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It seems that newborn babies often come programmed to sleep all day and nurse all night. You need to reprogram your baby ASAP! That's not such a hard task really; you just have to teach baby that daytime is for being awake and eating, and nighttime is for sleeping.
Reprogramming Baby 101
Follow these simple steps to help your baby overcome day-night confusion.
- During the day be sure to nurse your newborn at least every 2 -3 hours, counting from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next one.
- About 2 hours after the last feed began, begin watching baby for signs of REM sleep. When you see him sucking in his sleep and moving a little bit, pick him up to awaken him. If you don't catch him, he may go back into a deep sleep, and you won't be able to awaken him at all.
- Unswaddle baby and take off her clothes. Change his diaper to really get him awake.
- Make sure that when baby is at the breast she is actively nursing. Use breast compression to keep her suckling when she stops for more than about 15 seconds.
- In the evening if baby wants to nurse several times close together (cluster feeding), let him. He will get more hindmilk which is rich in long-chain fatty acids when he cluster feeds. One of those fatty acids is tryptophan which will help baby sleep longer and better at night.
- As soon as you put baby down for her long sleep stretch, you go to bed, too! In the early days you need as much sleep as you can get!
Back to Normal
Okay, I guess it's time to tell you the truth...Things will NEVER be like they were before. You now have a new normal. But there will come a time when you are able to get a good night's sleep once again. Your child will learn to sleep. Whether you co-sleep or have baby in a separate but proximate sleep environment as the AAP recommends, the ideal place for your newborn is in your bedroom. You will both get more sleep if baby is nearby. You will find that if baby doesn't wake up completely in the middle of the night frustrated because nobody is there, he will settle down and nurse much more readily and go back to sleep more easily.
So relax, reprogram, and enjoy a silent night this Christmas!