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One of the most common issues I hear about when moms bring a new baby home from the hospital is night and day confusion. With my first baby we only stayed one night in the hospital and I think that minimized his issues with this. But with both Britt and Tess we stayed two nights and I had them both go to the nursery at night for sleep. Have you seen how bright the lights are in those nurseries? No wonder the babies come home confused!!!
So how do you know when your baby is confused between night and day? Oh you’ll know. You’ll know because you’ll have this snoooooozing baby allll day long. A baby who is hard to wake to nurse. Who never fusses. Whose eyes like rarely even open. Man! What an easy baby! Then the sun goes down, the moon comes out and BAM! your baby is wide awake. Which means you will be awake too!
Here are some steps to help your baby understand when it’s day time we are awake (other than naps, of course) and when it’s night time we sleep:
1. At night keep everything as dark as you can. And as quiet as possible. For night time feedings don’t talk to your baby. Don’t stimulate the baby! Keep the lights low and keep any talking to a whisper. At night I turn on a light that isn’t close to the area where I nurse. That way I can still see the baby, but they don’t have some bright light shining in their eyes.
2. When it’s “bedtime” dress your baby for bed! Depending on how your schedule works, put the baby in pjs or sleepers or something each night that is designated as “night only” clothes. We do a bedtime ritual and put on the pjs after that ritual and before the last feeding of the day. It helps signal that it’s bedtime because they have their bedtime clothes on!
3. Along with the bedtime ritual at night, I always change my baby’s diaper prior to the last feeding of the day. During the day feedings I feed baby, then have awake time, then put baby down for nap. But for the last feeding of the day I do the opposite routine. I get the baby up from nap, have awake time (bath!) and then feed. This way I feed them to sleep and put them straight to bed after that feeding, helping them know it’s nighttime and bedtime.
4. At night I keep everything quiet and to a whisper…but during the day? Bring on the noise! A busier home helps the baby know that it’s daytime. Let the older siblings play! Talk to your baby! The more you interact with them, the more they will stay awake and understand that it’s daytime!
5. During the day it is so helpful to keep everything bright. Have as much natural sunlight flood your home as possible. Keep your baby awake and alert during feedings. Have their awake time be something active. My routine is to keep a brighter overhead light on while I nurse during the day and to keep my baby awake to get a full feeding. Then I change diaper after the baby finishes eating to help them wake up more for their awake time before it’s time to go down for nap.
While it’s important to help your baby distinguish between night and day…it’s also important to make sure they get their daytime sleep as well. When it’s time for sleep during the day, I mimic night as much as possible. I keep the room VERY dark (black out curtains are a must!). I use white noise so the baby can’t hear the sounds of our home while they are sleeping. I follow a similar routine before each time of sleep. All of these things help signal to your baby that it’s sleep time 🙂
Helping your baby understand the difference between night and day will help YOU have a smoother time at both daytime and nighttime. It usually only takes my babies a couple days of doing the above tips to get them adjusted and once they are adjusted the night sleep becomes much more solid…for us all!