Changing Sleep Patterns

Updated on June 16, 2008
J.T. asks from Albuquerque, NM
27 answers

I am the proud mom of a two week old baby boy. This being my first child, i feel a little awkward asking this. But he has a habit of sleeping all day and then being fussy and awake most of the night. It seems to be hit and miss whether we can keep him awake during the day. Any advice?

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C.P.

answers from Phoenix on

At two weeks it is usually too early to start any real sleep schedule. But when you are ready pick up the "Good Night Sleep Tight" book by The Sleep Lady. It is an amazing book! I followed her advice in the book and my son who is 15 months has been a great sleeper. I have to say as a parent--so far--this is the best gift I have given my child (teaching him how to go to sleep at night). Good Luck! PS- I gets easier.

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E.M.

answers from Phoenix on

Yes I have heard of this...day and night mix-up. I like Karp's books...Happiest baby on the Block etc...and Dr. Sears. Dr. Karp talks about ways to calm the baby...maybe reverse his advice?
This pattern may change on its own too...I do not know many parents complaining about this so much, as the baby grows.

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A.V.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi J.,

Congratulations on the birth of your son and becoming a mother. An amazing and wonderous unknown journey for you:)

Your sons sleeping. My first question is when you say sleeping all day....how long is he sleeping and how often is he feeding? Newborns really need to eat (especially if you are nursing) on demand, and they usually want to eat every 2-3 hours...all day AND all night. If he is sleeping longer than 3 hours at a time you need to gently wake him up and feed him. Possibly he's fussy and awake all night because he's hungry? I'm not saying you dont' feed your baby, just make sure he is not sleeping through feedings. Also, babies really don't understand the concept of night and day because at this age they are either sleeping about 20 hours a day between feedings, and some awake time.
It doesn't make it easy for us...but I'm sure you knew that parenthood wasn't easy before you ventured into this:) Babies typically don't sleep through the night until much later. I'd say anywhere between 3 months and ??? They each have their own time clock. There are ways you can gently ease your baby into sleeping through the night,unless they do it on their own - which is very nice...but don't expect it any time soon....newborns birth to 3 months need to feed often for optimal growth and bonding with you. But take heart, this too shall pass, and it will pass quickly:)
It is also really important for you to rest as much as possible. Sleep when the baby sleeps - of course you won't and can't sleep 20 hours a day, but allow yourself to sleep often. Let him sleep in your arms, or on your chest, or next to you in bed....not only is it yummy, but it is psychologically and emotionally healthy for baby to be close to mom/dad as much as possible. Beside from getting sleep, make sure you take care of yourself and seek support and positive healthy relationships with other moms. If you get to a time when you are feeling some postpartum blues or if you feel depressed, please reach out. I know this is way off track, but new moms often dont' realize when they are going through major hormonal changes and/or need to process their birth experience. I'm an advocate for postpartum wellness and really want every mom to feel the best she can. When we are emotionally, spiritually, and physically whole and connected we can give more of ourselves to our family. I apologize, I know I'm getting a little off track and you are probalby given all sorts of advice already on motherhood. My advice - close your eyes and listen to your own belly. Getting info,suggestions, support with something is very important, but at the end of the day you have to parent by your own heart and truth. Parent out of complete love and compassion and you should always be ok.
Joyous Parenting!

A. - mom of 4, birth and parenting mentor

2 moms found this helpful
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A.D.

answers from Tucson on

Let him sleep and try to sleep while he is sleeping. Eventually he will get the hang of things. Also, if you are in the habit of a bedtime routine, it will help signal to him that it's night night time and he should be sleeping. If you really want him to stay awake more during the day, you can try letting him hang out in just a diaper. At that age he should be eating every 2-3 hours so be sure you are waking him up during the day to feed him if he is sleeping longer than that

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T.T.

answers from Phoenix on

I'll put in 2 cents worth for Babywise-- the mothers who bring their children in who are malnourished are just not paying attention and not using their heads.
I used it with all 3 of my boys and all were sleeping through the night by 8 weeks- yes, 6-8 hrs at a time. It was wonderful. I DID NOT follow everything in the book... just the basic concept! And.. if I felt they were still hungry, I gave them more as needed. My boys always registered in the 90th percentile for their weight...... I think we did pretty well.
If you are exhausted and ready to try something different, it's worth a try at least. Just stick with it for a few weeks before you give up and say it doesn't work.
Feel free to email me if you have questions.
Flexibility is the key..
Good luck.

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J.V.

answers from Phoenix on

My son was like this, but it passes quickly. Keep it very light and noisy during the day and play as much as you can with him when he is not sleeping. At night, keep it dark and calm. We brought our son to bed with us, and it worked wonders!!!!

And, yes, the Babywise warnings were not recent, but I don't think that babies have changed since then. God is still making them the same ;).

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K.A.

answers from Phoenix on

There is a great book called 'Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child' by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. I picked it up for the first time when my older son was 4 months old and only wanted to take naps on me. I had him napping on his own in no time. I used it as a guide when my younger son was born and he was sleeping through the night by 5 weeks of age. You can find it at libraries a lot of the time. I kept renewing mine from the library until I finally decided to buy my own copy and also gave a copy as a gift to a relative at her baby shower. The book outlines the key elements to making sure babies and young children get the sleep they need. During the day, he should be awake for no more than 2 hours - or he could become over tired and when babies are over tired they sleep less, not more. The idea is not to keep him awake during the day so he sleeps at night, but to make sure he sleeps on a 'schedule' (yes even babies can have somewhat of a schedule) during the day, so he does sleep better at night. Pick up the book, it will help you I am sure. Good Luck.

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C.S.

answers from Phoenix on

This is often a problem in the early weeks. By keeping baby near activity during the day, waking him as much as you can, he will eventually adapt to your schedule. It wont last forever, although when you are tired, it may seem like it! I found that if I had my babies sleep with me, they slept better at night and waking me wasnt as big an issue. You dont say if you are breastfeeding. If you are, it makes it so easy. I would "hook" baby to my breast and fall back to sleep while he nursed.

Give it some time and he will adapt to the rhythm around him. Blessings to you.

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L.M.

answers from Phoenix on

Congratulations! Our baby did the same thing! She kinda changed on her own, and started mirroring our sleep patterns (sort of), over time - lots of time. She still wakes up to nurse very often through the night 6 months later. But hopefully you don't have to be somewhere during the day and you can nap when he naps during the day - at least for a while. I'm sure you've heard that one before, "sleep when he sleeps" but it's so true. Hopefully you can get some rest. The only way I ever do is to "sleep in" with the baby. For instance she's sleeping now, but I have somewhere to be otherwise this would be when I would get the best sleep. Other than that I'm still sleep deprived. Good luck to you! It's all so totally worth it :-) ~L.
www.laurenmurraystudios.com

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M.L.

answers from Phoenix on

let sleeping babies lie and sleep when the baby is sleeping.
He'll figure it out.

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N.W.

answers from Phoenix on

Don't worry. It will Iron out very soon. He is still used to being in vitro. Sleeps all day in your belly while you are awake, walking around, doing chores. He was being rocked to sleep by your movement. At night when you were sleeping he was awake moving around. He just has to get used to his new scedule. It only takes a couple of weeks to a month to get aclimated.
Hope this helps,
N.
www.aromaticbotanicals.com

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R.C.

answers from Phoenix on

Dear J.,
Congrats on your baby boy! Enjoy every minute with this precious bundle (even at 2 and 4a.m.) for the time passes so quickly. Your baby is physiologically incapable of developing a pattern or sleep habit until after age 3-4 months. So, please don't get too caught up in trying to change him, just go with the flow knowing that in a couple weeks you will have another challenge and this one will likely be forgotten. I read Babywise and tried to follow it with my 1st child now 3 years old and it was a complete disaster. She was 2 months old, weighing 3 oz more than birth weight and crying all the time. I lost my milk supply for trying to "schedule" her and she was diagnosed failure to thrive and was almost hospitalized. I will never recommend Babywise for I find it a self-centered way to parent and definitely not in the child's best interest. Look into Dr Sears and Harvey Karp's books and DVDs. Their methods for soothing baby and dealing with sleep issues really work.
Try not to sweat the small stuff. I know how tired you must be for I also have a newborn.
R., RN, CNM and SAHM of 2 married to a wonderful man 7 years this week.

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N.H.

answers from Phoenix on

I am a Newborn Care Specialist. I go into peoples homes and do newborn care for the first week through 3 months, usually at night. You have received some good advice as far as Baby Wise and Dr. Karp books. This is an easy fix. Please do not overstimulate the baby during the day. Baby's are suppose to sleep ALOT. Please don't start the co-sleeping or you will be calling someone in a few months because the baby will not sleep alone. I would love to come and give you a free consultation and get you off on the right foot. Drop me an email and I we can set up a time. Days and night mix up is easy to fix but a disaster if you don't do it right.

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C.M.

answers from Tucson on

Congratulations on your new baby.... one thing that worked for me (I have 3 girls) was to feed them consistantly during the day... I fed them every 3 hours. If they were sleeping I would wake them up so they would get a good feeding. Feeding them during the day (just like for us adults) will then allow your baby to sleep longer at night because the baby has gotten a good full tummy during the day..... my kids only woke up once during the night when I did this type of scheudle. He is hungry during the night which is probably why he is fussy & awake. :) It's hard to wake a sleeping baby, but I would try it to see if he will then sleep better at night! Blessings! - C.

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S.L.

answers from Tucson on

he's an infant - let him sleep when his body needs to and be awake the same way - it's sometimes not a schedule you can appreciate but it's natural and healthy - pretty soon you should start seeing more normal day/night patterns - try and think about what your habits were while you were pregnant and if you were up late or ate late your body would be processing that pattern into his body as well but the effect on him in the womb would be somewhat delayed and would process through him at an even slightly later time anyway - now he has to get used to being on your daylight/nighttime schedule and he has to adjust - do your best to get rest when he is and you will both get used to the changes more peacefully - good luck

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A.B.

answers from Phoenix on

This is normal because at night in the womb, you were still so he was awake and playing and moving around, and during the day you were moving and the rocking around in his water lulled him to sleep. So, just keep the house more bright and noisy and active during the day, quiet and dark at night. Tend to him when he wakes at night, but it's not play time, and it should stay dark, quiet and calm. Once I read this in a book when my baby was a couple weeks old, it literally only took him a few days to figure it out. Good luck and no need to feel awkward!

PS - the AAP put out a warning against On Becoming Babywise because parents following its advice started turning up with malnourished babies in pediatricians offices!!

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S.B.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi J.,
Get "On Becoming Babywise" by Gary Ezzo. It will change all that. Good luck.

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H.F.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi Juliana,

I have a 9 month old little boy, and he did the same thing when he was the age of your little guy. It was just a phase and there seemed to be nothing I could do to change it. I don't think it lasted more than a week. Hang in there, and hopefully he'll stop doing that soon! Get sleep when you can! Congrats!

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C.L.

answers from Albuquerque on

Hi, J....and congratulations! New motherhood is the hardest transition in life, I'm convinced. (There is now another human being in control of your life and he has yet to learn how to control his.)

The other responders who said to sleep when he sleeps and to take heart that this will eventually change are right on! This is the most exahausting time and if anyone is offering you help or a break and is a trustworthy adult, please let them! You deserve sleep and are a better mommy for it.

I am the proud mommy to a five and a one year old. What I did with my youngest is to take him for a short spin in the stroller during the times I wanted him awake and over the course of about 10 days, I taught him that day was day and night was night by not making it too easy for him to sleep when I didn't want him to.

I'd read in my sleep-deprived state that the brain uses sunlight as a cue to wake and sleep, so I tried it and it worked for us! He was also jaundiced and needed the light, so it was a dual purpose stroll for us. Your son is still really young and most children change on their own, though.

And I also made his nursery very dark, so that he got the idea that bright light meant awake and darkness meant sleep. Another aid I found helpful was to put a consistent sound in his nursery (a fan) to help him learn when it was time to sleep and when it was time to be active.

Best wishes,

C.

p.s. My son is now a great sleeper and a happy child. Even the experts' advice my not be right for you two, because everyone is different.

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L.B.

answers from Phoenix on

This is very common in newborns. I didn't really have this issue with my 2 boys but I can be corrected. He may be a little young yet but you can try to put him on a feeing schedule. I did it with both my kids around 2 1/2 months and by the second day of being on the schedule, they slept through the night. There is a book called "On Becomming Baby Wise" by Gary Ezzo (I think). I followed the guidlines in this book for the feeding schedule. You can also do a search on the website babycenter.com for info. Good luck and Congratulations.

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K.H.

answers from Phoenix on

J.,
Dr. Spock says that if babies are mixed up with day and night, to play with your baby a lot during the daytime. Wake him up to feed him if the usual amount of time has elapsed since the last feeding. If you're going to play with him, do it when it's light outside. Nighttime is a different story. When you feed him after dark, do it efficiantly and without as much fanfare. Never wake him to feed him when it's dark out unless there is a medical reason to do so. Let him learn very early on that daytimeis fun time andnighttime is kind of low-key and boring. He'll soon learn to adjust his rhythm to bemore awake during the day and to sleep for longer periods at night. Good Luck.

Also, I'm a photographer and I love to photograph newborns. If you would like some unique photographs, please contact me: ###-###-####, www.karahendricksphotography.com, [email protected]____.com.

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N.N.

answers from Albuquerque on

I just wanted to respond to the comment about the AAP warning against using Babywise. That was back in 1998 and a lot has changed since then! We are planning to use Babywise with our son who is coming next week. We have known many families who have used this feeding and sleeping strategy with lots of success for happy, healthy, sleeping babies (and a happy, healthy Mommy too!) Good luck!

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K.V.

answers from Phoenix on

My daughter was like that at first also, the thing that we tried to do was when she would wake at night we would still keep the room dark and quiet and when she was awake during the day it was bright and there was noise, eventually she adjusted her schedule to ours. Congrats on being a mommy :)

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S.G.

answers from Phoenix on

Don't even try to change sleep patterns until at least 8 weeks. He will adjust by himself, I promise. I know it's hard to believe, but soon you won't dread the nights! All babies have this pattern, it mimics the womb and it will turn around naturally. Just try to sleep when he sleeps during the day and it will be easier to get through. Enjoy him...he won't stay tiny for long!

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A.

answers from Albuquerque on

Are you J. from SAGA? Anyway, this is completely normal and in the first few months, there really should be an anything goes, survival approach to sleep. Whatever works for your family is what you should do! Use whatever advice you get that feels right to you. We co-sleep and it has worked fine for us, especially for nursing. But if that doesn't seem to fit your family, find what might. If you're still having problems or if you have found something that works right now, but you want to plan ahead and avoid potential problems, there's a sleep class on July 28 at http://www.bodymindandspiritabq.com.

Congrats on your baby and good luck!

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V.R.

answers from Albuquerque on

The reason for this is because fetus's sleep patterns are backwards from are's because when you were pregnant and moving around all day you were also rocking you feus to sleep and at night while you were resting the baby was awake. Don't give up on keeping him up during the day so that he's tired at night and his sleep pattern will change, no worries.

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S.M.

answers from Phoenix on

No Cry Sleep Soluition is a great book to read. My youngest son slept all day for the first two weeks. Keep window blinds open and noise on during the day. Dont shhh people or animals during the day because the baby is sleeping. Your son will soon realize that action happens during the day. Then at night everything is very quiet with as little light as possible. No interaction from you or spouse if you have one so he realizes that this isnt a fun time right now it is sleep time. IT takes some time and each little person is different. Good luck and congratulations!!! I also liked Baby Weekly I think it is called. It is a week by week guide of your babies milestones, feedings etc...it really helped get me through my first one.

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