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We live in London, but our new-born son (3 days old) seems to operate in the US west coast timezone, so he is mainly active during the night. What is the best way to switch him to the local timezone? We tried to wake him up during the day, but it doesn't seem to work at all.

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Can you explain why you think he's operating to a different timezone, as opposed to just not sleeping at night? (Did you just move from there?) Because it'd be better to re-title the question, "How can I get my newborn to sleep through the night?" –  deworde Nov 28 '11 at 9:23
    
This question may be also be helpful: How much sleep does my infant really need? –  deworde Nov 28 '11 at 10:16
    
He's only three days old. Give him a chance to figure it out by himself before you start big change attempts. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Nov 28 '11 at 19:04
    
Active at night? For a newborn, it seems he's already adjusted. Instead of thinking about a timezone, think in terms of adjusting to less nocturnal activity. –  Iterator Dec 17 '11 at 5:38
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One thing to consider is that this may be a case of you thinking "Oh, he's being nocturnal" because you notice it more when he's up at night, whereas when he's awake during the day, that's "normal".

Babies sleep a lot, but in shorter bursts than adults, so "Night-Time" has less meaning to their sleep patterns. According to most sources, a newborn baby simply will not sleep throughout the night, any more than you would sleep for 3 days straight.

This means a major problem with waking him is that you're actually training him to wake up sharply and sleep less soundly, as he's not making the connection "Only sleep at this time", he's making the connection "Don't fall asleep".

From the babycentre link used above: "For the first six to eight weeks, your baby probably won't be able to stay up for much more than a couple of hours at a time. If you wait much longer than that to put him down, he'll be overtired and won't nod off easily."

However, that link also has some useful information concerning migrating him to night-time sleeping:

One key thing is that there's nothing much you can do about it for the first two weeks, (or the "statutory paternity leave" period, so bad luck).

After that, it's basically exactly what you'd do when moving to a new sleeping pattern:

  • Be active during the waking hours with lots of light and everyday noises.
  • At night, shut down the noises, and don't talk to him much and only in a subdued voice.
  • (I've heard it can also help if his crib's in the same room as you, as the sound of you sleeping helps him sleep)
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Good suggestions. Limiting stimuli is another common recommendation - the noises, fewer lights, less singing, etc. One other stimulus can be the caregiver: a voice or presence only encountered at night could be regarded as novel, and thus stimulating. Whether that's true or not, the main recommendation of "keep it boring at night" is a good one. –  Iterator Dec 17 '11 at 5:40
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