5 months old, early morning waking

CASE STUDY: 5 months old, early morning waking

Chace's sleep story...

Baby Chace was in a fairly good routine: 3 naps each day and sleeping pretty well at night. He settled well for his naps and at bedtime, woke for a feed at around 2am but then woke for the day at 5:30am and wouldn't settle back to sleep.

His mum Fiona assumed he was hungry and tried feeding him when he woke early, and he would often take a feed, but afterwards he STILL wouldn't go back to sleep. He just seemed wide awake and ready to go!

As a result of this early wake, Chace would start getting tired around 8am and would have a long nap of around 1.5-2 hours. After that, things started to go downhill. For his midday and afternoon naps, he would only sleep for one cycle of 45 minutes, which meant he was very overtired come bedtime.

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After a while, the early wakes started to take their toll on Fiona, so she turned to Google to try to figure out what was causing them. That's where she came across our blog on early waking and after reading it, she decided to purchase our Sleep Program.

Initially, Fiona was quite hesitant about the nap structure in the Program, because she felt the shorter morning nap would be a struggle for Chace and that he wouldn't sleep for 2 hours at the lunch nap.

She reached out to our sleep consultants, who explained that when the morning nap is quite long, a baby learns that they can catch up on any missed early morning sleep at this nap. This can then mean they start waking earlier, as they need more awake time before they have that long nap. Basically, Chace was stuck in a bit of a cycle where his early morning wakes were impacting his naps, which was then reinforcing the early waking!

Feeling more confident, Fiona decided to try it and see. We also advised her to make sure Chace's room was PITCH black! Since his room wasn't completely dark, it meant when he was coming into a lighter stage of sleep around 5:30am, he could see daylight, which was signalling to his body/circadian rhythm that it was time to wake up. Having a completely dark room creates a sort of "false night", allowing babies to sleep a bit longer in the morning.

To Fiona's immense surprise, Chace easily adapted to the nap times in the Program. She was able to offer Chace his morning nap at the perfect time and we encouraged her to have more control over the length of this nap, in order to stop his early waking.

This shorter morning nap would help Chace to have a longer, more restorative nap in the middle of the day, staving off over tiredness leading into the afternoon and bedtime. Chace's late afternoon nap was also a tad too long for his age, which was also contributing to his early morning waking habit.

By tweaking his morning and afternoon naps, as well as having a really dark room, his 5:30am wakes very quickly disappeared! Fiona says...

I actually can't believe it - just a few little changes had such a big difference! Thank you guys so much, I wouldn't have come up with this solution on my own and I was getting pretty desperate!

Our Little Ones App can help you get your baby's naps back on track, so you can say goodbye to early morning wakes! Get instant access to our trusted sleep solutions, customisable schedules, gentle settling methods and more. We also have a team of expert sleep consultants available day and night to provide you with personalised advice and support.

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