After struggling with being pregnant what seems like forever, you finally give birth to your precious little baby. Your adrenaline is high, the “snuggle hormone” Oxycontin has been released, and you’re in love with this new bundle of joy! Life can’t get any better than this!
A few weeks pass and your hormones are starting to normalize and that adrenaline high you were on is quickly fading. You’re starting to feel exhausted, because your adorable baby is keeping you up most of the night. You knew you’d have to be up feeding your baby every 2-3 hours throughout the night, but your baby seems to have extra stamina at night. You don’t think much of it until your best friend, who already has a child, tells you that your baby might have their nights and days mixed up. Say what?!?! What does a new mom, who is severely sleep deprived and living like a vampire, do to change this around? Here are three game-changers in fixing this whether your baby truly does have their days and nights mixed up or whether you just want to ensure you’re creating the best possible environment for optimal sleep…
1) DARK VS LIGHT – If the baby is sleeping here, there, and anywhere throughout the day and night due to your survival mode, it can be confusing. The living areas (ie kitchen, living room, dining room, etc) need to be well-lit, bright, and not overly quiet during the day hours, while the bedrooms should be dark and quiet. Normally, I would suggest that baby takes all of their naps in a dark, quiet bedroom so that they can associate that environment with sleeping. However, in the case of a baby who likes to sleep all day, I suggest limiting their naps to slightly noisier and brighter rooms until things are normalized. A child who naps in a well-lit room tends to sleep less minutes overall than one who naps in a dark, cave-like room. Then, when it’s bedtime, make sure the room is nice and dark, quiet (or a white noise machine is fine), and a comfortable temperature (68-72 degrees is ideal). Along with that, it’s important to have a relaxing, consistent bedtime routine. You want to show baby that bedtime looks different than naps during the day. A newborn doesn’t need an elaborate bedtime routine, but instead a few simple things that are just for bedtime (ie massage, bath, pajamas, final feed, swaddle or sleep sack, into the crib sleepy but awake).
2) FEED MORE DURING THE DAY – You want to be sure that your baby is eating enough during the day so that they can sleep longer stretches at night. In order to feed more during the day baby needs to be awake long enough to do so (ironic, I know). I realize it can be extremely difficult to feed a sleepy baby, but it’s necessary! You can’t afford to have a “snacking and snoozing” baby all day long, because it will just lead to a hungry, non-tired baby at night. If baby keeps falling asleep during feeds, you can change their diaper, change the scenery, talk to them, remove the breast or bottle, give a bath, or anything else you can come up with to keep the child awake. One thing to note if you’re breastfeeding is that your body is helping baby to get sleepy at the right time, as Melatonin (the sleep hormone) is increased in your breastmilk in the evening and night. This can be a great tool to help you get baby sleeping at night! But if you’re pumping and giving baby expressed milk in a bottle, you might want to label the milk by what time you pumped. If you’re giving baby a bottle at 9am filled with pumped milk from 10pm last night, then you’re giving baby another reason to be sleeping more than needed during the day.
3) GET YOURSELF SOME HELP – One reason parents get into this predicament is that after a long night with the baby, mom is expectantly exhausted the next day. So when baby wants to nap the day away, mom is right there with the baby! Of course you’re going to want to sleep when the baby sleeps, especially if you’ve been up most of the night! But if you let your baby sleep all day, they’re simply not going to be ready to sleep at night. And then you’re back to square one the next night with the same pattern repeating itself. Before you know it, you will have completely turned your own circadian rhythm (or biological clock) upside down. So find someone to stay with the baby during the day to help cap naps and keep the baby up more while you nap. This way you will find the energy to keep moving towards getting baby to sleep less during the day.
This all makes perfect sense doesn’t it? Now all you have to do is find the strength and energy in which to get this done! I’m only half joking here, because sleep deprivation is no laughing matter. It’s extremely rough on your body to stay up all night and sleep on and off all day when that’s not something you’re used to doing. You’ve got to take care of yourself so you can take care of your little one. You need proper sleep, nutritious foods, exercise, and a way to relieve stress. This is true for any new mom, so treat yourself like the awesome mom you are! Sleep well!
*If you are having trouble implementing these things, need help developing a daytime schedule or bedtime routine, or you would like help not only with fixing the days and nights but also with teaching your newborn independent sleep skills, I can help! I have Prenatal Packages (0-7wks old) and Newborn Packages (8wks-4mos) that can help with all of this! It’s never too early to teach your baby how to fall asleep on their own. It can be very easy (and with minimal or no tears) to do this when you’re baby is just learning. Contact Me today to learn more or to set up your FREE 15min phone assessment!