Sleeping FAQ: 9-12 months – Early Morning Waking

Why is my 10-month-old son waking early since we have returned from holiday?

My 10-month-old son has been waking early – about 5.30am – since back from our holidays over 2 weeks ago. He was unwell when we returned from holiday, with a high temperature and off his food, then that got better after a week. He stopped being interested in his 2.30pm feed before we went but whilst we were out there he wanted it again, so I started giving it to him again. When we came back he had the 2.30pm feed on the days that he was off his food. Once his appetite come back I would still offer it to him, and he could take it or leave it. Yesterday he had 4oz.

He wakes at 5.30am and seems hungry – taking 8-9oz milk – and sometimes goes back to sleep until about 6.30am, or plays in cot till 6; gets bored and then calls for me. He has breakfast – he has only started getting interested again lately – then goes for his morning nap (9-9-15am) and seems to want an hour. He is grumpy for the rest of the morning if has less.

Lunch is about 11.30-11.45 – usually ok – and has water, then plays until his afternoon nap anywhere from 12.30-1pm, depending on when woke up (if he had less than 1 hour, the nap will be about 12.30); he usually has 1-1.5 hours at this nap and normally stays happy till his 5pm tea (I sometimes give it at 4.30pm if he had a 11.30am lunch and didn’t take any milk at 2.30-3 feed) .Bedtime is at 7pm.

This 5.30 am waking as seems to be a habit now – despite one day having an ideal “Gina”-day of 30 minutes in the morning and 2 hrs from 12.30 (although he woke after 45mins, I could shush back to sleep) and I thought this might have made a difference, but he still woke at 5.30am next day.

I’ve tried increasing food but can’t force it ! What else can I do?

It can be difficult to break your baby from a habit such as early morning waking once it is established. A vicious circle occurs as your son is awake early so needs to go down by 9am as he is tired. This means a longer sleep than the usual 30-45 minutes and then he cuts back at lunchtime and so falls asleep exhausted at 7pm – which will often result in early waking

To get him out of this habit, very slowly begin to cut back the amount of time he spends asleep at the morning nap by 5-10 minutes every few days. At the same time try to push this nap on later by 5 minutes or so every few days until he is going down nearer to 9.30am and is asleep for 30-45 minutes. This will help him push on with his lunchtime nap and be going down for that between 12.30 and 1pm. With a shorter morning nap he may well sleep nearer to 2 hours. At this age a lot of babies are beginning to be mobile and active. They fight sleep as they want to carry on exploring the world, but as a result become overtired and unable to settle to sleep in the day. By moving his naps slowly forward in the day, he will be less tired by 7pm. You may have to make his bedtime earlier by about 15 minutes if he still does not sleep for longer than 1.5 hrs at lunchtime.

Keep offering the 2.30pm feed – even though your son may only take a smallish feed at this time. If he begins to cut back on the amount he eats at tea or is not so interested in his bedtime bottle then begin to cut it back and drop it. As he is hungry when he wakes in the morning he still needs to have a third feed in the day. You could begin to offer it in a beaker along with a small snack such as a piece of fruit or rice cake.