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Fact Sheet: Sharlene Poole - Early morning waking

Fact Sheet: Sharlene Poole - Early morning waking - what are the possible reasons older babies wake in the early hours?

Starting your day at 5-5.30am with a baby or a toddler is hard work, especially for parents who have other children to look after or who have returned to work and have to face sitting in meetings or at a computer all day.

So many babies or toddlers wake before 6am, a lot of emails or clients ask the same question, "how do I get my baby to sleep until 7am?".
While I do not believe every baby should sleep until 7am, I know it is helpful for the coping mechanism of some parents.
Babies wake early due to a number of reasons but post their newborn phase and once they are having 3 solid meals a day, it is often the routine that is the main contributor as to why they are waking at 5am instead of a respectable 6-7am.

There are three common types of night sleepers;

- Those that sleep all night and wake after 6am from exhaustion due to the lack of sleep in the day (these babies are good day time feed and eaters).
- Those that sleep well due to a consistent age-appropriate routine and training as such.
- Then there are those babies who wake frequently through the night because they have not slept well enough in the day and therefore do not eat well enough in the day and wake hungry or 'peckish' during light sleep cycles at night.

'Sleep breeds sleep' for most babies but so also does 'sleep enables to eat', and each enables babies to be more settled at night due to what happened in the day with their routine.

The Baby Whisperer's tips:
Most babies' wake because of the following reasons and these are the things you need to consider when you would like to change a possible habit:

- Baby is waking out of hunger.
- Sun rises on the same side of the house as the baby's room and 'highlights' the room like a morning light being turned on
- After 3am the temperature drops slightly and we as adults can pull another layer over ourselves but babies cannot.
- Babies in the summer months are dressed in light or cool clothing but wake cold in the early hours
- Babies are not sleeping well enough in the day to eat as well as they could and in turn wake early for a feed or for food
- Babies are sleeping too much in the day and are not tired enough at night to sleep all night
- The baby's routine or diet needs to change to encourage good sleeping patterns.
- Ensure baby's weight gain is good for their age before expecting too much from them.
- It is normal for babies to wake in the night for the first 3-4mths of their life and others even longer.
- Babies can wake out of habit rather than hunger and so when you know that they are putting on enough weight and when they wake they do so at the same time every day, try to resettle when they wake rather than giving them food as your first option.
- If your baby is not settling then offer a 5-10 minute top up and put back down if they are not responding to your settling technique.
- Use black-out curtains or black rubbish bags stuck the window until the possible habit has stopped.
- Ensure that if you are using a sleeping bag to sleep your older baby or toddler in that you put a long sleeve cotton T-shirt underneath the bag as they often kick off the blankets or move around too much in tier sleep to keep warmth in place.

Where to go for further info:
Sharlene Poole
Little Miracles Postnatal Care Ltd