Adjust These 3 Factors to Stop Your Baby Waking Early

Your baby waking early in the morning or a nap can throw your day off. Adjust these factors to stop your little one from rising too soon.

Baby Waking EarlyIt’s one thing to celebrate your baby finally putting himself to sleep, but what do you do when he wakes up early at the crack of dawn?

I tried moving bedtime back to as late as 10pm with no luck—he was still up by 5am. Sometimes he was ready to get up for the day, while other times he clearly still needed more sleep. To make things worse, his early wake-ups were throwing off his naps, making him cranky long before he was supposed to sleep.

Nothing in our sleep schedule—or life, for that matter—had changed. But while he used to sleep at least until 6am, he would just scream in her crib in the early morning hours.

How to stop your baby from waking early

What’s the deal? You have a consistent bedtime routine, and thankfully, nighttime sleep is still okay. But day after day, your baby wakes up early on the dot. You know she could use more sleep since she’s cranky long before her first nap. How do you get her to stop waking up early and start the day well-rested?

As we all know, getting babies to sleep well is often done through trial and error. You won’t find a one-size-fits-all solution that works for every baby. Instead, you fiddle here and there, hoping to find one that works for you.

But what exactly can you do when your baby wakes up at 5am? Thankfully, how early or late she sleeps rests on three factors that you can change and experiment with:

  • Bedtime
  • Naps
  • Wake times

By tinkering with those three parts of your day, you’ll be on your way to helping her wake up at a normal hour. So, let’s learn what exactly you can do with each of those factors to stop her from waking up so early:

1. Adjust bedtime

The first quick fix to adjust is bedtime. This is, after all, the last time you put her to bed and could determine how early she wakes up.

A later bedtime usually doesn’t mean a later wake-up. In fact, if she’s sleeping past 8:30pm, gradually adjust bedtime earlier in 15-minute increments until you get closer to 8-8:30pm.

You see, being overtired could be the culprit causing her restless sleep and early wake-ups.

On the flip side, a drastically early wake-up could be contributing to the early wake-ups as well. Babies and kids need 11-12 hours of sleep a night, so a 6:30pm bedtime could mean a 5:30am wake-up.

This time, experiment with pushing bedtime back in 15-minute increments until you find the right bedtime. If, for instance, she wakes up after 11 hours of night sleep, put her down at 7:30pm if 6:30am is your ideal wake-up time.

Free resource: Interested in learning about teaching her to self soothe? Join my newsletter and get a preview of How to Teach Your Baby to Self Soothe. This chapter is all about the mindset needed for successful sleep training and helping her put herself to sleep. As one parent said:

“Your ebook really helped my son—he’s sleeping so well in his crib now and falls asleep within 20 minutes. And your method was so easy to use with the explanations. So thanks a lot, Nina. My husband and I are very grateful to you!!” -Huda Deen

How to Teach Your Baby to Self Soothe

2. Adjust nap times

No other stage than the infant stage is rockier with nap times. While your baby may have napped five times as a newborn, she could easily go down to two by the time she turns a year old. Let’s just say that a lot of nap transitions happen that first year.

So, as you can imagine, changes in naps can lead to early morning wakings.

Like bedtime, your baby’s naps might be too early, too late, or too long. For instance, is the last nap of the day too close to bedtime? Make sure she has enough time to be awake between her last nap and the time she falls asleep for the night.

How? Here are a few ideas:

  • Wake her up from her last nap so she has enough time to be awake before bedtime.
  • Cap the total number of hours she naps throughout the day—for instance, no more than three hours combined.
  • Reduce the number of naps she takes—for instance, from three short naps to two longer ones.

What do you do when she’s miserable between waking up early and her first nap? Let’s say she woke up at 5am and is already cranky by 7am, even though her first nap isn’t supposed to be until 8:30am.

Compromise and adjust her first nap halfway between when she wants to sleep and when she should sleep. See if you can keep her awake until 7:45am, the middle ground between the two. Then, encourage her to take a longer nap so that she hopefully wakes up when she normally does.

And if her naps aren’t smooth the whole day, she’s likely overtired and needs an earlier bedtime.

3. Adjust wake times

Sometimes you simply have no luck with bedtime or naps.

In that case, experiment with adjusting your baby’s wake times. Start by making sure she’s not awake too long or feeling overtired. Wake times can vary depending on her age. A 6 month old should be awake no longer than two hours, while an 11 month old can stay awake for up to four hours.

On the flip side, see if you can increase her wake time to spread naps across the day. I found that the first wake time was the easiest to stretch—the morning is still new and the baby feels fresh and ready to tackle the day.

What to do during early wake-ups

Let’s say your baby still wakes up early, even if once in a while. What do you do to help her fall back asleep, or at least learn that it’s not time to wake up yet?

First, unless you’re ready to start the day, don’t get her up just yet unless she’s hungry or needs a change. Even then, keep your demeanor low-key, from talking in whispers (if at all) and keeping the room dark.

Then, put her back in the crib until you’re ready to start the day. That way, she doesn’t tie crying with getting up. Instead, reassure her that it’s still time to sleep and that you’ll start the day at 6:30am.

If she’s still crying, pop in about 10-15 minutes later to let her know you’re still here and that it’s time to sleep. Keep doing this until 6:30am (or whenever your “official” wake time) rolls around. When you do get her up, don’t forget to congratulate her for staying in bed—yep, even if she spent the whole time crying.


Waking up in the early hours of the morning is no fun. But by adjusting three factors—bedtime, naps, and wake times—you can help her sleep until you’re ready to be up for the day.

Experiment with moving bedtime earlier or later to prevent her from being overtired as well as to push wake times later. Adjust naps, from capping the total hours to reducing the number taken during the day.

Play with how long she’s awake between naps, depending on her age. And finally, should she wake up early, don’t start the day just yet. Instead, keep checking in until the official wake time to let her know it’s still time to sleep.

By experimenting with these three factors, you can finally stop her from waking up early—and certainly not at the crack of dawn.

Get more tips:

Don’t forget: Join my newsletter and get a preview of How to Teach Your Baby to Self Soothe below:

How to Teach Your Baby to Self Soothe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.