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Reverse Cycling

Reverse Cycling basically means that your baby has nights and days mixed up, and eats more at night and sleeps more during the day. This sounds like a nightmare, doesn't it? A baby up all night? You've got a job to go to, how are you supposed to sleep?

Well, it's not really all that bad. In fact, some moms actively encourage their babies to reverse cycle. Why?? Well, the more your baby eats when you're together, the less he'll need when you're apart. Bottom line - less bottles, less pumping. For moms who work in places where it's really hard to pump, this can be a godsend.

The keys to making reverse cycling work for you are 1) Making sure your baby gets enough to eat, and 2) Getting enough sleep. Both of these can be solved with the same strategy: Having your baby sleep close to you.

If your baby is close to you at night, a few neat things happen.

Your baby eats more: If your baby is close to you at night, you'll probably find he eats more during the night. The reason for this is that when your baby wakes up, you're more likely to wake up with him and feed him. He also may wake up more often with you close by. Babies who sleep alone sleep more deeply (a risk factor for SIDS) and tend to eat less at night (needing more bottles during the day).

You get better rest: Wait a minute, I just said your baby would wake up more, that you would wake up more - how does this make for better rest?

The secret is that you and your baby get into similar sleep cycles. When your baby is in a separate room, he wakes up on his sleep cycles, you're on yours, and there's no coordination - so he might be waking up when you're in your deepest sleep (when it's a lot harder to wake up and harder to fall back asleep).

Also, if your baby is in another room, he has to wake up all the way and start crying before you hear him. You have to wake all the way up and get out of bed, and most likely you sit up in a chair to feed - awake the whole time. Then what? It's 2am, and you're both awake, taking longer for both of you to settle back to sleep.

If your baby is near you, you'll wake up when he makes his first noises, little half-sleeping grunts. You just reach over to feed, you can nurse lying down, the whole feeding routine is less disruptive to you and your baby's sleep. Falling back to sleep means either sliding your baby back to the co-sleeper, or just drifting off where you are.

A lot of mothers worry that sleeping in the same bed with their baby is dangerous - but the scientific evidence points to just the opposite conclusion. For breastfeeding, sober mothers who share sleep with their babies on a safe sleeping surface, SIDS rates are amazingly low and babies are healthier. More information about safe co-sleeping can be found in several locations - I found a nice article here. Dr. James McKenna has done extensive research on the safety of co-sleeping - link to his journal articles here. Dr. Jay Gordon also has information about safe co-sleeping. And even more information here.

Many working mothers swear that they will never co-sleep with their babies - but once they're back to work, start bed-sharing when they realize how much more well-rested they can be.

To learn more...

Paula Yount runs the website, which has a lot of breastfeeding information, including this essay about reverse cycling.

My page on Sleep repeats a lot of this information, with a little information on moving your baby out of your bed when you're ready.


Copyrightę 2005 Kirsten Berggren. All Rights Reserved.