How to Reverse Day and Night Confusion | Piece of Cake Parenting | Are you exhausted because your newborn has her days and nights reversed? In my post, I show you 5 easy steps you can take to help your newborn learn the difference between daytime and nighttime. Click here now to start sleeping better today! #newborn #fourthtrimester #sleeptips

How to Reverse Day and Night Confusion | Piece of Cake Parenting | Are you exhausted because your newborn has her days and nights reversed? In my post, I show you 5 easy steps you can take to help your newborn learn the difference between daytime and nighttime. Click here now to start sleeping better today! #newborn #fourthtrimester #sleeptips

There’s a lot of magic that happens during those first few days that you bring your newborn home. You get the world’s best newborn snuggles. Your baby grips your finger with her tiny hands and holds on so tightly. And you’re probably surprised with the joys of day and night confusion.

Wait, that’s not magical!

Dealing with day and night confusion was one of the most frustrating and unexpected challenges that I faced during my first week with a newborn.

What is it? Why does it happen? And how can you prevent it or reverse it as soon as possible? Keep reading to find out!

Don’t forget to leave a comment letting me know what you did to help with day and night confusion!

Day and night confusion happens when babies sleep for longer periods during the day and then frequently wake up at night.

What is day and night confusion?

Newborn babies need a lot of sleep. In fact, newborns typically sleep about 18 hours a day (and they spend the remaining 6 hours eating and getting diaper changes!). 

Unfortunately, they don’t sleep all 18 hours in a row. Instead, newborns typically only sleep for 2-4 hours at a time and then wake up to eat. Even worse, many babies experience day and night confusion. This occurs when newborns sleep for longer stretches during the day and then wake up more frequently during the night. And it happens because they have their days and nights flipped around.

Baby J was a super sleepy baby. Honestly, we only saw his eyes for a couple of minutes during the day until he turned a few weeks old. This became a huge problem for us. He would sleep so hard during the day that we would struggle to get him to wake up to eat. And because he slept so well during the day, he would be up all night and have a hard time falling back asleep.

Day and night confusion is very common for newborns and every new mom I have talked to has experienced this. Pregnant mommas, keep reading so you know what to do if your baby struggles with day/night confusion! New parents, know that you are not alone and there are things you can do to help reset your little one’s schedule.

Why does day and night confusion happen?

They had days and nights mixed during pregnancy. During pregnancy, most babies sleep during the day. They find it super relaxing to hear your voice and feel you moving around. This lulls them right to sleep! Once you sit down to relax in the evening, your baby wakes up and starts to move around.

Remember how you always got those adorable baby kicks when you laid down for the night? Well, this pattern stays the same once your baby is born and they still want to wake up and play at nighttime.

No more hormones from mom. During pregnancy, you supply melatonin to your baby to help with sleep. However, as soon as your baby is born, she needs to develop her own internal clock. Without it, she can’t tell the difference between daytime and nighttime. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen right away and she needs some time to learn this.

How can you fix day and night confusion?

How can you fix day/night confusion???

If you’re like me, you want a solution for day and night confusion as soon as possible. I am a super patient mom during the daytime. Unfortunately, I’m a lot less patient at night. I need my beauty sleep. As soon as we started struggling with this, I set out to find the best ways to support my baby to learn the difference between days and nights.

Because so many babies struggle with this, I would recommend using these tips from day one with your new baby, even before any challenges start.

Diaper first. Then food.

During the newborn days, your baby needs a lot of diaper changes and will likely need a new diaper during nighttime feedings. When your baby wakes up, start with the diaper change. You’ll get all of this action and movement out of the way right away. Then you can put your baby right to sleep once she’s done eating.

Lights on during the day. Lights off at night.

You want to start teaching your baby the difference between daytime and nighttime and this is one of the best cues they can learn. When it’s light out, it’s daytime. But when it’s dark, it’s nighttime. Keep the lights off during all overnight feedings and use the least amount of light possible. A nightlight or your phone flashlight are perfect!

Playtime during the day. Quiet time at night.

Although you might not want to hear it, your baby is going to need to wake up to eat during the night for a while. Newborns should eat every 2-4 hours around the clock for the first few weeks and you actually want your baby to wake up to eat. But you don’t want them to stay up all night. Instead, you want them to get into the habit of eating quickly and going right back to sleep.

Start associating playtime with the day and quiet time at night. During the day, you can talk, sing, play, and interact with your baby. This is all fantastic! However, at night, keep your interactions minimal. You should talk in a quiet, low voice. Instead of singing active songs, sing some lulling nursery rhymes. As hard as it is, try not to smile or play, because that signals to your baby that it’s time to get up for a while.

Eat unswaddled during the day. Eat swaddled at night.

Swaddling is an amazing skill to learn and all moms and dads should try to master it as soon as possible. It helps to calm your baby and combats the Moro reflex that often startles babies awake.

Many babies will follow a “sleep, eat, play” routine during the daytime. When they wake up from their nap, unswaddle them and then feed your baby. However, at night, keep them swaddled while they eat. Again, this helps them to learn that daytime and nighttime are different.

Wake up your baby during the day.

When babies have their days and nights mixed up, they wake often during the night, but they want to sleep longer during the day. Baby J would wake up exactly every 2 hours all night long, but then sleep 4 hours straight during the day. I used all of these tips to help flip those around, but then pulled the last trick out of my hat!

Encourage your baby to wake up more frequently during the day. This helps your baby to learn the difference between day and night. More importantly, it helps to reset their system. 

Although it feels terrible to wake a sleeping baby, consider waking your baby up to eat every two hours during the day. This helps to ensure that your baby is eating frequently throughout the day so she is less hungry at night.

It’s also the perfect way to help her reset her schedule and finally learn the difference between days and nights. Adding this step to your routine will help to ensure that your baby gets days and nights back to normal within a couple of days. 

If you’re struggling with the challenges of day/night confusion, take a deep breath and remember that you are an amazing parent! Your baby loves you and needs you and you’re doing a great job! Then, start using these tips right away so your baby can flip those days and nights and you can start getting better sleep!

Did your baby have day and night confusion? What helped you??

Please leave a comment! I’d love to hear about your experience and tips!