Day/night confusion, is your baby sleeping most of the day and then up all night? Or your newborn sleeps longer stretches during the day and short naps at night? If you answer “yes” to one or both of those questions, your baby has his days and nights confused. Let me tell you how to fix it.
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Day/night confusion? Here is how to fix it!
Having a newborn comes with a lack of sleep. But it gets especially tricky when your baby has his/her days and nights confused. When that happens your baby will sleep most of the day and feed all night. This needs to be fixed because you need to rest as well. You just had a baby and need to recover from childbirth. And who wants to be awake all night? I prefer to sleep at night. But maybe that’s just me. 😉
Try the following tips that I used successfully with both of my children to fix their day/night confusion.
1. Preparation For The Night During The Day
Don’t swaddle your baby during the day to fix babies day/night confusion
Yes, you heard me right! Don’t swaddle your baby all day. You will thank me later!!
The majority of babies love to be swaddled because that’s how they are snuggled in the womb. So, when you swaddle your babies, you get them as comfortable as possible. And we all know what happens when babies are comfortable… They fall asleep.
Now, I’m not saying you can’t swaddle them at all during the day, but the more you swaddle them the more they will sleep. So, be mindful about it. I usually swaddled them for their morning and afternoon naps. You want to start a routine as early as possible.
In addition, my husband was really good at swaddling our babies. Me, not so much! So, I went out and bought the best sleep sack that also swaddles baby in no-time. The Halo Sleepsack has been a lifesaver for me. Especially during those night feedings. When babies are old enough you can still swaddle them with their arms out. You can’t go wrong with this sleepsack.
Create a schedule to fix day/night confusion
Yes, I said it “create a schedule.” And “yes,” I’m fully aware that they sleep a lot at the beginning.
But eventually, your baby will take two naps a day, one in the morning and on in the afternoon. And preferably go to bed at the same time every night.
If that is your goal, and it should be, you need to create a schedule as soon as possible. So, put your baby down for his/her morning and afternoon nap at the same time every day.
I know, life gets in the way sometimes, but plan around these naps. They are essential for a good sleep routine.
To fix day/night confusion wake your baby after two hours of sleep
Let’s talk about the awake phase. Yes, you need to wake up your baby. Your baby needs to eat frequently during the day to sleep well at night. So, feed your baby every two hours! Eventually, your baby will eat less frequently. But in the beginning, you want to make sure to feed your baby every two hours. Adjust the time for bottle-fed babies!
Furthermore, feed your baby every two hours until your pediatrician gives you the go to feed them less frequent. However, if your baby is on a different schedule because of weight gain or any other medical reason listen to your pediatrician and follow their advice!!
My daughters loved to sleep 3-4 hours at a time during the day. I had the hardest time waking them up. Our lactation consultant recommended applying a wet washcloth. This works like a charm!
So, strip our baby down and gently apply a wet washcloth to wake that baby up. The things we do for some sleep… Am I right?
2. Tire Babies Out During The Day
Tire your baby out through tummy time to help the day/night confusion
The days, where I’m the most active I usually sleep the best because I’m exhausted. That isn’t much different from babies. But you don’t want to get them overly tired. So again, obey your nap schedule.
So, how do you get these babies tired? Through “Tummy Time!”
Furthermore, you want to place your babies on their belly several times a day! It helps to tire them out and to avoid any flat spots on the back of their heads. I put my girls on their tummy 3-4 times a day for 5 minutes each time. Never leave your child unattended during tummy time.
Also, I can recommend this book to keep your baby engaged during tummy time. Since they can’t see colors at the beginning a black and white book is the perfect solution. I like this book better than most black and white books because it unfolds. You can quickly put it around your baby without it falling on him/her.
Change rooms frequently to keep baby engaged and fix day/night confusion
I still change rooms throughout the day to keep my girls engaged. Not just when they were babies.
That being said, a change in scenery helps everybody not to get bored throughout the day. People underestimate that babies get bored just like older kids and even adults.
So, we change rooms often during the day. We usually start in the kitchen to eat breakfast and then we go downstairs to the play area for some morning play. After about an hour we go upstairs to their rooms to get dressed for the day. We usually leave the house for a couple of hours for a playdate. Then, we come home to eat lunch. After lunch, we play in the living room and do art projects. If they are messy we do them in the kitchen. So, we keep rotating all day to avoid getting stuck in one room. Check out my activities for kids for some play ideas!
I also recommend outside time. Go for a nice stroller walk. Or for a walk in the baby carrier. Here is the one I loved for both of my kids.
You can use it in six different positions and I found this to be one of the few that already works great with newborns. And you can use it in any weather conditions. Very practical!
3. Create A Nighttime Routine
Create a nighttime routine and stick to it.
I can’t stress enough how important a schedule is even at the beginning.
For instance, give your baby a bath and then read a book to your baby. Fed your baby and put him/her down at the same time every night. Especially at the beginning babies go to bed at the same time as their parents, but as they get older you want to aim for an early bedtime. Both of my girls go to bed at 7 pm every night.
It is essential to make sure your little ones get enough sleep every night.
Put your baby down drowsy but awake
This one is easier said than done, but try to put your baby down drowsy but awake. You will thank me later!
I always nursed my oldest to sleep and at 9 months I had to sleep train her because she wasn’t able to self-smooth herself to sleep. I was determined to do it differently with my second baby and I did. It was easier since I started it from early on rather than at 9 months.
With my second baby, I would nurse her and then put her down drowsy. I didn’t wait until she fell asleep on my breast. You can tell when their sucking intensity changes. When your baby slows down switch sides. When you are on the second breast and baby slows down, give your baby a pacifier if your baby takes one and put them to bed. If your baby suffers from reflux make sure you burp it first before putting your baby down for the night.
When your baby wakes up don’t offer breast/bottle right away
Unless your baby needs to gain weight and is on a particular schedule don’t offer your breast or bottle right away. I started this at around 2 months with both of my kids.
Try to pet babies back first. Some babies simply fall asleep when they feel moms or dads presence and touch. While others, need to suck on a pacifier. So, make sure your babies pacifier is available to him/her. My kids just woke up because they couldn’t find their pacifier. After I gave it back they fell asleep almost immediately.
However, if your baby is inconsolable feed your baby and put it back down. Also, sometimes a diaper change can help.
Follow these tips
Day/night confusion is easy to fix when you follow the above steps. I got my girls on schedule within a couple of days.
Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional or a sleep consultant. If your pediatrician wants you to follow a particular schedule and/or feeding schedule follow the one that is outlined explicitly for your child. Don’t leave your baby unsupervised during tummy and bath time.