Welcoming your newborn into your life is an unforgettable milestone, but the trials of sleep (or rather, the scarcity of it) can often leave you feeling frazzled and utterly sleep-deprived. It’s no secret that newborns tend to favor nighttime for their moments of wakefulness, leaving you craving for those precious hours of rest. In this article, we’ll dive into the reasons behind why newborns appear to be nocturnal creatures and, most importantly, unveil practical strategies to assist your little one in establishing a more balanced and refreshing sleep routine. Read on!
Why Newborns Sleep All Day And Stay Up All Night
The intriguing phenomenon of newborns having their days and nights reversed, while they sleep approximately 16 hours a day, can be perplexing for new parents.During pregnancy, you may have noticed your baby’s calm daytime demeanor contrasting with their nighttime acrobatics, which can be attributed to gravity’s influence. Your daytime activities compress your baby gently in your womb, inducing a peaceful sleep similar to swaddling. Conversely, when you lie down at night, your uterus expands, granting your baby more room to move and kick during those nocturnal hours.
While these in-womb behaviors may not foretell a baby’s future sleep routines, they can impact their early days after birth. Labor and delivery, particularly during nighttime hours, can briefly disturb a newborn’s sleep schedule, usually lasting a few days. Additionally, a baby’s nighttime wakefulness may reflect their mother’s prenatal sleep patterns. Sleep disturbances in expectant mothers during the second and third trimesters have been linked to similar sleep habits in their babies after birth (1).
How To Get Your Newborn To Sleep At Night
Getting your newborn to sleep through the night is a gradual process that requires patience and consistency. Here are some strategies to help your baby establish a nighttime sleep routine:
1. Create A Soothing Bedtime Routine
Start with a calming bedtime routine. Dim the lights, give your baby a warm bath, read a story, or sing a lullaby. This signals to your baby that it’s time to get some sleep.
2. Swaddle Your Baby
Many newborns find swaddling comforting, as it mimics the snug feeling of the womb. Just be sure to do it safely, leaving enough room for your baby’s hips to move.
3. Establish A Dark And Quiet Environment
Make the sleep environment conducive to nighttime rest by keeping the room dark and quiet. Consider using blackout curtains to block out daylight.
4. Set A Consistent Sleep Schedule
Try to establish a consistent sleep schedule by putting your baby down at the same time each night. This helps regulate their internal clock.
5. Encourage Nighttime Feeding
During nighttime feedings, keep the lights low and avoid stimulating activities. This will help your baby understand that nighttime is for sleep, not playtime.
6. Limit Daytime Naps
While daytime naps are important, try to keep them shorter and more frequent to prevent your baby from becoming too rested during the day.
7. Use White Noise
Some babies find white noise soothing. You can use a white noise machine or even a fan to create a gentle, consistent background noise.
8. Be Patient And Responsive
If your baby wakes up during the night, be responsive to their needs. Try to soothe them back to sleep without stimulating activities.
Now that we’ve discussed how to encourage nighttime sleep, let’s explore strategies to help your newborn stay awake and alert during the day.
How To Keep Your Newborn Awake During The Day
Encouraging your newborn to be more awake during daylight hours is essential for establishing a healthy sleep-wake cycle. Here are some tips to help your baby stay awake during the day:
1. Engage In Daylight Exposure
Allow natural daylight into your home during the day. Spend time outdoors with your baby, which can help regulate their circadian rhythms.
2. Interact And Play
Engage your baby in interactive playtime during waking hours. Use toys, make eye contact, and talk to them to keep them alert and stimulated.
3. Avoid Overstimulation At Night
During nighttime feedings or diaper changes, keep the interactions calm and quiet. Minimize the use of artificial lighting.
4. Scheduled Feeding Times
Aim for a more structured feeding schedule during the day. This can help your baby get the calories they need during daylight hours.
5. Tummy Time
Give your baby supervised tummy time during the day. This helps develop their neck and upper body strength, making them more alert.
Remember, every baby is unique, and it may take some time for your little one to adjust to a more typical sleep pattern. Be patient and flexible in your approach, and always prioritize your baby’s comfort and well-being.
The first few weeks with a newborn can be challenging, but with the right strategies and a little patience, you can help your baby establish healthy sleep patterns that benefit both of you. Understanding why newborns prefer to be awake during the night and implementing effective sleep routines will not only lead to more restful nights but also more joyful and alert days with your precious bundle of joy.