Sleeping All Day and Up All Night
If your baby sleeps for most of the day and is then wide awake during the night, you're not alone! Newborn babies don't know the difference between night and day, and it can take weeks for your baby to realise that night-time is for sleeping and day time is for playing. Midwives say that you can often tell whether a baby is going to be a night owl from how active they are while in the womb. Babies who kicked during the night are more likely to be nocturnal for the first few weeks of their life in the outside world, sleeping for most of the day and then waking up during the night and staying awake for hours! For the first few weeks or so, there's little you can do about your baby's sleeping patterns. Keep your sanity during this sleep-deprived stage by sleeping when your baby sleeps. If your baby sleeps during the day, you should sleep then too.
When your baby is a few weeks old, you can start teaching her about the difference between day and night. Don't expect your baby to be able to sleep through the night however for quite a while, as although some babies sleep through the night at 6 weeks, other babies will continue waking in the night for feeds and comfort for months.
How To Turn Your Baby's Body Clock Around
Get your baby up early
Don't be tempted to let your baby sleep until 10 o'clock so you can get some sleep, but instead get her up at a normal time. Although you'll feel exhausted from being up all night, you need to try and break your baby's habit of sleeping during the day so that she'll sleep at night. Catch up on your sleep during your baby's nap instead.
Let your baby know it's bedtime by establishing a bedtime routine. An example of a good bedtime routine is bath, massage, milk, cuddle and a song. This will also help relax your baby for bed, and can help her sleep more soundly. Put your baby into her sleeping outfit and a sleeping bag, if you use one. It's important to be consistent with the bedtime routine as your baby will pick up on these clues that indicate that it's bedtime.
Differentiate day from night
When you get your baby up in the morning, change her out of her pyjamas and put her daytime clothes on. This will help her associate daytime with being awake. Try and take your baby out every day as research has shown that babies who are taken out in the day sleep better at night. What a great reason to treat yourself to a coffee or meet up with friends!
Play with your baby during the day
Make your baby's day busy and filled with fun. Not only will playing help her use up excess energy, which encourages good sleeping habits, but lots of daytime play will teach her that daytime is for being active, and night-time is for sleeping. If your baby sleeps for much of the day, help her break this habit by waking her up (see our article on What Should My Baby's Sleep Routine Be? for more advice on how long your baby should sleep for). If your baby sleeps too long in the day, she won't sleep at night. You should also make sure you wake your baby when her feed is due, so she understands that she should have most of her milk during the day rather than the night. Don't let your baby nap too late in the evening, as this will interfere with her going to bed. Your baby's last nap should end at least 3 hours before you want to put her down for the night.
Keep night time quiet and calm
When your baby wakes during the night, don't play with her, even if she wants to play! Your baby needs to learn that night-time isn't the right time for play, so keep your voice quiet and soothing, and the lights low. Don't give her toys to play with, but keep the bedroom free of stimulation.
Ask for help
To help you get through this stage, ask your partner for some help during the night so you can get some sleep. How much you and your partner share care of your baby during the night is for you to decide as a couple, but it's fair for your partner to help out so you can get some rest. Consider taking it in turns to get up in the night for your baby. If your partner works during the week, ask that he takes over night duty at the weekend so you can get two good sleeps every week. It can be exhausting when your baby is awake all night, but rest assured that this phase won't last long, and soon enough your baby will turn from a night owl into a day time baby and you'll start to feel more like your normal self!