by maipham

November 13, 2022

newborn day/ night confusion

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There are many changes that parents need to adapt when their little babies come to the world. One of the most frustrating and tiring changes that almost all parents deal with, is their sleep.

Not only their newborn baby wakes up every 2 hours during the night, those little a-holes even stay up for hours before falling back to sleep again, leaving two desperate parents behind. Then the next day, when the sun shines and everything is so bright, they spend much of the day snoozing.

Sometimes you even wonder, is my baby a vampire?

Rest assured, he is not a vampire. Unless you have a vampire gene run in the family, hmm.

Actually, most newborns have day/ night confusion. And good news for parents is that you can fix your newborn day/ night confusion.

In this article, we will find out how to get your newborn to sleep at night instead of day.

Why does your newborn have day/night confusion?

The human body has a special internal clock, which controls sleep patterns. 

When you are pregnant, your movement lulls the baby to sleep. By contrast, when you lie down to rest, your baby often wakes up. This time, he completely depends on your movements and hormone to know when to sleep and when to wake up. 

In fact, he is kinda used to sleeping during the day time and waking at night time.

When your baby is born, he has to rely on his own internal clock to tell him when it is time to be awake and when it is time to sleep. And guess what? His internal clock is not even close to being developed yet! 

This is another reason why he may be wide awake in the middle of the night, and sleeping soundly in the middle of the afternoon.

4 must-do things to fix your newborn day/night confusion

Practice a good routine for your newborn

I recommend you to read this book on creating a routine for your baby. Generally, a newborn baby will follow EASY 3. All the tips here are made for babies who are following EASY 3.

Here’s a quick explanation for EASY 3.

E- Eat: your baby eats

A- Activity: you do some activities for your baby

S- Sleep: after activities, your baby goes to sleep

Y- Your time: when your baby sleeps, you have your own time.

3- from the start of this feeding (Eat) to the next feeding (next Eat) is 3 hours. 

Watch out the nap time

For newborn babies who follow EASY 3, do not let your baby sleep more than 2.5 hours during the day. Ideal nap time is 2 hours every nap. 

If your baby sleeps too long during the day, that nap will steal the sleeping time at night.

Your baby won’t get tired if you wake him up after a 2 hours nap. The main purpose of a daytime nap is letting your baby rest throughout the day, and for a bigger purpose: he can sleep longer at night.

Make sure the activity time is long enough

Activity time between each EASY 3 circle has to be long enough, at least 45-50 minutes. If your newborn goes back to sleep too quickly after he wakes up, for his internal clock, he is continuing his previous nap to create a longer sleep. This is the main reason for newborn day/night confusion.

If possible, keep your newborn up long enough between naps.

During this activity time, you can do many things with your newborn: feeding, washing, cleaning, changing and tummy time. Don’t get stressed out about that 45-50 minutes, the time actually runs fast when you follow all the steps!

Light and social interactions

With your newborn baby, you don’t have to turn off all the lights so that he can tell it is night time. Instead, you should use a nightlight so that you can see him and change his diaper during the night.

However, differentiate your interactions with your baby during day time and night time. During day time, you should create loud noise, make sounds, sing, play, talk, give him tummy time. During night time, avoid eye contact, avoid making any sound or doing anything that might excite your baby. 

No activity during night time. Night time is for quiet and sleep.

What can you do if your baby sleeps too long during the day?

One thing I experienced is that my baby often fell asleep during nursing, even though he just woke up not too long ago. If I let my son sleep while nursing, his internal clock would understand that he was continuing his previous nap!

Some tips you can do when your baby sleeps too long during the day: wash his face, change his diaper and wipe him with cool wipes.

If there is nothing you do that can wake your baby, maybe he is in his deep sleep circle. Wait for another 15 to 20 minutes and try waking him up again.

How long did it take to fix my newborn day/night confusion?

As soon as we came home from the hospital, I started tracking his activity. My son was a born catnapper. Even when he was a few days old, he barely slept longer than 1.5 hours. 

The EASY 3 recommends 2 hours naps but my son never reached that long. But I still applied a fixed routine for him.

His routine was: Eat- nearly 45 minutes, Activity: physical therapy, change diapers, Sleep.

He woke up and stayed up for the first few nights only, but my husband and I insisted on no playing, no singing, no carrying during night time. Eventually after a week or two, he got used to his routine and didn’t stay up too long at night anymore.

However, your baby is a human being. Sometimes he might not feel well, or he just simply gets too excited with his new skills, he will stay up. So if you can make him sleep at night for a few nights, then he wakes up again, don’t get stressed out.

Getting your newborn to sleep at night is not impossible.

You don’t have to wait for years until he becomes bigger to tell him to sleep at night. With proper and repeated practice, your baby can get into a routine quickly. Once he has a good routine, he will tell you when it’s time to go to bed.

Imagine you can put him to bed early at night, and then the night is yours.

You can do whatever you want, sleep, read, watch TV, eat some ice cream while watching your favorite TV shows. Or you can do what I do: write and blog.

If you know a pregnant mum or a newborn mum who can benefit from this post, please share it with them.

About the author 

Mai Pham

Mai Pham discovered her passion for writing a few years ago and she never stop thinking about it ever since. She finally took the leap and created Live a Worthy Life to brag about her smart ass (mainly just for fun). Enjoyed the fun writing brings, now with her new interest in everything-baby-related, she created Mommy Instinct, to tell mamas that it's ok that they mess up, that they don't know what the hell they are doing, and that it's okay to sit back and relax for a while.

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