There’s the common question of how to get baby sleep through the night and then there’s another really, really common question which is,

“My 14 month old baby wakes up every single day like clockwork at 5.30am. I’d feed him, and then put him down in the cot but he’ll wake up again 10-15 minutes later crying. This goes on until I get him up at 6.30am. How do I overcome this and help him sleep longer past at least 6am?”

Let’s get into the realistic expectations for morning wake time for babies and toddlers.

The general rule of thumb is 6am is the mark of morning. Anything earlier is considered ‘night’.

Babies generally wake early and there’s nothing much you can do about that.

Firstly, it’s their biological sleep drive that goes really low during the early morning after 10-11 hours of night sleep. And this generally go on until they’re about 5 or 6 years old when they can start to sleep in to 8am.

If your baby has been asleep at least 10 hours in the night, napping well in the day and waking early, it might mean that your baby is now ready to wake at 5am.

Secondly, the first nap in the morning timing can also affect the early rising. Baby shouldn’t be sleeping for nap before 9am for first nap because if they do, they would be ‘prolonging’ the night sleep and causing the biological sleep rhythm to wake at 5am even more.

What to do:
If your baby only slept 8-9 hours and waking up crying at 5am, it’s most likely she’s not ready to wake up for the day yet and can be encouraged to fall back asleep.

My suggestion is to use a snooze button feed at that point. Meaning you feed your baby back to sleep so that all of you can sleep a little longer until past 6 or 7am.

Another way is to bring baby into your bed because physical closeness is all they need to go back to sleep. For smaller babies under 6mo, you can use the swing or sarong to lengthen that sleep.

For toddlers older than 2yo, use a toddler clock that changes colour when it’s time to wake up. Say you set the time at 6.30am then you would only take your toddler out when the clock changes colour at 6.30am.

Lastly, one more thing you can do is to modify the bedtime, nap times and meal times to shift the morning schedule later.

Meaning if your child goes to sleep at 6.30pm and waking at 5am, that’s about 10.5 hours of sleep, so little to no chance that she can go back to sleep. She has had enough sleep.

In this case, you would want to ultimately shift the bedtimes to 1 hour later at 7.30pm, naps 1 hour later and meal times 1 hour later so that wake up time gets pushed forward 1 hour later too at 6am. I don’t suggest you do a big jump by the hour. Try to use 15 minutes of pushing forward every 2-3 days until you reach your desired bedtime.

This may take a week or two to work.

How are you dealing with the early rising in your home?