My 13 month old has been waking up at 4AM for the day - HELP!

by Raquel

Question: My 13 month old daughter used to wake up around 5 and 5:30AM. Recently she has been waking up anywhere between 4 and 445AM for the day. Her day time and bed time routine have not changed and are as follows:

Nap- around 10:30-10:45 for 2 hours to 2.5 hours tops.
*she transitioned to one nap a couple of months ago

Bedtime-between 6:30 and 7PM

I have tried putting her down at night later- we tried 7:00, 7:30 and 8PM and she still wakes up at the same time.
For a few weeks she was actually waking up between 5:30AM and 6AM and still going down at 6:30/7PM every night. Then suddenly she changed it to 4AM.

Is there anything we can do to change her wake up time to later. Even just 5AM is fine.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

Heidi's Answer: Hi Raquel, Nice to hear from you and I am glad that the hourly wakings are in the past for you. (*** See Raquel's 5 1/2 month old post: Why does my baby wake up every hour?)

Anyway, let's have a look at those early wakings.

The nap time you are having - while very good to have it at a regular time - is at a surprising moment for a 13 month old. It would usually fit better when in early afternoon.

Is there a particular reason you have it there? Day care schedule? Is she truly tired at that time? ...

If there is no crucial reason, I suggest you start shifting it forward gently, until she goes down at say around 12.30-1pm.

I am supposing she self soothes when going down. What happens if you don't go straight to her when she wakes at 4am? Does she cry or would she simply fuss, or even happily keep busy with a toy or so?

Sometimes waking up like that can have trivial causes, so simple we overlook them: has the temperature been decreasing during the night, more than it used to because of the weather outside?

Noises on the street or at neighbours'?

More or less light than usual?

Does she often have a wet diaper when she wakes?

Sometimes you would have to sleep in the room - or set a recorder of some sort - before you realise what could be the cause. I remember a 'mystery' like that caused by a neigbhour's alarm clock, not heard in the parent's bedroom, but enough to wake a little baby up.

An extra thing to try is top up a little on her food intake. And I do not mean 'stuffing' right before bed time, but just a little extra, spread throughout the day.

Good luck,

PS: The toddler alarm clock Reine mentions in her comment below is this Kid'Sleep Classic.

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one nap/special nightlight
by: Reine


As soon as my children started to take one nap i.s.o. two, they usually became tired by 11 a.m. So I used to give them their lunch between 11 and noon (depending from day to day on when they had woken up in the morning) and afterwards put them to bed for the nap.

My kids are early birds as well...: your baby is a bit young now, but if at toddler age it turns out she's just an early bird too, here's something we bought and it helped: it was a nightlight with a round display, divided in two: the lower part showed a bunny fast asleep, the upper a bunny with a backpack in the park. You could set the "alarm", so the light would switch from lighting the sleeping bunny to lighting the playing bunny. That way, a child who can't tell time yet can see if it's still night time or not. (brand: Claessens' Kids Switzerland, "KidSleep", just googled it and it's still available, see link in Heidi's P.S. above).

Good luck!

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