FTMG: Early Morning Waking

This is a post for the new weekly First Time Mommy Group sleep poll. I’m so glad to have the opportunity to answer all your excellent questions!

Question:

Why does my baby struggle to sleep between 4:00 am and 6:00 am?

Answer:

As a baby/toddler sleep consultant, I typically work with babies aged 14 weeks to 2 years. Regardless of the child’s age or whatever other issue the parent is facing (short naps, needing to feed to sleep, fighting sleep in general, etc) an overwhelming majority of my clients share one single issue – their child seems to struggle with sleep at some point within the hours of 4:00 am to 6:00 am. For some children their sleep is simply lighter in the early morning hours, for others they seem to fall back to sleep easily from all feedings that take place until that elusive 4:00 am hour, at which point they seem to wake every 30 to 60 minutes until the sun comes up, or worse, they never go back to sleep once woken up any time after 4:00 am.

Why is it so hard for kids to sleep deeply the closer they get to 6:00 am? The answer lies in the brain’s melatonin secretion. This hormone, which is responsible for making us feel sleepy, peaks between the hours of 2:00 am and 4:00 am. From the hours of 4:00 am on there appears to be a precipitous drop in melatonin secretion. Less melatonin means the body has a harder time staying asleep.

While this drop in melatonin makes it harder for some children to stay asleep, it doesn’t mean that those children are incapable of sleep during that time, or that they should be starting their day any time before 6:00 am (no one should be starting their day before 6:00 am ;)) It simply means that many children find it harder to stay asleep during those hours.

I recently spent the night with a set of twins I was helping to sleep train. As I shuttled between the two of them, observing their sleeping and waking periods, I witnessed first hand how difficult it can be for little ones to remain soundly asleep in those early morning hours. This particular mother I was working with decided to employ an extinction based method which meant that while I was physically present in the room with the babies the entire night, I was there to observe them instead of interfere while they were learning how to put themselves to sleep. While each twin worked through a few night wakings in the early part of the evening, it was readily apparent how hard it was for each one of them to stay soundly asleep as we approached the 5:00 am and 6:00 am hour.

While these twins were clearly waking frequently around 4:00 and 5:00 am, I also noticed that they repeatedly cycled from being awake and crying to appearing totally asleep. In fact, many times while they were crying out their eyes remain closed. Even though their sleep was irregular, it was still mostly sleep with some errant cries of between 5-10 minutes.

Just because a child is struggling to stay asleep in the early morning does not mean they do not want to be asleep. They’re simply having a harder time sleeping than they normally do. Their circadian rhythm most likely has them set on a cycle where they are meant to be asleep for about 11-12 hours at night (regardless of brief wakings at night for feedings). If they are waking before those 11-12 hours are up then they almost certainly need and want to fall back to sleep, they are simply having a hard time doing so.

Now, what do you do to eliminate this early morning waking? An excellent way to help your child conquer early morning waking is to make sure they know how to put themselves to sleep during the rest of the day and at bedtime. One of the other reasons it’s so tough for babies to sleep early in the morning is because when they wake up they’re unable to fall back to sleep because they are reliant on some thing or some one to put them back to sleep. Due to the lack of melatonin causing them to feel sleepy, many babies will find it all the more difficult to fall back to sleep, even once presented with their normal sleep helps (nursing, rocking, pacifier). That is why it’s vital for children to know how to fall asleep completely on their own – if they’re capable of putting themselves during the day, then they are all the more likely to employ that skill at 5:00 am.

Next, parents should aim for an earlier, not later, bedtime. While it may seem counterintuitive to put a child to bed earlier in order to compel them to sleep later in the morning, the truth is that children are likely to wake up at the same time in the morning regardless of what time you put them to sleep at night. If you put a child to bed too late in the evening you are simply robbing them of sleep. Most children aged 4 months to 4 years need a bedtime of between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm. The younger they are, the earlier the bedtime, generally speaking. Having a bedtime that is too late also increases the likelihood your child will experience nightmares, night terrors, and random night wakings. An earlier bedtime usually produces healthier, longer, and higher quality night sleep.

A word of caution – many parents who are unable or unwilling to attempt Cry It Out for naps or bedtime often find themselves attempting it for these early wakings. Moms and Dads are sleep deprived and miserable and finally decide to give in and see if crying will do what they are unable to do, which is put the child back to sleep. Cry It Out is the LEAST effective when tried for the first time in the middle of the night or for naps. Please do not try to deal with early morning wakings with CIO unless you are also using CIO at bedtime and for naps.

If your child is really struggling with early morning waking I would urge you to look at their sleep habits in totality. Make sure you are finding a way to help them learn to fall asleep for naps and bedtime without your help whatsoever. Also put them down for bedtime earlier rather than later. Once these two things are in place, you’ll then want to reduce or eliminate your interaction with them during the hours of 4:00 am to 6:00 am.

I would love to hear any questions you’d like answered in upcoming posts! Please comment below and let me know what questions you’d like featured in upcoming polls.

 

118 Comments

  1. Elaine July 21, 2014 at 9:06 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie! Thanks for all this valuable info. my LO can put herself to sleep for naps without sleep crutches and minimal to no crying- however, bedtime almost always involve 5-30 min of crying. This has been ongoing for the past 2 months (she was sleep trained 4 months ago). She’s now 11 months old. Is this a common nightly occurance for other babies? And should I be concerned? TIA!

    • admin July 21, 2014 at 4:32 pm - Reply

      Hi Elaine, great question. I would make sure you’re watching her total nap – sleep intake per day (keep it around 3 hours max) and I would make sure her naps are ending relatively early, around 3:30 pm, MAX of 4:00 pm, each day. You want bedtime to be around 7:00 pm at this age. If you’re doing these things and she still cries, I really wouldn’t be concerned. Lots of babies need to let off some steam for a while before they fall asleep and sometimes the stress of the day builds up and they let it out before bedtime. If she’s not crying too much other times before sleep and is happy generally, I wouldn’t worry about it.

  2. Allison July 21, 2014 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie! Thank you for blogging for us. After minimal use of CIO. My 6m old can put herself to sleep for naps and bedtime but tends to wake up sometimes at night always about 2a. I try to go in only when she is crying with her eyes open for longer then 10 minutes or so. Do I let her cio then by not going in? She typically sleeps from 830-830. Thank you

    • admin July 21, 2014 at 4:35 pm - Reply

      You’re welcome, Allison! If your little one is growing well and you have no reason to be concerned she needs to eat at that hour (meaning, if she’s gaining weight well and eating properly during the day) then I would say you can go forward with CIO if you feel comfortable doing so. Generally speaking it should only take a few days of letting her work through the waking on her own before she stops waking up all together.

  3. Sandra July 21, 2014 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie! My LO is 16 months old and she’s been consistently sleeping from 7:45pm to 7 but the last month she’s been waking up anywhere from 5:15-5:45 am. She still takes 2 naps about an hour to hour and half each and doesn’t have problems taking those 2 naps. We’ve tried putting her to sleep earlier. Last night was 7:15 and she still woke up at 5:45 this morning. What should I do?? TIA

    • admin July 22, 2014 at 3:10 am - Reply

      Hi Sandra!!

      I would cut down her daytime sleep, especially that last nap. Have her down for no more than one hour and keep her bedtime at the same time it currently is.

  4. Amy July 21, 2014 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    How do you respond to the research showing the harm that CIO can cause babies?

    http://m.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201112/dangers-crying-it-out

  5. Angie July 21, 2014 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie, my LO is 10 weeks old and seems to be fine taking 2 hour long naps if sleeping on me or next to me but if alone in his crib or swing they are on the dot only 45 minutes. At night he sleeps in 4 hour stretches just fine. Any suggestions on how to get him to continue sleeping pass the 45 minute sleep cycle?

    • admin July 22, 2014 at 3:15 am - Reply

      Hi Angie,

      That’s super typical for newborns. I wouldn’t worry at all about naps at this age. Just do your best to establish the nursing relationship (if you are choosing to nurse) and survive. Once your baby hits the 14-16 week mark you can work on extending nap lengths in the crib. If you do really him to sleep in the crib now for longer than 45 minutes, I’d try entering the room just prior to the 45 minute mark, watch him while he wakes, and before he gets all the way up try to shush/soothe/rock him (keeping him in the crib) and put him back to sleep.

  6. Jessie July 21, 2014 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    If I want to teach my son, 11 weeks, how to fall asleep without the pacifier without doing an extinction cio, how would I go about it? World it be confusing to let him cry 5-20 minutes and then use it, just to get him asleep and avoid over tiredness? What about the 45 minute intruder? Thanks so much!

    • admin July 22, 2014 at 3:19 am - Reply

      Hi Jessie,

      Excellent question! There are a few books that describe more gradual methods and if you’re interested in attempting one now, you can always read Ferber’s book or The Sleep Lady’s Good Night Sleep Tight’s book. In both books, however, you will find the author’s telling you to wait to sleep train until much later than 11 weeks. You can choose whether or not to follow that advice. I would avoid using the pacifier once you start sleep training. There’s an answer above to Angie’s question that I think will answer your question about the 45 minute intruder.

      • Jessie July 28, 2014 at 7:39 pm - Reply

        Thanks so much! At what age do you recommend cio for sleep training? Right now we cuddle/rock a couple minutes before nap and bedtime and put him down awake but with the pacifier and swaddle. The pacifier caused all sorts of night wakings for my daughter and I don’t want to repeat that.

  7. Pham July 21, 2014 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie! First time Dad here 🙂 A lil embrassed to say but I made the mistake of rocking my 9month old sleep and now he can’t fall asleep on his own for naps or night time :/ He needs somebody to rock him or be fed to sleep. Any instruction on how to sleep train my lo to fall asleep by himself w/o aid? Strange how I have read so many articles and they just say it but don’t go into detail of how to. Any advice is deeplh appreciated or any resource to go to is great too 🙂

  8. admin July 22, 2014 at 3:23 am - Reply

    Well hello, Pham!

    This is an elusive question that requires a lengthy response. I’d recommend looking into a few books to see the different methods out there, then decide which one you think your baby will tolerate the best. Ask around to some parent friends who have good sleepers to find out which method they used.

    I think the reason no one gives detail about how to put your baby to sleep without rocking is because it will involve crying 😉 Many parents want there to be an answer that isn’t cry based and that’s impossible to come by. I’d love to chat with you further about your choices if you feel you need a lot more hands on help to sleep train your baby! Fear not, because it is still possible.

  9. Amanda July 22, 2014 at 4:07 am - Reply

    HI Natalie, thank you so much for giving your time and info to us. My 14 mo old was one of those 4:30am babies for many many months and we were miserable and no one could give us answers so we just suffered through it. Thankfully now he sleeps through till 6am..on the dot, and no matter what time I put him down he is up at 6am. I have tried black out curtains, later bed time, earlier bed time..6am still. It seems from your post that this is just what his wake time will be although I wish so much I could get him to sleep 1 more hour. He naps from 9:30-11am, 3:30-5pm. He used to be asleep by 7:30 but now he tosses and turns and rolls around like he cannot get comfortable for about an hour. Im not sure if its related to dinner? Too late of a bottle? If I put him to bed with a bottle he goes right to sleep but I dont want to do that as we have never needed that crutch. He does not take a paci but has a lovey and mobile. Any thoughts to why its so hard for him to settle down at night?

    • admin July 22, 2014 at 6:55 am - Reply

      Hey Amanda,

      I think for his age his second nap is ending quite late. I’d shorten that second nap by about 1/2 hour and keep bedtime the same time, and he should be falling asleep more easily soon.

  10. Sarah Gagliardi July 22, 2014 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    Natalie, thank you so so much for your post and taking the time to respond to everyone! It’s greatly appreciated:) my LO is 15 months and sleeps pretty well at night, usually 630-6. My struggle is I’m still nursing her at night. I only nurse her for 10-15 minutes and I put her down fully awake and she falls asleep on her own, no crying. However if I try to put her down fully awake without nursing she screams! I will rock her and read to her to have some wind down time before I put her down but she just cries. Am I going to have to just cut her off from nursing and let her CIO (which I’m ok with)? TIA!!!

  11. admin July 22, 2014 at 11:23 pm - Reply

    Hi Sarah,

    You are so very welcome. If you’re comfortable with CIO at bedtime I would definitely recommend that. I bet you’ll be surprised by how quickly the crying ends and how fast she falls asleep 🙂 If you want to continue nursing her, feel free to feed her about 1/2 hour before bedtime in a bright room, then when it’s time to go to sleep replace the nursing with some cuddles (if she’ll let you cuddle instead of trying to get to the breast). If she won’t let you cuddle, then just put her down to sleep.

  12. Melody July 23, 2014 at 1:41 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie! Thanks so much for your post. I’m struggling a lot with putting my 5 month LO to bed. I had been using the shush pat method to help him fall asleep, but it doesn’t seem to be working anymore. Could you elaborate more on what putting down sleepy but awake looks like? How long should it take for the baby to fall asleep? My LO has reflux so I’d like to minimize CIO, if possible. Bedtime is at 6 and he also wakes up between 3-4 am, also.

  13. Jina July 23, 2014 at 9:12 pm - Reply

    hi Natalie,
    My son is 14 months old has been sleeping and napping great after we sleep.trained him at 6 months. Currently his routine is wake up 7:30-8am nap from 10-1pm and 4-6pm and bedtime 8:30pm. everything is awesome when we are at home, but when we are outside he will not nap at all and screams bloody murder if I tell him its naptime. We tried mimicking his room by placing him in a pack and play, dimmed lighting, turned on white noise and gave him his lovey. Nothing except the car is working. Any suggestions? Thanks in advanved.

    • admin July 24, 2014 at 12:10 am - Reply

      Hi Jina,

      Unfortunately that’s the case for many babies. I don’t blame him 😉 I can’t sleep either no matter how hard I try if I’m not laying down in my bed. My husband, however, can sleep anytime and any where. Some people, babies included, are better at sleeping on the go, and others are inherently less flexible. There’s not too much you can do to entice an inflexible baby to become more flexible. My daughter was exactly the way your son is and never slept well on the go. My son, however, has always been super flexible, despite the fact that he’d been as strictly sleep trained as my daughter. So just hang in there. Before you know it your son will be down to one nap and you’ll have lots more flexibility!!

  14. admin July 24, 2014 at 12:07 am - Reply

    Hey Melody.

    The shush pat method, along with a lot of other gradual methods of helping baby fall asleep, tends to stop working around the 4 month mark so what you’re experiencing isn’t uncommon. I actually don’t advocate putting babies down sleepy (or drowsy) but awake. I prefer babies be put down calm but awake. If on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 is totally awake and 10 is dead asleep, you want your baby to be at a 4 to 5 MAX when you put him down. Ideally, you don’t want to spend more than a couple minutes trying to get him to that calm state. If after a few minutes he isn’t calm, I’d suggest putting him down any way. From there, you want to choose the best sleep training method from the ones you’ve researched. Once a baby is sleep trained, you want him going to sleep within 10-20 minutes of being put down in the crib.

  15. Je July 25, 2014 at 1:36 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie, Your blog on this topic is very appreciated and couldn’t have come at a better time! I’m a mom of 6 month old boy/girl twins. The girl twin falls asleep effortlessly for both naps and bedtime but the boy was breastfed to be put down so he is now struggling with sleep training and the 4/5am waking. I’m currently doing CIO (day 2) for naps and bedtime. Some of the previous posts have answered a couple of my questions regarding putting him down but I want to take a better look a their sleep schedule in total.

    What’s the ideal sleep schedule for babies at 6 months? Their current schedule is wake 6:30/7, nap 9-11, 1-3 and 5-6 and bedtime at 8/8:30. You mentioned a total of 3 hours max nap time for an 11 month old and no naps after 4pm but what do you recommend at 6 months? Thanks in advance!

  16. admin July 25, 2014 at 7:05 am - Reply

    Hi Je,

    At 6 months most babies are napping three times a day, usually around 8:30 am, 11:30 am, and 3:00 pm, or somewhere around those times. You want to make sure the last nap of the day doesn’t end too much past 4/4:30 pm. Once babies are down to two naps, which can happen around 7 months, you want naps at about 9 am and 1 pm.

    If the schedule you have right now is working, though, I wouldn’t change it!! Sleep after 4 pm often (but not always) causes nighttime sleep disruptions, so that’s why I try to end daytime sleep around that time each day.

  17. Rachel July 29, 2014 at 4:59 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie,

    Thank you for this topic! My son is 16 months and will still on occasion wake up between 4:45-5:45 when going through some developmental milestone ( which at this point seems to happen weekly!). I cheer if he makes it to 6am! He goes to bed early around 6:30, he has always been an early bird. I wish that you could sleep train adults. Since giving birth I have not been able to sleep past 4am. Your scientific information helped me understand why, I just wish I could do something about it. Guess my self soothing needs some work. 🙂

  18. admin July 29, 2014 at 5:53 am - Reply

    Hi Rachel,

    Actually, you can move past this! I would recommend using loud white noise or ear plugs (if you have a partner that can listen for your son) and these eye covers from Amazon :http://www.amazon.com/Dream-Essentials-Dreams-Contoured-Earplugs/dp/B000CCI4YU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406613084&sr=8-1&keywords=eye+covers

    I don’t know what you’re currently doing at 4:00 am, but I would suggest doing a whole lot of nothing. Stay in the dark, think of boring/pleasant things. Do not allow yourself to think stressful or scary thoughts. If you remain with your eyes covered and your hearing muted, you may just find yourself falling back to sleep within about 20 minutes. Happens to me all the time 😉

  19. Jennifer July 29, 2014 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie, I love this topic! It has been so helpful and I literally started sleep training the day I read your post. My 7 month old has always been such a great sleeper until we hit the 6 month mark. He kept waking up around 4 am and couldn’t go back to sleep! Last week we started CIO and transitioned him to 2 naps, around 9:30 and 2:30, each anywhere from 1 hour to 1.5 hours. He has been doing relatively well, but there hasn’t necessarily been a strict decrease in his cry time — it goes up and down! We’ve been at it for a week now and he will cry anywhere from 40 minutes to 5 minutes.

    Three questions:
    1) Is this normal for the crying to go up and down like this?? I always hear of people telling me baby decreases from 1 hour to 30 minutes to 5 minutes to no crying…we are definitely not there yet! 🙁 He always cries, it’s just a matter of how long.
    2) On a similar note, is it normal for sleep training a 7 month old to take this long? Again, people always said it took them no more than 3-4 days and we’re on Day 8 here 🙁
    3) I work full time so by the time I get home at 6, immediately start his bedtime routine of bath, bottle/nurse, he always falls asleep drinking his milk! During this last week of sleep training, I always wake him up for about 5 minutes, we read a book together and then I put him in his crib. Is this too drowsy? Maybe he’s mad that I woke him up?? At this point it is already 7 or 7:30 so I hesitate to wake him up to play for another 15-30 minutes because he always wakes up around 6 (he stopped waking up at 4 when we started sleep training — hooray!), regardless of whether he fell asleep at 7 or 8 — don’t want to rob him of that additional sleep time. Should I feed him in a brightly lit room instead of the dark and quiet nursery? Or drink his milk before bathtime?? (I’ve always done bath and then bottle since he was born, so I worry I will confuse him!) Any advice would be greatly appreciated!! (Sorry, so many questions!)

    • admin July 29, 2014 at 10:06 pm - Reply

      Hello Jennifer,
      1) Is this normal for the crying to go up and down like this?? I always hear of people telling me baby decreases from 1 hour to 30 minutes to 5 minutes to no crying…we are definitely not there yet! 🙁 He always cries, it’s just a matter of how long.
      In a way, it is normal. This is actually why some times it helps to have more personal one-on-one support, because then whoever is helping you can pinpoint where exactly the issue lies. I would keep going as you are for another 7-10 days, and I do think the crying will diminish, as long as you are being consistent with not giving him help to fall asleep at bedtime or at naps.
      2) On a similar note, is it normal for sleep training a 7 month old to take this long? Again, people always said it took them no more than 3-4 days and we’re on Day 8 here 🙁
      Yes, very normal. Usually it can take 14-16 days.
      3) I work full time so by the time I get home at 6, immediately start his bedtime routine of bath, bottle/nurse, he always falls asleep drinking his milk! During this last week of sleep training, I always wake him up for about 5 minutes, we read a book together and then I put him in his crib. Is this too drowsy? Maybe he’s mad that I woke him up?? At this point it is already 7 or 7:30 so I hesitate to wake him up to play for another 15-30 minutes because he always wakes up around 6 (he stopped waking up at 4 when we started sleep training — hooray!), regardless of whether he fell asleep at 7 or 8 — don’t want to rob him of that additional sleep time. Should I feed him in a brightly lit room instead of the dark and quiet nursery? Or drink his milk before bathtime?? (I’ve always done bath and then bottle since he was born, so I worry I will confuse him!) Any advice would be greatly appreciated!! (Sorry, so many questions!)
      I would simply make his bottle the very first part of his bedtime routine so that he doesn’t get sleepy or drowsy while taking it. Switching when you give him the bottle shouldn’t confuse him too much 😉

  20. Genie July 31, 2014 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie,

    Thanks for taking the time to write this helpful post!!! 🙂
    My 14 mo old has been an early riser for months and months. He wakes up from 5-5:30 everyday!! 🙁 naps at 9, I started capping his morning nap at 10 hoping he would take a longer afternoon nap. Naps again at 1:30- 2:30 (this nap is usually the shorter one, some times only 45 mins) he always wakes up crying after the second nap, bedtime 6:30-7.
    What is the appropriate hrs of wakefulness between naps and bedtime for his age?

    • admin August 1, 2014 at 5:06 am - Reply

      Hi Genie,

      I would say his wakefulness times look totally perfect! Unless you find that capping the morning nap actually helps to lengthen his afternoon nap, I wouldn’t continue doing it. It it does help to make his PM nap longer, then continue to cut nap one down.

      At 14 months of age he should be sleeping about 11-12 hours through the night and he should be napping for about 2-3 hours total per day.

  21. Joni August 5, 2014 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie,

    My 12 month old has been an early riser for as long as I can remember. He sleeps at around 7:30-8 and wakes up right at 5-5:30!

    He then falls asleep right at around 9:30 (sometimes earlier!) for about an hour and then has a 2-2.5 hour nap in the afternoon (around 12:30-1).

    His room is dark as we have shutters, but he seems to be wide awake and alert in the early morning. Is there anything else we can try to extend his wake up time?

    Thank you!

  22. admin August 5, 2014 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Hi Joni,

    I think his nap totals might be a bit high. Consider capping his afternoon nap at one hour 45 minutes, or even an hour and a half. Give him about a week and see if he extends his morning wake time.

    • Joni August 5, 2014 at 10:05 pm - Reply

      Thank you! I’ll give that a go!

  23. Wendy August 5, 2014 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    My 4.5 month old has been waking up consistently at 5:20am. I watch the monitor. He plays quietly in his crib with his lovey and talks to himself for one full hour and then starts to squawk around 6:00/6:15am. That’s when I go in and open the curtains and greet him. He often greets me with a huge smile. Glad he can play quietly but should I be working on getting him to fall back asleep? I’m worried that once he sees me, he’ll reach his arms up and think it’s time to play at 5:20am. His current bedtime is 6:30pm.

    • admin August 5, 2014 at 10:27 pm - Reply

      Hi Wendy,

      That’s a GREAT thing for you baby to be doing!! What a wonderful skill he’s developed. I wouldn’t worry about getting him back to sleep. Hanging out on his own in his crib in his dark room is way more restful/less stimulating than being up with you, and any contact you make with him will have the opposite affect of keeping him up, not putting him back to sleep.

      • Wendy August 5, 2014 at 11:17 pm - Reply

        Good to hear! I was worried that 5:20 wake up was cutting into his total night sleep …but I guess I’ll leave him be and start our day at 6:30am. Thanks!

  24. Susan August 11, 2014 at 8:35 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie!

    I’m a former client of yours and you have helped us so much with sleep! The only problem we are having is Mila wakes up at 5:00-5:30 every morning!!

    At daycare she does one nap around 12 for 1.5 to 2 hours and on weekends she normally takes her first nap around 8:30 for 30 minutes to an hour and her second nap is around 1:00 for about an hour. Bedtime is 6:30 to 7:00.

    We’ve tried letting her CIO but she will SCREAM and with it being so early we normally get her. Any tips/ideas on getting her to wake up later?!

    Thanks!

    Susan

    • Natalie August 11, 2014 at 4:19 pm - Reply

      Hi Susan,

      So nice to hear from you here on the blog 🙂

      I’m sorry to hear Mila is having that early waking. As I talk about in the post, it’s *super* common.

      One thing to keep in mind is that if you continue to go to her before 6 am, she will continue to wake before 6 am. You can try again to be firm about setting a start time of the day that’s at 6 am or after, or you can choose to start your day on the earlier side.

      Another thing to try is to wait to go to her until 5:45 am, regardless of what time she wakes. Do this for 2 weeks, then move that time to 5:50, then 5:55, then 6 am. She may gradually get accustomed to waiting for you and hopefully won’t protest quite as loudly.

      • Susan August 14, 2014 at 8:55 am - Reply

        Thanks Natalie! We will try doing that!! 🙂

  25. Rebecca September 2, 2014 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie,
    Thanks for taking the time to answer all of these questions! I’m having a very hard time with my 22 month old waking at 4 – 4:30am. He just wakes up and immediately stands at his crib screaming bloody murder, we’ve tried going in at increasing intervals or just waiting up to 30 min. to go in but he will just keep it up. He’ll normally just scream straight though until 6am when we’ve decided we can take him out of the crib. He just wants out of there so badly. When we put him to bed he’ll refuse to lay down and he’ll stand up and scream for about 10 min but then sleeps. He uses a pacifier which is seeming less and less helpful as part of the routine is to go retrieve it at each check in and have him through it to the floor when he realizes I’m not there to get him out of the crib…any thoughts would be so appreciated!

    • Sue September 18, 2014 at 2:32 pm - Reply

      My 9 months old DS is acting exactly the same as you described, Rebecca… I would love to hear what can I do to help him sleep longer too 🙁

      Thank you in advance for answering all of our questions, Natalie.

  26. Melissa October 15, 2014 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie, thanks so much for your helpful posts!! My 11 week old is unable to get to sleep without being held/rocked. She rarely stay asleep for longer than 45 mins during the day and has one long stretch at night before waking up several times between 2 and 7, just to be held and rocked back to sleep (she isn’t hungry). I’ve always been a big fan of the schedule/routine (eat, activity, sleep; every three hours during the day) as my son took well to it and slept long stretches early on, however, my daughter just can’t seem to self soothe. From what I gather on your posts, she needs to learn to self soothe in order to settle herself back at night and to nap longer stretches, but I’m not sure how to get her to do this! I’ve been asking my ped all along about this and she keeps telling me I can’t spoil the baby and I just need to give her what she wants when she is this young because she doesn’t know how to self soothe yet. Do you have any suggestions on how I can get rid of these sleep props or do I just continue to do this exhausting routine until she is old enough to be sleep trained and break all the habits at once? Thanks so much!! Melissa

  27. Wendy February 19, 2015 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie, my 11-month old son was sleep trained three weeks ago and responded well after three nights. He was STTN for 11-12 hours for two weeks. Bedtime at 6:30/7. Then this past week he’s been getting up at 4:40am on the dot. He’s up and ready to play. He takes two naps at 1.5 hr each. And I’m noticing his awake times are closer to 3.5-4 hours between naps. I’ve tried moving bedtime earlier to 6 and pushing bedtime to 7:30 but it doesn’t matter …still 4:40am. Any suggestions? Is it a sign that he should go to one nap? Thanks!

  28. Natalie February 20, 2015 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    Hi Wendy,

    Definitely not a sign to switch to one nap. I’ve talked in other posts about how the 4 am to 6 am window is tricky because the body doesn’t have a whole lot of melatonin flowing at that time. I think the 4 am waking will stop as soon as you stop reinforcing it at all with a visit 😉 I would set a firm start time to the day any time after 6 am and give it a few weeks. He should start to sleep in later as long as you’re consistent.

    • Wendy February 23, 2015 at 7:34 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the reply. Will keep leaving him in the crib and cross our fingers!

  29. Lorig February 25, 2015 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie,
    I have a 16 month old who consistently wakes up prior to 4:30 a.m. This has been the case since she started sleeping through the night about 7 or 9 months ago (via cry it out method). I do not go into her room to pick her up until after 5:15 a.m. So regardless of whether she wakes up at 3:30 a.m. or 4:30 a.m. I’ve been getting her at 5:15 a.m.(except on the vary rare occasions when she goes back to sleep). If I do let her continue to cry she usually cries about 1 hr. 45 min. until she goes back to sleep. I know you’ve said that 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. is hard because of lack of melatonin, but is there anything else I can try? I am now at the stage where I am desperate and do not have a co-parent to trade off with. For naps, she usually does about 1 ½ hours on her own at daycare, but with me she will only sleep on walks, or via breastfeeding or rocking after she’s cried in her crib for about 45 minutes to 1 hr.

  30. Natalie February 25, 2015 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    Actually, if you’re comfortable with using CIO you should stay out of the room until 6 am or after. If you go to her at *any* time prior to 6 am you’re actually encouraging her to keep waking. It’s a little known thing, but really, leaving her be from 4 am to 6 am over the course of a few weeks should help move that morning wake time later.

    • Lorig February 26, 2015 at 10:21 am - Reply

      Thank you! I’ll give it a go and see what happens.

  31. Lindy March 1, 2015 at 4:55 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie,
    Great post! My 17 week old son consistently wakes up at 5 something every morning. I would love to start my day at 7am or at least 6:30. I try not to go into his room until at least 6:00 to get him up for the day. Some days he wakes up crying and others he wakes up and just talks to himself. We have not sleep trained yet and he wakes up at least 2-3 times per night. I am trying to establish a schedule to see if that helps before I do a firm sleep training. He can usually fall asleep around 7:30am in his swing (we do all his naps in his swing right now). I’m afraid if I keep him up too much longer he will be overtired and not sleep well, but then an early nap throws off our schedule. His last nap usually starts between 4-5pm. What time do you suggest I make his first nap and his bedtime If he consistently wakes up in the 5:00 hour? How do you suggest I get him to sleep in later? How much time should he be awake between each nap? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • Natalie March 1, 2015 at 10:05 pm - Reply

      Hi Linday,

      I generally suggest nap one start NO EARLIER than 8:00 am, and as close to 8:30 am possible. However, until he learns to fall asleep on his own I don’t know how much putting him on a schedule will help his night sleep. It’s normal for all humans to wake 3-5 times each night. Your baby is waking up like normal, but he can’t put himself back to sleep because he doesn’t know how to. I would suggest doing whatever is easiest and works best for your family and worry about his schedule once you decide to fully sleep train him. Once you start sleep training you no longer worry about wake times – he should nap around 8:30, 11:30 and 3:00 pm, with bedtime between 6:30 and 7:00 pm and wake time at 6:30 am or later.

  32. Seema March 2, 2015 at 6:01 am - Reply

    I have a question regarding naps. My 4 month old (plus one week) takes only 30-45 minute naps. He wakes at 7:00 am and I nap him around 9:00 and 1:00. He goes down without a fuss at those times. I have tried putting him down earlier, but the naps are no longer plus he fusses more to get to sleep, sometimes crying quite hard. So I like to wait until he’s more tired. How can I get him to extend the length of his naps? I have left him in his crib, but he usually just wakes up and messes around for 30 minutes until I go in and nap him on my lap for another 30-45 minutes so that he’s not cranky all day.

    Also – is it OK to CIO if my baby wakes up at 6 instead of 7 am? He will usually fall asleep after 10 minutes of crying, but I haven’t been able to achieve a 7 am consistent waketime without a couple days here and there of making him CIO at 6:00 am. He’s definitely too tired at 6:00 am to wake up but is all smiles at 7:00 am. (He goes to bed around 6:45 to 7:00 pm and wakes up once or twice to eat at night)

  33. Christina Murphy March 11, 2015 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie,
    I have a 14 month old. We slept trained him at 4 mos and successfully can get get him to sleep by 630-7, however (blushing) part of our nighttime routine is cuddling with a bottle and then putting him in the crib. I thought nothing of it until now. We’ve recently run into multiple (1-3) wake ups between the times of 1-5am. Sometimes just a couple sips of water and a 5 min rock works, other times he wants a full bottle. He will then sleep till 645-730ish on average. We’ve questioned teething. I’ve also questioned if he’s napping enough while at daycare. It seems the days I spend with him he takes a great 2 hour nap in the am and 1-2hours in the afternoon. Not so much at her house. My husband and I work and are exhausted! Please help!

  34. Amanda October 20, 2015 at 5:25 am - Reply

    Hello! My 10 month old twins wake up every morning around 3:30 am for months now. One will wake up, cry for at least an hour, wake up the other one, overlapping crying/screaming for 1/2 hour, first falls back to sleep while the second one jeeps crying for another hour until…they keep flip flopping crying. Dr. says to close the door and let them cry. We have been doing this and it is not working. One twin likes his paci, the other the tags in a soft blanket so we may sneak in a put in within reach

  35. Amanda October 20, 2015 at 5:29 am - Reply

    Sorry, my msg got sent by accident…Anyway, the twins nap from 9:30 to 11 or 11:30 am and 2:30 to 3:30. We put them to bed at 6:45 or 7 with a bottle. No feeds at night. No rocking them or holding them at bedtime. They finish their bedtime bottle and fall right to sleep. For napa I put them in their cribs, they cry sometimes for a 5-10 min then go to sleep. Please help us with the 3 am crying which lasts 2-3 hours total, continuously almost everyday!

  36. Heather November 29, 2015 at 12:03 pm - Reply

    Hello, first off I wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this amazing website. I am not going to read any other baby sleep site again!
    Our babe is 15 weeks, born a week early. She has never been a great napper but its gotten to the point that she is only sleeping *maybe* 3 times a day for 45 min and she is exhausted all day. She can only handle being awake an hour and even that is too much as she is yawning/eye rubbing from the moment she finishes her nap. We put her to bed by 5:00 because she is so tired. Sometimes she fights her afternoon nap and is awake for hours upon hours until bedtime.
    I am so upset and frustrated. I don’t know what to do.
    What do you think?

    • Natalie December 1, 2015 at 11:17 am - Reply

      You are so welcome!! So the key here is that you’re going to have to stop taking her wake times into account. While it seems like she can’t make it past an hour, trust me, she can!! You just have to give her time to get used to being awake longer stretches. This can take about 1-2 weeks. I would make sure that you set a nap schedule for her and regardless of how short her naps are, don’t put her down until her next scheduled nap time. Don’t put her to bed before 6 :00 pm and don’t start her day until between 6:30 am and 7:00 am. Giver her the 1-2 weeks and she’ll adjust. Also, make sure at first you’re making sure all her naps happen at home.

  37. Kate March 5, 2016 at 2:54 am - Reply

    Hi- my LO has slept straight through the night since she was two months old. She falls asleep on her own for naps and bedtime. She is a rockstar sleeper. She is 3 1/2 months old now and has been wide awake since 5:00 am. Why is this happening and what do we do to get her back on track? I feed her at 7:30, 11:30, 3:30 and 7:30 and don’t want to get her too far off her eating schedule. I have her 2 ounces at 5:15 to try to get her to fall back asleep.

  38. Kristen April 15, 2016 at 5:20 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie! My little one was one who always needed rocking to sleep and woke up frequently. We started the cry-it-out method about a month ago and it seem to be working well. She’s almost fourteen months now and has continuously been waking up at 4 in the morning. I read that cry it out doesn’t work after 4 a.m. so we have been getting her at 4 and she’s been falling back asleep in my arms in the family room. She usually goes to bed between 7:30 and 8 o’clock she does have a hard time napping. Usually around 9:30 to 10:30 and 2:30 to 3:30. Not sure what I can do to get her to sleep on her own until 6. She used to get up between 6:30 and 7:30.

    • Natalie April 15, 2016 at 3:32 pm - Reply

      I don’t agree that CIO doesn’t work after 4 am. I’d put her down at bedtime and, making sure you can see her closely through her video monitor, not return to her until you’re ready to start your day. Before you do this, though, you’ll want to get the okay from your pediatrician. She’ll eventually start sleeping til 6 several days or 1/2 weeks after you stop going to her before 6 am. Also, don’t let her fall back to sleep again once you get her up for the day.

  39. Bridget July 27, 2016 at 5:52 am - Reply

    Hi there, I hope you are still answering questions! I have two questions for you. 1) I recently sleep trained my 8 month old for bedtime and naps. Bedtime went a lot easier than naps. Naps took about two weeks. He was previously bounced/nursed to sleep and now he goes to sleep within about 10 mins without fussing. He used to nap 30 mins at a time and he still does even now when he can put himself to sleep. Occasionally I will get a 1-2 hour nap, but more often it is shorter. What should I do?

    He is also an early riser. He wakes around 4:45-5am and has been for months. His bedtime is between 5;15-5:45, he does a night feed between 12-2 and then wakes early. I always go in and feed him (he used to fall back to sleep) but now it seems like he tries to go back to sleep but can’t. If he does it is for a short time, like 10-20 mins. We get him out of the crib at 6 or close to. This early waking also really messes with his naps. Should I just stop going in at 4:45, even if he cries and wait until 6am? Will he eventually get the picture?

    • Natalie July 27, 2016 at 11:56 am - Reply

      Hi Bridget!! I do love broadcasts every Tuesday night on my facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/babysleeptrainer

      They are at 7:30 pm pacific and you just go to the facebook page and you’ll see it going (it’ll look like a video 🙂

      I’ll answer your question on my next live blog. I may be out of town on 8/2, so if you go to the page and don’t see it, check back the following week.

  40. Mamie September 9, 2016 at 8:46 am - Reply

    Hi there, my 4.5 month old has been sleeping through the night (sort of). She goes down by 7:30-8pm, dream feed around 10:45pm but then wakes up crying around 3am usually 4-6am. She’s a good napper, 1.5-2hrs in the morning and about the same in the afternoon with a 30 min catnap around 4-5pm. I let her CIO for about 5 minutes, sometimes she falls back to sleep other times, not so much. I go in and stick a pacifier in her mouth and she falls back to sleep but wakes about 45min to an hour later. I don’t think she’s hungry because she doesn’t eat as well in the mornings but when I do feed her at say 4am, she usually sleeps through until morning. Any suggestions?

  41. Lesley October 10, 2016 at 2:52 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie, I hope you will still answer this. I have 22 month old boy. He goes to bed between 6:30pm-7pm. He wakes up really early around 5:10am to 5:20am everyday. He only naps once a day at 9am for about 1.5-2 hours.
    What can I do to make him wake up at a later time?
    I also want to move his nap to afternoon or lunch time but I can’t cos he is already sleepy/cranky by 9am.
    I hope you’d be able to help me.
    Thank you.

  42. Alysa November 12, 2016 at 9:47 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie, Great site with lots of good info so far!

    I have a similar situation as Lesley. My 18 month old will not sleep past 5 am and has been getting up at 3:30 the last week or two. The time change didn’t help, but she did have a few 3:30 am wake-ups even before that. She goes to sleep easily by herself between 6:30 and 7:30 (although we try to keep it on the earlier side). We had tried to get her down to 1 nap a day around 11:30, but now that she’s up so early, she just can’t make it that long. If we don’t put her down around 9, she falls asleep mid-activity. Sometimes she’ll take an afternoon nap around 1:30 if she’s had an early one, and sometimes she refuses it.

    When she does wake up early (or refuses her naps), she stands in the corner of her crib and cries very loudly (“mama, dada, carry me!”). She will not sit or lay back down even if she’s in there for over an hour. Sometimes she falls asleep standing up, but she wakes up again a few minutes later. We started CIO with 5 minute “sleep waves” around 5 months and that generally worked for us. We’ve tried the sleep waves in the morning and we’ve tried just letting her cry without going in and neither seems to work.

    We are beyond exhausted and any helpful advice you can provide would be fantastic!

    Thank you!

  43. Natalie November 12, 2016 at 11:13 pm - Reply

    Hi Alysa,

    I would do the following:

    1. Focus on NEVER allowing her to have a second nap. It’s preferable that her single daily nap consistently occur before 10 am (if that’s what her body absolutely needs) and then keep her up until bedtime. You can incrementally move her nap time later 5-10 mins later every 2-3 days.
    2. Try as hard as you can not to have her bedtime occur before 7 pm.
    3. Pick a start time of each day and, with your pediatrician’s approval, do not go to her prior to that time (assuming she’s safe in her room).

    Hang in there there!! Give this a few weeks of *hyper* consistency and you should hopefully have some success.

    Natale

  44. Sandy November 13, 2016 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie, I love your site! I have just been reading all the comments and wanted your advise for my Son. He is 15 months and in the last couple of months has been fighting his second nap. He has always been an early riser no matter what I try. I have been working on a gradual move to one nap and seem to always need to backtrack because he wakes too early. Yesterday he woke up at 4.30 and needed two naps and because bedtime was 7.30 he was up by 5 crying and couldn’t fall back asleep. I forced him to stay up till 11am today he would have slept at 8.30 or 9 if I let him but then I would struggle with the second nap. I have been trying a bedtime of 6pm but he would only sleep at 6.30 or later even with one nap he is extremely overtired and has very bad dark circles. Please could you provide some help on how I can schedule his day to get more sleep into him?

    Thanks a lot

    • Natalie November 14, 2016 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      Hi Sandy!

      A few things – try to make sure if it’s possible that you allow your little guy to stay in his crib without interacting with you until as close to 7 am as possible. Then, keep pushing ONLY one nap a day and commit to never permitting a second nap (or a first nap before 11 am) for 3-4 weeks. If he is still struggling, then it may be time to go back to 2 naps for a month then trying for just one nap again.

      • Sandy November 16, 2016 at 1:30 pm - Reply

        Thanks so much Natalie. It’s hard to leave him until 7am as if he wakes up at 4.30 or 5 he will start crying after an hour to get him also I am assuming he is hungry as 6pm would have been his last bottle as bedtime is at that time. Should I still keep pushing for one nap at 11am when he wakes that early and stick to an earlier bedtime of 6pm? Thanks so much for your help.

  45. Lilia November 16, 2016 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    Looking for any advice or encouragement.

    With some work, we finally got my 4.5 month old to be able to go to sleep on her own at naptime and bedtime (we put her down awake, and she can go to sleep after 10-15 minutes of talking to herself and tossing/turning). We accomplished this by 1 night of CIO (she screamed for two hours straight, then intermittently through the night… never again. In subsequent nights we let her cry but checked on her more. Then I did some nights where I sat next to her while she fell asleep. And finally she was able to do it on her own.)

    Anyway, our problem is the night wakings. I’m not even sure when this started – it has been a few weeks. About a month ago she could give us a 5-6 hour stretch, and then 2-3 hour stretches until morning. Lately, it’s been all over the place. Sometimes up 1-2 hours after bedtime. Sometimes a 3-4 hour stretch and then up every 2-3 hours. The problem with these night wakings is that is inconsolable unless we feed her. We can’t rock her, pat her, bounce her, absolutely nothing will calm her except food. When she wakes on these, she starts with some whining but it quickly escalates to full on screaming. We have tried ignoring her to see if she can self-soothe; she can’t.

    She’s is a big girl (80-something percentile for weight) and breast fed. In the past two weeks we have worked to get her to stop snacking throughout the day and take large (5-6oz bottles) every three hours. I’m not sure if she’s waking at night from hunger, or if it’s a habit now. I really don’t want to feed her when she wakes 1.5 hours after her last feed, but in the interests of my family’s sleep, I have been doing it.

    Any ideas on why she can soothe herself to sleep, but not BACK to sleep? Should I just keep feeding her? Should we let her cry it out? HELP.

  46. Lilia November 16, 2016 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    that was confusing, sorry – she gets breast milk from a bottle.

  47. Lori November 21, 2016 at 3:45 am - Reply

    My 2 year old has just transferred to toddler bed, only because he could now crawl out of crib. He will not nap by himself unless door is locked unlike when he would nap in crib. He falls asleep after 5 min less but wakes up extremes grumpy. Our real problem though is waking several times at night and getting out of bed. Usually we can walk him back to bed and he goes to sleep but will not go back to sleep from 3-5 am. This is a huge struggle since I have a 2 month old sleeping in our room. He wakes him up coming in every other minute. What can we do? I don’t feel comfortable locking his door at night time.

  48. Sandy December 2, 2016 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie please help! He is only getting 9 hours of sleep at night waking up 4.30-5 Everyday I have no idea what to do

  49. Mary Beth December 15, 2016 at 3:25 am - Reply

    My 22 month old falls asleep on her own for her one nap during the day and for bedtime. She has started waking up anywhere from 2am to 4am and stays up for 2 to 3 hours. We share a room so I started bringing her to bed with me but she just rolls around and cant get to sleep. When I put her back in her crib she will throw out her lovey pillow and blanket and jusr cry. She does fall back asleep after 6am but we everyone is sleepy. Is there anything I can do?

  50. Jennifer Welsh February 18, 2017 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    Hi, I have a 10 month old that wakes up around 5:30-6:00 AM. I am hoping to get him to sleep 30-60 minutes later in the morning. He started popping around 5:30-6:00 AM every morning. The last few nights he has not pooped, but still woke up at the same time. I find if he goes down at 8 PM, he is happy in the morning when he’s up that early. If he goes down any later (which happens when afternoon nap is later), he is pretty cranky in the morning. He is sleep trained but I can’t get him to fall back asleep at that point in the morning. Would you first recommend shorter naps during the day and try an earlier bedtime in the hopes he will sleep later? He usually naps in the morning around 9-9:30 for an hour and a half and his second nap starts between 2:00-3:00 and is usually an hour and a half as well. The problem is obviously if he goes down later for his afternoon nap, his nap gets into the late afternoon (4:30 ish). I also find I am needing to wake him up from his naps after an hour and half which makes me think he’s not getting enough night sleep. Also, have you heard of doing “wake to sleep” which is described in the Baby Whisperer book? I just read something about it online. Thank you!

  51. Rachael March 13, 2017 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    Hi there, hoping you can help. My nearly 9 month old is waking at 430/5am every morning. I have tried absolutely everything from patting, rocking, feeding, dark room, white noise – the lot. He goes to bed at 7pm and sleeps through until that 430am/5am mark but I just cant settle him. He is also formula fed. Hopefully you can help, thanks.

  52. Jenn Fried March 15, 2017 at 11:43 am - Reply

    Hi! My son is almost 16 months old. He has been waking up around 4:45 every morning for weeks now. I thought it was a leap or the time change but now both have passed so I’m not sure why he is up so early. Our day starts at 6am and that is when I always go in to get him. He usually lies there are plays for about an hour until he starts to cry. His bedtime (eyes closed) is between 615-630. He has one nap at school and they tell me it’s usually 2 hours between 12-2. He naps the same at home; though sometimes a little less. Any suggestions? Thank you so much!

  53. Angie June 22, 2017 at 9:12 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie

    I have 22 month old twin boy, fraternal. They do exactly what you have observed in the last month or so….they start to wake btw 4-5 and then one or the other can’t put himself back to sleep usually around 515 or so. We try to make them stay in their cribs until 6 at least. But one of them gets so emotional and is screaming so much. They go to bed for their nap and bed time wonderfully. They tell good night and we shut of the lights and that is it. They have a lovey and a pacifier. When they start to wake I go in turn their music on and make sure they have all their comfort measures and maybe 60 % of the time they will snooze, but the other it is described above….other than moving the cribs around away from the window and darkening even more. Do you have any other suggestsion. Oh and bed time is about 730. nap time is 1230- and they usually nap for about 2 hours

  54. Akiko July 17, 2017 at 9:26 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie, LOVE your book! Read it cover to cover. It’s so easy to follow and you get right into, which is great for moms of multiple kids. After reading your book and really committing to staying home for 48 hours, we’ve already seen a HUGE difference in my 6 month’s sleep and her ability to put herself to sleep. THANK YOU!

    One question though — I understand that melatonin levels are low especially after 4am, but what’s the reason or science behind not doing the interval check-ins for early morning wake-ups after 4am? With the levels being so low, is it just that check-ins simply won’t work and doing check-ins will end up waking them up more?

  55. Lydia Bailey July 26, 2017 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie im a single mum currently at my wits end exhausted this week as my 6 month old baby has gone from sleeping from 7pm till 7am in the morning and sleeping great to sleeping only 9 or 10 hours and waking around 5am! I dont understand why, should i put her to bed earlier or miss out her nap she has around 4.30pm? Or should I wake her in the middle of night and give her a feed.

    I use a bottle to send her off to sleep and wondering if this is just a phase and she having some sort of growth spirt I dont get why the past two weeks she has suddenly started doing it when she was previously doing great?

  56. Lydia Bailey July 26, 2017 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    would also like to add i have low innune system and get run down easily so sleep is important for me and then i feel terrrible on her if im unwell, also a bit of a gym bunnie and feel down as now missed a week as normally manage to train most days so basically if i dont get 8 hours i get run down and if cant train start to feel very rubbishy. I suffer with an illness rather not mention on here but it works the same way as a coldsore and is controlled by medication i take every day.

  57. Gretchen Hay July 28, 2017 at 5:07 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie,
    My 5 month old son (just turned 20 weeks) has slept through the night the past two nights. We start his bedtime routine by 6-6:15 (bath, pjs, bottle, and book) and he is asleep by 7pm. He is now waking at 5am hungry and we give him a bottle. Two night ago after his bottle he slept until 6:30am. But today after his bottle he stayed up…however he seemed still tired but wouldn’t sleep. At 5 months old how long should he be sleeping at night and what time should he be getting up? I’m concerned that he still needs at least one feeding and he’s waking after 10 hours because he hungry.

    • Natalie Willes July 28, 2017 at 6:02 pm - Reply

      Hi Gretchen!! Congrats on the sleeping through the night 🙂 I see that you purchased the online training series, and I think that will go a long way in answering the concerns in this comment. Good luck and hang in there!!!

  58. Bekah September 3, 2017 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Hey Natalie,
    I see that this thread is still active and I’m hoping that the wisdom you have shared with others might work for me as well! Your site is amazing and I’ve come across it several times over the last few months and it has helped immensely.
    I have an 8 month old that we sleep trained about 2 months ago. As soon as things started to settle into place…she started teething.
    She goes to sleep between 6:30 and 7pm every night and used to wake up between 6 and 7 every morning (I also still do an 11pm dream feed and am not sure when to cut that out exactly)
    BUT…now she wakes between 4 and 5 and it is madness. I actually had similar questions to a ‘Bridget’ who wrote to you in July of 2016. You referred her to your live broadcast and said you’d answer her questions..but I can not seem to find it 🙁 Here’s what she wrote below and it is as if we are living with the same baby!

    1) I recently sleep trained my 8 month old for bedtime and naps. Bedtime went a lot easier than naps. Naps took about two weeks. He was previously bounced/nursed to sleep and now he goes to sleep within about 10 mins without fussing. He used to nap 30 mins at a time and he still does even now when he can put himself to sleep. Occasionally I will get a 1-2 hour nap, but more often it is shorter. What should I do?

    He is also an early riser. He wakes around 4:45-5am and has been for months. His bedtime is between 5;15-5:45, he does a night feed between 12-2 and then wakes early. I always go in and feed him (he used to fall back to sleep) but now it seems like he tries to go back to sleep but can’t. If he does it is for a short time, like 10-20 mins. We get him out of the crib at 6 or close to. This early waking also really messes with his naps. Should I just stop going in at 4:45, even if he cries and wait until 6am? Will he eventually get the picture?

    (Really the only difference for me from her second question is that we do the dream feed at 11 but everything else is the same. If she wakes at 5 I go in and feed her and try to put her back down to sleep but she tries and tries and just can not get herself to sleep.)
    I am so lost…did all the work we did to sleep train her for naught??

    If you could share any insight, I would be forever grateful!

  59. Rebecca October 17, 2017 at 4:28 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie,

    Thank you so much for your insight! This is an invaluable resources! I have a one year old daughter (actually 2 days shy of one!) who we successfully sleep trained around 4 months. She had been sleeping through the night 7-7:30 pm to between 6-7 am and I would go in and breastfeed and put her back down and she would often sleep until 8:30 am and then nap at 11 and 3. This worked for many months while she was taking two/three naps. Around 11 months, she started fighting the afternoon nap and I thought maybe she was ready to go down to 1 nap/day. But then she started getting up around 6 am for the day so I moved her first nap to around 9 am and second nap to around 2 pm. This has coincided with a lot of developmental leaps – crawling up the stairs, pulling herself up, moving from an army crawl to a regular crawl, and two stubborn teeth that took a long time to come in! She also has had two colds over the past month. Anyways, she has been getting up between 4 am and 5 am every day and wailing most days. I have tried different things over the past couple of weeks – letting her cry and waiting until 6 am to get her, going in at 4 am and nursing and trying to put her back down, etc. I have not been very consistent which I realize is part of the problem. This morning I heard her around 5:20 am and could see from our monitor that she had been up for a while already. I went in ten minutes later, comforted her without picking her up and then left the room. I waited another 15 minutes and went back in. She seemed to start settling more and then after 20 more minutes it was around 6:30 am so I just went in and got her up for the day. I was very cheerful saying, “Good morning! It’s time to start our day. The sun is coming up….” Any advice? I don’t know if it’s wrong to be doing this at this time in the morning because it’s so close to when I would want her to get up in the morning for the day. But I can’t listen to her wail and shriek for 2 hours straight! Also, she generally goes down fine at bedtime although I am still nursing as the last part of her bedtime routine but putting her down drowsy. For her naps, I nurse when she wakes up and am also starting to wean/introduce cow’s milk which she seems to be doing well with. Help! Thank you!!!
    Becca

  60. Melissa Nolen October 18, 2017 at 5:20 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie,

    My son isn’t turning 8mo old in days and I successfully implemented CIO a week and a half ago. He goes to sleep effortlessly now on his own and soothes himself for his night time stirs except for a feeding around 2am. He has been waking up at 4am on the dot for a few months now which is what drove me to CIO in the first place. If I let him cry he escalated and won’t stop until I come in and still is hard to calm down even in my arms. He will cry all the way from 4am to 6am nonstop. If he isn’t crying anymore and did CIO successfully will it work if I just consistently don’t go in at 4am? I feel like this is so mean of me especially since he never cried this hard in the initial cio training for any night time sleep. He does to bed at 6:30 and takes 3 40-45 min naps a day.

  61. Melissa November 10, 2017 at 3:18 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie! Thanks for the article. I know I’m late to the party here but I’m hoping you can help. My 15-Month-Old knows how to put himself to sleep for bed and naps. He takes one 1.5 to 2 hour nap during the day and wakes around 2:30 (sometimes earlier). He goes to bed around 6:45 or 7. He sleeps great at night into 5 or 5:30ish and then wakes up and won’t go back to sleep. The problem is, he’s tired and often falls asleep in the car on the way to daycare. Do you have any ideas on what we can do? Im considering CIO but he had a 3-year-Old brother that I worry about waking. Also, he’ll go a week at a time when he sleeps until 7… then out of nowhere, the 5 a.m. wakings begin again. It’s torture. Any help is appreciated! Thanks so much!

    • Natalie Willes January 5, 2018 at 8:40 pm - Reply

      Hi Melissa! Sorry for the delay in getting back to you! If you’re still having this issue, I invite you to come join my bi-monthly Facebook lives (www.facebook.com/babysleeptrainer) – every 1st and 3rd Tuesday night at 7pm PST, where I do a Q&A and answer your questions!

    • Linda February 17, 2018 at 12:23 pm - Reply

      Hi Melissa
      My name is Linda and I have a 13 month old with the exact same issue! Sounds like I wrote the post!! My little one shares room with his brother too. I decided on cio and had my hubby sleep with the older brother.
      Today is day 3 and alright it feels like I have made little progress, he has gotten back to sleep after crying an hour (even if thr snooze was 30 mins)

      How did it work out for you?

      • Linda February 17, 2018 at 12:36 pm - Reply

        Natalie
        I should also have asked – if you have reassurance that this will get better— I’m always questioning myself and if I’m actually making progress

        • Natalie Willes February 19, 2018 at 9:30 pm - Reply

          Hi Linda! If you’re following my book or take my online training series – things should definitely improve quickly! <3

  62. ella February 16, 2018 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    HI Natalie,
    I have read your book and am soon to begin sleep training my 6 month old. However, he is already able to put himself to sleep at bedtime with no help from me and then sleep until at least 1am or 2am. It is around this time that the wake ups start. Is it ok to use the controlled crying method starting at this time of night? Also, I generally feed him once (at the first wake up) but when I put him back in his cot awake he then lies awake for up to 1.5 hours – during which he doesn’t cry but tries to get back to sleep. Should i just leave him to it and hope he gets quicker at it?! It makes me wonder whether he is even hungry for a feed as it doesn’t seem to send him back to sleep.

    thank you!

    • Natalie Willes February 19, 2018 at 9:26 pm - Reply

      Hi Ella! Thank you for reading my book! Definitely talk to your pediatrician and follow their guidance on how many, if any, feedings are necessary for your baby <3

  63. Maeve February 22, 2018 at 4:04 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie!
    I just came across your site and I am truly blown away by your kindness and willingness to answer so many questions. Just reading through these questions most of my own were answered! I guess we really are all going through the same things! 🙂
    I just was wondering if you could clarify for me early wakings for naps…I have a 5 month old son, he goes down for naps with minimal crying (we’ve done CIO and eliminated sleep props) and will pretty consistently take 30-45 minute naps. Most of the time he doesn’t put himself back to sleep. Should I leave him in his crib for the duration of what should be the nap?
    And for early morning wakings (he keeps waking between 5:30-6, when he used to sleep until almost 7), and I don’t go in to get him until atleast 6:30. If I continue with this, should I expect to see him sleep until atleast 6:30?
    Thank you so much again for everything…it’s so rare these days for you to ask for help and simply get an answer without strings attached. You’re wonderful!

    • Natalie Willes February 23, 2018 at 1:52 pm - Reply

      Awww thank you so much Maeve! That is so sweet of you to say! Up until 6/7 months old, shorts naps are the absolute norm. If baby is healthy and safe and you feel good about it, you can certainly leave him for another 10-15 minutes to see if he’ll put himself back to sleep – or even longer if you’d like. Eventually the naps should lengthen. Early morning wakings are completely normal too, it’s very hard for babies to sleep at this time. And yes, as long as you continue to wait to get him until 6:30/7am, you should eventually see him getting better at putting himself back to sleep.

  64. Gina February 28, 2018 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie! We completed your 48 hour house arrest/sleep training program. Our 5 month old son took pretty well to it! It was like magic. For about two weeks he was sleeping 7pm-6:30am and the whole house was happy. (we were keeping one feeding a night since our pediatrician said it was fine- and he was waking once around 3:30am as opposed to 2-3 times a night) Then he got sick. Which is making for horrible sleep. Now he’s waking at random times b/c of his congestion, and waking up every morning between 4:30 and 5:30am. My predicament is that I did cave and fed him one morning a second time, even though I know we aren’t supposed to go in between 4-6am that early b/c we couldn’t get him to go back down to sleep. He slept till 7am that morning. But now, If we let him CIO, he basically cries and gets him self so worked up that if he doesn’t go back to sleep, he’s essentially so worn out by his 8:30 nap that I feel like we are running in circles and in the ‘negative’ with sleep. Is there a way to get back on track so he’s at least sleeping until 6:30am again? I realize melatonin wears off, but what I dont know is why he was responding to it before, and this hiccup of sickness has him all confused now.

    • Natalie Willes March 2, 2018 at 1:32 pm - Reply

      Hi Gina! This is a great question to ask on my next Facebook Live (1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month at 7pm PT)! I’d love to chat with you there (www.facebook.com/babysleeptrainer), and that way you can respond in real time too. <3

  65. Megha Mendiratta March 25, 2018 at 10:44 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie,
    Thank you so much for having this blog! I have an eight month old boy who was sleep train with the Ferber method around 5 1/2 months. Since then he has been sleeping around 6 PM but had always woken up around 4 AM. His room is dark, he has a sound machine, he has transitioned from three naps to two naps already. Daylight savings time helped with the switch as now he is waking up around 4:45 AM. However, I have tried putting him to bed earlier around five or 5:30 PM, I have tried shifting his naps by 10 minutes every day and nothing seems to be working. When he wakes up around 545 – at his age he is already super tired around 745 or 8 AM. Around then he gets his first nap and it usually lasts until about 930. His second nap start around 12:30 PM – Should end around 2 PM but Usually it is closer to about 1:30 PM. I try to get him down by 6 PM but around 515 he is already starting to get super cranky and overtired. This cycle keeps repeating itself and it’s impossible to shift forward. I have tried stretching the first nap as far as 9 AM – but it just throws off his whole day. I feel like I have exhausted so many options and I am unable to shift him forward. I get that he may be an early riser which is OK – but the night awakening is where I struggle. I should say, when he wakes up at 4:30 AM he is super happy. He plays in his room in the dark without a problem and does not cry. I do not go in there until 6 AM to do a grand “good morning“ and allow him to start his day. I really thought that would slowly teach him to sleep longer but that does not seem to be the case. At this time do you think I should be going in at 4:30 AM and reinforcing the original cry it out sleep techniques by telling him it’s not morning and to go back to sleep? And leave the room, returning every 15/20 min reinforce it? He isn’t crying or anything so that seems to be odd to do. Or should I continue to just leave him there until 6 AM when I go in?
    Any advice would be great!
    Best, Megha

  66. Megha Mendiratta March 26, 2018 at 4:53 am - Reply

    Up around 4:45a he starts getting tired around 7:45a, not 5:45a sorry.

    • Natalie Willes March 26, 2018 at 2:55 pm - Reply

      Hi Megha!! As long as he’s healthy and safe, I’d suggest continuing to wait until 6 am, then, you really need to wait until 9 am for nap one. It may take a few weeks for him to adjust, but I would do nap one starting any time between 9 am and 10 am, then regardless of the length of that nap, don’t do the next nap until 1:30 pm at the earliest (or 2:30 pm at the latest). I would move bedtime closer to 7 pm, give him 2-3 weeks, and he should adjust. This is a good blog post to read: https://www.babysleeptrainer.com/nap-transitioning-made-easy-part-one-3-naps-to-2/.

  67. Megha Mendiratta March 27, 2018 at 3:21 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for the feedback. I will start this ASAP. Do do I think that I should do 15 minutes forward each day until I get to 9 AM and 1:30 PM for his nap times? Or should I abruptly change and do the one hour jump? My biggest fear is that I push the whole day abruptly and he crashes around 630 or 7 PM and still wakes up at 4:45/5 AM in the morning. I sincerely appreciate your knowledge about this as I have been beating my head against the wall for the past couple months. Thank you also for the blog link! Going to read it now 🙂

    • Natalie Willes April 2, 2018 at 2:37 pm - Reply

      Start at 9am and 1:30pm which may be a little rough at first, but will get easier in a couple week’s time. And know that early morning wakings may still continue, but as long as you stay consistent with not going to baby until the desired wake time things should improve.

  68. Megha Mendiratta April 3, 2018 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Hi there! Thank you – he’s been doing 9a-10:30a and 1:30p-2:15p. Current bedtime is around 6p and wakes around 5:30a. So there has been improvement! 🙂 thank you so much! I plan to push the bedtime to 6:30p starting next week, and hope that he’ll slowly push his wake time to 6ish. I’m hopeful 🙂

    Thank you again!

  69. Megha Mendiratta April 12, 2018 at 2:29 am - Reply

    Good morning,
    It has been impossible to push the sleep time past 6p! He’s crying in tiredness. He’s back to waking up at 4:30a-5a. Nap 1 is 9a and the second is 1:30p and both are about 1hour in length. Do I just need to keep him up regardless? With Distractions etc? Could now be a bad time since it’s possible he’s in a sleep regression?

    Please advise.

    • Natalie Willes April 12, 2018 at 1:26 pm - Reply

      6 pm is just fine if that works best for your family, but early morning waking may continue until bedtime is at 7 pm or later. Later bedtime will get easier with time.

  70. Megha Mendiratta April 12, 2018 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    I’d like it to be 6:30/7p for his bedtime with a 6/6:30 walk up But he’s clawing at his eyes around 5:45-6p. Maybe the weather being nicer we can do an evening walk before bed or stroll to drag out the time until he’s used to it….

  71. Megha Mendiratta April 23, 2018 at 3:30 am - Reply

    Morning 🙂
    My son, as I’m sure you now know, is very stubborn with change when it comes to his sleep. I’m still trying to shift his sleep but have paused because we have a trip coming up and the nap times will be totally off. Just wanted your advice – if I start shifting his sleep time to an abrupt 7p sleep this week – with naps 9-10:30, and 2-3:30 (the hope being he finally wakes up at 6a or later in the morning) do you think it will be settled in 1-2 weeks? The reason I ask is because we are taking his first flight in 3 weeks.

    Second part of this question is that our flight times are either at the end of his nap (so while in transit to the airport!) or halfway into his nap time so I’m nervous about airplane sleep since.

    He’s so used to blackout rooms, a sound machine, and his crib – the plane will have none of those…

    If the sleep will finally shift then at least we are all sleeping better before the flight, and if there are tricks to sleep on the plane I’d love to know!

    Thank you!

    • Natalie Willes April 23, 2018 at 11:14 pm - Reply

      Yes, things should largely be settled within 1-2 weeks of making any changes in his routine. There’s never a really good time to fly that doesn’t disrupt sleep routines, so just do your best to survive during your plane trip and allow or assist him to sleep wherever and however you can. Good luck mama!!

  72. Allie Mayberger April 29, 2018 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    Hi!! Your posts are amazing!! I’m eating this all up and want to hire you for my next baby.

    I have a 5 month old who has been sleep trained. She wakes between 5-5:15am everyday.

    Nap 8:30-10am (or sometimes 8:30-9:30am … usually that!)
    12:45-2:30pm is her next nap (she’ll sleep on average 90 min
    4:30-5:00pm catnap

    If we get home from work late or she’s not tired@ all it’s more like 4:45-5:15pm

    She can sleep thru the entire night with a 7:30pm bedtime. Do you have any advice for me?

    • Natalie Willes April 30, 2018 at 3:04 pm - Reply

      Hi Allie! Thank you so much! I would make sure you’re following the guideline about waiting to go in to baby until 6:30 am to start her day, and remember it’s important she not be assisted to sleep for naps or at nighttime. <3

  73. Ciska May 1, 2018 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie, thanks for the responses provided here to follow up from your post! My 11 month old self settles quickly and with almost no crying for all naps and bedtime with a sleeping bag and lovey-with-two-pacifiers-attached. She has blockout curtains. She naps around 3 hrs a day, usually 9am-10/11 and 1pm-2/3 (she swaps the longer nap and shorter map of from morning to afternoon on a pattern I can’t predict but usually one is shorter and one is longer). The start time of her naps varies by 30-60 mins depending on what time she wakes, whether she gives early tired signs, etc. She goes to bed between 6:30-7pm, usually around 6:45-7 though. Ive tried putting her to bed earlier and later once or twice and neither seems to make much difference. She is night weaned and has two breastfeeds a day – 10 mins after getting up and 10 mins before bed. She has always struggled a bit with early morning wakings and now that she has started sleeping through she has slipped into a pattern of waking around 4:30-5:30am. I check she has her lovey/dummy and leave again, then only check on her if her cries start to become more urgent.usually it’s either babble or a sort of wind down cry that very gradually, off and on, becomes more agitated. She tends to settle a little then after 20-30 mins starts becoming agitated. Very very occasionally she will go back to sleep by herself but usually after winding down and up several times I get her up around 6:30. Sometimes when she has been awake for over an hour I can pat her back to sleep and she’ll then sleep until 7. I don’t use white noise but we live in a quiet place and there isn’t much morning noise yet at the times she usually wakes. It’s driving me crazy, and I can’t work out what I’m missing! Do you have any ideas?

    • Natalie Willes May 4, 2018 at 1:32 pm - Reply

      Hi Ciska! I believe it’s the initial check upon her waking at 4:30-5:30am that is instilling this early morning waking. The best thing to do is to stop going in to her until 6:30am or whatever the desired wake time is, as long as you’re certain she’s totally safe and healthy. Know that it may take quite some time for this issue to resolve, so stick with it and give the process time.

  74. Megha Mendiratta May 7, 2018 at 7:56 am - Reply

    Hi there!

    My son is doing better with wake ups and seems like he’s transitioning pretty naturally.
    My question is – how long can his 2 naps be?
    He wakes around 5:30a (previously 4:45a so it’s improving!) I get him at 6a, nap 1 is 9a-10:30a and second at 2p-3p. Bedtime around 6:30p.
    sometimes he sleeps longer during naps and I wonder if I should wake him because it will effect his second nap or night sleep (if it’s the later nap).

    Thanks again for the travel advice! I plan to push the bedtime to 7p after travels to get his wake time to be 6-6:30a.

    Wish me luck!

    • Natalie Willes May 7, 2018 at 3:17 pm - Reply

      Hi Megha! You’ll want to cap total daytime sleep at 3-3.5 hours and not allow any single nap to exceed 2 hours in length to preserve night time sleep. If you need additional help, please check out The Baby Sleep Trainer Program under the pricing tab! <3

  75. sleepyinchicago May 24, 2018 at 8:15 am - Reply

    Hi,
    we are currently on day 3 of CIO. the first day was hard but got through it . the 2nd day was harder. both the 1st and 2nd day, i did the pat/shhh method. The third day, I had more confidence or was just too tired and we never went in the pat/shhh. we just let him CIO. this morning, (morning of day 3 CIO), he woke up at 630 to feed. Normally, he wakes up between 7-8:30 am but right now. The thing is, he went back to sleep after this feeding, which is unusual for him because even when he is sleepy during feedings, as soon as he’s done, he’s alert and ready to play.

    He is still sleeping after his 6:30am feeding (it’s nearly 1030am). Is he just tired because he woke up crying about 4-5 times? Should I let him continue sleeping and wake when he is ready or is this sabotaging any sleep schedule we had in place? I worry, because we take him to day care by 8/8:30am (except for today) and I know he needs sleep. …maybe I’m just overly concerned ? .

    • sleepyinchicago May 24, 2018 at 8:16 am - Reply

      Natalie
      sorry for the typos and grammatical errors!

      • Natalie Willes May 25, 2018 at 1:45 pm - Reply

        No problem sleepyinchicago 😉 I really think you would benefit from doing the Baby Sleep Trainer Program (https://www.babysleeptrainer.com/my-program/). In the program I provide you a complete schedule and very thorough, how-to guidelines. If you choose the middle tier package ($99), you get direct follow-up, hands-on support from me and I can better help you troubleshoot for your specific baby and situation. <3

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