As a new parent, coping with your newborn’s necessities is never easy and one of the major problems is sleep deprivation. Is your baby waking up too early or several times a night? Then you know what I mean. Going from a regular uninterrupted sleep of 7-8 hours a night to waking up every 2 hours or too early in the morning can put great strain on your body.
While you can’t force a baby to sleep like an adult, there are some small adjustments you can make to regulate their sleep pattern, and yours. Read on and find out more.
What does waking up too early mean?
Before you start complaining that your little bundle of joy prevents you from having a good night’s sleep, which is totally true for most parents, let’s take a moment to reflect on what waking up too early means.
This is a relative matter as some parents were used to waking up at 6 in the morning to go to work even before they had a child. Others, however, might have been used to sleeping until 9 or 10 in the morning and starting work later in the afternoon.
If you belong to the latter group, you are probably having a hard time adjusting to your baby’s schedule. Even in his or her sleepiest days, they still wake you up far earlier than you used to before becoming a parent.
But don’t despair. In time, you will adjust to a new routine and start waking up earlier by default, which might even prove beneficial for you later on as you’ll get to enjoy the morning with your family and be more productive later in the day.
Now, if you want to know what a standard wake-up time for a baby is, consider 6 a.m. the threshold. If your child wakes up around this time or after this hour, it means they have a normal schedule.
For some grown-ups, this might still be way too early, but unlike adults who have altered sleeping patterns due to work, technology, and a life-long habit of staying up late, babies have a natural sleeping pattern. This means they can go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier too.
Moreover, your baby’s mood when he or she wakes up is also important. If they look and act pretty happy and energized, it means they had a good night’s sleep, even if they make you get up at 6 a.m. sharp every morning.
In conclusion, if your little one behaves quite well after they wake up (no crying, or not too much of it and no whims), even if you hate getting out of bed before 8, you are probably not dealing with a real sleep problem. As long as your baby constantly wakes up at or after 6 a.m., you are ok, especially if they get enough naps during the day.
However, if your kid wakes up earlier and is usually cranky and in a bad mood, you might be dealing with an early-rising problem.
Why is your baby waking up too early?
There are several reasons why a baby might wake up too early in the morning and, as a parent, you will get to experience all of them – hopefully, not too often, though.
One of the major causes a baby wakes up earlier than normal is that they are not feeling well. If this is the case, they will definitely show signs of illness and constant loud cries you simply can’t mitigate is just one of them.
If the baby behaves cranky but also shows other symptoms of illness such as fever, vomiting, or diarrhea, you should go to the doctor to see what the specific problem might be. If the baby is fighting an infection or has a stomach bug, you have to brace yourself for some tough nights during which they might wake up more times in a row to seek comfort.
Just like adults, babies have a hard time sleeping if they are sick, but with patience and, if necessary, a specific treatment, you will be able to get through this together.
Teething is another common problem associated with erratic sleeping behavior in babies. Unfortunately, as a parent, there’s no way to skip this normal stage in a baby’s growth, you simply have to be there for your little one as they are going through the uncomfortable and painful process of teething.
Besides poor sleep and frequent wake-ups, some of the symptoms that might indicate your baby is teething include drooling, rash, diarrhea, feeding problems caused by pain which might make your baby reluctant to eat, biting, crying more often and being moodier.
There are several solutions to help your baby go through this complicated period easier. One is giving them teething objects such as teething toys or rings that can help alleviate the pain. In many cases, you can even put these in the refrigerator so that they get cold and, when your child starts chewing them, they are more effective in mitigating the pain.
Medication is another option in case your kid suffers a lot and they refuse everything or can’t stop crying. However, make sure you always consult your healthcare provider before giving them anything.
Sleep regression is another common problem that might keep you up at night or wake you up very early in the morning and most babies go through this phase at different stages. Sleeping regression takes place when a baby suddenly changes their sleep pattern after a period of regular sleep.
If you thought you had everything under control as your little one was sleeping the same amount of time and waking up more or less at the same hour, sleeping regression is a big bummer, but it is also a normal stage of your baby’s development.
Sleep regression can take place at different ages, as the baby grows. The most common intervals are at 4 months, 6 months, 8 months, 10 months, and a year. Even later, when they are a year and a half or two years old, you will still have to deal with sleeping regression.
If you think about it, this is normal even for adults. We change our sleep patterns throughout our life. There are different ways to tackle sleep regression and make your baby go easy on you with these changes. Feeding them more often, extra attention and simply taking turns with your partner to keep them busy and soothed can help.
How to adjust your baby’s sleep pattern?
Is your baby waking up too early, thus disrupting your own sleep and your ability to cope with daily tasks? Then here are some practical tips to start bringing more order in their life and yours.
Daylight is essential for a baby to have a regular sleep pattern. If you keep them busy and happy during the day, you can rest assured they will sleep at night. Contrarily, a baby that sleeps all day long will probably not fall asleep at night that easily.
This being said, it’s recommended to take your baby outside often and try to play with them during the day. Also, since babies might not make a difference between night and day, it’s recommended not to pull the curtains down so that they are exposed to light during the day and start understanding that this is the period during which they should be active.
Conversely, darkness is a regulator factor for a good night’s sleep, so you don’t want to let your baby get used to sleeping with the lights on. Also, there is a scientific fact to prove this – melatonin, the sleep hormone is better secreted in the absence of light.
Adjusting your baby’s feeding pattern will also help you adjust his or her sleep pattern. This makes sense because there are two main things a baby needs – food, and sleep, and they go hand in hand. A baby will start crying when they are hungry and will go to sleep after they are fed.
To help promote a regular sleep pattern, you can try to work a little bit on your baby’s feeding schedule. If you manage to achieve a pattern and balance there, you have good chances of making your baby adopt a regular sleep schedule too.
Trying to put your baby to bed later or earlier might also be effective in getting them to wake up later in the morning. For some parents, the more they postpone the sleep time at night, the more hours of sleep they enjoy as the baby wakes up later. Paradoxically, others say that putting their kid to bed earlier in the evening actually makes them sleep better and wake up later.
The whole process of regulating your baby’s sleep pattern is based on trial and error. You simply have to try different solutions to see what works better for your child. However, with small children, you should always be ready to readapt. If you’ve managed to make them wake up later for a while, don’t rush to say you’ve tackled the problem. Babies constantly change their sleep patterns, so get ready to adjust continuously.