Ah, the early riser. I never thought I would be one, but I sure did marry one...and apparently our baby inherited that gene! Or so I thought...
Hunter had been sleeping through the night since seven weeks of age. He was the dream child, The scheduling worked for him and he slept at night with ease. (besides the occasional teething problems and sickness) but around 9 months he started waking up earlier and earlier in the morning. He was sleeping from 7:30 PM to 6:30 AM religiously. The kid was like a clock! he would sleep these hours without a change... And then he started waking up 15 to 20 minutes early at first, then 30 minutes, then he started waking up at 5 AM.... I was petrified that my child was only a 10 hour night sleeper now and 5 AM would be my new wake up call... So I started doing my research, this is what I found:
1) Hunger, hunger, hunger.
The main reason baby starts waking up gradually earlier is because they are hungry. I knew this but I did not know how to fix it. Did he need more formula? Or solids? And how much? I can't tell you exact amounts for your child, but for Hunter he was getting way too much formula which meant he was eating less solids. So I reduced from four bottles to three,( but still maintained the minimum of 24 ounces before one years old) The fourth feeding that was dropped (a bottle with lunch around 12:30pm) changed to only solid foods rather than a bottle and solids. At 12:30 He ate almost an entire egg, and a smoothie packed with fruits veggies and yogurt. (Recipes to come soon)
2) Waking out of habit
Since Hunter was waking graduating earlier and earlier, I knew it wasn't out of habit. If he had been waking at the same exact time give or take 5-10 minutes, then I could assume that it was out of habit from possibly a feeding that was dropped. If this is your baby, waking out of habit, I suggest cry it out in someway, letting the baby fuss & go in every 5 to 10 minutes comfort and then leave for another 5-10 minutes. This helps them learn the precious lesson of self soothing!
3) Has baby had enough sleep?
If your baby is waking up earlier in the morning I would really look at how much sleep he or she is getting throughout the day. Anywhere from 10 to 13 hours a night is considered "normal sleep". So I would look at how much your baby is sleeping at night combined with day sleeping. If you're now nine-month-old is still taking three naps today, and they're ranging from 1 to 2 hours each then they are probably getting too much day sleep therefore waking early in the morning. Does your child need that much sleep? If so then keep on that track! But only you know what's best for your child.
4) What is your baby's bedtime?
Sleep begets sleep! At one point we were putting Hunter to bed at 8:30 at night when he was only three or four months old ! and he would be so overtired that he wouldn't sleep as long that night. Our pediatrician recommended gradually making his bedtime earlier so he would sleep longer. It took a few weeks but we finally got his bed time to 7 PM which helped a lot. Be sure bedtime and the morning wake time are consistent (give or take 20 to 30 minutes) every day.
If you have addressed pretty much all of these issues, and given it a fair 2 to 3 weeks to work itself out, and your baby is still waking early in the morning before the desired awake time you had set out, I would treat that 4 or 5 AM wake up as a middle of the night wake up. Do whatever routine you would do if your baby were to wake up at midnight fussing or crying. Check the diaper, make sure that they are okay, possibly comfort them for a minute or two, and then laid him back down.
DISCLAIMER as always I want to stress the fact that I am a first-time mom. But I am also a stay-at-home mom with a passion to do my research and take care of this precious blessing that I've been entrusted with. The strategies and tips listed above worked for me but I am still learning! Any tips or suggestions that work for you I'd love to hear! We all need to support each other to survive this crazy amazing thing called mommyhood! Xo-B