So you just had a baby and you’re not getting enough sleep? Welcome to parenthood.
While sleep deprivation is common for parents of babies and young children, it isn’t healthy. Sleep loss can make everyday duties dangerous. Additionally, sleep deprivation or irregular, unpredictable sleep patterns can increase a Mom’s risk to postpartum depression.
The good news is that you won’t be sleep deprived forever. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), most babies fall into a regular sleep cycle around 6 months old.
For your health and your sanity, here are ways to get more sleep with a new baby:
- Sleep when your baby sleeps. Put your household chores on hold and turn off your cell phone. If you can’t fall asleep, then settle for lying down and resting to recharge.
- Split nighttime duties with your partner. You can opt for shifts (10 p.m.-2 a.m. and 2 a.m.-6 a.m., for example) or whole nights. If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll need to pump beforehand to ensure that your partner has enough milk to last through the shift or night.
- Make sleep your first priority. While it’s tempting to watch television or browse the Internet after you put baby down to sleep at night, go to bed early instead.
- Get help. When family and friends ask what they can do to help, ask them to watch the baby while you nap. If you don’t have friends or family who can help, consider hiring a babysitter or baby nurse.
- Put your baby to bed awake. According to the AAP, “Holding or rocking your baby until he or she is completely asleep may make it hard to go back to sleep if he or she wakes up during the night.” Putting your baby to bed awake but drowsy will help your child learn to self-soothe.
- Don’t get out of bed the moment your baby cries. As your baby grows older, sleeping will happen for longer stretches and your baby will self-soothe back to sleep. Wait a few seconds to ensure your baby really needs you before you fully wake up and get out of bed.
- Sleep deprivation is dangerous and can increase a mother’s risk of postpartum depression.
- Sleep when your baby sleeps.
- Take shifts with your partner.
- Accept help from friends and family or hire help.