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.
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).
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
article here. Dr. James McKenna has done extensive research
on the safety of co-sleeping - link to his
articles here. Dr. Jay Gordon also has
information about safe co-sleeping. And even more
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.