Have you heard or even uttered this phrase yourself about your newborn?
“He has his nights and days mixed up.”
I certainly have, especially this time around in the early weeks with our newborn! And, honestly it can make the early days very, very rough. A baby who wants to be awake at 3 in the morning and fast asleep at noon makes for some sleepless nights and a hard time functioning for mom and dad. But it really is simple to help baby switch from night to day with some simple techniques that you might not have thought of (in your sleep-reduced baby brain fog).
A little background about how we are going about making the switch for our little one, first. We are one of those controversial families that believes and has practiced the techniques of Babywise. No we do not let our kids cry it out and leave them alone in their cribs suffering. But we do start to develop a simple schedule for our babies early on in their lives. The simple schedule is: Eat, Wake, Sleep, Repeat. This allows baby to develop a sense of routine from the very beginning and gives us hope for sleep at some point (I try to sleep when baby sleeps as much as possible in the first weeks).
And it is based on this simple schedule that I have developed these tips for switching baby from night to day. You don’t have to be a Babywise family for these things to work for you. They will work no matter what kind of schedule you have and however you prefer to “parent.”
Are you ready to switch baby’s night and days back to normal? Follow these steps:
1. Set parameters for night and day.
You decide what you would like to call your “last feeding” for the night and what you would like to call your “first feeding” of the day. This is how you will determine when the night begins and when the morning begins. You obviously will still be up in the middle of the night for feedings, but deciding when night begins and ends will help with the next steps.
2. Create a simple bedtime routine.
At the end of the day, after the “last feeding” of the night develop a bedtime routine for baby. This could include bath time, changing from day clothes to bed-clothes, swaddling up little one, rocking him, reading a book, and singing lullabies. Whatever you would like to be part of your nighttime routine is up to you. This qualifies in the Babywise rhythm as wake time after the final feeding of the night. This process will be your baby’s first indication of a switch from day to night every day.
3. Be quiet at night.
This may sound mundane and too simplified, but your little one will wake up in the middle of the night to feed, but that doesn’t mean he has to wake up to be entertained. So, try to keep the volume in your home at night to a minimum. This is not the time for lots of goos and gahs. This is not the time for toys. To be honest with you, we barely talk to our little one during the night. I am a breast-feeding mom, so we do a diaper change after the first side and then swaddle him again after the second side. Once he is finished feeding we give him a good burp and stay as quiet as possible. We also keep the house as dark as possible, so that bright lights don’t stimulate him.
4. Remove the “wake time” at night.
Once baby is finished with each nighttime feeding, we skip the wake time and put him straight to bed. Again, it is about teaching baby that nighttime is sleep time. This is easy to do because most babies are sleepy after eating. I try to make sure our little one has a good burp, a dry, clean diaper, and is swaddled and ready to lay back down after feeding him. Then, I snuggle him quietly for a few minutes and put him back down.
5. Transition into morning.
When baby wakes up for his “first feeding” of the day, we help him transition into morning by resuming all the things we stopped during the evening. We begin the day with, “Good morning!” greetings and song singing. We open the blinds and let the morning light in. We change clothes from bedclothes to day clothes. And we resume the Eat, Wake, Sleep routine that will dominate the day. This helps baby to see a change from the morning routine and the night routine.
We have worked this process with three babies now and the results are amazing! We have never had a little one that stays mixed up on the day/night difference. What’s more, we have had little ones sleeping through the night very quickly! Oh, and this routine helps us to get the sleep we need at night, too! Since the house is dark and quiet at night, we can get back to sleep relatively fast after waking for nighttime feedings.
Are you tired of entertaining little ones in the middle of the night, just waiting for them to go back to sleep? I hope these tips will help you fight the battle of nighttime sleep with yours. If you try it out, let me know how it goes for you! And let me know your tips for getting baby to sleep through the night!
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