Why is newborn sleep so unpredictable?
Newborns are born with an immature circadian rhythm, or body clock. Sleep starts in the womb at around 25 weeks, where babies are sleeping around 16-20 hours a day. This is where the foundation of the circadian rhythm begins.
Once born, it takes about 2 to 4 months for their circadian rhythm to develop. This is the reason many newborns take short naps (many have not learned how to consolidate naps), have no concept of day vs. night, and their schedule is just all around unpredictable. Sleep is not well organized, yet.
Here are some tips on establishing healthy sleep habits early on to help bring more predictability to your day and alleviate the day/night confusion:
*Focus on a WAKE-EAT-PLAY-SLEEP pattern of activity during the day. This can help prevent a sleep/feed association and allow your baby to get more sufficient feeds while he is awake.
*Create a clear separation between day and night by getting your baby out and about during the day and exposing him to plenty of natural light and fresh air.
*When your baby wakes at night, feed with the lights low and as little distraction as possible to distinguish the difference between daytime feeds and nighttime feeds.