Here are 10 things you can do to fix your newborn’s day night confusion. Help your baby when she has her days and nights mixed up with these tips and simple sleep habits that you can implement from the start that will help everyone sleep better!
Your baby sleeps all day and then wants to party all night, right?
Don’t they know that you aren’t in college anymore?
It’s a good thing babies are so dang cute.
When babies are born their internal clock is switched, meaning they sleep for huge chunks of time during the day and then stay awake for long periods of time at night. This is known as day night confusion in our newborns and is exhausting for new parents.
It’s not uncommon for a newborn to be awake all night those first few nights (or weeks) after they are born and can be one of the most tiring experiences for the new mom and dad!
But your baby doesn’t have to have this day night reversal for long. You can correct your baby’s day night confusion with these 10 tips! Work to establish your baby’s days and nights in the beginning and it will help create a healthy sleep foundation for the future.
Once your baby’s days and nights are corrected, your baby will start sleeping for naps during the day with wake time in between naps and going back to sleep after those middle of the night feeds, so everyone gets a better night’s sleep!
What is Day Night Confusion?
Day night confusion is just what it sounds like and means that your baby has days and nights mixed up. Your newborn has long stretches of sleep during the day, while everyone is awake, and is wide awake in the middle of the night—when tired parents are trying to catch some sleep!
Why Do Babies Have Their Days & Nights Mixed Up?
Your sweet little baby got used to a lot of movement from you when he was in the womb. While you were pregnant, you would spend your time moving around throughout the day. You were literally rocking him to sleep all day long. Then, once you sat down or laid down to rest at night, you probably felt your baby wake up and start moving around inside.
This is one reason why your newborn sleeps all day and is awake all night. It’s what he is used to!
So while it’s perfectly normal for your baby to have his days and nights mixed up, it doesn’t mean you have to become nocturnal forever. Katie from Sleepwise Consulting says around 6 weeks, many newborns will start to have a shift in their day night confusion and begin to consolidate their night time sleep to 3-5 hours, if not more.
Woo hoo! That’s good news for you mama!
In the meantime, there are some things you can do to help fix your baby’s day night confusion and get his regular sleep patterns going. And while your baby might not start to sleep through the night for several more months, these tips can help them go longer stretches at night when you need it the most!
1. Keep Night Feeds Dark
It’s normal for your baby to wake up and feed several times a night for the first few months. The trick is to feed him and get him back to sleep ASAP. To do this, avoid turning on bright or overhead lights during a night feeding. Use a soft nursing light so you don’t have to turn on any other artificial lights. Keep the room dark as you feed, with just enough light for you to get baby to the glider and back to bed safely.
2. Avoid Eye Contact During Night Feeds
Keep night feeds uneventful by avoiding eye contact and refraining from talking or playing with your baby in the middle of the night. Eye contact stimulates your baby and can make him wake up and want to play. Give him a quick diaper change if he needs it, a feed, and then put your baby back to bed.
I’ll tell you that this felt so wrong and non-nurturing to me in the beginning, but I just made sure to give my baby tons of eye contact and attention during all of her daytime feeds. The idea is to keep your baby sleepy during the night feed so they eat and then go back to sleep easily.
3. Interact A Lot During Day Feeds
When your baby is awake during the day, spend lots of time interacting with him so he starts to learn that daytime is when things happen and nighttime is for sleep! Talk to him, look at him, play with him, etc. Interact a ton during day time feeds. Give him all the attention you want when the sun is shining so he starts to notice a difference between daytime and nighttime feeds. This will really help with his day night confusion.
4. Make A Big Deal Of The Morning
When your baby wakes up in the morning, make a big deal out of it! Go in his room, sing a little good morning song, open up the blinds to let the sunlight in, change his diaper, and start the day. Your baby will start to see a difference between night feeds and that first morning feed and they’ll learn that the day is starting when mom enters with a pep in her step!
5. Go Outside During The Day
Being exposed to natural light can help adults and babies sleep better (source). Take your baby for a walk or lay on a blanket in your backyard to get some natural light. Doing this at least once a day helps them get some fresh air and sunlight. If you can’t make it outside for the day, open the windows and turn on the lights so the house is filled with bright light during the day.
6. Set Up An Optimum Sleep Environment
Set up your baby’s nursery for an optimum sleep environment to help your baby when falling asleep and stay asleep. Use blackout curtains to keep the room pitch black and a good sound machine to muffle outside noises. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know I am obsessed with the Marpac Dohm sound machine!
The temperature of the room is also important for baby’s safety and comfort. I was a nutcase about the temperature in Evelyn’s nursery after she was born, so I get it. Most experts agree the room a baby sleeps in should be between 68 and 72 degrees F (source). Make sure your baby is dressed comfortably for the temperature.
7. Use A Swaddle At Night
Swaddling your baby makes them feel nice and cozy, like they are back in the womb, and can help them sleep for longer periods. Swaddling can also keep them from startling themselves to wake from the Moro Reflex.
Use a swaddle for naps and nighttime sleep and make sure to unswaddle them during the day so they can move around a little. Follow the AAP recommendations for safely swaddling your babe and know when to stop swaddling.
8. Feed Frequently During The Day
Feed your baby frequently during the day. Feed your baby every two to three hours during the day and avoid feeding baby to sleep when possible. (It’s hard, especially in those early days!) Try to establish eat play sleep from the beginning to make it easier and avoid sleep props.
9. Don’t Let Baby Get Overtired
Don’t make the mistake of keeping your baby awake for a long time in hopes that he will sleep better. That’s just not how it works for babies!
Babies need a lot of sleep, especially those first 6 to 8 weeks. Make sure to follow your baby’s wake times and sleepy cues and put him down during his wake window, before he gets overtired. Let him nap regularly during the day so he isn’t overtired once it’s time to tuck in for the night.
10. Have a Bedtime Routine
A predictable bedtime routine can help calm down your baby and get him ready for bedtime. The activities you do pre-bedtime will eventually become cues for him that it’s time to sleep. You can give him a bath, rub lotion on him, sing songs, read books, and give him one last feeding before putting him down for the night.
Newborn sleep can be extremely tricky those first few months, but staying consistent and setting up a good sleep schedule and routine will help everyone get a better night’s rest! Sleep training is not recommended until four months old.
We followed a combination of Babywise and The Baby Whisperer to get our girl on a good sleeping routine early on, but it does take work! Establishing your baby’s days and nights will be the first step in helping them learn healthy sleep habits!