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Read some of our great articles on a range of parenting topics from sleeping to teething. We publish new blog posts regularly and feature a number of baby sleep experts and their top tips

Early Morning Wake-ups in babies and toddlers

Early Morning Wake-ups in babies and toddlers

This is a guest post by Sally Anysz

Early morning wake-ups can be a challenge for many parents, often leaving them feeling exhausted and frazzled before the day even begins.

Understanding the science behind these wake-ups, their potential causes, and implementing effective solutions can lead to more restful nights for both children and parents alike. This blog will touch upon potential causes of early morning wakings, and some practical strategies for you to try.

Let’s start by looking at what an Early Morning Wake-up is? An early morning wake-up refers to when a child wakes up significantly earlier than desired or necessary, often before the sun rises or at a time that disrupts the family's sleep routine. While every child is different, generally I tell my clients that waking up before 6:00 a.m. is considered early.

There are many factors that can contribute to early morning wake-ups in children. These can include physiological (e.g. circadian rhythms and melatonin production), environmental, developmental, behavioural and social/lifestyle factors. Below are some of these factors explained.

1. Circadian Rhythms: Circadian rhythms are the body's internal clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. In children, these rhythms may shift, leading to earlier wake-up times, especially during developmental milestones or changes in routine.
2. Melatonin Production: Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles, and disruptions in its production can affect sleep patterns. Children may produce less melatonin than adults, making them more prone to early wake-ups, especially if their environment (e.g. light) or routine interferes with melatonin release.
3. Light: Light plays a crucial role in regulating circadian rhythms andmelatonin production. Exposure to bright light, such as sunlight or artificial light from screens in the morning can signal to the body to wake up earlier than desired.
4. Sleep Architecture: Children experience different sleep cycles than adults,with more time spent in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is lighter and easier to wake from. This can contribute to more frequent awakenings duringthe night and earlier wake-up times.
5. Poor Sleep Environment: light entering the bedroom, noise, room temperature that is too cold/hot can disrupt a child's sleep and cause them to wake up early.

6. Irregular Bedtime Routine: Inconsistent bedtime routines can throw off a child's internal sleep clock, leading to early wake-ups. 

7. Underlying Sleep Disorders: Conditions such as sleep apnea or restless legsyndrome can disrupt a child's sleep patterns, causing them to wake up early.

8. Hunger or Discomfort: A child that is hungry, thirsty, or uncomfortable due to a wet nappy, may wake up earlier than usual.
9. Overtiredness/Under tiredness: If your child has not had enough day sleep and/or if they have gone to bed too late this can cause early wake ups.Conversely, if your little one has had too much day sleep and/or they have gone to bed too early they will potentially wake earlier.
Addressing early morning wake-ups often involves a combination of lifestyle changes, environmental adjustments, and consistency in routines. Here aresome examples of effective strategies:


1. Establish a Consistent Bedtime Routine: Create a calming bedtime routinethat helps signal to your child that it's time to wind down and prepare forsleep. This could include activities like reading a book, taking a warm bath, or listening to soft music.
2. Daytime sleep: Make sure your little one is having the right amount of daytime sleep for their age. You will need to consider the total amount of sleepthey are having in 24 hours. If they are taking too much sleep in the day it’snot surprising that they wake early.
3. Optimize the Sleep Environment: Ensure that your child's bedroom is conducive to sleep by minimising noise (using white noise can be beneficial) and light, maintaining a comfortable temperature, and providing a supportive mattress and bedding.
4. Address Underlying Sleep Issues: If you suspect that your child may have a
sleep disorder, consult with a paediatrician further evaluation and treatment.
Early morning wake-ups in children can be challenging, but with patience, consistency, and the implementation of effective strategies, it is possible to improve. By understanding the causes of early wake-ups and implementingpractical solutions, you can help your child get the rest they need to thrive.
If you are continuing to struggle with early morning wake-ups then my eBook“A guide to early morning wake ups”, is available to purchase on my website It includes everything you need to know about early morning wake ups, including 3 solutions for improving them.

Sally @ MiniSleepers xx


I am Sally, a mum of two gorgeous girls and extremely passionate about helping families achieve good quality sleep. Prior to becoming a baby and toddler sleep consultant, I worked for 10 years in the NHS as an Occupational Therapist, specialising in pain management. Part of my remit was helping my patients with their sleep problems. Following the birth of my first child, my interest in infant sleep grew, as I understood the importance and the need for good quality, restorative sleep for all the family. I took my passion for infant sleep further and qualified as a sleep consultant, whilst on maternity leave with my second child

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