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1 yr old waking early in the morning and sooo cranky

(37 Posts)
pikapoo Thu 18-May-17 07:05:13

Some of you might remember I posted not too long ago about DS' early morning wakings (5-6am) and poo first thing.

After cutting out fruit from his dinner, we've seen less instances of poo first thing (YAY) but oh my goodness is he still cranky as anything when he wakes up, and continues to be for a couple of hours!

I'm desperate to know if there is anything I can do to make the mornings better for us all. By 6:45am I usually feel mentally exhausted and upset from his crankiness, crying and whinging. He is usually yawning occasionally by then but no chance he'll nap that early. DH and I work full-time and we take him to nursery around 7:45/8am. So that's another hour of crankiness and whinging between 6:45-7:45. We are told (and have seen) that he doesn't display this behaviour at nursery.

We've tried everything - leaving him in cot when he wakes up (he just ends up yelling for us), cuddles when we pick him up (he just gets cranky and won't stay still), keeping room dim and just doing nothing while staying with him in room (same thing), bringing him in bed with us (same thing), offering water (doesn't want), offering milk eventually (will drink, but still cranky afterwards), then as last resort, bringing him into living room to read books/play with his blocks. DH and I try to take turns, but DS is so loud in our small flat that it's hard for the one in bed to snooze.

It makes me think he's tired when he wakes up, but then he is a textbook good sleeper apart from the early morning waking and crankiness. Sleeps through 9-10 hours overnight and has 2 naps of 2-3 hours during the day, the first from 9:30/10 and the second from some time between 2-3pm.

Does anyone have first hand experience of this? Did your baby/toddler grow out of it? I have asked our friends with babies and none of them were/are like this in the morning. By the way I am not keen on doing controlled crying (and our neighbours would be either!!) Sorry this post is so long, and thanks for reading.

pikapoo Thu 18-May-17 07:10:38

I should add, the early morning waking bit I can deal with (though not ideal). It's the crankiness whinging crying and increasing tantrumming at silly o clock which is making me want to sob at DS before it's even 7am. sad

FATEdestiny Thu 18-May-17 08:30:24

has 2 naps of 2-3 hours during the day

2-3 hours for each nap, or 2-3 hours total over 2 naps?

pikapoo Thu 18-May-17 08:36:04


littletwofeet Thu 18-May-17 08:48:29

9/10 hours doesnt sound like enough sleep for a 1 year old, I would guess he's cranky as he's so tired.
It sounds like you've tried everything to get him back to sleep though.

You've probably tried already but can you get him as soon as he stirs and bring him into the bed with you and see if he'll go back to sleep before he wakes up properly.

MusicalChairsOh Thu 18-May-17 08:56:25

Would it be worth trying to get him napping just the once after lunch? By bringing it later gradually and moving bedtime earlier until he has got used to it. Try to cut out the afternoon nap conpletely and just have one big lunch time one.
Not sure if it would help but that's what I have done.

MusicalChairsOh Thu 18-May-17 09:00:20

For context, ds2 is 15 months, generally wakes between 630/7am, lunch at 1130, nap at 12-2 bedtime 7pm.
But, he wakes still during the night.

FATEdestiny Thu 18-May-17 10:36:55

I'd suggest not enough sleep and he is over tired.

How/where does he go to sleep at bedtime and nap time?

I'd suggest he needs longer daytime naps and an earlier night - all with the aim of more sleep over 24 hours to get out of the over tiredness cycle.

For context at 12m my dd was sleeping through 8pm-7am then naps were 9am-11am and 1pm-3pm. I woke her from both these naps, she would sleep longer if left.

pikapoo Fri 19-May-17 12:34:40

Thanks everyone

@FATEdestiny - in cot, usually with some patting and stroking. Same in nursery as at home. Occasionally on weekends he gets a morning buggy nap if we are out and about.

So his typical schedule looks something like
5:30 awake
6/6:30 milk
8:30 breakfast at nursery
9:30/10 nap. This nap has recently been up to 2 hours. Nursery tried to wake him up after an hour this week. Not making a difference to early morning wakings
11:45 lunch
1:30 milk
2:30/3 nap - if long one in the morning, then this usually lasts only an hour
4 tea (snack)
6:30 dinner
7:30 milk and bedtime

pikapoo Fri 19-May-17 12:40:51

This morning he was up at 5:30 again and we brought him into bed straight away. Unfortunately he didn't fall asleep and was pretty active and whingey. Tried giving him milk at 6 in case he was demanding it, but that didn't really stop the moodiness.

@MusicalChairsOh - 7-7 sounds like a dream!

BlahBlahBlahEtc Fri 19-May-17 12:50:24

My 2.5 year old has decided 5 - 5:30 is get up time lately. You have my sympathies!

littletwofeet Fri 19-May-17 12:54:44

Would he go back to sleep if you gave him milk straight away as soon as he wakes up?

Maybe put him to bed earlier or try to get him to nap longer? It doesn't sound like he is getting enough sleep and this can cause early wakings.

FATEdestiny Fri 19-May-17 13:58:27

I just re-read your op, to see if I could spot anything else. I think this is telling:

We are told (and have seen) that he doesn't display this behaviour at nursery

So he's cranky with you for a couple of hours in the morning, doesn't have any extra sleep and by 8am at nursery he is fine.

Im thinking if he was tired, he would get progressively more grumpy until he sleeps. Could it be boredom?

5.30am-8am is a long time. My child wouldn't go 2 hours without some form of activity to keep her entertained. I get that there will be a good hour to have breakfast and get dressed. But if you are soending that time getting yourself ready and hoping baby will entertain himself - that's understandable but could explain baby being cranky and demanding.

If that is the case, and baby's crankiness is due to boredom rather than tired, it would suggest that he's simply had enough sleep by 5am.

That's annoying, some babies (people) just are early risers. You could try shifting his while routine (in its entirety, not just bedtime) forward by an hour and a half. It will be hard to do this, but maybe an 8.30-9pm bedtime would be better. Moving baby's body clock is notoriously difficult to do, so will take a fair amount (say a month or so) of consistency to get it working.

fruitbrewhaha Fri 19-May-17 14:14:13

How is he in the evenings? Is he hungry for something at 6:30? It is very late. I'd be putting him in the bath a 6:30 for bed by 7.

I would say he is over tied and that is why he is waking up early.

When you say you have tried getting him to fall back to sleep. How long have you tried it for? When mine woke up early I would try re settling them, give then a pat and tuck them in. Then leave them to fall back to sleep alone. If that didn't work I'd sit next to them, with a hand resting on the chest/tummy, patting and stroking. I'd do this until it was time to get up, which for us was 7:30. If he has been waking up a 5:30 for some time it will take quite a few mornings for him to get used to the idea that there is no getting up a 5:30. Keep up the routine and eventually he will start waking later and later.

I'd also keep the morning nap shorter, to just an hour. If you know he has been awake since 5:30 and had 3 hours naps, get him into bed early, as soon as you get through the door from pick up.

pikapoo Fri 19-May-17 16:50:00

Nursery say he's very contented and calm and are surprised to hear he is cranky at home! hmm

He's visibly tired in the evenings from 7 onwards.

Interestingly DH also thinks it might be boredom... I guess boredom is boredom even at 5:30am, it's just a bit challenging to entertain him for 2 hours that early in the AM.

@fruitbrewhaha, patting back to sleep is not really possible here if he won't actually stay sitting/lying down.

NotAUserNumberSoNotATroll Fri 19-May-17 17:04:19

At that age I found keeping time from last nap to bedtime no more than 4hrs help - earlier night definitely meant a happier morning

Ecureuil Fri 19-May-17 17:04:51

I agree with the boredom, mine are 3.5 and 22 months and are early risers, and are climbing the walls with boredom by the time it's a reasonable hour to leave the house! The first 2 hours of the morning are generally their grumpiest time. If you're busy getting yourselves ready in this time he may well be bored.
I'd try an earlier bedtime too.

littletwofeet Fri 19-May-17 17:14:13

If it was boredom, I wouldn't have thought he'd be cranky as soon as he wakes up, it would be more likely that he started to get fed up after a couple of hours.

It might be that he is tired but perks up in nursery, I know mine can be really tired but then can be ok if we go somewhere different. You know him best though, whether you think it's boredom or tiredness.

I did used to persevere until it was time to get up (which for me was any time after 7). I would treat 5/6am like a night waking so just getting them to lie down (even if they didn't sleep at first and I kept having to lie then back down). If it was 1/2am I wouldn't get up and come downstairs so I didn't at 5am. I know they are all different though and you've got to do what works for you.

pikapoo Fri 19-May-17 20:43:13

Thanks again​ everyone, some useful suggestions here.. I think it is probably a blend of tiredness and boredom actually. He's been an alert baby from the early months and seldom likes being left to himself for any significant period of time (though this is seems to be improving with age). So when left to himself in the cot and in his room, even if we're just sitting next to him but not engaging or picking him up, he'll escalate his grumping till he's calling or crying for us pretty loudly. I cannot in good conscience subject my neighbours to that racket (we live in a flat) at silly o'clock so leaving him in the cot in that state is not an option.

Tonight he was tired when I picked him up from nursery, yawning by about 5:30, then grumpy through dinner (though allowed himself to be distracted by toys and books afterwards while we got things ready for bedtime), and was asleep by 7:15. So yes, I can imagine an earlier bedtime might make him happier in the morning (though not necessarily wake up later!)

Ecureuil Fri 19-May-17 21:23:18

I've found the best way to deal with early wakings is to bring bedtime earlier for everyone! We may still be up at the crack of dawn but it's much easier when the DC have had enough sleep.
And it won't last for ever... hopefully!

fruitbrewhaha Fri 19-May-17 21:43:21

Then defo to bed earlier. Give him a quick snack if you think he really needs it and into bed at 6.

And be persistent with early wakings. As littletwofeet said, keep lying him back down. Do it for 15 minutes the first morning, 20 the next and creep if forward each day and he will sleep a little longer each morning. It takes total dedication. Dont give up, you'll get there.

pikapoo Sat 20-May-17 06:21:05

Awake before 5:30 today, still bit whingey though DH dealing with it this morning and I've put the earplugs in. wink

It does seem like he maxes out at around 10 hours overnight. I cannot remember the last time he slept for longer (apart from once when he was ill), it would have been months and months ago.

If we push everything back by even just an hour that would make such a difference in the morning.

6:30 wake up
7:00 milk
8:30 breakfast
9:30/10:00 short nap followed by snack
12:00 lunch
1:30 milk
2:30/3 longer nap
4:30 tea
6/6:30 dinner
7:30 bedtime routine
8:00 zzzzzzz

As you all say, it might just take awhile for that morning wake-up time to shift back...

Ecureuil Sat 20-May-17 07:01:17

Another thing... how dark is his room? Any hint of light and DD2 is up with the sun!

tankflybosswalkjamnittygritty Sat 20-May-17 07:06:14

My Ds did this every morning for years. Early waking followed by a miserable morning of tantrums and crying. He eventually grew out of it aged about 4 and is lovely in the morning now but it nearly broke us.

LapinR0se Sat 20-May-17 07:07:41

His naps are the wrong way around.
At 1 he should be having a v short morning nap and a long nap after lunch.
So for example 9-9.30 and then 12.30 - 2.30 with a 6.45 bedtime.

That long morning nap is compensating for lack of night time sleep so you are stuck in a vicious cycle.

Eventually you look to drop the short morning nap all together (definitely gone by 18 months) and just have one long nap after lunch of 2-2.5 hours.
The earlier bedtime of 6.45 or 7pm will not result in earlier morning waking. The EMW is directly linked to the length of the Koenig nap.

However it is very difficult to change these things in a nursery setting as IME nursery staff are too busy to work on engineering sleep & naps, plus his current schedule is probably fine for them. They are not the ones suffering at 5am.

Have you any holidays coming up at all to work on this?

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