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How do I get my baby to shift his morning poo to a slightly later time?

So what do you do if your baby poops REALLY early every single morning? You want to get more sleep. I’ve been there. But baby has other plans. Poop plans.

Today we have a question from a reader in Arkansas:

Q: My 9 month old son doesn’t sleep through the night yet because he is still exclusively breastfed and needs at least one good meal during the night. Well somehow, as he has been learning to use the potty, he has also started waking up at 4:00-6:00 every morning to poop in the potty! It’s habitual! We are SO proud of him for making that a part of his regular daily pattern, and 6:00 is not terrible, but 4:30 wake ups for number two are not my favorite! Any idea how we can get him to shift his morning poo to a slightly later time? ~Jordan J., Camden, AK, USA

A: Hey Jordan! I just love how unique your question is.

My first son used to poop at 6:00am, on the dot, every single morning from months 2 to probably 11. Wasn’t bad, but wasn’t great. :)

My subsequent 4 other babies? They ALSO pooped at 5:30 or 6am every morning. And I always got them back to sleep (on the boob) through 6:30 or 7am, so that was also good.

But 4:30! I feel you...not fun at all!

That said, I am happy that you are at least getting the number twos in the potty consistently every morning!

And, it looks like you’re having a great time ECing….thanks for sending in this photo of your son ECing:

He is stoked to be pottying.
He is stoked to be pottying.

So, yes, back to your question. :)

Check in with all your daily and nighttime routines

I’m certain you’ve already done this, but it warrants a little looksie.

Check in with your bedtime routines, your own daytime and pre-bed and nighttime stress and emotional levels, what else your son is eating throughout the day.

What varies from day-to-day?

What stays the same?

What do you do on the day and night before the 4:30am poop?

What do you do on the day and night before the 6:00am poop?

Write it all down for a 7 day period to see if there is, indeed, any difference. And don’t get all anal about it. We’re just doing a little light research. ;o)

You could always experiment

See what happens if you comfort him and nonverbally ask him to wait (by returning everyone to sleep) at those 4:30am poop signaling times. He could very well just wait and wake up at 6.

It’s worth at least one try. You won’t screw up your EC rhythms by trying this just once.

Was it something you ate?...

It’s possible that something is moving through his system so quickly that he needs to poop a bit prematurely...before dawn!

See if there are any differences between your diet (which is his diet) on a daily or nightly basis...and see if tweaking your intake tweaks his output. ;)

There may not be anything but time that will shift this…

At 9 months old, you’re on the verge of some major changes. Crawling, walking, first words.

Trust that most things will at least gradually change…including this super-early-morning poop habit.

You could even just wait it out.

I KNOW that it will change! Within a few short months, perhaps.

That’s one thing I’ve learned from having 5 babies...things ALWAYS change, the good and bad, eventually.

Bottom line, keep the early-AM poop environment dark, no conversations, in a potty in the sleep room if possible, and get that baby back to sleep. This will change so quickly!

Thanks so much for your question, Jordan!

Everyone, please leave any comments of similar experiences, advice, or whatever…in the comments below.

Thanks! xx Andrea

PS - here’s the video version of this episode in case you prefer to YouTube it. ;)

Andrea Olson

About Andrea Olson

I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my husband and 5 children (newborn to 8 years old) and the rest of my time teaching other new parents how to do Elimination Communication with their 0-18 month babies. I love what I do and try to make a difference in one baby or parent's life every single day. (And I love, love, love, mango gelato.)

12 Comments

  1. Avatar Heather on May 4, 2021 at 6:50 am

    We have had a very similar experience with our now 6 month old ever since he was born. He has consistently woken at 4-4:30am often needing to poop and I feel that this has now set up his body clock to just have a wake then whether or not he needs to go. I’ve been trying to get him into more of an afternoon/evening pooping schedule by giving lots of toilet time but like the idea of a bit of research to see what changes to see what else we can modify to try to shift out of this timing.

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on May 6, 2021 at 2:06 am

      Yes! Research and then modifications can make it all possible. 😊

  2. Laura Laura on May 4, 2021 at 9:14 am

    We experienced this with our littles, as well, though it more often appeared as a nap lost to poop. :) EVERY time, in retrospect, we’d see it was a developmental leap they were going through. (Of course, sometimes it can be food, but that was usually a one-time occurrence for us. When it was happening regularly, regardless of what we did, yep, they were entering a new phase.) SO TRUE about change. When you’re in the moment it feels like its going to be like this, forever, but suddenly, it’s not. Hang in there!!

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on May 6, 2021 at 2:08 am

      Thank you for sharing your experience here, and for the wonderful tips you were reminded of!

  3. Avatar Mataya on May 4, 2021 at 12:57 pm

    Hey there! I have a 6 month old who was doing the same. Up at 3am to poop and stayed up for exactly 2 hours then back to sleep. Some days she would wait til 6:30am but it was always one of those times. For us, the solution has been to move her meals to later in the day. She is EBF along with egg yolks and avocados now. Previously we did one at breakfast and one at supper time. Now she only does breast milk in the morning with her meals at lunch and supper. This shifted her schedule just enough that we’re up at 5:45-6:30 every morning for that poop instead of 3am. Whew. Definitely encouraged you to experiment, like Andrea said. Or wait it out! Best of luck and happy ECing :)

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on May 6, 2021 at 2:10 am

      Exact proof how modifying things can change the wake up time. Sometimes just those simple changes make a huge difference. Thanks for sharing!

    • Avatar Fredrika on May 26, 2021 at 4:26 am

      The baby is right!
      Hey before eletric light people did not sleep all at once. We wake up once during the night to do night time activitys. The baby wakeing up is not strange it that that parents dont want to do that that is new :)

      • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on May 26, 2021 at 4:43 am

        Makes even more sense!

        Thank you for sharing. ❤️

  4. Avatar Sarah J on May 5, 2021 at 2:14 am

    Hi, I am so thrilled that this question was asked. I too have a 4-4:30 am pooper. She is currently 4m old and we had been doing full time ec since she was around 6 weeks.

    I had been thinking back to my first daughter (now 34m), and her habits (as we practiced ec from 8w to 9m when she was a baby) , and truth be told, she was the same.

    Initially, with my first child, I thought it was because I had been waking up at 5am everyday throughout pregnancy (to go to work) but with my second child my wake up time for work was around 7am so I’m no longer sure it was related.

    Most recently I’ve kind of assumed it was in their genes – and remembered reading that for a 7am wake up, you start to secrete cortisol (to help with that wake up) around 3 hours before so I’d figured my ‘witching hour’ was inevitable.

    So luckily my new baby is kind of predictable where it comes to ec. She poops 4 to 5 times a day and pees around every 45 minutes to an hour, so we have a good rhythm going, but I have started asking her to hold her 4am poop (in the last week, as we’ve all had colds and I’m just too tired) and instead I offer her, what I call a comfort feed (so my emptier breast) to settle her back to sleep and we get up at 5am to go potty.

    (We’ve stopped pottying overnight and minimise diaper changes as since she completed her 4m sleep regression and is rolling over / moving more she absolutely hates it)

    What I have found interesting in this new arrangement is that she doesn’t seem to do her full poop. (Just to add some context, she tends to do a 3 part poop normally (pushing 3 times – I hope that makes sense), but over the last 3 days at 5am she only does a 2 part poop and refuses to completely finish in one sitting, so we have been walking around the room and having little chats for around 5-10 minutes, and then we sit again and she’ll finish. I’m not sure what that’s about but I’d be interested in knowing if anyone else has this issue. We do try to get back to sleep for around 6am for half an hour to an hour until her sister wakes up but it’s definitely harder to get her back to sleep, as she’s more awake. (Or do you think she has to be more awake to finish her poop?)

    (Sorry for the long post (and any typos) – I’m usually a super private person – but you’re my new ‘village’ – I don’t have any ec company where I am now in the UK and the other mums think it’s absurd to potty a baby so I can’t speak to them about it)

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on May 6, 2021 at 2:16 am

      It is great to have you apart of the community here!

      Thank you for opening up and sharing your story. Sounds like your little one is enjoying the chat with you in the morning. 🥰 It also sounds like you are in tuned with your little one, which is fabulous! Keep up the great work. If you want, you can try laying back down with baby after part two of the poop. Then offer the potty when you wake up again at 6am when her sister.

  5. Avatar Klaudyna on May 5, 2021 at 4:52 am

    My first son used to wake up at 5:30 every morning to make poop. It was really hard for me as he was waking up every 45-60 min overnight. I’m a bit of a fan of Traditional Chinese Medicine and I remember that it made me easier to accept it all when I found out that natural rhythm of our bodies to clear the content from our intestines is around 5-7am. I was still extremely tired but it was a little easier to bear when I knew that it’s natural and good for him.

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on May 6, 2021 at 2:19 am

      Yes, sometimes things can be easier to accept, when we know why.

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