The Dreaded Early Morning Wake-ups

Just when you seem to be getting into a groove with your babies sleep habits, they throw it all out the window and try on something new.

We sleep-trained Eddie when he was 5 months old – you can read about our method here. After that settled in, he was sleeping quite well! Mostly sleeping through the night, naps were find, and best of all was the fact that we didn’t have to rock/feed/pat him to sleep. Just pop him into his cot and away he would go.

Then his wake time started shifting.

He used to sleep 7ish-6.30ish. Then he started waking around 6ish, which was perfectly fine as it fit in well with our days and my plans for when I return to work next year.

But then his wake time shifted to around 5ish. Sometimes 4.45am, sometimes 5.15am.

Goodness gracious me. That was not enough sleep for anyone!

This started happening around 8.5 months old. I knew he wasn’t getting enough sleep during the night, and it was throwing out our whole nap routine (which, by the way, was just starting to become a regular thing for us).

After suffering for a few weeks of this early wake up time, I decided enough was enough, and we needed to do something about it.

Cue loads of internet research, Facebook group discussions, and advice from our parent friends. Cue loads of different possible reasons, and even more possible solutions.

We ended up going along with the theory that it was either my husband getting ready for work (he wakes at 4.45am, and Eddie’s room is right next to ours and the bathroom), or that his circadian rhythm was out of whack due to the impending earlier summer sun. We do not have daylight savings here, so this early waking was truly a shift in his routine, and not a shift in our clocks.

We ended up buying a white noise machine, which we leave on all through the night and when he naps. This serves to buffer any noises my husband makes while getting ready for work, any possible noise from the neighbours also heading off to work, and actually lets me do more things during the day. I didn’t realise how tense I was while he was sleeping because of the noise, but I feel a bit more free now!

That didn’t end up making any noticeable difference after a week, so we decided to try make his room as dark as possible. We already have blackout curtains in there, but the curtain rod sits quite far out from the window, so light always shines in. As we are in a rental, we cannot change that situation. So we ended up going a bit extreme – we bought blackout backing fabric and attached it directly to the glass of the windows! The fabric is slightly smaller than the glass, so a bit of light can enter around the sides (accidental, but good in hindsight because otherwise his room would be pitch black all the time).

I am very happy to report that after another week of adjustment, Eddie now sleeps in until at least 6am. I’ve even had to wake him a few times! his daytime naps are longer as well, meaning I’ve had to cap them sometimes so that he has enough wake time before the next sleep time. This isn’t to say everything is perfect by any means – he still wakes early some days, very very early some days, and late some days. But overall we’re on a much better track.

I’m going to credit the white noise machine and the blackout fabric, but who truly knows. He could have just finished a leap, gotten over a mystery illness, anything really. All I know is he is sleeping a great amount at night, and out day time is happier and back on a rough schedule with his wake and nap times.

Hooray for internet research, Baby Bunting, and Spotlight!

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