How can I help my baby learn day from night?
It doesn’t take long to realize your baby’s days and nights are out of sync with yours. Most babies begin life mimicking their fetal behaviors for sleep and wake cycles. During pregnancy, many moms report that their baby kicks more at night. Some women notice extra activity after a meal or a sweet dessert. In any case, it’s normal for your baby to want to sleep away the day and stay awake all night, either eating or playing or just being close to their warm and cuddly parent.
Here are a few ideas to get baby’s clock to line up with yours:
Reserve swaddling for putting your baby to sleep, whether for a nap or bedtime.
- One of the many cute outfits you have for your baby will keep them warm, so there is little need for them to be bundled up tight all day.
- Your baby will quickly learn, “when I’m swaddled, it’s time to sleep!”
- The newest pre-made swaddle blankets allow for infants to be swaddled even when they are safely buckled into a carseat.
If nursing is keeping your baby up, reschedule nighttime feedings.
- Adopt a night routine that leaves baby’s last feeding of the night as close to 10:00 PM as possible.
- The idea is to encourage your baby to sleep for five hours in a row without needing to eat.
- Once your baby is able to stay asleep for a five-hour stretch, the next feeding time should be a quick 20-30 minutes, with the intention of eventually dropping this feeding.
- The second long stretch of sleep should be about 4 hours.
- When your baby wakes up for the next morning’s feeding, you should be about ready to get up and start your daily routine
- There’s also nothing wrong with going back to sleep again for a few more hours if you need the additional rest.
Once your baby is up for the morning, however, you might want to go back to 2-3 hour feeding intervals. Transitioning to daytime feedings and night-time sleeping is just as important for your baby as it is for you.
It’s important to note that there is nothing wrong with a baby who wants to nurse every two hours at night and throughout the day. It is tiring, and some parents need more sleep in order to accomplish their daily activities or work routines. The decision to breastfeed on demand day and night is one that you and your partner should make and discuss with your pediatrician or other health care provider. If night nursing is interfering with other activities, you should call a lactation consultant to talk about adjusting feeding patterns to something that will work better for you.
Get started teaching your baby specific daytime and night-time behaviors.
- Day is busy, bright, noisy and lit.
- Nighttime is quiet, dimly lit, and all about eating and getting right back to sleep.
- Infants do well when they are swaddled for sleep.
- Keep your baby out and about during the day. Go for walks with the stroller or baby carrier. Keep the house light and bright, and have music playing and other normal sounds around the house. Babies who want to sleep will usually ignore dogs barking and other normal household sounds.
- Babies who are always kept in quiet places can be overly sensitive to noises when they hear them.
- Start using a transitional object, like a lovie or blankie, when putting your baby down for naps and sleep time.
- Start a nighttime routine as soon as possible after their sixth week. This would include bathing, storytime, songs and nursing or bottle feeding. Then swaddle your baby, put them into bed, dim the lights and pat or shush your baby until they fall asleep. If your baby wakes up before the next feeding time, try quieting them with shushing and patting and soft voices to see if they will go back to sleep. If your baby goes back to sleep, wait until the next waking time to feed them.
- If you are uncomfortable and need to pump, do so for 15-20 minutes and get back to sleep as soon as you can.
- Keep the routine as simple as possible so that anyone can help you with putting your baby to bed. You do not want to be the only person who can get them to sleep! It’s the routine that helps your baby get to sleep, not necessarily the individual.
Good luck getting started. Be patient with your baby and yourself. New ideas and routines are learned over time. You can always retrain your baby when you are ready to introduce a new routine.
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