31 answers

One Year Old Waking WAY Too Early!

I'm at a loss as to what to do. My (just turned) one year old is waking up WAY to early in the morning. I have been following the tips in "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby" since she was born, but I don't really feel like it is working. According to that book, you should try moving their bedtime up a little earlier each night until you hit the time that lets them sleep the longest (Weisbluth says they should be going to bed somewhere between 6 & 8). We did that, and when we hit 7:15, she started sleeping until 7am...it was the best week of my life! But it only lasted a week, then she gradully started waking up earlier and earlier, even though she is still going to bed at the same time (her naps have also gotten shorter during the day). The past few mornings, she has been waking at 4am. I do not go in there, and after 10-20min of crying, she will fall back asleep, but for only about 1/2 an hour. By 5am she is awake and NOT going back to sleep. I refuse to go in there until at least 5:30 to give her a chance to go back to sleep, but she doesn't (I have tried letting her cry for up to an hour...which was horrible, and of course no one is sleeping at that point!) So, we've been getting up around 5:30, but she still seems tired (fussy, rubbing her eyes, yawning). I don't feed her breakfast until around 7am, even when she wakes up early. I've tried everything to not reinforce this early waking, but it is still happening.
Not sure what other info might help...she still takes two naps a day (9ish and 2ish). She sleeps 1-1/2 hours in the AM, and 30 min-1 hour in the PM. She eats 3 times a day, plus 1-2 snacks. She eats dinner around 6pm.
*I also just recently bought Ferber's book "Solving your child's sleep problems". He says that kids this age only sleep 9-10 hours a night (even though most of my friends kids this age sleep about 12hrs a night), so you have to move their bedtime later, to get them to sleep later. So now I'm also confused...one book says move their bedtime earlier, and one says move it later. I don't know what to do, but we need to get some sleep in my house! Any advice will be greatly appreciated...thanks Mamas!

What can I do next?

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i didn't read what everybody else said, but my two cents is to try putting her down later (if earlier isn't working). 8:00 has always worked best for my girls. Also i know this isn't ideal but Have you tried to give her some milk to comfort her and then put her down again? (just don't leave the milk in the bed with her)

Put her to bed at 8:00 pm. A lot of times the "experts" ie "authors" of these "special books" do not have children of their own. Give her a bath, read a story, and then lights out. Hang in there.

My experience - you want them to sleep later, put them to bed later. I've never heard of putting them to bed earlier to make them sleep later.

Good Luck!

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sometimes the books work, sometimes they don't. Take suggestions from the book and try them out. Just find what works for your child. Many kids are just not wanting to sleep that much at that age. Some kids sleep a lot. Find what works for your family. My thoughts would be to make the bed time a little later again to encourage sleeping in some in the morning. It's so hard to think you had something down and then boom the kids mess it up! That's what my sweetie does, anyway. It can drive me crazy, but I try to keep it in perspective that she is just 18 months and is still figuring out this world.

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My oldest did the same thing for awhile when she was about that age. We found it to be a phase. When I asked the pediatrician about it, she said that their sleep cycles get shorter in the morning. Around 5 was a light sleep time for my little one and she just woke herself up to play - even though it wasn't time for her to play. Once she got more active during the day, she quit doing it. Good luck. We are now fighting with my 8 month old on the same thing. No sleep is NO fun!

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Each book contradicts itself because they are written according to different theories. 12 hours of sleep is fine, but it doesn't have to all be at night. Night and naptime sleep should equal to about 12 hours for the day.

When I studied infant and toddler development in college, we looked at the different theories and decided that the one that worked best, is what works for the child.

For my children, I find that putting them to bed a bit later gets them to sleep longer. They go to bed around 7:30pm to 8:30pm (sometimes later) and sleep anywhere from 8am to 9am.

They also only take one nap a day. Well, my 3 year old refuses to nap at all, but I will put him in his room for "quiet" time to play or hopefully fall asleep if not.

My just turned 1 year old takes one nap a day, right after lunch usually around 1. Sometimes, he will need a before lunch nap, but it is very rare.

Also, early waking is a phase. When a child has discovered something new or hit a new milestone, like pulling up, walking, talking... it is typical for them to lose sleep over excitement/anxiety/frustration to practice the new skill. Once they have it mastered, the sleep cycle usually returns to normal.

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Around the time my son turned 1, he started taking 1 nap a day, instead of 2. He started sleeping better at night, and waking up later in the mornings. His bedtime isn't until about 8-8:30, and sleeps about 12 hours. If he goes to bed before 8, he wakes extremely early and won't sleep well at night. Maybe try pushng her bedtime a little later each night, and shifting to 1 nap instead of 2. I think babies go through phases, also. I hope you get some rest soon!

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Throw out the books and figure out a schedule that fits your daughter. Both my children went through a period when they woke up really early like your daughter and we just had to start our day earlier for a few weeks. It won't last forever and it is better to just let nature take it's course than try to fight it. If you aren't against TV then put her in your bed and turn on PBS or Noggin. You can get at least one show worth of sleep. Good luck!

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I wish I could remember when we started this with my daughter (I know she was less than 2), but we employ the "good morning light." It started when she began getting up earlier and earlier every morning. I think it was a 4:30 morning when I had enough. I found a very quiet lamp timer and quiet night light. I set the light to go off about 30 minutes after laying her down and to come on around 7 am. I think I set it to stay on for 2 hours. The rule was if the light was off, it was sleep time. If it was on, it was time for play. It took a few nights of going in before the light, and laying on her floor while she stayed in her crib. She was not happy with the arrangement, but she didn't get frantic if I was there. It also did not eliminate all wakings. It just communicated to her that we would be going back to sleep until the light was on. Eventually, she would settle herself if it was still dark in her room. She is almost 5 and we still use the technique. She is beginning to tell time so it won't be needed much longer, but she stays in bed until 7:30 without any hassles.

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Right now, my 15 month old sleeps for about 15 a day. 2 hours for nap, and 12 hours at night. She was waking up early, so I moved her bedtime to 8pm, and she now sleeps until 7-8am. Every child is different. Yours may just need less sleep than others. Is there a chance that she's teething? Try moving her bedtime to a little later, and give her some milk when she wakes up, then lay her back down. That way, her belly is full, and she can go back to sleep. Good luck! I know that 5am is NO fun!

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How about making the morning nap shorter or cut it out. Take the afternoon nap. Once the child is up, take her outside in the fresh air for a good hour and let her play and you get some walking exercise with a stroller. Baby should go to sleep after a routine in the evening.

As said earlier every child is different. I didn't have all the books you guys have now days and went on instinct. Child hungry at 5am or 6am get up change and feed. Play with baby and got to nap at X hour. You are going to have less sleep until the child is 18 years old and now is the time to learn to adjust. Display or showrooms in a home are over until the last child is in school. The days of the supermom are over (it's a wonder any of us ever survived the demands we put on ourselves) But this time will be over shortly. The other S.

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There are five things you cannot control with a child:
1)Sleep 2)Eat 3)Potty 4)Talk 5)Walk

They are people, they have their own little personalities and their own little quirks.

I have four children the oldest being 18 and the youngest being 5 - have you guys ever thought about getting rid of the books and going on "Motherly instinct"?
I don't mean it to sound rude but for some reason children are being raised by a "book" now days and it is not working.

A one year old child needs 10-13 hrs of sleep per DAY and you are expecting her to sleep 12 through the night and then take two naps a day to. Some kids need a little less some a little more.

I am not sure why new parents started putting their kids to bed at 7pm but where is the family time once everyone is home and dinner is done - there is none because the parents "want their ME time and the kids need to be in bed".
Guess what, when you had children you should have made the choice that someone else comes before "Me".

The only thing you are teaching you child by leaving her to cry is "She cannot count on you to be there when she needs something or someone". She cannot do for herself and guess what - the only people in this world that are suppose to do for her "Won't because the book says to let her cry and they don't want to get out of bed".

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Recently my one year old granddaughter was doing the same thing, waking up at 5 am and mom was tired all day. the girls go to bed at 8:00. My daughter thought they were not getting enough REAL excercise being cooped up so she started taking them outside, to the park, the play area in the mall (Frisco has a great one)or an indoor thing, I can't remember the name of it but I'll ask her. Anyway she did this after nap time around 3pm and made sure they were at this for at least 90 minutes. Then home for dinner and she said the baby (12 mos.) is now sleeping til 7:00. I know I sleep better on days when I go to the gym.

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Hey there!

I have 4 children of my own and have been watching kids out of my home for about 5 years. In my experience, most children reaching age one, should be cutting out the morning and early evening nap and replacing it with one long nap after lunch(2-3hours). This puts them usually at a bedtime between 7-8pm. It sounds like she might be ready for that transition. I would try it, it might take her a week or so to get use to the new schedule, but in the end she should be sleeping later in the mornings. Hope this helps!

My daughter is the same age and I have found that I have to absolutely follow a strict bedtime routine in order for her to sleep well - which mainly means that I cannot skip the bath. She seems to use the bath as a soothing/calming time and needs it to sleep well. So, review everything you are doing in the evenings - not just the bedtime itself. Make sure nothing else has changed as that might be upsetting her pattern.


Every child is different. Books are only so good as to give you an average and like in school the average could be B but there would be some D's and some A's. All children have unique needs and no book can replace the wisdom of a mother when she chooses to use the wisdom.

We used Weissbluth too. I can't remember really what we were doing at that point, although, I know that our son gave up his am nap at 13 months. I do know that we eventually moved his bedtime back to 7 pm and when he dropped his afternoon nap, I moved it back to b/t 6 and 6:30. He has been doing that since he was 18 months and always gets 13 hours of sleep except for the rare occasion. Maybe you should try moving her back some more. I know that even when he was taking one nap a day moving it back into even the pre 7 pm spot really helped him. Maybe, unfortunately, she is trying to push the am and pm nap together and drop the am nap totally. Waking up early might be a way of dealing with it... not sure.

Anyway, Weissbluth is right about battling this type of stuff with earlier bedtimes. Try going earlier if you can. See if that helps. Also, Ferber iIMO is a little too rough and really more stressful for everyone involved. Also, bad route, in my experience is Babywise. Total waste of time and massive strss on your youngster.

Dear A.P.
I realize it's been over a year since you posted this original message. But because your situation is IDENTICAL to mine (except that I have a boy). I was wondering what did you finally do? What worked and how long until you had a "good" sleeper?

I think the first thing you need to remember is that regardless of what the books like to say, all children are different! What is going to work for my two year old may not work for your 1 year old or your neighbor's two year old.

Secondly, don't be afraid to try stuff. Is is possible that two naps a day and 12 hours a night is just too much sleep at the wrong times? I have never had a 1 year old sleep that much in my life! I'd suggest playing with the naps and see how that affects bedtime before moving bedtime again. Then, move bedtime later until you find what works for her and you!


Put her to bed at 8:00 pm. A lot of times the "experts" ie "authors" of these "special books" do not have children of their own. Give her a bath, read a story, and then lights out. Hang in there.

Have you tried to cut out the morning nap, have her good nap in the afternoon and then have her go to bed around 8ish? My kids usually got up the same time every morning no matter what time they went to sleep at night. For some kids you can dictate their wake up time with moving their bed time and some just have an internal clock. I think cutting out that morning nap might be rough for a couple of days but maybe that will help. Good luck!!

Ok, so I'm definitely not an expert here, but I'll offer my advice. I've not read Ferber's book, but I've read parts of "Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child". I've had a similar experience with my 8 month old. He used to go to bed at 6:30pm and wake around 6:00/6:30am. He also took a 2hr nap at 9am and a 2-3 hr nap at 2pm. Then he slowly started waking earlier and earlier and eventually was waking at 5am. He'd fall back asleep for 45min-1hr, but I wouldn't get him earlier than 6:30am. Luckily he doesn't cry when he wakes up in the morning, he just talks a lot and rolls around, but I still felt bad leaving him in there for so long. His morning nap also began to get shorter. Instead of 2hrs, it's more like an hour or 1:15, but he still takes a long nap in the afternoon 2-3hrs at 2/2:30. So, assuming he needs less sleep because he's getting older, I decided to try putting him to bed later, and it has worked. He now goes to bed at 7/7:30 depending on when he wakes from his afternoon nap, and he doesn't wake up before 6am. (Occasionally, he'll wake briefly and make a sound around 5am, but he's right back to sleep). I think they're somewhat always in transition with their sleeping schedules. It seems like I find the "sweet spot", and it works perfectly for about two weeks or a month, and then I have to tweak it a little. So after all that...try putting her to bed a little later. It's worked for me (for now).

Like others have said the books are just a guideline and all children are different. My niece is 4 and she has always gotten up around 5am no matter what her parents tried. Lucky for me, my daughter has always been a great sleeper and apparently one of those kids that needs a lot of it. She is 17 months old now. This is what has been working for us:
We covered her windows with blackout curtains before she was a year old when she started waking at 6am. This helped some.
Around a year old her bed time was between 8-8:30. We started putting her to bed a little earlier when the time changed this fall and when we cut out her 3rd nap of the day. Now,she goes down between 7:30 and 8 and gets up around 7:30.
She still took 2 naps a day about 2 hours each (the 2nd one getting shorter and shorter over time) until 16 months. She then kind of weaned herself off the morning nap and now she naps for 2-3 hours at 1pm.
Another thing you might consider is the temperature in her room...is it getting too hot or cold? Is her diaper getting so wet by this time that it is waking her; maybe it's time to move up to the next size and gain some extra absorbency or make sure she is not drinking anything too close to bed time. Is she currently teething?
Good luck.

I would try skipping the afternoon nap and making sure she is getting enough food intake during the day. I think she may be hungry and that's why she's starting to wake up sooner. I know you said you are feeding her plenty but maybe she is due for an increase. Good Luck!

First off I feel your pain. I am sorry this seems so overwhelming. I will pray for your sweet girl to fall into a better routine. I have three girls and we scheduled their sleep and feedings and they all slept like champs. But if there is one thing I look back on with a tinge of regret is making my needs more important than theirs. I am not suggesting that's what you're doing, I know you're just trying to help her go back to bed. I am just suggesting that you may not find your answer in the books. I believe your little one is trying to tell you something. Have you prayed for wisdom? I know for me they usually had something going on when their sleep patterns were off. For instance, an ear ache, hungry, cold, bad dream and the list goes on. My friend called one day for advice because her daughter kept waking up in the night and after much serving and patience (night after night) she finally figured out that Shelby was cold. Her covers would kick off in the crib and she was just too cold. We got her footed p.j.s and sure enough she slept. I think it sounds more like your daughter's not good naps the day of the bad night to me but that's hard to explain in an email. There is a hormone called corticol steroid and it's a natural hormone in humans, anyway if you don't get enough rest you can have TROUBLE sleeping. Whatever is wrong with your baby she's not trying to torture you!! Keep that in mind. Please consider going in her room and cuddling for a few minutes, feeling her skin, kisses reassurance etc. then if you have a total peace about the fact that she is just in a bad habit of waking too early then let her cry. Tell her mommy is too tired and is going back to bed now. I'll be right back in the morning. If all of this was just a bad habit........... that week that you put her to bed early would not have worked. She needs you to come in when she cries. Sorry, but it's a personal regret of mine so you get the soap box. Finally, the best Godly parenting advice I've ever gotten is to love others first! Then I am all for loving her enough to teach her how to sleep. Hang in there, I know you're tired. There is a God, and He loves you and He will give you peace. This whole mom thing is pretty humbling for me, so I hope the spirit of my email is humility. I hope to help. oh, yes. Is she hungry? Is she getting enough protein? It won't spoil her to bring her to the kitchen and see if she'd eat 1/2 a cheese stick. You and her are up anyway. If so and goes right back to bed, you may be able to feed higher protein foods at nightime. bed time snack?

My oldest child quit taking a morning nap by that age, and didn't go to bed until 8 or 9 p.m., she then slept all night to maybe 7. She still had her afternoon nap, but seemed fine without the morning one, and didn't sleep then anyway. Every child is different, I had four, and you can't (go by the book) it is just examples and tips. I think maybe putting her to bed a little later, and if she still takes a bottle, give her rice cereal the last feeding of a night, that really helped mine sleep all night. Hope this helps.

Hi there. It might be time to drop one of the naps and just let her have one long one(2 hours)from approximately 11am until 1pm. Then she will be tired by the end of the day and hopefully sleep until 6:30 or 7 in the morning. We did the same for my son when he was about a year old (he's 21mos now). He actually kind of just "fell" into that pattern on his own. But we generally have a morning activity where I try to be home by 11:30am at the latest, have a short story to settle him and then he sleeps for two hours but no more because I want him to sleep at night. At night time, the bedtime routine starts just before 8pm. I read him a story and then either my husband or I will tell him a story (no pictures to look at or pages to turn) and then we put him in his bed. Some nights - depending upon his activity level during the day - he goes straight to sleep and others it will take him until 8:30pm or so to settle. On average, he sleeps until 6:30am. I've just resigned myself to the fact that he is not a 7 to 7 sleeper. Like you, I have many friends whose children have these sleep habits - but not every child is the same. On occasion, when my son hasn't had his two hour nap during the day, he may go down earlier and sleep later - but frankly, I like my mid-day break and "me" time in the middle of the day to get some things done so I don't mind waking up before 7. And like you said - even when he goes to bed later, it doesn't necessarily mean that he will sleep later in the morning... I'd try adjusting the nap and see what happens... Good luck!

i didn't read what everybody else said, but my two cents is to try putting her down later (if earlier isn't working). 8:00 has always worked best for my girls. Also i know this isn't ideal but Have you tried to give her some milk to comfort her and then put her down again? (just don't leave the milk in the bed with her)

Hi! My son is now 21 months & has always been an "early" riser (5am for us). I did find when he turned 1, I cut out the morning nap. At that time, he was only taking a 30 min AM & if I was lucky an hour PM nap. I figured if day care kids could go to 1 nap at 1 then so could he. It was tough for about a week but it really wasn't too bad. I did it gradual - his naps used to be at 9 & 2 so day 1 I had him go till 10:30 (you have to help them, keep them occupied & busy & be focused totally that extra time). After I few days I pushed it to 11:00 & so on. Now he is still on the same schedule & it's been great. He gets up between 6:30 & 7:00, goes down for nap between 12-12:30 (sleeps between 2 & 3 hrs). We do dinner around 6:00, bath around 7:00, read out books then I put him down at 7:45 & he goes to bed sometimes at 8, sometimes at 8:30 - just depends on him, he'll just play in his crib with a couple of books I have in there for him. He has done WONDERFUL on this schedule. When he is going through growth sputs, he'll actually sleep till 8:00am (but that doesn't last very long....:)
As far as the "putting to bed early" theory I can tell you it worked for me when the time changed in October. That was our only set back. My son was 17 months at the time & falling back an hour had him getting up at 5:00 am again. I friend of mine told me about the "putting to bed" early theory & I tried it. I first started at 7:15 (instead of 7:45) & after a few days, my son was back on his schedule, I didn't even have to push it back any earlier. But I can say in the fall, it definately worked & I'll probably be doing it again this fall.

GOOD LUCK & please feel free to ask me any questions. I am a first time mom & learning as I go as well.

We went by Healthy Sleep Habits Health Child as well and were religous about making nap time. I went crazy with those transition times that took 1-3 weeks but then was overjoyed and amazed when they fell right back into a routine. I still would say go for the 7:00 bedtime, responding to their cues to give or take 30 minutes. I can't remember what time my daugher went to one LONG nap, from about 1:00 to 3:00. As you know, no one will have the perfect answer. I would try to make that second nap at around 1:00 to 2:00 and make sure that she is not sleeping after about 4:30. Hang in there, she will get back into the groove!

One thing we have done with our son since he was around 4 months old (now 16 mths.) is installed a "black out" shade in his window. I don't know if it has helped or if our son is just the type to sleep 12 hours. We put him to bed around 8pm-8:15pm. We do have occasions where he will wake around 6am and we just give him 30 minutes or so to fall back asleep. Would there be any outside noises around your house (morning traffic) that she could be hearing? We also run an air purifier in his room to drown out other noises. We live next to a busy road. I do think every child is different. We are also now down to 1 nap a day. We cut out the morning nap and he sleeps from 12:30-3pm. Good luck to you!

There could be several things going on. I remember my little one's sleep habits changing at certain ages. I also remember getting up at 5am sometimes b/c she was ready to get up and play!! Which was a bummer; especially on the weekends. She could be teething or going through a growth spurt.

I hate to tell you this but my child is now 2 (plus I have a 6 month old) and I have never gotten the sleep that I used to get before I had kids. I haven't set my alarm in 2 years! It seems like just when things are getting good... sleeping until 7am. Then all of sudden... 5am! Someone is wide awake and ready to go. I would always put a safe toy or book in the crib the night before. Also, you may want to put a sippy cup with water in there as well. So that if they do wake up early at this age they can play in their crib, drink water until you are ready to get them. Sometimes I would hear her playing for at least 45 minutes. Which was certainly helpful!!

My experience - you want them to sleep later, put them to bed later. I've never heard of putting them to bed earlier to make them sleep later.

Good Luck!

Boy oh boy, do I feel for you! When my eldest daughter (now 7 & a wonderful sleeper for several years now :) ) was about that age, she changed her schedule for a bit & wouldn't go to bed until nearly 6 am! I'm not even kidding...miserable.

My advice would be to be very wary of "baby training" books. I prefer the Dr. Sears books, but we're one of those crazy attachment parenting families. :)


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