Newborn Day Night Confusion
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The Best Tips To Fix Newborn Day-Night Confusion

After you deliver your baby, you might be surprised by how much they sleep in those first 24 hours. You might think you hit the baby sleep jackpot! But then comes their second night, and you quickly realize that your baby has newborn day-night confusion.

My children had newborn day-night confusion, and I can confidently say their sleep will improve! While many babies might sort out the day and night on their own, making some minor changes to help them along is beneficial. 

So in this article, you’ll find the best tips for fixing newborn day-night confusion. These suggestions help your baby learn to have longer sleep stretches at night so that you can get some rest, too!

Let’s get started!

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What is newborn day-night confusion?

Newborn day-night confusion is when your new baby has their days and nights switched, so they sleep most of the day and are more awake at night. 

Day-night confusion is standard in newborns because their circadian rhythm hasn’t fully developed. The circadian rhythm is like your body’s internal clock, telling you your sleep-wake pattern over 24 hours.

Newborn day-night confusion is also common because of your baby’s experiences in the womb. During the day, the walking and movement they felt comforted them to sleep. And at night, when there wasn’t much movement from mom, they were awake and ready to move around!

How long do newborns confuse day and night?

Like most things when it comes to babies, each one is different. Some babies can adjust within a week after birth, while others can take up to eight weeks to differentiate between day and night. 

Another thing to remember is whether or not your baby was full term. If your baby was born premature or late preterm, it might take a little longer for them to fix their day-night confusion because they have a bit of catching up to do.

Signs of Newborn Day-Night Confusion:

  • Your baby is sleepy and has long naps of up to three hours during the daytime.
  • Your baby has shorter feedings during the day with minimal wake times; then, they’re right back to napping.
  • Your baby has 1-2 hour sleep stretches during the night.
  • Your baby has frequent, longer night feedings and is more alert.

As always, if you’re ever concerned about your baby’s sleep or eating patterns, call and consult your baby’s doctor.

Fixing Newborn Day-Night Confusion: Tips for the Daytime

1. Keep Day Feedings Interactive

Our first tip for fixing newborn day-night confusion is to keep day feedings interactive. Often, feeding sessions can make new babies sleepy and even lull them back to sleep. During the day, you want to keep them awake with some interaction!

By keeping the day feedings interactive, you’ll avoid having your baby fall immediately back into a deep nap. You’ll also help show them that the daytime is for playing!

When I notice my baby getting sleepy during a feeding, I first ensure she isn’t too warm. Also, it can help to switch feeding positions, so if your baby is in more of a laying position, change them to a more upright position.

If you need more tips for keeping your baby awake during feedings (especially while breastfeeding), check out this post.

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2. Get Outside During the Day

Try to get outside with your baby when the weather permits! Spending a little time out when the temperature is comfortable for your baby will not only get them some fresh air, but the daylight can also help them adjust to being more awake during the day.

3. Let the Natural Morning Light In

Similar to getting outside, you’ll want to ensure you let the natural light in as soon as you and your baby wake up for the day. Emphasizing the morning can help your baby distinguish between night and day.

When my kids wake up for the day, we have a habit of opening all the blinds in the house and letting as much light in as we can. Having the house lit with morning light helps us all wake up and start our day well.

4. Have More Frequent Day Feedings

When your goal is for your baby to have longer sleep stretches at night, that means they won’t be waking up every 1-2 hours to eat throughout the night. You’ll want to give them more frequent feedings to ensure your baby is still getting enough to eat daily.

As a breastfeeding mom, I found it easiest to feed my babies on demand when they were figuring out their days and nights. Feeding on demand while working through this adjustment helped them to eat enough and get the comfort they needed.

5. Have Swaddle-Free Day Feedings

Swaddling your baby often tells them it’s time to go to sleep. Therefore, if your baby just woke up from a nap and is ready to eat, taking them out of their swaddle will help them stay awake for their feeding and their next wake window.

On the other hand, when your baby wakes for a feeding at night, it can be beneficial to change their diaper, reswaddle them, and then feed them. This kind of swaddled feeding will signal that it’s still nighttime.

Also, if you find that your baby hates the swaddle, check out this post for some crucial tips! Sometimes, a small change, like switching to a different type of swaddle, is all your baby needs.

6. Let Light In for Naps

As your baby figures out the day from night, keeping the curtains open for naps for the first couple of months can be beneficial. Then, once your baby is about two months old, you can switch to dark naps to help them sleep deeper and longer.

Also, keeping the house at an average noise level for naps can help tell your baby it’s daytime. When my newborn would take naps, I would still turn her sound machine on, but I would still talk at a normal level with my older child, and he wouldn’t worry about being too loud while he played.

Fixing Newborn Day-Night Confusion: Tips for the Nighttime

7. Create a Baby-Friendly Sleep Environment

Starting your baby on the right path of sleeping well begins with giving them the proper sleep environment. Also, a suitable sleep environment can help your baby realize when it’s time for sleep and not play. 

To make whatever room your baby sleeps in conducive for sleep, you’ll want to start by ensuring it’s dark. Blackout curtains or blinds are a great place to start! Blackout curtains and blinds are great for keeping a room dark, even when it’s light out, but they can also help regulate the room’s temperature.

This brings me to our next point; making sure the room is at a comfortable temperature. A suitable room temperature for babies is between 68 and 72 degrees. When my first baby was a newborn, I got this thermometer for his room to ensure the room was just right for him.

Another newborn essential that can help babies sleep more peacefully is a sound machine. Newborns are used to hearing many sounds in the womb, and being in a room with no sound can be unsettling.

Both of my children use this sound machine, and it’s excellent! There are so many settings so you can create the perfect environment for your baby.

8. Create a Bedtime Routine 

Babies love routine; once a baby has a routine, they will know what to expect at certain times of the day, and it can lead to less fussiness. A bedtime routine is also a great way to signal your baby that the day is over and it’s bedtime. 

When creating a bedtime routine for a newborn, it doesn’t need to be extravagant! You’ll want to ensure you choose the steps you want to take before bedtime and keep it consistent every day.

For example, you can start a bedtime routine for a newborn by having a bath, then some relaxing baby massage, a new diaper and pajamas, and finally, their before-bed feeding.

9. Don’t Let Baby Get Overtired 

One crucial thing to remember with babies of all ages is that you don’t want them to get overtired. You might think that tiring your baby out and keeping them awake longer will help them fall right to sleep, but most times, it has the opposite effect.

Overtired babies are more likely to have problems falling asleep, staying asleep, and calming down when they get fussy. So as it gets closer to nighttime, you’ll want to prevent your baby from getting overtired. 

To learn how to prevent your baby from becoming overtired, you’ll need to know the signs that they are close to needing sleep. Check out this article for the signs of an overtired baby and tips on how to get them to sleep!

10. Keep Night Feedings Dark 

When feeding your baby at night, you’ll want to keep the room as dim as possible. Keeping the room dark while your baby is awake at night will help them stay sleepy, and it can help make it easier to get them back to sleep.

Now, as you keep night feedings dark, you might have difficulty staying awake while you feed your baby. If this sounds like you, check out this article for great ways to stay awake during night feedings.

11. Avoid Eye Contact At Night

Babies love eye contact; it’s one of the ways they bond with you! When it’s nighttime, and you’re either feeding your baby or changing their diaper, you’ll want to avoid making eye contact with them.

In addition to babies using eye contact to bond with you, it also can make your baby more alert and think it’s time to play and be silly. That’s the opposite of what you want in the middle of the night!

12. Minimize Stimulation At Night 

A significant rule for nighttime that can be hard to follow sometimes is to minimize stimulation/interaction. This means you’ll want to avoid playing with your baby, even when they wake up so alert, cute, and playful!

When your baby wakes at night, you’ll want to show them that the nighttime is for quick diaper changes and dim, quiet feedings, not for playing and interaction! Then, when morning comes, you can make a big deal out of interacting and playing with your baby to show them that’s what the daytime is for.

13. Change Diaper Before Night Feedings

When your newborn wakes up for a middle-of-the-night feeding, remember to change their diaper before you start the feeding. Changing your baby’s diaper will help them wake up enough to get a full feeding before drifting back off to sleep.

When my newborn wakes for a middle-of-the-night feeding, I change her diaper and put her back in the swaddle. Once she is swaddled, I then feed her and burp her. Typically by the time her feeding is done, she is back to sleep, and I can lay her back in her bassinet.

Newborn Day-Night Confusion Pin Image

And there you have it; how to fix newborn day-night confusion. I hope these tips have helped your baby switch back their days and nights, so you get the rest you need, too!

Before you go, check out these related articles:

What were your favorite tips for fixing newborn day-night confusion? I would love to know in the comments below!

Rachel Sig 3

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