Can We Talk about Wakeup Time?

Sometime in the last two weeks Jasper decided that 5am is his new wakeup time.


He has been sleeping on his tummy in the bassinet next to my bed and he wakes up around 5am, pushes his little head up and looks around like a gopher until I see him and then gives me a big smile. It’s only by virtue of the sheer cuteness of that smile that he hasn’t gone to the firehouse doorstep!

Then he wants to play for about an hour – 1.5 hours before he gets completely exhausted and needs to be put back to sleep.

If he WON’T go back to sleep then I have a hellish morning running around trying to get everything ready for daycare/work while he completely melts down because he’s cranky and doesn’t want me to put him down (making getting ready impossible!).

Jeff thinks that it’s because I’m putting him to bed too early (7pm) but everything I’ve read about sleep says when he wakes up is not necessarily a function of when he goes to bed. For example some nights he will sleep until 6, and some nights he goes to bed even earlier (if he is so tired he can’t make it until 7) and will wake up at the same time. But maybe that’s not true?

It would be hard for me to keep him up later anyway because his last nap at daycare theoretically (on a good day) ends at 4pm. Meaning that by 7pm he’s already been up for 3 hours, which is his max limit of wakeful time before all hell breaks loose. Many times his nap ends at 3pm and it’s even longer until bed time.

Putting him down for a nap before bed would interfere too much with bedtime unless we were to keep him up really late.

I’m at a loss as what to do, and I can only hope this is some sort of bizarre stage because I can’t continue to function on this little sleep!

And oh yeah, he’s STILL waking up 4-5 times a night to nurse.. which actually doens’t bother my sleeping NEARLY as much as this new ungodly wake up time!

So what time doe’s your little one go to sleep and wakeup? Have you found that pushing bed time back makes wakeup time later? Any other advice for a sleep deprived zombie??


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Lynn says:

Hmmm, my daughter is 6 mos old and wakes up around the same time–bwtween 5 and 6. She goes down around 7-7:30 each night. But my good friend, with a son around the same age, reports that her son goes to bed around 10-11 and then sleeps in until around 9-10 (although he has to wake up briefly to go to the sitter’s house). I’m an early bird so I don’t mind it much–I guess it jut boils down to what schedule you want Jasper to be on. I like that I get an hour or 2 with my hubby after the baby goes to bed. My friend likes that her son is up later so she can enjoy him after work. Good luck!

Chantal says:

We Ferberized Annora, and I’m SO glad we did. First we didn’t want to do it, but I bought the No Cry Sleep Solution and for me, who was getting next to no sleep as it was, it just seemed like a really lame way to possibly get results in about a month’s time. Try it if you want, I can give you my copy since I won’t be needing it, but I went with the Ferber method and the next night was sleeping sooo much better. I was concerned that Annora needed all those night feedings too, especially since she’s only in the 5th percentile for weight, but she really doesn’t. She’s up once a night to eat now and that’s it.

With Ferber, the first night was the hardest and even that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. She cried for 40 minutes, but it wasn’t real crying, just complaining. The next night she cried/complained for 20 minutes and fell asleep, and stayed asleep until 1 am for her feeding, then when she woke up next she was out again in 10 minutes. By the third night she was only up once to eat. I had been up every 2 hours or more for 3 1/2 months but within basically two nights I was getting hours and hours of sleep. It’s hard to listen to your baby cry, but it’s also hard to function on so little sleep and in our case Annora was exhausted and cranky too. Good luck!

Amanda says:

Oh, and I would not try for another nap before his bedtime….bad idea….

Amanda says:

Stella sleeps from 730pm-730am. I think that Jasper will sleep the full 11-12 hours he needs when he is in his own room. That is also a good time to start sleep training, if that’s something you choose to do.

kari says:

sending hugs and very strong virtual coffee… also wanted to chime in that Liam pretty much wakes up around the same time everyday regardless of what time we put him down. our goal is to start the bedtime routine at 7 so he is in bed and sleeping by 8. but because this is REAL LIFE… 8 doesn’t happen every time!
oh – re: the naps – i had been trying to keep Liam awake from when he gets home from daycare all the way to bed time – but found that if he gets a little cat nap – say 30 min. in somewhere between 5&6ish – he does much better.

If Ferber doesn’t feel right to you, don’t do it! There are lots of different parenting methods, and you need to do what’s best for you, Jeff and Jasper.
I have heard good things about The No-Cry Sleep Solution, which is a much gentler approach to sleep training. I think you don’t see the quick results of Ferber, but it can be much easier for parents to handle.
One thing the author noted that I thought of yesterday is that many parents are “too tired” to work on sleep habits. I think it’s ironic and so true!

Elizabeth says:

My friend told me about your blog when I was in my last trimester of pregnancy and it’s been such a great help and comfort to me since my DS was born. Hopefully I can give you some help now! Luke was never a great sleeper from the beginning. I was breastfeeding him every 2 hours for the first month and it would take about an hour of fighting and crying to get him to sleep.

My friend advised me of the following: Feed him every 3 hours (wake him up if he sleeps past the 3 hrs) so that you know that he received enough food during the day to sustain him at night. Play with him or try to keep him up for at least 1.5 hours after he first wakes up (this includes feeding, burping & changing). Put him back to sleep before 2 hours of wakefulness has passed.

I tried the above, but he continued to wake up 3 times at night. So, I did the following: Start night time ritual at 7pm (feed, bath, massage, bed), he is asleep by 8:15-8:30, “dream” feed at 10:30-11pm (dad picks him up and gives him a bottle without waking him up). I chose to get rid of Luke’s 1:30-2AM by giving him a pacifier and holding him and rocking him and not feeding him until he fell asleep. This took about 1 week of my husband & I alternating. Then my husband was able to give him a pacifier while he was still in his crib for about 4 days and then he stopped waking up. I think he woke up out of habit or because he wanted to be held.

He continued to wake up around 3AM, but it was a different kind of cry…kind of a whiny cry, a “I’m asleep, but I’m still can cry” kind of cry. I would lie in bed and wait for that cry to build to an all out anger/hunger cry, but he always stopped crying within 5-10 minutes and fell back to sleep.

Now just over 3 months, he sleeps from around 8:30pm till about 7 or 8AM. He just can’t decide when he wants to start his day:) I feed him, play with him and then he falls asleep within an hour for 2 hours.

Good Luck. I am still not sleeping well even though Luke is because my whole sleep clock is so messed up. But it makes me happy that Luke has gotten so much better with sleep and I haven’t had to do a full CIO session with him yet.

Nanette says:

I don’t have any advice, but just wanted to answer your question. My LO goes to bed around 7 and wakes up 6-6:30. She’s up every three hours to eat, though, so we have our own sleep issues. I’m going to try to ween her from night feedings after we’re both adjusted to my going back to work next week. And we’ll likely sleep train after that.

Meggin says:

Kirk is 4 & 1/2 months old and has the same 3 hour wakeful time limit that Jasper has before he gets tired and grouchy. His normal routine is eat, play then sleep. This schedule is not exact but he is pretty predictable.

At this point Kirk’s sleep schedule is:
wakes up between 6-7 am
naps at 9am for 1.5-2 hrs
naps at 2 for 30-45 min
naps at 5 for 30-45 min
start bedtime bottle at 8:30 so he is asleep around 9pm (He starts to get grumpy around 8:00 but we stretch it till 8:30)

Hope this helps:)

jbhat says:

I knew Jeff had to be in on it. Thanks for reassuring though. And yes, I think 4-5 times a night is a lot. Maybe it’s not quite time to Ferberize (god, what a term that is; it still makes me shudder), but maybe it’s okay to try not breaking out the boob for one of those wakey sessions? He seriously might just get the hint after a time or two. And if he’s really hungry, I think you’d be able to tell right away, based on his cries. He’s still so little that a feeding or two during the night should do him fine.

Nothing like a blog for getting advice from strangers (at least I am).

Angela says:

he could just be hitting some milestone. Don’t over think it too much. Maybe he’s teething…sometimes you can’t see those teeth for a week or two after the symptoms start. I would tend to think it’s just a stage. Hang in there.

ariana says:

Claudia, at least there is company in our misery, thanks for sharing :)

Claudia says:

…and yes, I agree, it’s so much easier to lay down and give him the boob so that he’ll go back to sleep than to get up and try other methods. I also have not started any CIO methods yet because, like you, I’m afraid that he might actually NEED the feedings and I don’t want to leave him to cry in that case.

My first son was formula fed, so I didn’t have this issue; I just did Ferber method CIO when he turned 6 months.

Claudia says:

Constant night breastfeeding? Check! At around 8pm JJ goes to sleep, but he is up at 1am because he wants to eat. After that he wants to eat every 1.5 to 3 hours through the night. He’s up for good around 7ish.
I had JJ in his crib at first but lately, I just keep him in my bed after the 1 am feeding because I get much more sleep that way (what with the constant wanting to eat business). This is after I swore up and down that I would not co-sleep (I didn’t with my first son), but sometimes the need for sleep wins out. We tried having my hubby give him a bottle of formula in the evening feed, but JJ would not take it. He only wanted mama. Let’s hope that they get past this stage quickly, for both our sakes.

ariana says:

Thank you all for sharing your experiences.. now to answer some questions:

Jbhat: Jeff does help, but our routine has been that he gets Jasper from 6:30-7:30am so I can pump and shower before he leaves for work.. so it’s the 5:00am-6:30am “shift” that I have now acquired that used to be my sleeping time!

@Marybeth & Jen: Yes, he probably is comfort feeding to some extent (though I think at least one of those feedings he need as 10-12 hours is pretty long for a breast fed baby to go without I think?) the thing is.. it’s just so much easier for me to give him the boob and stay lying down then get up and try to bounce or otherwise comfort him back to sleep! We haven’t done any sort of CIO or sleep training that would help him go back to sleep on his own yet, so for now its just the only way I can get him back down without a fight!

Plus, he’s really truly eating at these sessions.. and he’s still only in the 50% for weight, so there’s part of me that thinks somehow he “needs” the extra, but then again maybe he’d eat more during the day if I stopped?

Cynthia, from your lips to god’s ears :)

Jen: He usually naps at daycare from 2-4, or somewhere in between there!

Marybeth: He’s in our room in the bassinet because its much easier for me to breastfeed at night with him in the room and also because it rocks… and that’s how we get him to sleep most nights. Yeah, I guess maybe we need to Ferberize or something :(

Jen says:

So I’ve been following your blog for a long time now… Anyway, take this with a grain of salt if you want… We also put my daughter to bed at 7, any later and it’s a full out war and she actually ends up waking more at night. There is one thing I do religiously, however, and that’s give her a nap by 3:00 pm. She usually sleeps for about 2 hours and she’s awake 2 hours before bedtime. That’s probably what made the biggest difference in her nighttime sleeping. Then again, she sleeps in her own room (we tried co-sleeping but she woke up constantly wanting to play). In her own room, she sleeps so much better. I also would have to say that he is comfort feeding. My 5 month old hasn’t eaten at night in a while (knock on wood)… Good luck to you!!!!

Cynthia says:

Aww darling..if I would wake up to Jaspers adorable smile instead of the annoying alarm sound!! But I’m sure you’d like to rest and start the day w/a lil’ less craziness. I’m sorry J hasn’t been cooperating. I don’t think 7 PM is to early for a baby. Many of my friends babies are out by 7 PM. It might just be that his body is changing. I don’t know…I hope things turn around and he sleeps from 7 PM to 7 AM (can I get a AMEN? LOL). Lots of sleeping dust heading your way!!

Btw, TAG you’re it!!

Do you have him in the bassinet because he’s sleeping on his tummy? Any chance of moving him to his own room so he doesn’t see you and get excited?

I have also found that wakeup time stays fairly consistent no matter what the bedtime. Our baby does wake up about 30 minutes earlier since we switched his bedtime from 8:30 to 7:00 PM, but that tradeoff is worth it since he sleeps through the night so much better with the earlier bedtime! Oh, and since we leave the house at 6:50, I have to wake him up to leave the house. He usually gets his first feeding at daycare, which keeps *most* of my mornings very easy for me!

(this is getting long!) Like jbhat, the “containment” works well when baby wakes up before I’ve finished getting ready in the morning. I have the exersaucer right outside the bathroom door, which works well. He’s busy and happy, and I’m able to get ready with one eye on him.

Finally, I do think nursing 4-5 times a night is a lot for a nearly-6-month-old. My doctor told us at the 6-month checkup that he should only be fed once per night, and most nights he doesn’t wake up for feedings at all. Our “sleep training” was really easy, but one suggestion is to have dad offer him a bottle to see if he’s really hungry or if he just wants to snuggle with mom. Once you have that knowledge you’ll have a better idea of how to proceed with the night wakings.

I hope some of this was useful!

jbhat says:

If memory serves, it’s just a stage. And once you get used to it, he’ll move on to something else that will wreak havoc with your schedule. But I have to ask, is Jeff around in the morning to help, or is he already gone? I think we used to use some sort of “containment system” while we were getting ready. We used to pull the highchair into the hallway by the bathroom, etc. Our kiddo just wanted to be nearby, I think, if he couldn’t be held.

Good luck.

ariana says:

Thanks Chantal. I can try to put him down at 6 or 6:30.. my fear is that it’s so close to his “normal” bedtime that he’ll think it’s real bed time and won’t wake up again and then will wake up at 4am for the day!

I guess it’s worth a try though because this really can’t go on.

Chantal says:

Oh boy, that sucks! Annora did that for a few days (waking up at 5:30) but stopped very shortly after, thank goodness! For the most part I find that her wake up doesn’t really depend on when we put her to bed – her internal clock is the same. That being said, we have gradually switched her bedtime from 7:30 to 8 or 8:30 pm, and now Annora will wake up between 6 and 6:30 am instead of earlier. (I do long for the days when she’d sleep until 7 am at least, though!) I leave Annora in her crib with her aquarium on and a stuffed toy and she plays for about 40 minutes while I get more sleep.

I think it’s a stage, though. The older Annora gets the more frequently her routine changes. Can you try putting Jasper down for a nap at 6 or 6:30, let him sleep for an hour then get him up again? That might work. Good luck!