of the night feeding and again at 5:00. Do you think his biological clock is stuck and I should start weaning him from the middle of the night feeding? Or should I continue dream feeding and hope it's just a growth spurt? I just hate doing a dream feed AND waking up a second time in the early AM because I end up being so sleep deprived! Since I work, I don't get to nap when he naps to catch up so I'm pretty frustrated. Any advice would be welcome!!!

Plowmanators said...

Anne, I don't know what you have tried by now. You might try letting him go a few minutes longer, but I would caution against doing it to the point you drop a feeding in the day. Remember that the reflux baby takes longer to meet the milestones. If you drop a day feeding before night feeding, you might cause problems.

However, there are moms who find things just go better at night once they drop to a four hour schedule.

Plowmanators said...

Alison,

my first guess would be a developmental thing. For that, I would just ride it out and see what happens over time.

For room temp, see if there is anything you can do to dress him differently or add a fan/heater to his room to keep the temp more consistent.

For growth spurt, try giving him more food in the day.

Need for less daytime sleep...I think this is unlikely at his age and his nap lenghts. I would turn to that as the last resort.

Plowmanators said...

Anne, you could also sew the sheets together instead of safety pinning. I am a total worry case and would stress about the saftey pin coming undone. :)

Plowmanators said...

Cliff and Abby Tippens,

There are always so many factors :)

I would guess that it is a growth spurt issue.

The DF might work after a while...might not. You will have to decide what it is worth to you.

It does sound like a biological clock stuck at 2ish, though. You might try a pacifier at that time to see if he will go back to sleep some other way without food (or some other method of soothing). If it was a growth spurt, by now it should be over. See the post "early morning feedings before waketime" for more help on that 5 AM feeding.

Anne said...

Thank you! Just wanted to let you know that I went to a 3.5 hour routine to meet kind of in the middle. We were having to wake him for naps quite a bit so I thought I would try it. It seems to be going ok. Just last night we also tried the pacifier (which he will not take) at the 5am feeding because otherwise he would have still gotten 8 meals a day since I would cluster feed in the evening a bit to make sure he got enough for the night. I know the 2am feeding is probably recommended to drop first but the 5am just works better for us because I was noticing the 7:30am feeding he wasn't eating very well, in addition to that my husband feeds at the 11 dreamfeed so by 2am I need to pump anyway. He SCREAMED at 5am but it was suprisingly short-lived (maybe 20 min. total with a re-wrap in the middle). Though he did manage to get an arm out (this is an AMAZING feat for an 8 week old because you would not even believe how tight we swaddle him) and was sucking his thumb...this is new. I don't mind, my dh is not a fan. But, he will not take a pacifier.

He's just getting good at falling asleep quick for naps but if he's extremely tired or fussy he is getting really mad because he wants his arm out. It takes him longer to fall asleep and wakes up sooner with an arm out, but should I let it out anyway just to let him have the opportunity to suck the thumb? I just hate to go back to shorter naps and longer periods of crying to fall asleep!

Thank you again!

Anne said...

Update...
Okay, so he was doing much better for the 5am wake, he even slept through it once, but he just keeps making his wake time earlier and earlier. We'd like it to be 7:30 which should be doable if he last ate at 3am, right? He should be able to go more than 4 hours now (9 weeks, 11lbs) right? Well, he first made it 7, then 6:30, now he wants to get up at 6. So, this is not working, becasue mommy does best if she gets to start her day at 7:30...at least 7:15. (FYI, I used to be an early morning person before I was a mommy!). So is he just compensating and we're going to end up right back where we started (which was 11pm dream feed, 3am feed and 5am feed then up @ 7:30)? Though, I'd almost rather do that than have to start my day at 6am. I'm thinking of just dropping the 3am one instead and pumping and then going back to feeding him the early am feeding (be it 5 or whenever he wakes) and then back to bed. What do you think? I REALLY appreciate your help. I envy you and your parenting philosophies so much! Anyone else with suggestions ...please help as well!

Plowmanators said...

Anne,

If he still is wanting his thumb and can't do one arm out, try having the arm up by his face when you swaddle until he is ready for one arm out.

If your desired waktime is 7:30, then treat any time before that time as a night feeding. So if he eats at 6, put him straight back down and get him up at 8 (30 minute window) to start the day. I would try feeding just one side at that time (6).

A possible benefit would be an 8 am start time. McKenna did the eating around 6 for a while, and when she started skipping it, she slept until 8! So she went with what we were actually starting with.

Kristin said...

Hi! Thank you for all of your help! You have no idea what a blessing your blog is to our family! My 9 month old has started waking early in the mornings again. A few weeks ago, he got two teeth, which began the cycle of early waking, usually around 6 am. For the past at least 5 months, he has slept until 7 or 7:30 in the morning. He just can't seem to get back on schedule and most mornings he isn't able to stay happy in his crib until waketime. A few months back, we decided he was waking from the sun, so have sheets over his windows to block the sun. This has helped up until now, so we don't think that is the culprit. Any suggestions on how to get him to sleep later again in the mornings? I am fearing that getting him up and feeding him like this is going to become routine and I don't want our days to start so early.

Secondly, for a long time he has not cried when he went to sleep or woke up, but lately when he wakes up he is not as happy as before (even if he has had a good nap). Also, if he wakes during his nap, he will not put himself back to sleep like he used to, but just cries uncontrollably after a bit of whining/playing. And he doesn't ever give up until you go in there and doesn't go back to sleep. Thanks for all of your help and suggestions!

Plowmanators said...

Kristin, I suggest you see the blog label "wonder weeks". I would also check out "5-8 month sleep disruptions" for ideas. After you have reviewed those, if you don't think you have your answer, let me know and we can brainstorm more. Good luck!

Hannah888 said...

First of all, thank you so much for putting together this wonderful blog! It has been super helpful! I have been doing BW from the beginning. My daughter is 14 weeks old. My question is about the middle of the night feeding. She dropped her dreamfeed on her own, but won't seem to drop her middle of the night feed which is anywhere from 2-4am; she eats for 10-20mins. Her last feeding is at 7pm and she goes to bed anywhere from 7:30-8pm. I would love to have her start sttn, but she still wakes up. What should I do? Should I slowly wean her or let her drop it when she is ready? Thank you so much for your help! :)

Babybrooksmomma said...

Love your blog! A few questions if you don't mind answering them. I tried to comment on your early wake time blog but was unable to do so:


1. Our little boy is almost 10wks old. His bedtime is 8 and his late evening feed is between 1030-11. I've tried a couple of things for his late evening feed--giving him a bottle that I've pumped or BF. If he BF he will only feed for about 5-10min. He is out cold!! It's very difficult to wake him to feed during this time. If I give him a bottle, I can usually get him to take the entire thing which is about 5 ounces. My question is, since this isn't technically a DF (according to babywise book, DF comes after 12wks, right) should I keep giving him a pumped bottle so that he gets a full feeding? It doesn't seem to change his wake time.

2- Our desired wake time is 8. We are trying to put him on a 3 hr schedule: 8,11,2,5,8, late evening feed. Little man has been consistently STTN but waking up at 7. Should I just adjust my expectations for his wake time and go with a 7-730 wake time? The last week we've just been letting him CIO until 740-8. He eats like a champ and takes a great first nap. Also, that first nap I'm usually waking him to feed again. Is this right or should I just let him wake on his own?

Thanks a ton!!

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