10 Ways to Get More Sleep With a New Baby
Whether you’re planning in advance of giving birth, or you’re reading this article at 4am with the desperation of going days without solid sleep, here are 10 tips on how to get a few more winks of rest with a newborn baby.
Say Yes to Every Helping Hand You Can Get
As heroic and rewarding as being called ‘Super Mom’ sounds, you are not a super hero. Your special power is the ability to raise a healthy baby and you need to sleep to regenerate that power. Your mother or mother-in-law will be more than willing to spend time with her new grandchild so take that opportunity to rest or take a nap. Sometimes a trusted neighbor becomes a lifeline to let you get a couple hours of shut-eye during the day. You’d be amazed at how easily you wake up without another person in the house to watch your baby, and how quickly you can fall into a relaxed, deep sleep when you know another caretaker is on baby duty.
Don’t Take on Additional Responsibilities
Having a new baby is a great responsibility. You want to focus on that as much as possible. Although organizing a party to welcome the new member of the family sounds fun, this will take away your time to recover. If a friend volunteers to organize, ask her to keep it small and simple so you can have the rest you need right after. The dishes and the laundry can wait. Stay away from the vacuum cleaner. You can pay someone else like a housekeeper to do all the household chores for you if the family budget permits – a huge difference even just for the first few weeks after your bring your baby home.
Keep Away from Coffee and Caffeine
If you were following doctor’s orders during pregnancy, you’ve kicked caffeine for nearly 9 months. After birth is not the time to relapse, even if you’re not breastfeeding. Caffeine can interfere with your ability to take a quick catnap whenever you have the chance. When the baby finally settles, you will still be wide awake. If you need an energy boost, have something to eat like a sandwich or fruits, or try a quick shower to keep up your spirits.
Pay Attention to Your Baby’s Sleeping Pattern
It’s crazy how they wake up every two hours and cry. Mommy (and Daddy), you don’t really have a choice but take the baby and either feed him or change his diapers and put him back to sleep. Every baby eventually has a cycle that parents can figure out, so pay attention and try to be in-sync with that pattern. You may discover that you have a good hour after a long feeding where your infant will always drift off to sleep – take that hour for a nap yourself rather than jumping on your iPhone or Facebook. Sleep when your baby sleeps – this is one of the most common tips given to new parents, and it’s worth mentioning because it will help you keep your sanity!
Keep Communication Lines Open with Your Partner
Maintaining open communication is vital in any relationship. It is important for you to talk about your sleep needs even before the baby is born. Can you handle waking up every two hours? Can your partner still get up for work the following day if he only sleeps 5 hours? Your partner may have a totally different sleeping habit as yours so make sure you compromise. Finding the middle ground after discussing sleeping schedules will ensure that you won’t hate and curse each other for not getting up in the middle of the night when the baby decides to be on a crying frenzy.
Sleep in Shifts
If you keep waking up every 2 hours during the night, you’re going to dread the morning. Ahead of time with your spouse, agree on a schedule for each day of the week; making sure both parents can get at least 4-5 hour stretches of time to sleep. If formula feeding, one parent can be on-call from 8pm to 1am; and the other can take the 1am to 6am shift. Or, some parents alternate days so that you know there is a good night sleep at least every other day. What becomes brutal are many days in a row without a good chunk of sleep at night.
Keep the Baby Close and Consider Co-Sleeping for Breastfeeding
If you find that sleeping in shifts doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the line. Many new moms find it more comfortable to have their babies right next to them at night in a safe co-sleeper type of bassinet. Many bassinets have drop-sides for ease of lifting your baby out into the bed, or some can swivel to be closer to you when needed. Under no circumstance should any parent give into the temptation to have baby sleep in the same bed as parents – the risk is too great for accidentally suffocating with heavy blanket, pillow, or part of a parent’s body. If you breastfeed, you can try to practice nursing on your side so your baby can latch on and go back to sleep without you getting up. However, you should try not to sleep while the baby is feeding to avoid suffocation. For bottle-fed babies using formula, you can easily mix the formula ahead of a feeding before you fall asleep and then give them the bottle if they are close.
Be Picky With Guests
As soon as your friends hear that you are home from the hospital, they will come rushing into your doorstep to visit, ask you how painful giving birth was, or simply just take a selfie with your adorable baby. Before you agree to let your officemates or friends come and visit, think of how they will affect your time to rest. If preparing food and entertaining them takes away your precious time while the baby is sleeping, politely refuse a get-together in the weekend. However, if they are cool with preparing their own food and cleaning up after, as well as taking turns watching the baby while you take a nap, or chipping in a hand to empty the sink or throw a load of laundry into the machine; keep the door wide open for them!
Find Activities That Will Induce Sleep
Your baby is already in deep slumber but you are still in front of the computer, reading emails or catching up with friends online. This is not a good idea. It will only stimulate your brain and keep you awake. Instead, find activities that will relax your mind and body such as yoga or meditation. This can help you stay healthy – both physically and mentally. You can also plug in snooze-inducing music.
Stay Positive and Believe That the Sleepless Nights Will Soon End
Your baby will not be this needy and clingy forever. For now, you are everything to him or her. You are the guardian, source of food, and provider of love in his newfound outside world. When the baby wakes you up at 2am just minutes after you dozed off, look at him or her in the eyes. Give him the milk he needs, sing a lullaby, or gently rock him back to sleep. It’s a wonder how all the stress can be relieved by a sweet, gentle smile from a baby happy to see you or how amazing it feels to be able to soothe your child (even if it takes a while!). Remember… what keeps you up at night when your baby is a teenager would gladly be traded for the early months when all it took was a bottle and some rocking!
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