How to fix the Newborn Day and Night Confusion

Updated: Aug 4, 2019

Imagine you go on a trip to a country that is across the world. You get off the plane and it's nighttime: 12 hours ahead of what you are used to. It's a lot colder than your home country, and you have no idea what is going on. This is a little bit like life is for a newborn the first few weeks. When a baby is in the womb they are rocked to sleep all day by your movement. Just our walking allows them to be soothed to sleep.*And at night, when mom is lying down (between bathroom trips), baby is free to be awake and explore the broad world they know. Awake for a few minutes, but awake. So when they are out of the womb they don't care that it's 9pm... for them it's time to be awake! So in reality, they're not confused at all, they're just jet lagged! And so we can fix this 'confusion' very similarly to how you would fix jet lag. Now, fear not if you've never experienced jet lag, I've got the tips for you! **

Anyway, I'll stop internet-recipe-story-before-the-actual-recipe-ing you and get to the tips: 1- Make Days Bright and Loud

In general, newborns can sleep through pretty much anything - so take advantage of this and expose them to bright light (sunlight if possible) and loud noises (just you talking or the TV is enough) during daytime hours. This will help their tiny body be awake and sleep less deeply. 2- Make Nights Dark and Quiet

As much as possible, keep nighttime hours DARK. Pitch black as much as you can. Of course you'll need to change a diaper and figure out baby's tiny mouth latching just right, so invest in a dim lamp -- preferably with a red lightbulb. Definitely don't turn on the room lights unless there's an emergency and you need full visibility. Invest in a white noise machine and have that be the background noise. It will help baby feel comfortable, and block out noises that have nothing to do with sleep.

3- Protect Baby's Sleep at Night

For night feedings: change diaper when they wake up, then swaddle, and then feed. This will wake them up so that they can get a good feed, and then help them go right back to sleep after the feed. Note: some babies are VERY hungry when they wake up and will SCREAM through the whole diaper change. This can wake them up WAY too much. If this is your baby, you can also feed them on one side, then change their diaper, and then feed on the other side to still protect their sleepiness.

4- Play During the Day! It's hard to find actual things newborns like in the five minutes they open their eyes in the first few days... but interact with baby as much as you can during the day! You're telling your newborn THIS is the time to get to know the world and enjoy their time outside the womb ;). 5- All Business during Night Hours

At night avoid eye contact, talk as little as possible (and as softly as you can), be all business! By acting like night is JUST for sleep- it will help baby get on that same plan.

Lastly, be patient. This is a BIG transition for your little man or lady! They just got off the plane and feel SO jet lagged! As always, make sure you have a village (even if it's just one person) that can help you cope with less sleep, and remember: this is just a phase.

If your newborn is older than 4-5 weeks and still has day and night confusion, send me a message and let's get working to fix it! * I often wonder what newborn confusion would be like for a person who is very sedentary, or has a night shift. ** Yes, as an experienced traveler during my youth, I recommend an adult version of these tips to cure jet lag as well. Of course, whether you change your diaper before or after you eat is up to you ;).*** *** Adult diapers are very useful during the postpartum period. No disrespect intended.

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Andrea De La Torre

Sleep Consultant 

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