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Early waking: how to train your little ones to sleep and reclaim your mornings

Any waking before 6am is considered early waking

Early wakings is probably one of the issues I get asked about most often, and it can be down to a number of things - temperature, sleep environment, over or under tired etc. And because early wakings can be down to lots of different reasons, it can be hard to pinpoint how to solve it. If baby wakes up crying I would suggest putting baby back to sleep, however if baby wakes up alert and playful, I would look at their day routine. It's mainly about getting the timings right in the day. This can be tricky.

The first big question you have to ask yourself is: Is your baby potentially either overtired or under-tired?

Being overtired will make baby's cortisol levels raise, which is the stress hormone we produce in the morning to help wake us up. So bringing their bedtime forward would help, even if it feels strange and counterproductive, it can actually really help.

However if baby is under-tired this can also wake baby early. Try and look into their routine, they are potentially either napping too long in the day or the nap schedule isn't quite right.

Here’s are a few others tips and tricks that can definitely encourage your baby to stay in bed that little bit longer -

Temperature🌡 Make sure they aren’t too hot or too cold in the morning, ideally we want the room the same temperature all night. Sleeping bags can help keep babies temperature regulated. Be sure to check the official guideline on sleepwear to get this right.

Sleep environment 🛏 We want the room as dark as possible, even the tiniest bit of light can raise those Cortisol levels (stress hormone) and wake baby early. We need darkness to help produce melatonin. A blackout blind can really help with early waking.

Noise 〰️ The slightest noise in the morning can wake them so having a white noise machine on all night can help stop their sleep being interrupted. Ideally you want a dull noise, like a fan. You can get all types so get the right one for you, however make sure they don't go off after 20mins as we need the noise to continue until morning.

Parents reaction 👫 If baby is awake but happy babbling or just making noise then try to leave them as long as you can. It is good for them to be comfortable and happy in their sleep space. Obviously if they are distressed then go to them.

Routine 💛 Having a set routine, with the correct number of day naps and the right bedtime will really help make sure your little one is neither over or under tired.

Every child is different so what may wake one baby early, might not wake another. It’s all about trial and error, and figuring out your baby's rhythm.

Find out more about Sleep by Alexandra

Sleep by Alexandra helps your family sleep better so you can enjoy more time together. Alexandra Collingbourne is a sleep consultant specialising in safe, holistic methods of getting your baby, toddler or young child to sleep in a way that empowers parents to live better, happier and with more energy. Specialist postnatal depression & anxiety support is also available for those who need it.

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