Early Rising in Babies: Causes, Tips, and Strategies to Fix Them

May 05, 2023

early rising in babies blog post; two babies awake and smiling in crib

Early rising in babies can throw off the entire family’s schedule, leaving everyone feeling groggy and unrested throughout the day. An age appropriate wake up time for babies is sometime between 6:00 am and 7:00 am. While some babies are naturally early risers and wake up at the same time each day, others may start waking up earlier than usual without warning. Here are some of the common causes of early rising in babies and strategies for dealing with them.

Causes of Early Rising in Babies

Inconsistent schedule and naps

Babies thrive on routines, so establishing a consistent sleep schedule can help regulate sleep patterns. When their sleep schedule is inconsistent, babies are more likely to wake up earlier. The American Academy of Family Physicians advocate making sure your baby’s sleep and wake times are age appropriate, even on weekends. And work hard not to miss a nap as this can lead to overtiredness.  Sleep begets sleep so making sure your baby has consistent sleep during the day will help with the overall quality of sleep at night.  


When I was a new mommy, I received terrible advice that if I wanted my newborn to sleep longer stretches at night, I should keep her awake for a longer stretch before bedtime. Babies who are overtired before bed will struggle to fall asleep and settle into a deeper sleep. Keep a consistent wake window before bedtime and create a calm and soothing sleep environment to help them settle into a restful sleep.

Sleep associations

Babies who are dependent on certain sleep associations like rocking, feeding, or pacifiers may wake up when these associations are no longer present during sleep. When this happens everyone is frustrated and your baby will be more than confused.  “I fell asleep with this, why don’t I have it now?  I want to go back to sleep (cue crying).  If you are offering your little one a bit too much help to get to sleep or even achieve the idea of drowsy but awake, you may want to re-evaluate if you are being a help or a hindrance to your baby’s sleep and thus fueling your little one in being an early riser. 

Light exposure

Even small amounts of light can disrupt sleep quality and cause early morning wakings. Make sure your baby’s room is dark and use blackout curtains or shades to block out external light.

If you don’t have blackout shades or curtains readily available, try using black garbage bags and blue painters tape.  Use the tape to affix the garbage bags over the windows creating a completely dark environment.  It may not be the prettiest solution, but it can work wonders in a pinch.  For some babies, even the smallest amount of light exposure in the early morning can be too much and cause early morning waking.  On occasion, I’ve even had parents place a rolled up towel underneath their baby’s bedroom door if their hallway gets early morning sunlight exposure.  

Tips and Strategies for Early Risers

Shift bedtime earlier

While it may seem counterintuitive, an earlier bedtime could help reduce early waking in babies. Make sure you’re following appropriate wake windows and consider trying an earlier bedtime for a few days to see if it helps.

Be consistent with nap times

Nap times play a critical role in regulating sleep and can impact early morning wakeups. Make sure you’re following age-appropriate nap schedules and keep nap times consistent, even on weekends.

Evaluate sleeping environment

Creating the right sleeping environment is crucial when it comes to combating early risers. Infants need a quiet, dark, and cool environment to sleep properly. The room should be free of bright lights or noise that could disrupt their sleep cycle. Make sure the temperature is cool and comfortable- usually around 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit; and that your baby is dressed appropriately (see my summer recommendations here) this can help your baby relax and ease into sleep. Ideal napping conditions in the daytime should be the same, a cool and quiet place. Additionally, a white noise machine can prove helpful in drowning out any unexpected noise that can wake your baby up earlier than necessary. By setting up a calming and soothing sleeping environment, you can better regulate your baby’s sleep patterns, resulting in a well-rested baby who is ready to start the day at an appropriate time.

Consider sleep training

If all else fails, sleep training with support may be necessary to help your baby develop better sleep habits. Seeking advice from a certified sleep consultant who will guide you through the training process can make all the difference.

Early morning wakings in babies can be challenging, but understanding their causes and strategies for dealing with them can help improve their sleep and yours. A happy and well-rested baby is a happy and well-rested family!

If early morning wakings have become the norm for you and your little one, don’t suffer alone! Contact me today to develop a comprehensive sleep plan tailored to your unique family needs. Together, we’ll take a close look at your baby’s sleep environment and create a strategy to combat unwanted early risers. Give your baby the gift of peaceful and restful sleep while enjoying more uninterrupted rest yourself. Click here to schedule a FREE Discovery call today!

Are you ready to get off the Crazy Train and have the whole family sleeping better? Follow the link below to schedule your complimentary consultation with Jennifer today!

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