4 Tips To Changing Infant Day/Night Confusion
Congratulations new mom – you survived your pregnancy, delivered a healthy and happy baby who is now ready to come home. The months of insomnia and uncomfortable nights are over, right? Not so fast – baby is a night owl!
Like a college freshman, your sweet little baby likes to party all night long. After you’ve spent your prime sleeping time asking yourself “WHAT IS HAPPENING” and “WHY WON’T SHE SLEEP?!” you conclude that you can’t be the mom you need to be if this pattern continues.
I call this pattern infant day/night confusion. As moms, we’ve been taught that newborns sleep more in the daytime than at night. However, you can change this pattern and you should start as soon as possible so baby (and mom) can start sleeping properly.
So, why does infant day/night confusion happen? During your pregnancy, baby learned to sleep inside your womb during the day, as you were moving, grooving and living life. Quite simply, your movements lulled her to sleep. Then, at nighttime when you were resting, she would wake up to play. Do you remember those fun jabs in the ribs? That was your college freshman pre-gaming for the main event: out to play and raring to go at 2am! She would be awake when you were trying to rest, and asleep when you were awake.
When baby is born she relies on the internal clock she developed during the months in your womb to create her sleep and awake routine. But, by following these tips you can teach your baby that nighttime is definitely sleep time.
GITMom Tip #1: MAKE NOISE
During the daytime, even when baby is sleeping make her room as bright as possible and be LOUD. Play music, watch TV, gab to your girlfriends on the phone about how tired you are, make noise! Babies can sleep through anything, and you want yours to experience the sounds of daytime life to assist in setting her internal clock to the correct time zone. Plus, you don’t want to create a “ssshhh don’t wake the sleeping baby” syndrome and be tip-toeing around her for the rest of her life.
Light is key in assisting your little one to reset her internal clock, and remind her it’s time to be awake during the daytime. Even though she is sleeping, her brain is still picking up on these environmental cues. She will slowly learn it’s daytime and want to stay awake and hang out with you, and leave you alone at night!
GITMom Tip #2: EMBRACE THE DARK
At night keep baby’s room completely dark when she IS sleeping. No, she is not afraid of the dark. Your pitch-black, completely dark womb is what she knows. Use the least amount of light (a closet light or night light) so you can see for night feedings and diaper changes. Your baby will notice her room is bright during the day and dark at night, and transition to normal sleep patterns within a month of being consistent with these strategies. Stay consistent!
GITMom Tip #3: NO NIGHT STIMULATION
During the middle of the night feedings, do not stimulate your baby. Do not make eye contact, noises, smiles, or talk. Save all of this for the daytime, which is play time. Stay as aloof as possible – right now your mom job is to teach your baby that it is not fun being awake at 2am. Always keep feedings and diaper changes quiet and calm. The goal is to teach baby that nighttime is not fun time (well until he’s 21 that is).
GITMom Tip #4: START STRAIGHT AWAY
All of these tips need to be started on the first day you bring baby home. Be consistent because the sooner your baby realizes it is night time, the sooner she will sleep though the night. Be a proactive Mommy so you’re not a sleep deprived zombie!
Eirene Heidelberger is a nationally-renowned parenting expert and founder of GITmom (Get It Together, Mom!). Through GITmom’s 7-step method, Eirene empowers mothers and mothers-to-be by teaching a “mom-first” parenting approach. She is the only parenting coach in the country who advocates parenting techniques that puts the mother’s needs center stage.
As a mom of three boys, Eirene has experienced the same overwhelm and anxiety most mothers first feel with their children. Her firsthand experiences inspired her to create GITmom which has been embraced by hundreds of moms around the world.
Eirene is a mom motivator, parenting champion and all-round expert. www.gitmom.co