Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Early Morning Waking

My 7.5 month old has begun to wake early so is tired in the day

My daughter has started waking up at 6am every morning, chatting in her cot until 6.30 and then wanting to get up and start her day. The big problem is that she can only stay awake in the morning a maximum of two hours before needing a sleep. By 8.30 at the latest she is asleep again. I don’t know how long to leave her to sleep so that it doesn’t interfere with her lunchtime nap. Yesterday she woke up at 9.30 and so by 11.30 she wanted to sleep and didn’t want to eat her lunch. I put her to bed at 11.30 and she woke again at 13.30. I tried to get her to have a short nap at about 4pm but she didn’t want to sleep and was rather bad tempered and tetchy all afternoon. She went to bed at 6.45 and cried until 7.00pm, then woke again at 6.00 this morning. I have black-out blinds in her room and have not done anything different to her routine.

This problem often arises in the second half of the first year as your baby sleep needs begin to change slightly. But once you have become caught in the circle of early waking and early naps she will get very tired by evening, especially as she gets more mobile and active.
You could try to put her down between 6.30 and 6.45pm seeing if she will settle slightly earlier as overtiredness can cause a baby to cry before settling. If she is willing to go into her cot earlier and chat herself off to sleep, it may help in the early morning. Falling asleep exhausted often leads to early waking.
Although she is tired at 8.30am with the early start, try pushing this sleep forward very slowly by five minutes every three or four days. As it gets later you could try limiting its length to 30 minutes, again cut back to this time very gradually as you want her to be able to enjoy her lunch around 11.30/12.00 and begin to settle for her lunchtime sleep around 12.30/1pm.

These changes are going to happen slowly, sometimes it can take well over a week for a baby to get out of the habit of early waking.
Make sure she has plenty of floor time in the day, even if she is not yet mobile. Take her outside as much as possible and also join swimming or activity classes such as Tumble Tots if you have not already done so.