Help Your Baby Sort Out Their Days And Nights
If this applies to your baby, first of all, don’t panic! It’s pretty common for tiny babies to snooze all day and want to be up and party all night!
Our babies are born without an internal body clock which can often mean sleepy days and restless nights. It takes a few months for your baby’s internal body clock to develop. The circadian rhythm develops between 8 and 12 weeks in newborns and helps your baby distinguish between night and day. That’s also when your wee one will start to produce melatonin, the hormone that your little one fall asleep and stay asleep at night. This is when your little one begins to develop a more “normal” sleep pattern. Soon, they’ll be getting tired in the evenings and more sleepy during the night. It can then be a great time introducing a bedtime routine with your baby.
Don’t Despair! There’s Lots You Can Do To Avoid All Night Parties!
All is not lost before 12 weeks, though! I know that the first few weeks of your baby’s life can seem to go on forever when you’re struggling with sleep deprivation and are up most of the night.
There are lots you can do in the first few weeks of your baby’s life that can gently encourage them to begin to differentiate between day and night:
- Make sure that you act differently when your baby wakes up for the day. I know that when you’re up a lot in the night every wake up feels the same but set a time for yourselves when you’ll be “getting up” for the day and at the next wake up make sure you act differently when you go to your baby. Talk cheerfully, open the curtains and move your baby downstairs or into a different room so that it feels very different from a night waking
- Ensure that your living space is bright and cheerful during the day – open the curtains and make it feel busy and active
- Try and make sure that your baby is feeding enough in the day and not just sleeping a lot and them loading up on milk in the night! Wake your baby to feed if you need to at least every 3 hours during the day
- Your baby should get some indirect sunlight every day – getting out and about in the fresh air each day is great for both you and your baby and exposing them to indirect sunlight can really help their bodies start to understand the difference between day and night time. Even standing on your doorstep or by the window during the day if you’re not able to get out each day can help your baby get some sunlight. Of course, ensure that you never expose your baby to direct sunlight.
- Towards the end of the day, draw curtains, keep lighting low and make sure that the house feels calmer and quieter, even if your baby is still awake. Newborns can often be fussy and difficult to settle in the evenings but it’s good to keep the house feeling calm and lights dimmed even if your baby is very restless at this time. Any places where they are to sleep should be extra calming and soothing to allow them to start to feel the difference between bright, lively “day time” and dark, calming “night time.”
This Too Shall Pass!
Soon your baby’s own internal circadian rhythm will start to work its magic, but all these things will help with getting your baby used to the difference between night and day.
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Caro is a Senior Certified Sleepy Lambs Sleep Consultant® based in Edinburgh, Scotland.
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