Baby Has Days and Nights Mixed Up – 11 Tips To Correct It

Is your baby struggling to sleep during the day and staying up all night? It could be a case of reversed day and night patterns. Fortunately, this article provides 11 helpful tips for correcting your newborn’s sleep schedule.

How long does day/night confusion last in babies? When babies are born, it is common for their days and nights to be mixed up. This newborn confusion is usually corrected by 6 weeks. Some babies will have their days and nights fixed as early as one week, and for others, it can be 2-4 months until their circadian rhythm is fully developed. 

By now, the exhaustion of being a new parent is most likely setting in. As you continue reading, you will find tips that can help your baby fix their sleep patterns.

These tips are easy to implement and make a real difference in creating healthy and happy sleep patterns for you and your baby. 

Newborn Day and Night Reversal

Why is your baby sleeping all day and up all night? Doesn’t your baby know that nighttime is for sleeping?

Unfortunately, your baby is confused and has their nights and days reversed. But why? What causes your baby to have day and night reversal? 

The Reason Behind It

Babies are born without any concept of day or night because their internal clock is not set up yet. They also are lacking the hormones that encourage sleep at night.

As they mature, their internal clock will start to stabilize, and they will begin to recognize day and night. 

Signs Your Baby Has Days and Nights Mixed Up

It is pretty easy to know if your baby has their days and nights mixed up. Your day with your baby is spent watching your sweet newborn sleep while you cuddle and learn the ins and outs of this new phase in your life.

Nights are a different story. They consist of frequent wake-ups and fussiness, and your baby might have longer wake windows at night. 

Baby Sleeps During Day, Fussy at Night

The easiest sign that your baby’s days and nights are mixed up is if your baby is fussier at night and quieter and calmer during the day.

Sleeps Well During the Day, Wide Awake at Night 

Another tall tale sign is that your baby sleeps great during the day. If your baby is asleep for most of the day and wide awake at night, you can be assured the days and nights are reversed with your sweet newborn. 

Wakes Frequently During the Night

Nighttime wakes are common with babies and newborns, but if they are sleeping most of the day and waking up frequently at night, your baby most likely has their days and nights mixed up. 

How Long Can You Expect It To Last?

Day and night reversal can last anywhere from one week to a few months, but it is typically short-lived and averages about 6 weeks.

With some intervening tools mentioned in this article, day and nighttime confusion may be reversed rather quickly.  

How To Reverse Day/Night Confusion in Babies

Sleepy parents awake in bed with their newborn during the night.

It can feel overwhelming when your baby has their days and nights mixed up.

You are exhausted from taking care of a new tiny human, and now your baby is wanting to play all night and keep you from getting your needed rest.

Fortunately, there are methods and tips to help reverse this common nighttime confusion. Implementing the following tips can help to correct it. 

1. Avoid Stimulation During Night Feeds

When it is time to feed your baby during the night, do your best to stimulate your little one as little as possible.

Keep the lights off, and only use the necessary light for you to see to feed your baby.

Avoid making eye contact with your baby, talking to your baby, and making loud noises. This may be a challenge, but eye contact and talking to your baby signals to them that it is time to play.

At night, as you try to avoid stimulating your baby, you are providing a service as you teach them a new skill in recognizing day from night.

Minimum light, minimum noise, and minimum personal stimulation will help the baby start to recognize that nighttime is for sleeping. 

2. Keep Baby’s Room Dark at Night

At nighttime, the baby’s room needs to be pitch black. You may feel nervous leaving your baby in a dark room, but babies are not scared of the dark!

When you have to enter at night to feed or change your baby, use just enough light to safely take care of your baby. Consider using a soft light, but do not use any bright or overhead lights. 

3. Consider a White Noise Machine

A white noise machine can be a lifesaver at night! It muffles out the sounds from outside of the room and creates a soothing environment for your baby.

If white noise is used at night, it can be a signal to babies that it is time for bedtime. If you are consistent and use it nightly, it can serve as a great indicator to your baby that night has arrived. 

I’ve found that this one is ideal. You can choose from 16 soothing sounds, and it has an optional soft light with seven different colors.

4. Try Swaddling at Night

Swaddling can be a great help when it comes to your baby getting optimal sleep (though some don’t like it).

Swaddling your baby makes them nice and cozy, can help them feel comfortable, and can remind them of being back in the womb.

If you have watched your baby sleep, you will have noticed that they will jump and raise their arms sometimes!

It may look like they are having a dream, but it is a reflex that all babies have.

The swaddle will hold your baby’s arms tightly and keep them from waking themselves up. Just like the white noise, it can be an indicator of sleep to your baby. 

5. Establish Nighttime Routine

Routines are magic-makers when it comes to correcting your baby’s nocturnal habits! Creating a nighttime routine and sticking to it each night can signify to your baby that it is nighttime and time for sleep.

Giving your baby a bath, changing them into their pajamas, feeding them, cuddling them, swaddling them, turning the lights out, and turning on white noise might be a good starting point for you!

Pretty soon, at the beginning of their nighttime routine, they will begin to recognize that night means sleep. 

6. Establish Morning Routine

Just like a nighttime routine is important in letting your baby know it’s time for bed, the same is true for letting your baby know it’s morning and time for play!

Let plenty of daylight shine in during the morning, and be engaging with your baby! 

7. Keep Daytime Feeds Engaging

During the daytime feedings, interact with your baby, and do whatever you can to try to keep your baby awake!

It may be helpful to change your baby’s diaper before feeding to wake them up, and be sure to talk to them and keep them awake and stimulated while feeding. 

8. Spend Time Outside During the Day

Natural light is a great way for your baby to understand it is daytime and to help them sleep at night.

Take your baby on walks, and lay them on a blanket outside. If it is too cold or raining, open curtains and blinds to let natural light pour into the house. 

9. Try Daytime Naps in a Bright Room

Along with going outside to get daylight, it may be helpful to let your baby nap in a room that is filled with lots of natural light during the day. 

10. Keep Awake Times Fun and Interactive

A great method to use for daytime is the feed, play, and sleep method! Do your best to keep your baby awake while feeding, and then immediately after, play with your baby!

Keep it as interactive as possible. After the baby has had interactive play, it can be time for a nap. 

11. Be Patient

Remember that this is just a phase! It will not last forever. Try to have grace with yourself and with your baby.

You both are learning, and the newborn stage is challenging, but as you stay consistent with your interventions, sleep time will get easier. Hang in there. You got this! 

Related Questions: 

How Much Do Newborns Sleep Per Day?

Newborns sleep more than they are awake over the course of 24 hours. They can sleep anywhere from 8-18 hours per day. 

Should I Let My Newborn Sleep All Day?

Have you ever heard someone say, “Don’t wake a sleeping baby!” That is actually not true! It is best to wake your baby every 3-4 hours to get a feeding in during the day.

This helps assure your baby is getting the right amount of food and waking enough during the day. 

Closing Thoughts 

It may feel like your baby’s days and nights will never be corrected. Rest assured that this is just a phase, and implementing these 11 tips can help speed up the process. This is just a phase and will not last forever!