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My little one is waking up at 5am. Helllppp!

New parent couple looking exhausted

My answer: 

The answer here is definitely NOT “make bedtime later.” Believe it or not, that actually can make the problem worse. Overtiredness can be a main contributor to early rising.


I know. It’s doesn’t make intuitive sense. But when children are truly tired, they don’t get droopy like we grown-ups do…They power UP and seem to sleep even less. Why? It might be a survival thing from long ago.

When children don’t get the rest they need, they seem to launch powerful booster rockets that can make sleep harder to get in a variety of ways. So, here are the culprits of early rising. See if any of these are at play:

  1. Too little total naptime (Download a Wake Window/Nap Target Cheatsheet here);

  2. Too big of an awake window (Refer to that Cheatsheet)

  3. Too late a bedtime (This one is tricky when they’re up at 5am. If they’re up early AND they’re not napping well AND you’re shooting for a regular bedtime, bedtime could be too late);

  4. Going into bed/crib too drowsy (If your child is falling asleep really fast <15 mins. Or you are getting them to sleep, this is a first place to start.);

  5. Snoring/obstructed breathing/apnea. This is a rarer cause, but something to consider.


Early rising can be stubborn. So, you might need to be consistent for a couple of weeks. Do your best not to “reward” an early waking with an immediate feed or play or screentime. Addressing the underlying causes is really what’s going to have the most impact. 🔆

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