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When Days and Nights Are Reversed

Many newborn babies seem to have days and nights reversed. Parents anxiously wait for their little one to start sleeping for longer stretches, only to realize that baby would rather sleep all day and play all night. This reversal of days and nights is exceedingly common. After all, your movement during the day likely lulled baby to sleep in the uterus. And at night you were peaceful, giving her time to move and play.

Now that she’s out, she’s on the same schedule she was on while she was in. Days are for sleeping while Mom is moving and nights are for playing when the house is quiet. Identifying the problem is far simpler than resolving the issue, however, especially if you give into baby’s requests and wind up playing together at night – you’ll be creating a pattern that is extremely hard to break.

Daytime Activities
The newborn baby seems to sleep around the clock, but after a week or two, usually a longer stretch of sleep shows up. This might be solid three or four hours of sleep all in a row where other naps are closer to thirty minutes or an hour. If this sleep occurs at night, you’re golden. But if your little one is taking a marathon nap in the late afternoon instead of at night, you’ll need to take action.

Naps are critical for your baby’s development, so you never want to skip naps or even shorten them if you avoid it. During the daylight hours, start training your baby to work in blocks f time. When she is away turn on the lights, turn on music and be energetic. Play, laugh and entertain her. As she eats and drifts off, put her down for a good nap.

When she wakes up get back to playing and repeat the cycle. If she is still sleeping three hours after a nursing session or four hours after a bottle, wake her up. She needs to be eating frequently during the day. Use noise, lights and stimulation in your voice and facial expressions when you wake her up. Stay religious about putting her down for a nap every time she looks tired, but the excitement caused during the daylight hours should be sending a message to your baby.

Nighttime Activities
Nights can be painful if your baby wants to stay awake and play for an hour or two in the night. As hard as it is, don’t give in to the urge to play and interact. This tells your baby that she is doing the right thing to wake up frequently during the night.

Start the night with a full routine – even if she’s just a few days old. A warm bath, some lotion for a massage, clean pajamas and a dimly lit feeding will help your baby drift off. Once you’ve put her down for the night – even if it’s midnight in those first few weeks, treat every night waking the same way. When your little one wakes up, go to her promptly, but leave the lights off.

Pick her up in a dark or extremely dim room and avoid eye contact as much as possible. Staring into your child’s eyes is very stimulating for babies, especially if you smile and make other facial gestures to demonstrate your approval.

Feed your baby and then work to get her back asleep. The goal during these feedings to is keep her in a tired state ready to fall back asleep easily. If she can’t fall back asleep right away, avoid the temptation to watch television or surf the net with her for hours. The lights and noise are highly stimulating.

Instead, stay in the dark nursery simply holding and rocking your baby until she is drowsy, warm, comfortable and full enough to drift off again. Other cues such as white noise and a swaddle will help your baby realize that it is still night time and that night times are for sleep. Within a few days you’ll notice improvement and a full reversal should take only a week if you’re diligent about stimulation during the day and soothing, dark activities during the evening.


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