I’ve said it frequently and I’ll say it again. Lack of sleep is the hardest thing about parenting for me. The first few weeks/months are the hardest as your baby tries to adjust to being a human outside your womb! It can be especially exhausting if your baby starts getting their days and nights confused, meaning they sleep all day and are up all night.
Why do babies get their days and nights confused?
As adults, we have developed a circadian rhythm, or rather an internal clock. You wake up around the same time, get hungry at the same times, etc. This is all based on your hormones but is also driven by the light and darkness outside and your daily schedule. Newborns don’t develop a circadian rhythm until about 3-4 months old so that is why their days and nights get easily confused.
How can I fix it?
Focus on your daytime rhythm: I’m not a big proponent of having strict schedules during those early newborn days that can be an utter dumpster fire, but if you can find a rhythm to your day then this problem will be fixed quickly!
For example: get your baby up in the morning around the same time each day (preferably 7am-8am). Once their circadian rhythm develops their internal clock will naturally be ready to go to bed between 7pm-8pm and rise between 7am-8am. Starting those habits from there very beginning can make a huge difference.
Wake Windows: Watching your baby’s wake windows and sleepy cues will help daytime sleep become regulated. Common wake windows for the first few months are:
0-4 weeks: 35-60 minutes
4-12 weeks: 60-90 minutes
3-4 months: 75-120 minutes
Knowing these wake windows will help you to keep your baby awake if they are trying to drift back to sleep too early!
Sleep Environment: Make sure your child’s sleep environment is setting them up for nighttime sleep success. Make sure the room is as dark as possible, especially during feedings and diaper changes. Turning on a bright light will stimulate baby instead of keep them in nighttime mode.
Offering your baby an infant pacifier may help their nighttime routine as well. If a baby is overstimulated a newborn pacifier can help to soothe them so that they can get their days and nights back on track!
One of the most frustrating parts of offering your baby a pacifier is the pacifier keeps falling out. The Ingy Bingy Band is a pacifier wristband that velcros to your baby’s wrist so that they can self-soothe earlier than from about 4 months of age! The newborn pacifier attaches to the pacifier wristband so it’s always within their reach! When it falls out, they simply move their arm back up to their mouth to get their pacifier instead of you losing sanity having to do it for them!
How long with it last?
If you make these changes diligently, they should get on track, but every baby is different. These newborn days and nights can be long and challenging. Always know you are doing a great job and you don’t have to go it alone. Never hesitate to contact a sleep professional or your child’s pediatrician if you need help.