A recent study shows that sleep problems caused by the effects of hormones may be behind a condition known as “night and day” confusion. For some reason, babies are more sensitive to certain hormone changes than adults. Babies wake up feeling tired and hungry just hours after ingesting formula, breast milk, or formula mixed with juice. Because the body is used to receiving only a certain amount of these hormones each day, this can lead to confusion during the nighttime.
Babies diagnosed with “night and day” confusion are usually placed on a feeding schedule that closely matches the babies’ internal clock. This helps them fall asleep at the same time every single night. However, in cases where the babies’ internal clocks do not sync up, this can lead to poor sleep habits and increased daytime sleepiness. Research shows that babies who are allowed to develop their own internal clocks throughout their first year of life have fewer sleep disorders than those who are strictly fed according to a pre-determined schedule.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents wait to introduce solid foods until four to six months from the time of delivery. This is because the development of the gastrointestinal tract has finished by then, so there is no longer a need for mothers to feed baby solid food. Once a baby is old enough to begin to sleep on his own, he should be fed six times a day, but not on alternate days. Solid foods should always be introduced slowly, so as not to disrupt the baby’s digestive system. Premature babies are encouraged to sleep on their backs, as these positions his nose so that he will inhale all the gases that are exuded from the mother’s breast milk.
In order to understand how to teach your baby the difference between day and night, you need to understand how babies develop sleep patterns. At about eight to nine months, a baby can start to sleep through the night for the first time. This means that he needs to be nursed for at least six hours each day, and breastfeeding should continue until the age of two, or even later. Babies learn to fall asleep sitting up, which means they roll over onto their stomachs when lying down. They also learn to nurse on their back, which means they can sleep with their head upright, but only half of their stomach outside their body. Because babies roll over and nurse on their back, a nursing mother can pretty much get away with not feeding her baby for three hours, as her belly will still be full when she turns around.
The best way to teach your baby the difference between day and night is to encourage normal sleep habits. This means avoiding caffeine in teas and juices, and getting the baby into a regular sleep routine. The idea is to set a bedtime routine and stick to it, and don’t allow your baby to sleep during the daytime. Try to keep the lights on in your bedroom, and make sure your baby has settled back into his sleep position before you go to bed. Your baby will recognize when he’s relaxed and will likely fall asleep on his own without you having to try to wake him.
The same method can be used when teaching a child to recognize the difference between day and night. Start by putting on a bedtime lullaby for baby, and singing a few lullabies yourself. Make sure your baby has been settled back into his sleep position, turned on his back, and is nursing. Your baby will recognize the lullaby as the same thing he heard while asleep and will try to associate it with the day.
Don’t fall asleep before your baby has completely fallen asleep yourself! If you do, baby will have confused day and night long sleep sessions with sleep at nighttime. To solve this type of confusion, wait for your baby to be calm again before you put the bedtime music on. This way, he’ll get the drift of falling asleep while you enjoy your own soothing tune instead of trying to fight off the day’s drift.
Babies who experience reverse day and night confusion will need constant guidance and attention to help them learn what is expected of them at night. A good way to start the process is to lay down a special photo of the crib during the early months of your baby’s life. You can decorate it with stickers that identify the crib and use it as a guide when you’re teaching baby to sleep at night. Special milk-soaked wipes are also a great way to create a special bedtime ambiance for your baby, since they are soft and safe. Use these wipes to remove all of the scent from your baby’s skin before putting him to bed. This is an easy process that will help you work with your baby’s natural instinct to sleep.