Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Early Morning Waking

Despite everything I do, Luke of 6 months still wakes early

My son, Luke, is 6 months old and is my first baby. He weighed 7lbs 4oz at birth and now weighs 17lbs. At present, he gains approx 4/5 ozs per week.
I have been following your CLB routines from birth with varying success. My problem is that although Luke settles very well at 7/7.30pm, he wakes at between 6/6.30 every morning, which is too early!! I weaned him at 5 and a half months and so far he’s followed your weaning routines although I started him on the 4 month weaning programme rather than straight in at 5 and a half months, so we’re still yet to introduce protein. Consequently, he’s still having a milk feed of 3/4 ounces at 1130, then lunch at approx 1200. He’s had a bottle of SMA Gold formula at his 10pm feed since he was 3 months and now has a breast feed at 7am, and one at 6.30pm, formula at 1130, 6oz formula at 2.30pm and approx 3oz formula at 10pm.
He sleeps for 45 mins at approx 9am, then between 90 mins and, rarely, 120 mins at lunchtime, then, depending on the lunchtime nap sleeps for about 30 mins between 4 and 5pm. I always put him down for his sleeps while he is still awake and he settles himself down. Unless he is ill, he doesn’t usually wake in the night after 10pm. If he does wake, I (or my husband) go in, check he’s not in a tangle, wet/dirty, then if he’s fine, just leave the room.
I am still feeding him 3ozs of SMA Gold at 10pm because I am too scared that if I drop this feed, he’ll wake even earlier in the morning. However, sometimes it takes almost 10 mins to wake him for this 10pm feed.
In order to get him to sleep until 7/7.30am, I’ve tried putting him to bed later, not feeding him until 7am in the hope that he just “gives up” waking so early, keeping him up until 9am even if he’s woken at 6am, letting him cry and then going in at 7, letting him cry himself back to sleep even if that means him going back to sleep at 7.20am, going in every 10 mins to check him, but none of these things seem to work. He wakes like clockwork at about 6.15 every morning! I seem to be surrounded by people whose babies sleep until 7.30/8.00. I only want him to sleep until 7 – doesn’t seem like too much to ask! What else can I do, or do I just have to accept that he’s one of life’s early risers and adapt my own routine accordingly? Please advise!!

Now the guidelines have changed as regards weaning you can speed things up a little as your baby’s digestive system is more mature than that of a 4 -5 month old.
Your baby’s iron stores will beginning to run low now and although he receives fortified formula at times during the day it is important he begins to receive enough iron through his diet as well to meet his growing needs.
By introducing protein into his diet you may well find that he sleeps for longer at night as his nutritional needs are being met.
Until protein is well established keep waking Luke for his late evening feed. Try waiting until 10.30/10.45pm before waking him and possibly increase the feed to 4ozs. It does often take babies 15 mins or more to really wake, but that is no reason to abandon yet. This slightly later feed could well just push him through to 6.45/7am. Once he has begun to do this constantly for three or four mornings, and he is taking protein in the day you could move it back to earlier if you wish to but do so gradually, waking him five minutes earlier every few days. Then when he is taking three good meals a day stop waking him in the evening and see if he can manage to still get through to 6.45/7am. Sometimes it can take one or two tries over a period of a week or so before his daily intake of food is enough to sustain him through the night.
Have you checked there is no other reason for his early waking? Is his room dark? Is he cold? Does your central heating or boiler fire up just before he wakes? This can often be an overlooked problem, the noise may be enough to stir him as he is in a light sleep.