Does your baby wake up at 5am lately? Is it freaking you out? Well, relax and breathe in mommy, as you read on, you’ll probably get a hint why your baby wakes up that early.
Let’s admit it, nobody loves waking up early.
Like, if only we could sleep as long and as much as we can, we would.
But, unfortunately, that is not the case when you have a baby. You are deprived of sleep. In fact, you have a very erratic sleep pattern because you have to cope and act based on the demands of your baby.
No, don’t get me wrong. I am a mom, too. So, I understand fully the reality of being a parent. It’s not that we are complaining because truthfully, we super adore and love our babies, but there comes a time in our parental lives that how we wish we could get enough sleep. But hang in there, it’s just a phase. Eventually, it will pass and we will miss everything about it.
Anyway, going back. So, here’s the scenario, you noticed your baby wakes up at 5am lately, which is surprising because it usually doesn’t happen until these days.
Let me tell you, I too had this. I encountered it with my son. We thought we had sleep trained him. He sleeps and wakes up almost the same time every day until one day, our baby wakes up at 5am! It was really crazy!
Initially, we thought it was just normal until we talked about it with his attending doctor. Apparently, there are tons of reasons why a baby wakes up at 5am or even earlier than that. We had to figure out which one so we get to address it properly and ensure his sleeping pattern will now be this way. Because really, we are not early risers!
But before we head on to the probable reasons why your baby wakes up at 5am, let’s discuss this first…
What is considered as early wake-up?
For us, adults, early wake up means waking up between 4 am to 6 am. You know, it usually during these waking time when we feel like groggy and still need some more sleep. It is like, when we wake up this early, our body will not function well for the rest of the day because it is like we didn’t get enough sleep.
But seriously, there really is no definite definition when we way “early wake-up time”. We actually define it ourselves. It depends on how our bodies react to the time we woke up.
But how about babies?
As I earlier mentioned, when a baby is just a baby, they really do not have a definite wake up time unless you sleep trained him or her. Generally speaking, a baby wakes up anytime he or she feels the need to. After all, he or she can always go back to sleep – well, supposedly the same with us adults, but the difference is, we sometimes pay for not waking up early (like if it leads to getting late at work).
How do you know if there is something wrong?
Well, as I said earlier, we thought there was something wrong was because our baby was sleep trained. Meaning, we follow a certain routine. For example, you trained your baby to sleep at 9 pm. Depending on your baby’s age, you count how many hours of sleep he or she should take. Say, for instance, your baby needs at least ten hours of sleep the whole night, then that means he or she is expected to wake up at around 7 or 8 in the morning. If your baby wakes up earlier than that, then when your baby suddenly wakes up earlier than that, then most likely, something is happening and you got to figure that out and address it.
Another thing to look into is if your baby cries non-stop. Generally speaking, when the baby cries it may be caused by either he or her is hungry, the diaper is wet, or there is something wrong health-wise. Of course, the last thing you want is to have the latter.
Possible Reasons Why Your Baby Wakes Up at 5am
Now, when I talked to my baby’s doctor, she gave run down a list of possible reasons why our baby wakes up at 5am. She asked me one by one to help us figure out why is that so.
You know, probably the hardest part of taking care of a baby is not knowing exactly what’s wrong because they do not have the capacity to tell you what is wrong. It’s really frustrating sometimes, but yeah, we all went through the same stage, so I thought maybe when I was a baby too, I was also like that – so, it’s just fair, right?
Anyway, so here are a few probable reasons why your baby wakes up at 5am:
Probably one of the most common reasons we know why a baby wakes up out of the blue or early and cries or gets fussy is teething. However, according to experts, teething is not generally the culprit for it. In fact, a lot of babies and toddlers alike sleep through the night even when they feel pain because of teething.
Here’s the thing, if your baby is experiencing serious pain because of teething, your baby will most likely be very unhappy even during the day and not just at night alone. But in cases when the baby is in pain, then he or she need some pain relief, which you can talk about with your baby’s doctor. Also, you better not be strict with sleep training this time because you have to understand that your baby is going through a painful ordeal.
If you feel like teething is the culprit why your baby wakes at 5am, then please do consult it with your health provider as soon as possible so you get to address it right immediately.
Just like teething, we often suspect hunger as the reason why baby wakes at 5am or in the middle of the night. We always use hunger as the reason why our baby wakes even from sleeping for long stretches. Well, I think we can’t blame ourselves. It’s like it has become our go-to reason whenever our baby cries, right? Well, a part from wet diapers.
Anyway, there are actually cues that we can look into if the baby is really hungry – like if he or she is turning his or her head on to your breast. If that is the case, then that is your signal that your theory is right. Your baby is indeed hungry.
While there totally nothing wrong with feeding your baby through the night, you may also consider looking for ways to prevent your baby from getting hungry during the night. There are plenty of ways out there, you just got to find the one that suits your child.
Baby waking up at 5m because of hunger is actually common with older babies especially when they sleep-settle and have slept through the night. In this case, experts recommend doing a “dream-feed” or feeding the baby while they are asleep at around 10 in the evening. That way, your baby gets to last the night without having to feed again.
If you want to address your baby’s hunger so as not to affect your baby’s sleep and yours too, you may consider doing the following:
– Re-introducing “dream-feeding”, which pertains to feeding around 10 in the evening as your baby sleeps
– Speaking with your Plunket nurse regarding preparing your baby for taking solid food at 6 months
– Expressing a bottle of milk right after the first feeding in the morning, and offering it to your baby after breastfeeding at bedtime – for breastfeeding moms
– Ensuring that you eat well and rest when you can
– Reviewing your routine – the scheduling of solid and milk feeds have a significant effect on both day-time and night-time sleeping for your baby
Now, not all cries of your baby are caused by hunger. But how do you know if it is really hunger that causing your baby’s fussiness? Here are a few things you may look into to help figure out if your baby needs to feed:
– As mentioned earlier, when your baby turns his or head towards your boobs.
– Sucking his or her fist or smacking his or her lips
– Waking up and feeling restless
– When you offer milk, he or she smiles
Always try to look for cues first, before offering milk to your baby as it may lead to overfeeding or that it will not help address what really is causing your baby to wake up early.
- Sleep Association
Here’s the thing, baby with sleep association makes it hard for them to sleep through the night. They struggle to settle themselves. This is predominantly real when the baby hits his or her 5th month. So, you might want to ask yourself the following questions:
– What is it that your baby needs to fall asleep?
– Does this thing miss out when your baby stirs in the night?
For instance, your baby is used to having his or her pacifier on so he or she gets to settle himself or herself and sleep. When the pacifier unintentionally or intentionally fell off of his or her mouth, there is a probability that when he or she wakes up in the middle of the night and he or she could not find the pacifier, your baby cries and would be hard to get back to sleep. It’s like the pacifier is your baby’s comfort zone.
In this case, you better train your baby up to sleep without it, otherwise, you have to make sure his or her “comfort” zone is just within reach all the time or else you will have a fussy baby.
- Cold Temperature
Babies are like us too, they also feel cold! Although generally speaking, babies’ bodies are warmer than an adult, but that does not mean they do not feel cold. They do! In fact, that may be is the culprit why your baby wakes at 5am.
The temperature between 3 am to 5 am is often cooler than the temperature at night when you put your baby to sleep. Here’s the catch, when your baby is older and strong enough, they often get to kick their blankets off their body, which may cause them to feel cold during the wee hours of the morning and causing them to wake up early.
In this case, experts highly recommend that you use a good quality of baby sleeping bag to help keep your baby with the right temperature all night. By using sleeping bag means you no longer need putting a blanket to your child. A sleeping bag will keep your baby secured from cooler temperature as he or she is unlikely to kick it off.
If your baby is uncomfortable with a sleeping bag, then try putting on thick sleep clothing and socks to ensure he wouldn’t feel cold during the cool hours.
- Sleeping Environment
Have you moved to another place lately or are on vacation elsewhere? Because a change in your baby’ sleeping environment could also be the reason why he or she wakes up earlier than when he or she is supposed to wake.
A change in the sleeping environment creates confusion to the baby, which may cause him or her fussiness or inability to fall back to sleep if he or she happens to wake up in the middle of his or her sleep at night. It will take time before your baby settles for the new environment so just have a little more patience – anyway, it won’t be the same case forever.
Another example regarding the sleeping environment is when for instance you put your baby to sleep at the nursery and your baby suddenly wakes up at a different room. It will also create confusion with the baby. Thus, make sure that you keep your baby at the same place from before and during his or sleep until your baby wakes up.
Another instance, which I highly not recommend, is putting your baby to sleep on you and then putting them to bed when you feel like you need to already. Apart from confusion, it will most likely cause sleep distraction to your baby. So, yeah, be mindful of that too.
- Medical Condition
Just like us, adults, there are also a lot of medical conditions that affect our baby’s and toddler’s sleep. These medical conditions could affect how your baby sleeps and could really be challenging for us, parents.
One example of a condition that might affect your baby’s sleep is acid reflux, and another is an ear infection. Acid reflux is a condition that pushes up your baby’s food back to the esophagus. An ear infection can be caused by different things. If you suspect your baby is going through either of these or other medical condition, please go see your baby’s doctor immediately.
Another common health condition that is suspected to affect baby’s sleeping habits is allergies and severe type of eczema. Having these conditions may really make resettling difficult for your baby. For allergies, if you suspect or your baby has allergies or does really have allergies, make sure to keep him or her away from allergens. Otherwise, your baby and you will have to face the consequences.
- Developmental Period
Your baby continues to develop from birth until he or she grows up. There is a developmental process that your baby needs to go through to ensure his or her body is ready to face the world. You know what that means, right?
Sometimes, the very reason why your baby has disturbed sleep is that he or she is going through it. Remember, your baby’s internal organs need to develop – his brain, his lungs, etc. – to make them strong enough and ready enough for everything.
When your baby is in this stage, you will notice that some periods of your baby’s sleep is unpredictable. Just be patient. Who knows, tomorrow when your baby wakes up, he or she has a new skill that you will be surprised of.
For as long as your baby is healthy and you find no other reason why then this is probably the cause of your baby’s waking up so early in the morning.
To wrap it all up, there are actually a lot of possible reasons why baby wakes at 5am. You just have to be very keen looking for cues or probable reason why.
While it is easy to worry, get frustrated or irritated, let us just be patient. Remember, our baby is just starting with life and he or she still has a lot to go through. Also keep in mind that unlike you who can do things independently, your baby needs you.
I was frustrated too when we haven’t figured out yet what was happening – this is especially true if you are new parents – but when we finally found out the reason why we were able to cope and address it accordingly. Well, apparently, our baby was teething that is why he wakes up early and unpredictably. So, yeah, it pays to be extra patient, at the same time be extra cautious with your child.
Remember, it is just a phase. You and your baby will get through it eventually. Just hang in there, and instead of getting frustrated and irritated, just enjoy the process. Your baby, after all, will not remain a baby for long.