Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Top Tips for Early Rising

For a lot of my clients, spring forward and the time change fixed their early rising problem, but not for all of them. Early Rising is common for babies and young children.  Waking between the hours of 6 and 8 a.m. is typical for most young children.  But waking up before 6 a.m. and being ready to play is an early rising problem you must address.

Understand the Cause

Early rising is typically caused by one of these four problems and identifying what is the cause, will help you find your fix.

  • Too late of a bedtime
  • Not enough daytime sleep
  • Staying awake too long between end of afternoon nap and bedtime
  • Going to bed too drowsy.

Earlier Bedtime

Keeping your child up later will not help them sleep later in the morning and could be the cause of early rising.  For the first 5 years of a child's life, bedtime is usually between 7 and 8 p.m.


That old myth of keeping your child awake all day and they will sleep better at night, is an untruth.  Skipped or short naps will create early-rising, more night waking, and poor quality of sleep - not to mention and over tired and fussy child. Try to pay attention to the schedule and awake windows to increase your daytime sleep.  Or review my blog on sample schedules for children from 6 months to 5 years old.

Awake Windows

Awake windows are basically periods and when you can expect your child to be awake between his or her nap. Too large of a window between the end of the last nap of the day and bedtime can also cause early-rising. For a child on one-nap the average awake window is around 4 hours.  You may also review my blog on schedule, naps and awake windows.

Medical condition

Sleep apnea is frequently overlooked in children and can cause a very stubborn early-rising problem so speak to your child's doctor if you suspect any medical issues that have not been addressed.  If your child regularlly snores or you hear them gasping in their sleep, please discuss this with your pediatrician.

Dark Room

Ensure that your child's room is dark in the early morning hours. Purchasing room darkening or blackout shades / curtains will block out the most light.  Too much light can definitely cause your child to wake up earlier than normal.


For a child under 8 months of age the cause of early-rising could be hunger. If you think this is the cause of your early rising, try an experiment.  Give your child a dream feed. This means you would feed your baby one more time before you go to bed. The hope is that baby will eat and go right back to sleep.  If after a few days you do not notice a change in the early rising you could end this experiment and rule out hunger.

Going to Bed too Drowsy

Make sure your child is going to bed awake. It should take your child at least five minutes to fall asleep when you put them into their crib. Many parents get confused by this term and put their child into bed too sleepy. If you are putting your child to bed, too drowsy - they will not be able to put themselves back to sleep in the early morning hours which is the hardest time of day to practice that skill.

Have a Morning Routine

Make a big deal about the morning wake up and have a morning routine that could include: opening up the blinds, turning on the light, singing a good morning song and having the happy voice when you greet your baby. This will help your child to differentiate between morning time versus sleep time.

As with most changes and learning a new habit, a little patience and 100% consistency will be required to resolve an early rising problem. So don't give up after a few days, but give it a good one to two weeks to see results.

Sweet Dreams,
Michelle S. Donaghy