With a new baby, especially your first child, there are so many new things for you and your baby to go through. Sleep deprivation is probably the hardest. So if you’re wondering why your baby wakes up at 5 am, and how you can fix that to get a good night’s rest yourself, we’re here to help.
Babies wake up at 5 am for many reasons, the number one reason being the amount of sleep they got the day before. Either too much or too little sleep can severely impact your baby’s overnight sleep and cause them to wake up early. Adjusting and sticking to a schedule is one of the best ways to fix it.
Keep reading to find out the root causes for early-waking, and what you can do to fix it.
Why do Babies Wake up Early?
One of the hardest things to get used to as a parent is the sleep schedule. For the first few months, until your baby can go more than two or three hours without needing to be fed, you will almost always be tired, even if you do as they say and “sleep when the baby sleeps.”
Once your baby starts sleeping through the night, you’ll start to feel like you’ve got at least that part of your life back again. Until they wake up early, and you start feeling defeated all over again, and you start to ask yourself what you’re doing wrong.
Many babies and children are “wired” to wake up anywhere between 6:00 am and 7:30 am. It’s in their nature, and if they’ve gotten enough sleep at night and are waking up between these times, they might just be early risers. Waking up earlier than this could be a sign of something that isn’t working as part of their sleep routines.
What does it Mean when Children Wake up Early?
If they wake up early, especially if they wake up earlier than 6:00 am, there may be other factors that contribute other than them being early risers. Figuring out the root cause is the first step to figuring out how to fix the problem.
The primary culprits for your baby waking up early are the following:
- Your baby is overtired
- They aren’t tired enough going to bed
- A habit has developed
- They’re hungry
- Their diaper is dirty
- They’re teething
How do you Fix too Early Waking?
Once you have figured out why your baby is waking up early, you can try some of the following remedies to fix too-early waking:
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Remedy #1: Implement a consistent sleep schedule
Your baby doesn’t yet have the same sleep receptors you have, so implementing a consistent sleep schedule will help to send a signal to their brain that it’s time to go to sleep. In your sleep schedule, you should make sure their final nap of the day isn’t too close to their bedtime, as this will mean they are not tired enough when you put them down, and they might wake earlier because of it.
Also, If something is thrown off in your baby’s sleep schedule, it’s not a good idea to course-correct, and try to maintain the rest of the day as usual. This could cause them to get less sleep than intended, which will leave them overtired and unable to fall asleep properly.
The best way to make up for a schedule change is to put them to bed earlier than normal. It seems counterintuitive if you want them to wake up later in the morning, but when thrown off of their schedule, a baby will be more tired due to the change, and so putting your baby to bed early after their schedule is thrown off will allow their bodies to catch up with the change.
Remedy #2: Put them to bed earlier
Even if your baby’s schedule hasn’t been thrown off its rhythm, if your baby is waking up earlier in the morning, that may be a sign that they are overtired. Try putting them to bed 10-15 minutes ahead of schedule, as this might help them catch up on much-needed sleep. Gradually increase this as needed, until they are getting a good amount of sleep at night, and are at least sleeping until 6:00 am.
Remedy #3: Have a good sleep environment
To make sure your baby sleeps properly through the night and into the morning, you’re going to want to make sure their sleeping environment promotes sleep, rather than hinders it. Their rooms should be dark all night and any time they sleep, it should be cool, and it should be quiet.
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If you anticipate there to be a lot of noise around that could wake your baby, investing in a white noise machine such as the MyBaby SoundSpa On-The-Go-Portable White Noise Machine (on Amazon), could be a good solution for you as the consistent and soothing noise will drown out most other noises, to let your baby sleep.
If you don’t want to buy a separate white noise machine (and you don’t mind sacrificing your phone during naptime), there’s a lot of great white noise apps you can download – most of which are free or low cost. I’ve got an app – very simply named “White Noise.” I believe I paid $1.99 or so to get it without ads or obvious sound loops.
With nothing to interrupt your baby’s sleep, no light in their eyes, they aren’t too warm, and there are no sudden noises, they are more likely to stay asleep longer. If kept up even after the sunrises, your baby may not wake up as early.
Remedy #4: Leave your baby (for a moment)
While this might sound harsh to you at first, if your baby wakes up on their own and isn’t showing any signs of distress, you can leave them to occupy themselves in their crib. Babies are very good at telling you they want something, even if it’s not always obvious what that something is.
If your baby doesn’t want anything, keep the monitor on you, but you can go back to bed. They will let you know if they need something, or they will fall back to sleep on their own. Going in to see what they want could make them think it’s an acceptable time to wake up, and they’ll start learning the habit.
Remedy #5: Evaluate: what shouldn’t I be doing?
If you want to fix too early waking, you will want to avoid getting them into the habit of waking up at that time.
If they wake up at 5:00 am, and you go and get them and put them in your bed so you can go back to sleep, or if you give them other things to occupy themselves with, this will indicate to them that waking up at this time will give them some form of reward, and they will get into the habit of doing so.
It’s also not advisable to feed them if they are consistently waking up early, as they could get into this habit as well, and will find themselves to be naturally hungry at that hour.
How Can I Get My Baby to Sleep in Later in the Morning?
Though kids naturally wake up between 6:00 am and 7:30 am, that extra hour and a half of sleep you can get between the earliest and latest time can be invaluable. Even with early-risers, it’s possible to get them to sleep in a little later in the morning with one or a combination of the following tips:
Tip# 1: Keep it dark
Don’t let the sun into your child’s room if you want them to sleep in. The light from the sun will wake them up, and indicate to them that it’s daytime. Investing in room darkening curtains or blinds (or both, for an extra-dark room) will help to stop the light from coming in, and will indicate to your baby that it’s still nighttime.
Our recommendation for curtains is the NICETOWN Easy Care Solid Thermal Room Darkening Curtains from Amazon, as it comes in many different sizes and colors, practically guaranteed to fit your baby’s room.
Tip# 2: Postpone morning meals
Another way to encourage sleeping in for your baby is to gradually postpone or slightly delay morning meals.
If you feed them right when they wake up, they will start to expect it. However, if you gradually postpone their morning feeding by 10-15 minutes every day, they should start sleeping a little later, to match their breakfast time.
Tip# 3: Try to quell (silence) extra noises
Noise will also be a big factor in waking your baby. If your neighborhood naturally starts to wake up and make noise early in the morning, your baby’s sleep is likely going to match that.
To keep noise levels down, make sure to keep the windows closed, use a white noise machine, and keep your baby’s crib as far away from the root of the noise as possible.
Tip# 4: Don’t tend to your baby right away
If you hear your baby wake up, but they aren’t crying or in distress, wait a bit before coming in. They may fall back asleep on their own without any stimulation, or you can get yourself ready for the day knowing your baby is safe.
If your baby wakes up in the morning, they may be content to just stay in the crib and keep themselves busy in there, especially as they get older.
If your baby is crying, give them 10-20 minutes to try and self-soothe. They might fall back to sleep on their own. However, if they cry longer than 20 minutes, that may be a sign of a dirty diaper, or that they are hungry.
How Do I Stop my 5 Month Old Waking at 5:00 am?
Babies naturally go through a sleep-regression around 4-6 months of age. Their little bodies are going through so much change, it takes a toll on their systems. Make sure your baby is fed fully throughout the day, and then try to fully feed them again right before bed.
If they are sleepy, and trying to nod off before they’ve finished, try to encourage them to dream feed, or wake just enough to finish their food. This will help to ensure they aren’t waking at 5 am because they are hungry.
What Do I Do if My Baby Wakes Up at 5:00 am?
If you’ve made sure your baby is fully fed, but they are still waking up at 5:00 am, you may have to start sleep training your baby. This means taking your time to go in and check on them, and not giving them much attention when you do.
Just give them gentle pats of encouragement, and try not to pick them up or turn on too many lights, in order to encourage them to go back to sleep on their own.
This method is also good for you, as it won’t wake you too much either, and you can get back to sleep as soon as possible as well.
You may also want to consider altering your baby’s sleep schedule if they are waking up too early. Moving all their feeding times, nap times, and bedtimes, back by 10 minutes every day will help encourage them to sleep in later, and not expect food at 5:00 am.
However, don’t let their naps end too close to bedtime, as they won’t be as tired when they are going to sleep, and will wake up earlier in the morning because of it!
The primary reason that your baby isn’t sleeping in each morning is usually that they are either overtired or under-tired when they are put down for bed.
- An overtired baby’s body doesn’t understand the difference between when they should be sleeping, feeding, or playing, and so they won’t be able to sleep as long.
- An undertired baby just won’t have enough energy expelled before they go to sleep at night, which will wake them up in the morning.
But your baby waking up early is not a reflection on you as a parent, you just might need to alter your approaches in encouraging sleep in the morning. Try to keep the room dark and quiet, and allow them the time to self soothe or occupy themselves in the morning. This could be the difference between waking up and staying up, and waking up briefly before going back to sleep.
Now, if you want to adjust your baby’s bedtime as part of fixing the too-early wakeups, make sure you read this article next: Baby’s Bedtime: What’s too early, what’s too late and what’s just right? That way, you’ll be able to peg bedtime at the exact right time for your child. So make sure you give that a read next!
Cite this article as: “Why Does My Baby Wake Up At 5 Am? How To Fix It!” Sleep Training Kids, 23 July 2021, sleeptrainingkids.com/why-does-my-baby-wake-up-at-5-am-how-to-fix-it/.
When learning about parenting or sleep training techniques, it’s important to learn from a wide variety of reputable sources. These are the sources used in this article and in our research to be more informed as parents.
- O’Connor, Amy. “What to Do If Your Baby Is Waking Up in the Middle of the Night.” What to Expect, 9 Sept. 2020, www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/ask-heidi/month-9/sudden-night-wakings.aspx.
- “What to Do If Your Baby Is Waking Up in the Middle of the Night.” What to Expect, 9 Sept. 2020, www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/ask-heidi/month-9/sudden-night-wakings.aspx.