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Expert reveals the parenting mistakes causing your baby to wake up early

By Merryn Porter |

Getting a baby to sleep is the holy grail for parents. Keeping them asleep is even more so.

Many parents believe babies waking up at the crack of dawn each day is just part and parcel of having a newborn.

But now an expert has blamed parents for their babies waking early and says they can reverse the practice in five easy steps.

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Early wake-ups are part and parcel of having children, or are they? (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

E?mma Hubbard is a paediatric occupational therapist and mother-of-two who has a YouTube channel offering "everything you need to know about your child's first three months of life," including sleep, activities, developmental milestones, witching hour, toys and equipment.

?She has shared a video entitled, "Mistakes that cause babies to wake up early (and how to fix it)."

In the video, ?Hubbard said early morning wake-ups were not something you had to live with, but sometimes felt impossible to break because of the sleep pattern your child was in.

She said there were some really simple things parents could do to change that pattern and get babies to wake "at a much more reasonable time every morning."

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E?mma Hubbard says parents of early risers are doing three things wrong. (YouTube)

Hubbard said the reason it was often "near impossible" to get babies back to sleep after they woke at 4am or 5am was because of three factors.

"Firstly, when your baby has woken up in the early hours of the morning, they presumably just had eight to 10 hours of ?sleep, which means that their sleep pressure, which is one of the driving factors for sleep, is low," she said.

"Also in the early morning as the sun rises, a baby's melatonin levels start to drop, and this tells their body that it is actually time to wake up."

She said this was exacerbated by the fact a baby's sleep was very light in the morning, making them easier to wake.

Hubbard went on to offer five tips to fix this.

Follow an age-appropriate schedule

The first was to follow an age-appropriate schedule. This would ensure your baby was not sleeping too long during the day for their age and therefore had enough "sleep pressure" to stay asleep for 10 to 12 hours at night. ?

Babies that sleep too long during the day will not need as much sleep at night, meaning they will wake early in the morning.

A parenting expert had offered five tips to stop early waking. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

?Treat early-morning wakes like night-time waking

"When you little one does wake in the early hours of the morning, ?it's really important that you treat it as a night-time waking," she offered as a second tip.

"And by that I mean you keep the room dark and quiet, and stay in bed until the desired wake-up time.

"At all costs, you want to avoid starting your day at 4 or 5 in the morning because you don't want to accidentally encourage your baby to develop an early-morning wake-up habit."

Keep the bedroom dark until the desired wake-up time

"Keeping your baby's bedroom dark until the desired wake-up time will also ensure it limits your baby's exposure to light in the morning," she said, adding "light exposure in the morning tells your baby's internal clock that it's time to wake up."

She said turning on lights and opening blinds at 4 or 5am will reset a baby's circadian rhythm, causing the baby to "lock-in those early wake-up times."

To fix this, she said make sure you keep your baby's room dark by using blackout blinds and keeping all lights off until the desired wake-up time.

Hubbard says a strict sleeping schedule is key for babies. (Getty)

Limit environmental noises

She also said household noise and neighbourhood noise, such as bird's chirping or garbage trucks, could also wake a baby. ?

She suggested keeping noise to a minimum where you can, and investing in a white noise machine to help mask those you can't.?

Help your baby to learn to fall asleep independently?

"During the night, babies have multiple sleep cycles and partially wake up between each cycle," she said

"If they have learnt to fall asleep independently?, they will simply fall back asleep between these sleep cycles."

She said babies that rely on an adult to rock, feed, hold them or put a dummy back in to fall back to sleep "will wake up fully between sleep cycles and then want your help to fall back to sleep."

She said their inability to fall back to sleep was worse in the morning as their sleep pressure dissipated. ?

"So you can see, being able to fall asleep at bedtime and back to sleep at night wakings throughout the night is actually a vital skill in conquering those early morning wake-ups."?

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