Early Morning Wakings: What to do when baby wakes early

Early Morning Wakings: What to do when baby wakes early. Reasons baby might be waking early in the morning and how to solve it and get baby sleeping through the night. 

Baby laying on white blanket

It is hard to stay on track each day if the first wake up time of the day is off. When baby is waking too early, it leaves you wondering what to do.

Your baby can wake early in the morning before your desired wake time for a variety of reasons. It often happens when baby is extending night sleep and making it longer between feedings in the middle of the night.

The baby who was waking at 3 AM to eat moves that feeding to 4 AM, then 5 AM, then 6 AM. These are considered night wakings. Parents are left wondering what to do when baby is waking so close to the official first feeding of the day. You can read all about that in my 5-6 AM “Night” Wakings post. 

Baby can also be waking up early in the morning because of a sleep regression, teething, or pain. Baby might be waking up because the dreamfeed needs to be dropped or because the swaddle needs to be dropped. There are a whole variety of reasons for early waking. 

Figure Out Why Baby is Waking Early 

Parents naturally want to know what to do about their little one waking early in the morning.

The answer to that depends on why baby is waking early.

Therefore, your first step is to figure out why baby is waking early. Once you know why, you can make a plan of action. Your solution for a baby waking early because of teething pain will be different than for a baby waking early because the dreamfeed needs to be dropped. 

Here are some common reasons for early morning wakings:

  • Baby is naturally extending time between night feedings
  • Baby naturally has an early internal clock
  • Baby is having a growth spurt
  • Baby is getting too much daytime sleep
  • Bedtime is off and needs to be adjusted
  • Baby needs to drop the dreamfeed
  • Baby needs to drop the swaddle
  • The sun is waking baby
  • Baby is too hot or cold
  • External noises are waking baby up
  • Baby is teething
  • Baby is sick
  • If baby has reflux, baby might need the med dosage adjusted
  • Baby has pooped
  • You recently changed baby’s schedule and baby didn’t need that schedule change
  • You have had disruptions to your routine that has left baby unable to sleep as well
  • Fussiness or colic

Read: Ultimate Guide to Stopping Baby Poop at Night

Narrow it Down and Experiment

Look at the list I have for you there. Your task is to decide which of those reasons is the reason your baby is waking early. There will be some things you can scratch off the list. If you try to feed baby and baby refuses to eat, you can cross growth spurt off the list. If baby is waking with no sun up OR with blackout curtains in the room, you can cross that off. 

There will be plenty of things you can’t cross off, however. Cross off what you can and then look at the list and go with your gut. Listen to your mommy instinct and pick one thing you think it is. 

Then you experiment. You try to solve that issue and ONLY that issue. Do not try to solve even two at a time. You need to isolate variables so you can figure out what the reason for the early waking is. Think scientific method. So much of being a parent is being a scientist. 

Experiment with that one solution. I am a big advocate for taking notes as you problem solve (I have a lovely Book of Logs you can purchase if you need help tracking the right things). 

Once you have tried that solution for a few days, if you still have early morning waking, reset and try the next idea. 


Some causes for early morning waking are more likely to apply in different situations. A baby who was sleeping through the night but is now having early morning wakings is more likely to be having a growth spurt than the baby who was waking at 4 AM and is now waking at 6 AM. So as you consider which issue is your baby’s reason for early morning waking, take into account the pattern of your baby’s night sleep up to this point.

15 reasons your baby is waking up early pinnable image

How to Solve Baby Waking Too Early

Let’s look at each of these common reasons for baby waking early and discuss how to solve that issue:

Baby is naturally extending time between night feedings

Baby will not have been sleeping through the night consistently before this happening. 

This is super, super common. A baby will naturally extend time between the last feeding of the day and feedings during the night. Feedings will creep to be closer and closer to early morning hours. It is so common I have a whole post on it, so be sure to read up on 5-6 AM “Night” Wakings to know what to do.

If this is the reason your baby is waking early, take it as a great sign! Baby is getting closer to sleeping through the night. 

Know that it is very typical for a baby to sleep through the night, then wake up at 6 AM for a night or two, then sleep through again, then wake up at 5:30 AM, then sleep through the night again. If this is happening, it is normal and nothing to worry about. 

Baby naturally has an early internal clock

Baby will likely not have been sleeping through the night for a time if this is the reason for the early waking. 

The circadian rhythm determines natural sleep cycles. Different people are more early bird types while others are more night owl types. Still other people are low sleep needs and others are high sleep needs.

These things are true of babies as well. You might have a low sleep needs baby who is an early bird. Decide what is a reasonable time for an early bird to get up at your house. Keep in mind this will be the normal wake up time for most of your child’s life.

Our oldest, Brayden, has always been a low sleep needs person who wakes up early. He is almost 14 and I can count on one hand the number of times I have slept until 8 AM since his birth. I set his morning wake up time at 7 AM. He often woke earlier than that, but just happily waited in his bed until I got him at 7. 

One trick to making this work is to not feed baby until after your desired wake up time. I did not feed Brayden breakfast at 6:30 AM. I always waited until 7 AM. This helps hunger patterns be set to 7 AM. So if you have a baby who wakes crying and you can’t leave baby in the crib, still wait to feed baby until after the time you have decided is reasonable. 

You can help set internal clocks by having some time in the sun each day, especially around noon. You can also help with natural rhythms by being very aware of how bedtime impacts morning wake up time for your child. Again, take notes!

Read: Circadian Rhythm Explained and How it Impacts Sleep

Let me add, there are perks to a naturally early waker. Even though Brayden is a teenager, we have never had to drag him out of bed in the morning. He is up easily every morning and wakes naturally on his own. 

Early morning waking what to do when baby wakes too early with a picture of a baby on a white blanket

Baby is having a growth spurt

If baby is having a growth spurt and waking early in the morning, baby could have been sleeping through the night and is not anymore. Baby also can have not slept through the night yet. 

If baby is waking early from a growth spurt, you always want to feed baby. You want to feed a hungry baby. You can try to add in another feeding during the daytime to try to get baby to not need to wake in that early morning. If baby eats solids, you can try to increase the amount of solids eaten. 

A good way to test this is to feed baby and see what happens. If baby eats well and then eats well for the first feeding of the day, there is a good chance it is a growth spurt going on. If baby eats well but does not eat for the first feeding, it probably wasn’t really hunger and baby could move back that early morning feeding closer to match up with the desired first feeding of the day. 

Read more about Growth Spurts here. 

Baby is getting too much daytime sleep

Baby can have been sleeping through the night for this to be the reason for early waking. Baby also can have not slept through the night yet. 

As baby either gets older and needs less sleep in a 24 hour period or baby starts taking longer daytime naps, you might find baby is waking in the night because there is too much daytime sleep happening. 

Make sure you follow the Eat, Wake, Sleep Cycle each day. If you have a baby who has a hard time staying awake, make sure you are making an effort to add waketime to each cycle in the day. Read all about how to add waketime to your newborn’s day here.

If your baby is getting enough waketime during the day, look at nap lengths. 

If naps are too long, baby won’t need that sleep during the night. Aim for naps to be 1.5-2.5 hours long for the most part. As a nap is getting ready to be dropped, the length can lessen to 30-45 minutes long for that one nap. You might even need to shorten the first nap or another nap during the day. 

Bedtime is off and needs to be adjusted

A very common cause for early morning waking after age 4 months is bedtime being too late.

If bedtime is too late or too early, baby will have a harder time with meeting your desired wakeup time. Do not underestimate the importance of bedtime! It is super, super important for getting good night sleep. Read more about the Importance of Bedtime here. 

Aim for betime to be about 12 hours before your desired morning wake up time. If your baby is a low sleep needs child, you might need to take that down to about 11 hours before desired morning wake up time. I have found that in most cases, the 7 PM hour (so sometime between 7-8 PM) is ideal for most babies for a bedtime. There are always outliers, but this is a good starting point.

You might need to have your little one have a later bedtime. You might need an earlier bedtime. Adjusting bedtime might help your baby sleep later in the morning. 

I often get questions about a baby waking early who is going to bed at 9 PM or later. 9 PM is a bedtime none of my children have yet to see–it is too late for a child. If bedtime is too late, slowly move it up earlier. I like 10-15 minute increments. Your child should easily and quickly fall asleep.

It might take some time to figure out the exact right bedtime–make a change and wait four days (unless it is totally obvious to you this was wrong). A hint is that most babies have bedtime in the 7 PM hour–some maybe about 6:30. Shooting for any time in the 7 PM hour should get you close. 

Baby needs to drop the dreamfeed

If baby was sleeping through the night and stops, or if night sleep gets worse, consider dropping the dreamfeed.

The dreamfeed is a great tool to get baby sleeping through your night. For some babies, the day comes that the dreamfeed starts to hurt night sleep rather than help it. One of my babies was that way. Once we dropped the dreamfeed, she went back to sleeping through the night.

There is a chance your baby needs the timing of the dreamfeed changed. Some babies are so sensitive that even just moving it five minutes later will do the trick. Keep the dreamfeed in the 10 PM hour, so between 10-11 PM for most babies. 

Read all about When to Stop the Dreamfeed here.

Baby needs to drop the swaddle

As baby gets older, the swaddle becomes annoying to a baby ready to move. If your baby is still swaddled and waking early in the morning, baby might need that swaddle dropped. 

If your baby is swaddled and breaking out of the swaddle, not being wrapped up could be the reason for the early waking also. You might need to buy a new type of swaddle blanket if baby is still in need of a swaddle and breaking out of what you have. 

Read up on Dropping the Swaddle here. 

The sun is waking baby

If baby is waking right around the same time the sun is peeking through the windows in the morning, that might be what is waking baby up. Blackout curtains can easily fix that problem. 

Two of my three children are easily woken by the sun in the AM, so I know this is a reality. Get some window-darkening shades. At our house, we have dark wood blinds that help keep out the morning sun. Our blinds are special blinds that do not have holes in them to let the sun in. We got these at Home Depot.

Some people have used everything from aluminum foil to blankets. There are a lot of places you can purchase blackout curtains, like Walmart, Target, and Amazon.

Read Early Morning Waking and the Sun

Baby is too hot or cold

Baby might be waking up because he is too hot or because he is too cold. In many instances, those early morning hours are the coldest in the home as heat has been turned down for the night and the house has cooled slowly. At other times, the heater might be turning and waking up baby. 

Baby might also be too hot if baby is overdressed for sleeping. Read up on how to dress baby for sleep here. 

External noises are waking baby up

Noise is another common reason for your child to wake earlier than he is ready to in the morning. This can be noise from cars on the road, your husband getting ready for work, or your dog barking at the sunrise.

As the world wakes up, noises might be waking baby up. Pay attention to what is going on when baby wakes up. Did someone’s alarm just go off? Did the neighbor just leave for work for the day? Did the shower just turn on? A sound machine can help block out noises if they are waking baby up. 

Weissbluth suggests you get a noise machine or a humidifier to counteract the problem of morning noise.

We had humidifiers in each child’s room for a lot of years. We got them for 20-something dollars at Walmart. They aren’t the best quality, but they have a nice gentle hum to them. Of course some of you will live in a climate that is humid and you don’t want more humidity in your home. You can either use a noise machine or a humidifier without water in it.

As years passed, we went with a sound machine.

Baby is teething

Teething pain can plague baby before you see a tooth at all. Consider teething pain if baby starts waking early after having slept through the night. Look at the gums and see if there is any inflammation or if there are little white spots on the gum where a tooth would come in. 

If it is teething, some Motrin before bedtime might help out, but it will wear out during the night. 

Baby is sick

If baby was sleeping through the night and started early morning waking, consider sickness. A cold, cough, fever, ear infection, or more might be leading baby to wake up early. If this is the case, you will want to treat baby’s illness and just wait for it to pass. 

If baby has reflux, baby might need the med dosage adjusted

A note for the parents of reflux babies, as baby grows, many medications need dosage increased because it is weight based. If your baby has reflux, consider medications needing to be adjusted if baby stops sleeping through the night. 

Baby has pooped

If baby poops in her diaper, she will likely fully wake up and want the diaper changed (justifiably). 

If this is happening:

  • Change the diaper without making eye contact and put baby back in bed. You might do an abbreviated sleep routine before putting baby back in bed.
  • Consider teething. Teething can cause more frequent bowel movements. 
  • Think about solid foods. Did you add any new foods recently? Or did you switch up which foods were eaten at dinner time? There might be certain foods you just can’t give for dinner for now because they cause bowel movements too early in the morning.

You recently changed baby’s schedule and baby didn’t need that schedule change

Maybe you figured baby was ready for a four-hour schedule or that baby needed the dreamfeed dropped. If you made a schedule change and baby stopped sleeping well, go back to the way things were when baby slept well. 

It is very common to make changes at the wrong time. Even seasoned moms do it because each baby is unique. Do not stress or beat yourself up. 

You have had disruptions to your routine that has left baby unable to sleep as

Think about the last couple of days. Did you stay out late last night or the night before? Did baby miss a nap yesterday? Was the day extra exciting and stimulating? Think about baby’s last few days. Things about those days might be leading to poor sleep for baby. 

Fussiness or colic

Your baby might be waking just because your baby is fussy or has colic. Weissbluth says:

“The most common cause for waking up too early before four months of age is extreme fussiness/colic”.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (page 119)


As you look through this list, decide which reason is most likely to be the reason baby is having early morning wakings and then address it. If that doesn’t work, move on to the next most likely reason. Keep this up until you get it right. Your baby can get to a later wake time. You will get there!

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GledBlog said:
I am looking for some advice on a too early morning wake up time. My little guy has always been a great sleeper. We started babywise from day 1 basically and he fell right into a great routine. He naps well, loves going to sleep and puts himself to sleep beautifully. I have never been able to get him to sleep longer than 10 hours a night. And maybe that is just him – who knows? When he was on three naps a day and a 10 hour night it was fine… but then the already early wake up time (6am) started getting earlier and earlier. I decided a few weeks ago it was time to drop the third nap. In order to maintain a good eating schedule and space out his two naps a bit we also adjusted his schedule (versus just skipping the third nap and keeping everything else the same). The first few days it worked great and he even started sleeping in until 6:30 (who knew that would be sleeping in?!?). BUT now he is back to getting up earlier and earlier…. and I am at a loss as to what to do! This is his schedule:6 – wake up, 6 oz bottle7 – breakfast (oatmeal and fruit)8:30 – nap10 – up from nap, 6 oz bottle1 – lunch (rice, veggies, 6 oz bottle)2 – nap4 – up from nap, 6 oz bottle7:30 dinner (oatmeal, veggies, 8 oz bottle)8 – bedSo the wake up time of 6am is even getting earlier… this morning he started fussing at 5:10! For the last week he has woken up between 5 and 5:30 and I haven’t gone in until 6am and he never puts himself back to sleep… just goes back and forth between crying, fussing, and talking. I have tried going in but this seems to stimulate him more and he screams if I leave again. Last night I tried putting him to bed earlier (7:30 vs 8) but he still woke up early (although not a half an hour earlier like I thought he would). I truly am at a loss for what to do…. but I really don’t want 5:30 to be our new wake up time. Any advice or suggestions you have would be so appreciated! I forgot to say that my son is 8.5 months old.Thanks again, in advance, for your advice!

Babywise Mom said:
See these posts: Nighttime Sleep Issues
5-6 AM Night Wakings
I would also wonder if there is something that is waking him up. Dad getting ready for work? Dog barking? Sun rising? Let me know if you have further questions. Good luck figuring it out!

Heather said…
I’m having such trouble with establishing my daughter’s wake up time. It had been 7 am for months until we went through our weird 6 month sleep thing. So now, she is so unpredictable. Yesterday, she stirred at 6:15 but went back to sleep until 7:30 which was great. But today, she woke at 5:45 never to go back to sleep. I left her until close to 6:30, but she was wide awake. If I want her wake up time to be 7, no matter what time she wakes before then, am I okay to just leave her?

Babywise Mom said:
Heather, If she is awake but not screaming, I think it would be fine to leave her in there. until your wake time. Do remember that you can be within 30 minutes, so I would decide which way you want your 30 minutes to fall (6:45-7:15, 7-:730, etc.) and go with that. If she is still asleep at the end of your threshold, I would wake her up. And actually, I personally would wake her at 7 every day if that is what you ultimately want the real wake time to be. If she wakes early and won’t go back to sleep, I would get her at the earliest threshold.

Amy said:
Valerie,I have gone over many of your topics trying to troubleshoot on my own…I thought I’d post and thank you for your site and see if you had any ideas for me. My dd is 8 and 1/2 months and we’ve done BW since birth as far as feeding goes, due to a major move at 4 weeks old we started late with CIO to sleep. I still do the dreamfeed around 10pm and she has never slept more than 8-9 hours at night. She has been stuck on 5-6am morning waketime forever and I have tried everything- I think. I started to back up the df and got to 9:30 last night and she woke up at 5. I wait but she gets so loud (cry/yell) that I don’t want my 7 and 4yo to wake up so I get up with her. She goes back to sleep about an hour later…naps end so early she needs a cat nap to make it to bed time. I have done babywise with my 7dc and taught classes 12 years ago- I am completely humbled by this sweet girl! Any ideas, Valerie? It’s Amy again- last night her cat nap went too long and so she was not ready for bedtime until 9:30…she had her last feeding around 8:30pm. I did not go in for the df to see what would happen and she cried/very upset at 12:30am. I fed her and she went back to sleep. I heard her cry at 5am but did not go in…after 10min she went back to sleep and woke up at 7:45am. I am glad we can have a better routine today- still confused about what to do though! I do like 7:30am better than 5!!It seems to me she is eating enough during the day but I’ll log it and see if that may be the problem?if you have any ideas I’d love to hear-thanks!

Babywise Mom said…
Amy, That kind of scares me..lol. You never know what the baby will be like and give even vetrans a run for their money 😉 It sounds like her 5 AM waking has become a habit since she woke at 5 still after eating at 12:30. She did go back to sleep, but still woke. I would consider factors that are happening at 5 that might be waking her. The sun, hot, cold, noises, animals, other family members waking…Also, is there anywhere you could send your older kids so you can do a real CIO? Or anywhere you can put baby in the house (or other kids) so they won’t hear each other? If you are going to get up and get her anyway, I don’t think I would let her cry at all. She is likely getting the message that if she cries long enough, she is responded to. I feel your pain. I didn’t do CIO with Kaitlyn for the same reason.

Amy said:
Hey! At least it wasn’t until dc #8 that this happened to me- I tell her she really needs to read the book!I read through your post again and I guess I’m wondering if you would agree with me if I just let her CIO from 5am until 6:30. That is longer than I’ve ever had to do… the most I’ve done is 1 hour about a month ago and she stayed awake morning after morning…I think I did it (CIO) for a couple of mornings. She is just older and louder now! I would just do it even if it woke the older kids if I thought it was going to work…I guess I gave up.I did see in your post the reminder to not stretch feedings during the day until night time is established- I let her go to the normal daytime bkfst,lunch,dinner and 4th feeding routine because of her age- do you think I should keep that the way it is?I know my pediatrician told me 2 months ago to drop the 10:00pm feeding and let her CIO till morning. She certainly weighs enough and is old enough. Is that what you would do? (cold turkey with the df and the morning problem?)Sorry for rambling. Thanks again.AmyI will say living in Seattle- the sun is crazy bright early so I need to buy a dark shade.

Hey- I’m sorry I asked you a question you sort of answered already in your previous post.(about if you would do CIO) Could it be due to lack of sleep that I missed that? lolI am pleased to say that last night she went from her last feeding(df) at 9:30pm all the way to 7:00am! She cried a little at 5 but went back. It was cloudy this morning-maybe that helped or it was just because I posted here for help!I really hope it happens again tonight…thanks again!Amy

Babywise Mom said:
Hi Amy,Well, DC #8…hopefully that is how it will work out for me too because I don’t plan to get to 8..lol ;). Actually, my first threw me through a lot of loops, so I think that is one reason I am able to problem solve today. Have things been going well more consistently? Remember that things will go well, then seem to backtack, then go well…Since things went well with the cloudiness, I would consider some dark shades or curtains (or even a blanket) to help keep the room dark and see if that is the reason for the waking early. I know my oldest is a sun riser in the morning (as am I).

Amy said:

I just saw your response tonight. You know, it has gone back and forth a bit. I let her go without the df the other night and she slept from bedtime (8:30pm) to 5:30am. I fed her and she went back to sleep-even when it was not cloudy thank the Lord because that is way too early to start the day! The next night she cried for a feeding at 9:30 pm and slept until 6am…still too early 🙁 Tonight, so far, she is sleeping still and I am not going to go in to feed her. It seems time to drop it so I can only hope she will eventually sleep a little longer in the a.m. I cannot seem to get her to go to bed any later in the evening so I really hope she will stretch a bit more! I hung a black sheet on the window but I am not convinced it makes much of a difference with her! I have enjoyed some mornings- the house is quiet and I can read my bible.Hope all is well with you- I really enjoyed your last post on motherhood. Thanks for writing your blog- well done.Amy

Abby’s Mom said:
Amy,I have posted in another area about this exact problem with my now 7 1/2 month old. She has always woken between 5am and 6am also. We put a black blanket up and it didn’t change anything. Very rarely she will go back to sleep without eating. (Once every few weeks) She will usually go back to sleep after I feed her for an hour or so. I don’t know what I am going to do if she stops going back to sleep. That is WAY to early to start the day, especially since she only takes two naps of an hour each. Keep us posted on how your lo is doing. I am interested to see if she will start sleeping later. It might give me some hope!

Amy said:
Hi, Abby’s Mom!Your picture is so sweet. I’m sorry to hear your waking so early, too. Have you dropped the df? Last night I went to bed thinking I was not going to do it but she cried at 10pm so I went ahead and fed her hoping that she would sleep a bit later in the morning- she did go to 6:30am which IS better than 5:30 or 6 I suppose…I really don’t want to do the df anymore (she is 9months now) but I might need to unless I’m good with the early mornings…which I’m not so much! I keep thinking she will just stretch longer when she’s ready. I am always thinking, “have I missed something? am I forgetting some important part of this that I did with my other dc?” but you know I’ve been over it so many times and I think I am doing all I can. I would think being in a family of 10 would be enough to wear her out but maybe she just wants to keep playing with us rather than sleep in!Let me know how it is going!Amy

Babywise Mom said:
Amy, it sounds like she is close. Both of mine have been the type to wake around 5:30-6:30 for a while before finally making it all the way.

Abby’s Mom said: Amy,Yes, I dropped the df cold turkey when Abby was about 5 months. I wanted to see what would happen. Well, nothing did. She didn’t sleep any later or wake any earlier. About once a week she will sleep until about 6:30am, the rest of the time she is up around 5:30am. Every now and then she will still wake around the time we used to do the df (9:30pm). If I can’t get her back to sleep then I will usually just go ahead and feed her. My niece woke for an early morning feeding until she was two. Lets keep our fingers crossed that we don’t repeat that! CIO just doesn’t work at that time for me because I feel horrible letting her cry when I know she is hungry. (I am usually pretty hungry too once I am awake) Keep us updated!

Proud Mum said:
My baby sleeps around anywhere between 7 and 7:30 at night . but she always wakes up at 6:15 to 6:20. she is 6 months 3 weeks. she does not seem to be hungry so I pick her up at 7:00 and give feed. at this time she is hungry. how can I make her sleep more upto 7 or 7:30

Babywise Mom said:
Proudmum, if she is one who needs only 11ish hours at night (and anywhere from 10-12 is fine), then you could try a later bedtime. Other than that, there is nothing you can do to force her to sleep later. You can troubleshoot and see if there is something waking her at 6:15. Maybe the sun, maybe it is cold, maybe a noise, etc.

Gabby said:

I have an 8 month old son. We have done babywise since he was born. I set his waketime at 6:30, which is early, but necessary to get my 7year old to school. A couple of months ago we were having early waking and after solving this we ended up with a 7-7:30 bedtime and 6:00 waketime. He seems to sleep for 10-11 hours, but not usually 12. With the 6:00 waketime he always woke up at 5:30-5:45 and talked or fussed off and on until 6:00 when he would usually get upset and we would get up.Now, school ended and we went out of town for 8 days (2 long traveldays with flying included) and now we are trying to get back tonormal. He is napping great and sticking to a 4 hour schedule, but my question is how to get a later bedtime and waketime. He has been waking in the 5 am hour and sometimes won’t go back to sleep without eating, or eatsand is ready to get up(if it’s 5:45 or so). The days he went back tosleep we got up at 7:30ish and he ate well and went on with the day.It seems like no matter what time he goes to bed his body clock isstuck. He is dropping his 3rd nap. If he has 2 good naps he simplywon’t go down for a 3rd and doesn’t seem to need it.Any suggestions would be great. Not only would I love to sleep past 6am, but my husband gets home at 6:30 pm and has been getting verylittle time with him with a 7:00 bedtime.Thanks!!Gabby

Babywise Mom said:
I would suggest this post for ideas: 5-6 AM Night Wakings. You could also have him wait about 15 minutes at a time to get him used to eating later. Good luck!

Melissa said:
I had the same problem with my daughter when she was that age. I refused to accept her early wakings (in the 5:00 hour). I tried everything, later bedtime, earlier bedtime, feeding her, shushing her, CIO, no dice.After a ton of reading and searching on the internet, I came across a post on the Australian Baby Whisperer’s site. HERE’S THE SOLUTION: You have to make the wake time between the last nap and bedtime long. For example, putting her down at 8 when she woke at 5 from her afternoon nap spelled disaster.Try shifting your schedule earlier for both naps. Try putting him down at 1230 or 1 for his afternoon nap, and waking him by 3. Even if you have to shorten his morning nap so that he’s tired earlier for the afternoon one. Keep bedtime the same. After a couple of days, I’ll bet you see a big difference!!

D&H said:
Thanks! I needed this today! We’ve had early morning waking and night wakings for a few weeks, which at first I thought might be from hunger and now after looking through BWII again I think it’s time to drop the 3rd nap (my baby is 7 months old). But in the process we’re struggling with lengthening wake-times and figuring out a new schedule. Melissa, thanks for your comment and ideas–I will try it out this week!

Yolly said:
Ok so I have spent hours trying to figure out why my little one for the past 3-4 weeks now is waking up at 6 :00 am instead of 7:00 desired wake time. Current Schedule Wakes at 6:00 am I leave in crib he is happy not really crying until about 6:30 I let him cry for about 10-15 minutes. Get him at 6:45- 7:00 7:00 feed (7oz fruit and cereal )9:00-11:00 Nap11:00 Feed (6 oz)1:00-3:00 Nap3:00 Feed ( green veggie and Yellow veggie 6oz)5:00 -5:30 ( sometimes nap sometimes no nap) 6:30 Feed (7oz & cereal ) 6:45 Bath 7:00-7:30 Bed time He goes down for his first two naps great his last one is hit or miss. I been trouble shooting this early wake time for about 3 -4 weeks I have tired not giving him the 3rd nap, shorting the 3rd nap, let him take it ( which is rare that he will) . Days he does not take nap I put him down earlier. Days he takes it I put him down at 7:00. He naturally extended his wake time to 2 hours about a month a go this is why we are down to 4 bottles and on a four hour schedule. Either way he wakes up at 6:00 🙁 Any advice on what I can do ?

Babywise Mom said:
Yolly,There is a post titled “Nighttime sleep issues–revised and updated” that can help guide you.The trick is finding why.One way to find out why is to think back to when he started waking early and think “what changed?” Is that when you moved to the 4 hour schedule? If so, he might not be getting enough food in the day. Increasing food during the day might solve it. Consider also a change in the weather. He might need warmer/lighter PJs.If nothing changed, then consider “what is happening at 6?” Is that when Dad gets up? Is a neighbor doing something? The sun? A dog? Is it cold? What is it about 6 that is waking him up. Find that and resolve it. Another idea is an earlier bedtime. Sometimes early morning waking is tied to too-late of a bedtime. Try having him in bed by 7 consistently and see if that helps.

Shannon said:
I have a 5 1/2 month old who now loves to roll from stomach to back. He has always been a stomach sleeper. Now he will wake himself up by rolling to his back, and not be able to go back to sleep. I have tried letting him cio, it does not seem to work. We are also working during all wake times on learning how to roll back to stomach. Any suggestions on anyone else experience with this. Did you keep cio, go in and flip them over through out the night, prop them? He is a great napper and sleeper except for this issue. thankyou

Babywise Mom said:
Shannon, there is a post just on this topic. It is called “Nap Disruptions: Rolling, standing, crawling, etc.”

Clare said:
Hi Valerie,I am having trouble figuring out a number of sleep problems, and don’t know where to start first. 1. My 22 week old has never done his naps. He did them for 2 weeks or so when he turned 4 months and then it stopped again. He is still on a 3 hour schedule because he doesn’t seem to be able to stay awake longer than 1 hr 20 mins or so. I have tried lessening and increasing WT slightly but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. When he wakes from naps, he is not hungry.2. I set his wake time as 7 am, so bedtime was between 7-7:30 pm. We have a DF at 9:30 pm. He has trouble falling asleep when we put him down at this time, either because he is overtired (from not sleeping naps) or not tired enough, if he conks out and does a nap at the fourth nap time. Therefore, I’m having trouble giving him a consistent bedtime despite knowing he needs one because his days are always so inconsistent.3. This bedtime is actually not ideal. My husband gets next to no time to see our son because he comes home from work at 7 pm. I read that you kept your son up later at first to accommodate your husband’s schedule. Can I do that now that my son has been on this schedule for so long? 7, 10, 1, 4, 6:30, 9:30. 4. My son wakes at 5:57 am on the dot, but he used to fall back asleep or wake at 7 am. I have tried putting him to bed earlier to compensate for bad naps and early wake up, ie 6:15 pm but he still wakes at 5:57 am. Do I just have to accept this as his first WT? I already struggle with figuring out WT because of his bad naps all day, and making him wait till 7 am to feed even though he’s clearly not hungry feels like I am shooting myself in the foot to figure out his first WT length of the day.5. I’m having trouble implementing his independent play time because he has slight reflux and I have to keep him upright for some time before putting him down. However, with not sleeping naps, his WT is shortened and so he often doesn’t even have enough time to do tummy time or to play without getting overtired or overstimulated fast.I’m so overwhelmed with all these issues and am a first time mom. I’m not sure where to start to eliminate the problems, and have become so anxious and stressed about it that I don’t go out, just trying to stay home to put him to nap every day. It has been such a struggle and I’m not sure what to do anymore. I would really appreciate your wisdom. Thank you.

Hi again,Sorry just a quick update on my post above. I got a video monitor recently and learned that my son’s 5:57 am waking is actually more like waking around 4-5ish am and staying awake for a long time quietly until he starts to get bored or tired and makes noise around 6 am. I never realized he was awake for so long in the wee hours until now. What could be causing him to wake around this time and staying up for so long? He is 23 weeks old, and he doesn’t cry out when awake so I don’t think it is hunger. Besides, I have not fed him at this hour for a number of months now too. Do you have any ideas what I could try to do differently to help his nighttime sleep? I do dreamfeed around 9:30/10 pm and he always drinks a full feed at this time, which makes me think he is not ready to drop it yet, but I am suspicious whether it is interrupting his nighttime sleep. I tried a 3:30 am Wake to Sleep last night, but nothing changed. He still woke at the same 5-ish am time and was awake for at least 1 hour before falling back asleep for 45 mins and making it to our 7 am wake-up time.Thank you so much.

Babywise Mom said: Clare, sleep begets sleep, so I think the first thing to do is figure out naps. To do that, you need to figure out his optimal waketime. I would take it back to 60 minutes and work up from there. See my posts on “logs” for help with this.You could definitely shoot for a 8 PM bedtime.Some of his sleeping issues could be reflux related, so I would look into meds and gripe water for him. Also, try elevating his mattress a bit. See the posts on reflux for more. Good luck!

Ticey said:
My little girl is almost 10 weeks old. I kind of feel like she should be sleeping a little longer at night and she isn’t so I am getting a little frustrated – especially since when she wakes in the early mornings it always ranges so I feel like I don’t ever have her on a “set” schedule and I don’t know what to do. Her last feeding of the night is at 10:00PM (or I always try to aim for that). She eats 6 times in a 24 hour period. And she wakes anywhere between 4 – 5:30AM. I guess I am struggling wondering if I should get her up at that time and feed her or if it is habit (I would say most of the time she wakes at 4) or if I should let her cry it out (she has gone until almost 6AM so I feel like she is capable of going longer). Is 6 feedings throughout the day not enough? Would cramming one more in help her sleep longer through the night. I guess I am just confused because I am a very organized person and not having a “set schedule” right now is bothering me. I hope I am making sense. I guess I wonder if I want her morning wake time to be at 7AM and she wakes at 5:00AM do I feed her and then wake her again at 7? Do I not feed her until 7? Or do I feed her at 5 and keep on a 3 hour routine and feed her at 8 and have my schedule be all weird? I would appreciate some help 🙂 Thanks so much!! Oh ya one more thing. During the day I usually do a 3 hour routine but there are times she is napping and would go longer like 3 and half hours. Should I let her go longer and again my schedule would be off by half and hour or do I keep waking her at 3 hours?

Babywise Mom said:
Ticey, Exact number of feedings needed ranges from child to child. You could always try adding another feeding and see if that helps. If you want her waketime to be 7 AM and she wakes at 5 (and is hungry, which I would guess she is), you feed her, then put her right back down, then get her up either at 7 or 7:30 and feed her again. I have a whole post on the topic called “Early Morning Feedings Before Waketime”Right now, I would keep her at 3 hours in the day.All three of my kids did the thing where they could sleep until six 1-3 nights, then wake up around 4 for several nights, then up later, then earlier–it went back and forth like that a few times. Totally normal at my house 🙂

Brittnany said:
Advice please?? I have a 12 week old and we are on a 3 hour schedule: 6, 9, 12, 3, 6, 8:30 – but he has been wanting his night feed closer to 8:00. He consistently wakes up at 2:30 AM and 5 AM. I feed him at the 2:30 and at the 5:30 he will go back to sleep only if he’s on mine or my husbands chest but will sleep until his 6 feed time. This was true when we have a 7 feed time as well, he still would wake at 5 and would be fine until 7. I tried doing a dream feed but he still woke at 2:30 and 5, so I dropped the dream feed because I didn’t’ want to be getting up three times in the middle of the night if I didn’t have to. He eats a lot…we’re talking 34-38 ounces a day. Any input would be much appreciated.

Babywise Mom said:
If it is at the same times every night, it can be a habitual waking and not waking from need. One easy way to test to see if there needs to be a feed at 2:30 is to put baby back to sleep without feeding. If baby wakes up 30-60 minutes later, then it is hunger and baby needs to eat. If not, then baby is not hungry then. Does your baby fall asleep independently for naps and bedtime? If not, work on that. If so, consider if baby is hot or cold in the night.

Kelli said:
Hi, recently discovered your site..super helpful! I am a new mom following BW and have a 4.5 mo old that is waking early in morn like 6:15 or so when it used to be 7 which is when I start the day. We put him down at 8 pm and he barely makes it to 8 sometimes but I am a bit nervous to put him down any earlier. Maybe it’s the 4 mo regression I keep hearing/reading about because naps have been a huge struggle the last week.

I should’ve noted he is still on a three hour schedule feeding at 7,10,1,4and 7 roughly so that’s what he’s been going down at 8pm because by the time we feed and burp and keep him upright a bit due to reflux it’s close to 8. He is 20 weeks old and was born two weeks early. The 45 minute nap intruder has also been brutal for about three weeks and still strong! Thoughts? Thanks!

Babywise Mom said:
It definitely could be the four month regression. It also could be that he needs an earlier bedtime. But if he has had that bedtime and was fine and now isn’t, I would lean toward regression.

What to do when baby wakes too early and get baby sleeping through the night with a baby sleeping on a white blanket

20 thoughts on “Early Morning Wakings: What to do when baby wakes early”

  1. Hi!

    What should you do about the entire day that’s thrown off by the early waking? I’m starting Babywise late with an 8 month old who has never slept through the night. She’s improving since starting baby wise. But she’s still waking up anywhere between an hour to 30 minutes before her desired Waketime/first feeding. Should I just adjust her schedule based on the early waking and move her feedings, naps and bedtime up because of the early waking?

    • This is a tricky age for this question. Some babies will benefit from super consistency, meaning they eat at the same times every day and nap at the same time every day no matter what.

      Other babies can’t quite handle a longer waketime when they wake early.

      Since you are starting late, I would start with super consistency and see how she reacts after a few days. She is going to need to be very consistent to be able to get on a solid schedule.

      See this post for more: https://www.babywisemom.com/set-naps/

  2. Hey Valerie,

    I have an 11 week old son who is doing great on babywise but is consistently waking up in the 5-6 am range. He has been doing this since he started STTN at about 7 weeks. His last feed is at 10pm and our first feed is 7am. He doesn’t seem hungry, but he usually has an arm out of his swaddle . We have tried a couple different swaddles and I think hes just strong and breaks out. I can reswaddle him and rock him and he will go back to sleep for 30-60 min then I will feed him his first feed 630-7am. I have followed all your tips on the early wakings but he still is waking up early. Any ideas or advice?
    My 2.5 year old daughter was sleeping 7-7 at 10 weeks so I guess I just expect him to do the same lol.

    • If you think the swaddle is interfering, I would try dropping the swaddle or continue trying to find a blanket he can’t break out of.

      But, are you waking him after that extra 30-60 minutes or is he? If it is him, I would say there is an excellent chance he is indeed hungry and will sleep straight through to your desired wake up time once he doesn’t need that food at that time. Good luck!

  3. I have an early waker. My daughter is a little over 7 months but has been waking up since about 4 months. Here is our current schedule.

    6 dwt (nurse and solids)
    830 nap
    1030 wake (nurse and solids)
    130 nap
    330 nurse
    600 solids with family
    630 bath, nurse, bed by 7

    She sleeps in our room still in her pack and play. She is waking up at 4/5 am (generally playing) and we leave her be. Sometimes she does fall back asleep. I thought the early wake up was because she had too much daytime sleep. But even when i extended her waketime to this current schedule, nothing changed (her naps did get better). She usually naps for the full 2 hours, but sometimes it is an hour and a half.

    It may be because her bedtime is late, but I don’t get home until 5 and my husband gets home at six. I know sleep is important, but I also believe that quality parent time is important.

    It’s not light in the rook and there isn’t like a regular noise occurring (like a trash truck). I’m at a loss. Other thoughts?

    • It is quite normal to have periods of time when baby wakes around that time, plays, and then goes back to sleep. It will definitely be more noticeable for you since she is in your room with you. Are you able to move her out at all? Even into a walk in closet? She could even be waking just from hearing you or our husband stirring.

      And I totally agree about quality time with parents. That is one reason I love Babywise. You get to set your schedule how it fits best for your family.

  4. SOS! Baby is 7 months next week; have done Babywise from the beginning. For the past month she has woken between 4-6am every day. Last night, she woke about 6 times between 2-7. I feel like we have checked every possibility. She usually wakes and just plays/talks until her talking turns into crying. It does not appear to be teething/hunger/diaper/heat or cold/sun/have not changed routine and we are religious about her bed/morning wake times – I have no idea what to try anymore 🤷‍♀️. I have also tried increasing her food amount during the day. She still sometimes has a catnap; all her other naps she tends to fuss for about 10 minutes and then fall asleep. Looking for any advice!

    • What have you done to rule out hunger? Her waking that frequently would lead me to believe she is hungry, in pain, or uncomfortable in some way. OR that she can’t self-soothe. But I think she would go at least 45 minute intervals if it were just self-soothing issues. Does she use a pacifier?

  5. Help! We have a 5 week old and have been following PDF for a couple weeks now. Baby does not sleep through the night. We are still on the 9 feedings. Wake time is scheduled for 7am and sleep time is scheduled for 11pm. He is formula fed and wakes up at 2:45am for a wake time feed and then always gets up again at 4:45am and I try to hold him off until his wake time feed at 7am. I’ve tried to feed him at 4:45 too when he wakes but he never can really settle back down. I’m always getting up like every 20 minutes to give him his pacifier again so neither of us is getting any good sleep after 4am. Whether he eats or not at his 4am wake he always gets hungry early before his 7am wake time. He seems to be fussy due to tummy issues with grunting and trying to break out of the swaddle. A few times he has pooped at this time or close after. Is there anything I can do to help him and me get some sleep? Is it bad if I feed him at 4:45 and then again at the 7am wake up time? If he’s still sleeping at 7am should I wake him again? A few times we have had to feed him at 6:15 or 6:30 due to him being hungry. Do you think our schedule needs adjusting?

  6. I have a 4 1/2 month old. We started babywise at 2 weeks old and he followed the schedules to a T until he was about 3 months old. He started sleeping through the night at about 11 weeks from 9:30-5. Not sure when I started this but now this is his current schedule.
    7 nurse
    9 nap
    10 bottle breastmilk
    11:45-12 nap
    1 bottle breastmilk
    2:45-3 nap
    4 bottle breastmilk
    5:45 occasionally will catnap
    6:30 bath
    7 bottle formula and to bed
    There have been about 2 or 3 times in the past month and half where he actually went until 7 am. He will usually wake up some time around 4 talking and then it will turn into a cry so I go in his room to nurse him. He will eat good for about 10-15 minutes and then pull off and be content so I immediately lay him back in his crib. If he doesnt cry then I know he is full enough but if he cries i feed him a little more. Sometimes he will go right back to sleep and then sometimes he will talk for another 45 minutes or so before falling asleep. Other times if he wakes up around 4 he will just talk and then fall back asleep on his own, but then wake 5:30-6:30 hungry. I have tried making sure that he is eating enough during the day by switching to bottles for majority of the day and offering him as much as he will take because I thought it was just a lack of calories but that doesnt seem to have made a difference for his night time sleep. It did help with his nap troubles that he had a couple weeks ago though. I am wondering if he is just too tired to eat enough before bed because he isn’t taking his cat naps that much anymore.

  7. Please help. I’m desperate. This past week my almost 6 month old has not been sleeping through to her DWT at 7 AM. She wakes talking and crawling somewhere between 5-6:45. It throws off the entire day and then she becomes over tired. She’s not finishing naps and has started fighting me at nap and bedtime when she never used to. She doesn’t cry and keeps falling in and out of sleep for about 10 minutes at a time until I get her. 2.5 hour wake times sometimes is long enough for her to be ready for a nap. And other times it’s not enough butb3 hours is way past the sleep window. I can’t find a happy medium. And it’s only getting worse every day. I’m afraid she’s becoming fatigued but how do I know and fix it for her sake?

  8. I have A 13 week old , she sleeps amazing and I thought I would drop her 10pm dream feeding as she is already 13weeks now she is waking at 4am!! And when I tried to dream feed her again at 10pm she started waking up even more through the night!! so I dropped the 10pm feed again and she went back to waking up at 4am What can it be.

    Im using the babywise method to the T

    • If it were me, I would try some different times of the dreamfeed. If things were going well before you dropped the dreamfeed, I would see if you can get that back in and get her sleeping again.

      If it isn’t that the dreamfeed timing needs to change, she might be waking from hunger or cold. There are a lot of reasons baby can wake in the night and of course the trick is figuring out and addressing the why. Check out this post for ideas: https://www.babywisemom.com/nightime-sleep-issues-revised-and/

  9. Hi Valerie,
    I need help!!! My almost 10 weeks baby wakes up everyday around 5/530ish… Sometimes we let her cry but she does not stop and when I try to put my finger near her face, she starts sucking. When I feed her, she doesn’t nurse for very long and hardly empty one breast. Her last dream feed is at 10pm. Any idea what do I do? This morning when she woke up at 5:30 I let her cry until around 6 to see if she would fall asleep but she didn’t. Her cry is usually not as strong as when she is hungry (my mom instinct says she was more sleepy than hungry but idk)…our wakeup time/first feeding is 7am.
    What do I do? Please advise. It throws off our entire day and routine.

  10. My daughter, who is 20 weeks old, is waking early in the mornings between 4-5 am. We recently took a 2 week trip to visit family, and her routine was disrupted many of those days. The sleep issues started on the second week of our visit. I ended up feeding her soon after she woke up because she would cry and not take a pacifier, and I didn’t want to wake up the rest of the family.
    She is also around the age to drop the 4th nap and maybe go to a 4 hour schedule (though she cannot stay awake 2 hours just yet and we have not started solids).
    What can I do to help her get back to sleeping until 7am? Should we use this opportunity to go ahead and change to a new schedule?
    Her pre-vacation schedule:
    7:00 wake and nurse
    8:00 nap
    10:00-10:30 nurse
    11:30 nap
    1:00 nurse
    2:30 nap
    4:00 nurse
    5:30 catnap
    7:00 nurse
    7:30 bed
    Thanks so much for all the encouragement and information you provide to families! I started using BabyWise nearly 15 years ago and have been reading your blog most of that time. Thank you so much!

    • You are so very welcome!

      First, the big trick thing going on is that you are at the wonder week 19 time frame. So you have a potential trifecta — but at least two issues — with travel disruption, 4 month sleep regression, and possible need for a schedule change all at once.

      You definitely need to have a couple of weeks of consistency before you can hope to have things back in a good place.

      If it were me, I would stick with the old schedule and be super consistent. Once I knew things were consistent, I would consider a schedule change if I felt like it might be needed.

      But with that said, always trust yourself. I have a lot of rules set up for myself with babies that are right 99% of the time, but sometimes I would break them because I just felt like I should. And it worked out.


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