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My Baby Wakes Up Too Early

Dear Heather,

My 8-month-old wakes up almost every morning around 5:30 and will not go back to sleep—even if I feed her and put her back in bed.

Can I do anything to make her sleep in?

Zero-Dark 30

Dear ZD30,

Five in the morning is a popular baby wake time. The morning hours contain more light sleep, and babies are more likely to wake up—whether by a noise or just transitioning between stages of sleep—and not be able to fall back to sleep in the wee hours.

The key to moving a wake-up time is holding a boundary for the baby's brain and body that will eventually shift the internal clock. The most important signal is light—meaning that blackout curtains or shades are a must if you have an early riser.

RELATED: Is My Baby Ready For a Nap Schedule?

A feeding at 5:30 a.m. may be what's telling her tummy it's time to wake up, so shift that feeding to 6 a.m. (In "The Happy Sleeper," we recommend either weaning gradually or using the Sleep Wave if the baby is crying) and soon her internal clock will tell her 6 a.m. is the right time to wake. If you always feed and talk to her at 5:30 a.m., the food and social interaction are telling her that's the time to start the day.

RELATED: Help! My Baby Only Sleeps in My Arms

Usually shifting bedtime later doesn't work, so keep to a consistent, early bedtime (7:30 p.m. is good) and think about the cues of light, food and social interaction to make sure you're giving her brain the right information to know when to wake up.

Sleep happy,


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Sleep expert Heather Turgeon, co-author of "The Happy Sleeper: The Science-Backed Guide to Helping Your Baby Get a Good Night's Sleep—Newborn to School Age," will fix your family's sleep problems in this space as she does in her home consultations. Turgeon's solutions are nonjudgmental, kind and—best of all—based on science.

No situation is too challenging. Leave your sleep problem in the comments. Let's all get a good night's sleep, finally.

Photo via Twenty20/Katrina Stewart

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