Hey There! I’m Janelle, founder of Hello Sleepyhead.
This week’s question comes from Lauren and she asks:
“My 11 month-old wakes at 5:00 a.m. and I know she is still sleepy. She’s awake for a few hours but is usually fussy until her morning nap. How can I get her to sleep later?”
That is a great question, Lauren and again a very popular one! It’s a pretty common problem for babies to be waking up just a bit too early. If they still seem cranky and tired then an hour or two more sleep in the morning would definitely be beneficial.
The first thing I would look at, with your 11 month-old is ensuring that she has the skills for sleeping well on her own. She should be going to sleep on her own or independently sleeping through the night without any kind of prop. Sometimes a soother is a tricky one because maybe the baby sleeps through most of the night with the soother, but will often wake in the early morning hours only to not really be able to get themselves back to sleep. Even with some help from the soother, it can still be difficult for them.
Firstly, make sure that those issues are not problems for you. In the first few weeks of sleep training, or making sleep changes, it’s pretty common for a baby to have some early morning wake-ups. If they slept from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., and that’s the first time in their lives that they’ve slept that length of time, they might wake up at 5:00 a.m. and feel pretty good. What I would suggest you do is make 6:00 a.m. the earliest you would consider getting her up. If she wakes at 5:00 a.m., go in fairly quickly and tell her it’s still nighttime, lay her down, cuddle her up and either stay in the room or leave, until at least 6:00 a.m. rolls around. If she goes back to sleep, that’s great. If not then get her out at 6:00 a.m. and make a big deal about it being morning. Turn the lights on, open the blinds, take her out of the bedroom and down to your kitchen for breakfast and then keep her up for the few hours until her nap time.
Usually, if you make 6:00 a.m. your cutoff, a baby will, over time, start making the transition themselves to closer to 6:00 a.m. A 6am wake up might be as much as you can expect, but most babies generally wake in between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. once they’re sleeping good and solidly through the night.
It’ll take time though. It’s usually the last thing that happens in sleep training so give it a few weeks. It’s not going to happen dramatically and keep an eye on bedtimes. Common mistakes parents make is that they start trying to push bedtime later and later and later and hope that she’s going to sleep in. Most babies do not sleep in and regardless of when they go down; they’re going to wake up in the morning at the same time more or less. Only now, they have missed some sleep, so they’re going to wake up even grumpier. So don’t do too much with bed time, that’s not usually the problem.
I hope that helps a bit Lauren and thanks for your question! Sleep well!