Sleeping FAQ: 9-12 months – Early Morning Waking

My 11-month-old daughter falls asleep exhausted at 7pm and wakes at 5am

My 11-month-old daughter settles well at 7pm. She goes down awake but is deeply asleep within seconds. She has now started waking up at 5am. She does not go back to sleep although I leave her in her cot until 7am. She will cry a little and talk a bit. She has a light projector that plays music and shines on the ceiling; this sometimes get her back to sleep but more than anything it keeps her quiet. She has a dummy (or 5) which she has always lost in the morning and wants to find it.

She is always really really hungry in the morning and once she is taken downstairs she cries until she gets her milk. She can stay awake from 5 till around 9.30 but then has a big sleep of around 2 hours. That will then be her only sleep for the day, however some days she is tired after 2 hours, has a 1 hour sleep then another 30 minutes in the afternoon. I have to wake her up after each nap so that she will go down at 7pm. She eats 3 meals a day and has around 18oz of milk. For breakfast she will eat 1/4 weetabix and 1/2 slice of toast. Lunch is a homemade main meal with a portion size about the same as a 4 month jar followed by yoghurt. Tea is a lighter meal such as vegetable pasta or cauliflower cheese with a yoghurt or fruit puree. She takes a 7oz bottle at 7am and 6.45pm and 6ozs at 2.30pm.

As your daughter is waking so early in the morning she has got into the habit of having her longer nap in the morning and so a vicious cycle of falling asleep exhausted at 7pm and waking early has begun. A baby of this age is very active by day and you need to be aware of her need for a longer sleep in the middle of the day rather than earlier.

Begin by putting her to bed earlier in the evening. Have her settled by 6.30/6.45pm and see if she is more able to chat herself to sleep after 15-20mins. This may begin to help her get through a little later in the morning. It will take time and persistence to change her sleep cycles, especially those of early morning waking. You may not notice any real change for over a week but keep trying and also altering her daytime sleep to help her.

If she continues to wake early and need a nap by 9am you will have to begin to cut back on this so to push her onto a longer lunchtime nap. To do this wake her 10 minutes earlier every 3-4 days until she is only sleeping 30-40 minutes. This should have the effect of sleeping for longer after her lunch. The ideal should be about 2 hours. If she still wakes after an hour at the lunchtime nap offer her a drink of milk, water or well diluted juice before going down in case thirst is stopping her from sleeping longer at this time.

Once she has changed to having a long lunchtime nap, going down less exhausted at 6.45/7pm and waking later in the morning, push her morning nap on to 9.30am and keep it short.