Why do babies get their days and nights confused?
Babies are born with high reserves of maternal melatonin which makes them really sleepy in the beginning. They won’t really have much alert/awake time, and will generally sleep most of the time, waking just to feed.
But over the first few weeks, you’ll notice they start to ‘wake up’ and these periods of alertness won’t always naturally fall during the day. You might find that they are wide awake in the middle of the night, and extra sleepy in the middle of the day. This day and night confusion happens because their internal body clock is not yet in sync with the external cues of night and day.
How to fix your baby's day and night confusion:
- For the first 6 weeks, place them down for naps in rooms filled with natural sunlight, and keep the house bright throughout the day. Seeing sunlight, especially first thing in the morning will help their body clock to quickly set to the rise and fall of the sun.
- Keep your days busy and nights quiet. Parents often keep the house quiet for their little one, but during the day, lots of noise, activity and social interaction will actually help them differentiate between night and day. Studies show that newborn babies are actively listening and learning even when asleep!
- Wake them during the day to feed if it’s been more than 3 hours. Most babies will only manage one slightly longer stretch between feeds over a 24 hour period. So to help encourage this longer stretch to happen at night, when you’ll be sleeping too, you’ll want to make sure you don’t let their day feeds drift too far apart.
- As they get closer to 6 weeks you'll want to slowly lengthen their wake windows. Ensuring they have the right balance of awake time to sleep time during the day will also help ensure the consolidation of their nights.
Have no idea about your little one's sleep needs? What wake windows are, or how many naps a day they should be having? Go grab our Newborn Sleep Guide, a comprehensive sleep survival guide for the first 3.5 months.