Your little one have their days and nights mixed up? Are you are desperate to learn how to get a baby to sleep at night instead of all day? We know this can be very frustrating for new parents especially when you are breastfeeding!
When your baby starts demanding you to breastfeed during nighttime hours and resting more during the day, reverse cycling has hit your home. There are many reasons that babies may do this, and it isn’t anything that you need to call the doctor about unless there are other troubling symptoms of something larger at work. How you get your baby back on daylight hours depends on the cause of the problem, but this guide will help you walk through the process and (hopefully) start getting some quality snooze time.
How to Get a Baby to Sleep At Night By Finding Out Why
It is important to address why it is happening! These are some common reasons.
Option 1: Your baby is reverse cycling because he legitimately has the hours mixed up.
In this case, there is nothing happening other than your baby hasn’t caught on to the schedule that you prefer to keep. For some reason, waking up at night feels more natural at this point. Perhaps one night of late-night feeding cycled into a day of sleepiness, and the pattern just stuck from there.
Either way, your job now is to send clear signals to your baby that your household operates on a daytime schedule. If you adjust your routine to fit your baby’s reverse cycle, you validate that lifestyle and it’s likely to continue and become more engrained in your baby’s sleep habit.
Instead, try to continue following your routine while keeping your home environment well lit and active during the day. You may turn down the lights and sing a soothing lullaby at naptime, but you want your home to reflect activity and energy the rest of the day.
Go for walks. Visit the park. Perhaps an afternoon at the mall is in order. Maybe grandma wants to meet for lunch in a crowded restaurant. Open the blinds to let the sunshine into your home. Take every opportunity to produce a tired baby come evening.
You can also encourage daytime breastfeeding by waking your sleepy baby every two or three hours to feed. If you have trouble keeping him awake, try taking his clothing off down to the diaper or at least removing any warm outer layers or swaddling blankets. Talk to your baby, sing upbeat, happy songs with funny rhymes and sounds. Holding your baby upright in front of your breast may also help him remain awake long enough to empty a breast or two.
Are you too exhausted to continue full daytime activity while your little one keeps you up all night? There are some tricks that you can use to get some snooze time on the sly:
- Ask for help or hire a babysitter to come to your home for a half day. Even if you can only afford to do this one or two days, it gives you an opportunity to catch up on sleep while your baby is safely in your home and is being entertained by someone else. It’s not easy to reach out for help as new mother, but it’s essential that you do so if you feel you can no longer sustain the pressure of your reverse cycling baby. Most mothers have more helping resources than they realize because they simply don’t speak up and express their needs.
- Keep your baby close to you during the night. This is now easier than ever with side sleepers and various portable baby beds on the market. With your baby in a safe place nearby, you can handle nighttime feedings without fully waking up and walking through the house to reach the baby.
- If you really need a nap and your baby is content, indulge a cat nap. Make sure that your baby is in a safe, confined space nearby and has a fresh diaper and enough fuel in the belly to last at least 15 or 20 minutes. This should allow you to close your eyes and rest while still remaining alert to your baby’s sounds. Many parents use videos, nonmoving jumpers with toys and playpens loaded with safe toys to keep the baby distracted for just a few minutes of rest. If you don’t feel you can do this without nodding off and not hearing your baby, it’s best to call in help.
Option 2: You’re a working mother or are otherwise away from the home during the night, and your baby is waiting for you.
This is a matter of your baby preferring your breast to the bottle or maybe he simply wants to have that comfort and bonding time with you. Whatever it is, your baby may eat light during the day, knowing that you will eventually return and offer your breast.
Related Article> Reverse Cycling to Avoid a Drop in Supply
The first decision here is quite simple: Are you okay with reverse cycling? Some mothers decide that they want to continue breastfeeding as much as possible, so they keep their babies next to them at night to make nighttime feedings less intrusive on their own sleep schedule. Other moms decide that this isn’t suitable because they don’t get enough rest to function effectively at work the next day.
If you want to break this habit, it may just take some time. You don’t want to stop feeding your baby at night because he needs the nourishment that he isn’t getting fully during the day. You can try waking up earlier so that you get an extra breastfeeding session in the morning before you leave, making sure to place your full attention on the baby in case that comfort and bonding time is what he really wants.
You can also make sure to breastfeed as much as possible immediately after you return home each day. Ask your daytime provider to wake your baby up every few hours to feed and to keep their environment active and alert so that they aren’t sleeping too much while you’re away.
Option 3: Your baby is very aware of his surroundings and is easily distracted, which interrupts feedings during the day.
Since your little one is paying more attention to everything happening around him during daytime feedings, he may cut them short and end up hungry at night. Since there is less happening in most households in the wee hours of the morning, it’s the perfect time for a distracted baby to catch up on nourishment before the action picks up again.
The solution is to remove the distractions during feeding times. Move to a quiet place away from other people. Replace the television with soft music or just silence. Eliminate electronic devices, including your phone or tablet. Focus entirely on your baby for distraction-free feedings.
Related Article > How to Breastfeed a Distracted Baby
Option 4: Your daytime feeding schedule isn’t meeting the needs of your baby.
This can occur for a variety of reasons, including a simply hectic daytime schedule that doesn’t leave long blocks of time for relaxed breastfeeding. Try writing down the times that you feed for a day or two, including the length of each feeding session and whether at least one of your breasts was completely emptied during each feeding.
If your baby often doesn’t have time to empty a breast or isn’t feeding 8-12 times as an infant or 7-10 times a day as a growing baby, he may simply need more opportunities to breastfeed before bedtime. It’s important to consider other problems that may interrupt daytime feedings, including:
- Latch issues
Related Article: > Common Breastfeeding Problems and How to Solve Them
If you realize that you aren’t giving your baby enough opportunities to feed uninterrupted during the day, it’s time to adjust your lifestyle to meet the baby’s needs. Think about your daytime routine and find opportunities to block out dedicated feeding times with your baby, or just pay more attention to your baby’s cues and make it a point to halt activity and get in a full feeding as much as possible.
This is easier for some moms to do than others, so it depends on your lifestyle and responsibilities. If you’re struggling to balance a toddler and newborn, you may need to focus on syncing their schedules so that you’re feeding the baby while the toddler eats or watches a video.
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