What to do with baby at 5am

(51 Posts)
weepingwillow22 Fri 08-Jan-21 06:02:10

My 14 month old wakes at about 5am each day. Putting him to bed later does not make any difference to his wake up time.

Ideally I don't want to be getting up and out of bed until 6.30 ish so I am wondering what I can do with him to occupy him whilst I lay in bed without him waking my older son.

I tend to give him a breastfeed in the dark in the hope he will fall asleep on me for a bit longer but it rarely works but gives me another 15 minutes in bed.

His play skills are limited. He mainly enjoys pulling things out of cupboards, rolling balls around and knocking things down. I sometimes read with him but really would rather not be doing this at 5am.

If I put him back in his cot he cries and is upset if he is not in the same room as me.

Any ideas?

OP’s posts: |
Bettyboop82 Fri 08-Jan-21 06:07:10

I tend to bring mine downstairs so as not to wake anyone else, make myself some tea and toast and put the fire on so it’s all cosy. Have you tried ‘treasure baskets’? Basically a box of stuff they wouldn’t normally be able to play with... some good ideas on Pinterest or instagram. Failing that simple peg jigsaws... or our old friend peppa pig??? Sending strength brew

Kinsters Fri 08-Jan-21 06:10:46

My daughter is a couple of months younger and doesn't wake up nearly so early. She is an awful sleeper though so even though she wakes at 8:30am I sometimes can't face getting out of bed. I can normally stretch out her happy rolling around in bed time for max half an hour (excluding breastfeeding). Sometimes I put her mobile on and she watches that, other times she raids the bedside table and plays with my purse, phone, kindle etc. She's also got some toys by the bed - anything with lights is good cause it's dark. Also things to chew on. We don't eat upstairs but if you do you could give a snack? I have her in a sleeping bag so I normally just put my elbow or knee on the bag so she can't go too far.

Have you tried pushing his wake time back? I read something about doing naps as if he'd woken at the time you wanted, or something like that. Can't remember the details.

tenredthings Fri 08-Jan-21 06:16:08

This brought back memories ! The feeling you've lived an entire day before everyone else has woken up ! I used to breastfeed like you, then it was an episode of teletubbies which bought me another 15 mins in bed. I managed to get my Non sleepy child into listening to story tapes from a very early age. He'd relax and listen and it meant he had an amazing vocabulary really early on.
It does pass with time years but those early morning risers are tough.

Ffsffsffsffsffs Fri 08-Jan-21 06:19:21

I used to want to sacrifice my dc at 5am, I feel your pain op!

Best just to go with it for now, you'll be scraping them out of bed at midday before you realise it. Try and get to bed earlier yourself and those horrible dark hours won't seem quite as horrific.

IdentifyingCreamCake Fri 08-Jan-21 06:22:18

I really don’t think the treasure blanket idea is a good one for 5am (other times yes). You want to start teaching him that nothing exciting happens at 5am, very young babies won’t get this but at his age you need to start treating it at as a night wake rather than morning. So feed him if he wants but then give him cues that it is still nighttime, shushing, etc even if he lies in with you. Don’t get up and start playing until whatever your morning cut off time is (6?).

Early waking is often caused by not napping enough or being overtired when they go to bed, have you tried increasing his nap?

OverTheRainbow88 Fri 08-Jan-21 06:25:45

I go downstairs and get a shit load of house jobs done whilst the youngest toddles about watching


Ilovechoc12 Fri 08-Jan-21 06:39:54

I used to sit them strapped in a pram in the front room watching peppa pig and a dummy !!!! I would lay down on the sofa with a blanket ...... I was not doing any house work before 6 am xxx funny now because I do wake up at the same times now 4:50/5 ish wonder if the babies (they are fast asleep children ) have trained me haha xxx

Snowbored Fri 08-Jan-21 06:43:26

Sorry, I'd say the same as OverTheRainbow88. Get up, do something, give him a duster or a broom. Read him a book. It does eventually get better, DS is 11 and now gets up closer to 6...

Jent13c Fri 08-Jan-21 06:52:02

I had one terrible sleeper and one good sleeper. I would take him into bed and keep the lights off and let him moan and and wriggle but not get up with him. At least I get to lie down that way!

Have you tried putting him to bed half an hour earlier? Early rising can be a sign of an overtired baby and there was a while the earlier I put my son to bed the later he woke. Also maybe get your heating on at 4.30, temperature is probably lowest at 5am so could be why he is waking?

ZadieZadie Fri 08-Jan-21 06:57:56

Use the torch on your phone to make shadow puppets.

And agree with PP that it should be as dull and calm as possible, which probably rules out telly (sorry!)

weepingwillow22 Fri 08-Jan-21 07:10:40

Thanks all, certainly lots of different opinions wink. I am very impressed by those getting up and doing housework at 5am.

I don't think he is overtired. He has two naps at 9am and 1pm ish for about 45 min to 90 min each and falls asleep at about 7pm and then sleeps through to 5am. He does wake up very hungry though, he has a breastfeed but still seems to want more and is a bit unsettled until he has his breakfast.

I wonder if he needs a snack before bed but he does do a massive poo on waking so that could be waking him too. I might try a bedtime snack and see if that helps before giving in to the early mornings.

OP’s posts: |
hopefulhalf Fri 08-Jan-21 07:21:27

I smiled reading this OP. I had (and was myself) an early riser.
Some of this is genetic we know there are "early genes" and "late genes" so to some extent it's inate. There are 2 issues here;

First is; "how do I prevent my child waking up before I am ready to start the day"

Second is "what can I do to make the 5am wake up bearable?"

So lying queitly in the dark (as PP) says giving the message nothing interesting happens before 6 or 6:30- or whatever you decide, might tick both boxes.

Being firm and putting him back to bed to listen to the crying , might teach him to go back to sleep, but does not improve your life in that moment.

Other things that help with early waking are;
a shorter morning nap (IME this really works) no more than 1 sleep cycle (45 minutes) before noon which should'nt be before 9 or one nap at 11 or 12 which lasts a couple of hours. Then a "cat nap" at 4pm for 20mins.

As others have said being too tired at bed time makes early waking worse this is exacerbated by a long morning nap. I did this a few times when things got bad, it took commitmant and some difficult days but worked to some extent.

Of course you can go the other way and accept it as your lot in life, get up clean the house, put the telly on or a I did start crafts and baking- unfortunately that definately sends the message it is morning and playtime and will entrench the early start.

FWIW in retrospect I didn't try hard enough with the first strategy and "gave in" to starting my day super early too much. I would also say as an early waker myself (with an early waking DM- as I said it's genetic) that learning to lie quietly in the small hours waiting for sleep to come is a good skill to aqquire young.

Sorry for the essay good luck. I don't think there is an easy answer.

MessAllOver Fri 08-Jan-21 07:24:03

My solution was to treat it as a night waking and put DS back in his cot. I'd let him grizzle and whine so long as he wasn't distressed (and with DS, it was easy to tell the difference!). He had an activity centre with buttons to press on the side of his cot so he could play with that if he was bored. But he mostly went back to sleep.

It might not work with all children, but I wouldn't be encouraging the idea that 5am is an acceptable time to get up if you can avoid it.

Blacktothepink Fri 08-Jan-21 07:24:08

Travel cot in your room with toys.

BernadetteRostankowskiWolowitz Fri 08-Jan-21 07:24:19

Definetly feed him as close to bedtime as possible. A bowl of porridge should keep hunger at bay longer.

peonyrose87 Fri 08-Jan-21 07:26:20

@weepingwillow22 overall, he's getting bang on his daily sleep requirement for his age. He possibly is just a little early riser! At his age he should be getting between 11-14 hours of sleep and if he's going to bed at 7 and sleeping through with two naps then I'd say it's unlikely he'll sleep much longer overnight until his naps are reduced (which he's still a little small for).

hopefulhalf Fri 08-Jan-21 07:29:04


She explains it much better than me.

DinosApple Fri 08-Jan-21 07:32:57

I used to put mine in bed with me doze and try to ignore them lifting my eyelids and poking my nose. Sometimes being warm and cosy meant they'd go back to sleep and so would I.

expatinspain Fri 08-Jan-21 07:35:51

I used to keep everything dark and treat it as nighttime waking and give her a feed. She started to go back to sleep after a while and would wake up around 8.30am.

FreakinFrankNFurter Fri 08-Jan-21 07:36:51

Put him in the bin?! grin

That’s what I would want to do with my baby when he woke at 5am

BernadetteRostankowskiWolowitz Fri 08-Jan-21 07:37:01

Could you express the night before and when he wakes give him a bottle with 5oz or so in his cot in the dark? Leave him to it.

movingonup20 Fri 08-Jan-21 07:40:49

Bring him into your bed?

DelphiniumBlue Fri 08-Jan-21 07:47:43

Sadly I think that is the natural time for babies to wake. I'd suggest blackout blinds but it's not even slightly light yet at 5!
So yes, try jiggling feeding and sleep times, and noone would blame you for putting on CBeebies or something while you doze. And know that mothers have been going through this for ever! You are not alone!

MessAllOver Fri 08-Jan-21 07:53:13

Do you have any family/grandparents on the other side of the world? Australia? If so, strap baby in the high chair, put laptop or tablet out of reach in front of them, start a Zoom call and let your family babysit virtually. It's 4pm in Australia so a perfectly reasonable time to be up.

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