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Early Morning Wakings

How to stop your baby from waking up at 5 am.

What are early morning wakings?

Anything earlier than 6 am are considered to be “early morning wakings.” Babies naturally wake up between 6 am and 7:30 am. So even though 6 am isn’t ideal, we wouldn’t consider it a true early morning waking.

Why do early morning wakings happen in babies and toddlers?

Most often, early morning wakings can be tied to one or more of the following factors. There are, of course, outliers. For example, if you room-share with your child and one parent gets up for work every morning at 5 am, that is likely the reason.

But when working with families, these are the most common reasons I’ve identified for early morning wakings.


This is probably the most common reason for early morning wakings. This is because when a child is overtired, stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are released, which results in your baby’s body fighting against sleep.

Overtiredness can look a few different ways.

Perhaps the wake window before bedtime was too long the night prior. Or, they could be stuck in a cycle of overtiredness, which has led to a cycle of early morning wakings.


Being undertired can cause your child to wake up early as well. This can result from too short of a wake window before bed or too much daytime sleep. Their body simply doesn’t need any more sleep. If your child wakes up happy and ready to go at 5am, too much daytime sleep might be the culprit.

Too much light

If too much light is entering the room in the early morning hours, your child will likely wake up as it becomes brighter. Blackout curtains are especially important in the warmer months as the sun comes up earlier.

Starting the day too early

Even though your child is awake at 5 am, doesn’t mean you should get them up for the day at that time. In fact, this perpetuates the cycle of early morning wakings.

If your child wakes early, you have a few options. If you have sleep trained previously, use that same method as you would for any night wakings.

If you want to go into their room to comfort them, keep a few things in mind.

  • Keep it dark. Don’t turn on any lights or leave the room before 6 am. Light stops melatonin and affects circadian rhythm. Exposing your little one to light tells their body that this is the time to wake up.
  • Keep it boring. You don’t want to reinforce your child for waking up at the crack of dawn. Just stay neutral and quiet.
  • Wait until the actual morning wake time to feed them. Again, this can reinforce your child to continue waking up early.

Nap Transition

One of the signs that your child may be ready to drop a nap is early morning wakings. If your child is around the age when a nap transition commonly occurs, consider this may be why they’re waking early. Be sure to rule out all other reasons before you come to this conclusion.

If your child is struggling with more than just early morning wakings, it might be time to get professional guidance on how to get their sleep on track. Our baby and toddler sleep programs help address the cause of your little one’s sleep challenges so that your family can get the sleep you need in as little as one week.

Not sure if you need more support? Book a free sleep evaluation to find out if working with us would be a good fit for your family!


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