By Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns ~~~
If your baby is sleeping a lot during the day, including a three- to five-hour stretch, and then getting up frequently at night, it’s common for people to think their “baby has days and nights mixed up.” From an adult perspective that makes sense. However, from a baby’s viewpoint, everything is exactly as it should be. Many infants get a large percentage of their long periods of sleep during the day and then wake up frequently throughout the night.
In the womb your baby knew no differentiation between day and night—before birth, your baby floated through the relative darkness of fetal life without time. So for her, nothing is “mixed up” at all! Or perhaps your baby thinks you are the one who is mixed up and trying to disturb her equilibrium by imposing this rigid day/night routine! But for the grown-ups in the house, the world functions on a very specific day/night cycle, and it takes a baby a while to get in sync with that cycle.
Human sleep is regulated by an internal body clock that primes us for wakefulness during the day and sleepiness at night. Babies are born with an undeveloped biological clock—this takes six to nine weeks before it kicks in, and nine to ten months before it becomes the primary regulator of a baby’s daily sleep and wakefulness pattern.
Patience with babies’ changing sleep patterns is a challenge. Knowing your baby is sleeping the way she is meant to sleep right now may help a little in understanding that she does not have her days and nights mixed up.
Elizabeth Pantley is a mother of four, grandmother, and author of the bestselling book, The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns plus 8 other books in the No-Cry Solution Series, which helps Moms and Dads through all key stages of parenting. Visit her at nocrysolution.com