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.
- Never bring your baby into your bed to sleep.
Oh man I used to fall asleep sitting up I was so exhausted. Now when my daughter falls asleep I want to stay up for a bit just to get some time to myself.
Ha! I can totally relate. Especially as an introverted person, I found that staying up for just a few minutes of alone time I felt as good as getting a few minutes of sleep.
I’m due in 2more days!:) This article was helpful. Let’s hope I get all my sleep.
Good luck Olga! While I cannot promise you that you will feel rested, I can promise you that you will feel your heart grow!
I want as much contact and quality time with my baby, but also would appreciate the help from friends and family 🙂
And most families feel great when they are able to help out!
Its very hard to sleep when your baby sleeps. I strictly use Tue BP for BF as he wouldn’t latch so It seemed Like I was never sleeping because I wasn’t. He is 10 weeks old now and I have him sleeping 8-10 hours a night. How? Followed advice and ignored the nurses. He gets all BM during the day but at night I give him 4oz of organic formula, he also gets a bath the same time every night with Johnsons lavender lotion after. I keep it dark and calm At night, bright and noisy during the day and after two weeks of this routine he was sleeping through the night at 5 weeks. I Stopped waking him up for feedings like the nurses said to do because he lets me know when he is hungry, which I understand not every baby can do that. But it worked for us.
Good for you Kaysha! Glad to hear you trusted your instincts and followed his cues and found success!
With four kids, I had to mentally prepare myself for sleepless nights and tell myself it wouldn’t last forever. However, naps and coffee were my best friends!
So true! Never underestimate the power of a good nap, especially in the afternoon. It gets you ready for a long night.
I should have read this article when my daughter was a newborn. I did sleep when she slept, but I never put her to be drowsy and let her fall asleep on her own. I always rocked her to sleep and now it is difficult to get her to fall asleep on her own.Coffee has been a lifesaver as my fiance works at night and she wakes up periodically throughout the night!
Great tips, sleep deprivation is so tough when your a new parent. Some people get lucky with babies who sleep thru the night and others don’t.
I am already almost doing all of these. But this is very helpful. Im always getting offers to help but I dont take them and maybe I should
Accepting help is always hard but it makes the giver feel needed, which is great AND lightens your load a little, which is also good.
I need to do a better job of sleeping when she sleeps. I try to fit in as much as possible at that time when I should be resting.
I am not doing most of these. It’s hard to nap when she is sleeping, I feel like I have so much to do around the house and with myself and night time is all me since my husband is working and I’m on maternity leave. I guess I will have to try to nap when she does.
Resting can be so hard as the work around you piles up when you have a new little one. The goal is to give up pre-baby expectations for housework etc and understand that your rest is much more important. But it’s not easy.
I didn’t believe anyone when they said “sleep when Baby sleeps” now I live by that statement !!!
I’m pregnant with baby number 1 and so excited to meet this little bundle of joy. I’ve heard of not getting sleep when baby comes so I’m soaking it up these last few months. But I’m hoping to nap when baby does and learn to balance it all. It will be a challenge but it’s worth it! 🙂
These are good tips. My problem is putting my son down while he is still awake. He will be falling asleep in my arms and the moment I put him down he is wide awake. He usually doesn’t cry, but will not go to sleep unless my husband or I pick him up again.
I feel like such a bad mom when I put my daughter down and let her cry. But at this point, she’s been almost constantly held for 2 months, so I think I need to start trying to help her learn to self-soothe. It’s just so heartbreaking… should I start with just a few minutes a few times a day?
I think a few minutes at a time a few times a day is very reasonable. It may sound silly but tell her what you are going to do. For example, say “I am going to put you in your rocker for a few minutes while I take a quick shower. I will be right back.” A few brief moments of crying will not hurt her. Leave her in a safe, comfortable place and only after all her needs have been met. Good luck!
Sleeping when baby sleeps is nearly impossible if you have other children, a job, or need to bath and eat. :-/
Amen to this!
Lucky for me baby goes to sleep around 11pm and wakes up at 3am and again around 7am… that’s much more manageable that most.
You have both a good sleeper AND a great attitude!
I hope my baby turns out to be a good sleeper. lol. I know a few people who get NO sleep at all!
These are such great tips. We are planning on getting pregnant soon, so it is the time to read all these articles and learn and research so when the baby comes we know more or less what to do, so thanks for these tips and all the very informative articles. They shall be very helpful.
My nephew and his wife just had twin boys(Preemies) and they just came home from the hospital today. They also have a 8 year old daughter who sleeps with them every night. I hope she is going to be able to handle all three kids by herself when her husband goes back to work.
I took a lot of naps in those first months. My husband wasn’t too happy that I was home all day, and he still had to do all the cooking and cleaning, but I didn’t care. It kept me sane! 🙂
I’m still taking naps but what’s good about it is my fiance doesn’t mind bc I’m home taking care of our baby. I do the cleaning tho bc I have everything a certain way but neither one of us really cook too much maybe every other week I might cook all week but other than that its take out or microwave food. 😉
I totally agree that u should rest while ur baby does to help recharge. For me that’s what I do unless I’m not tired (not often that I’m not) i will do chores or just lay down. Some advice I’d give is if u really need to get chores or anything done wait until someone can help with your baby so you can rest when its just yal two. If your baby is on steady schedule that should help u too it does for me and my 4 month baby. Just remember if your too tired to keep your cool then get help so u can sleep it off. 😉
my one month old will not sleep unless I hold her! As soon as I lay her down she screams instantly. Is it to early to self soothe?
Self soothing is a slow process. It begins in five or ten minute periods of time and then is learned slowly. I love a good swaddle for making newborns feel secure and safe. Try it, it just might buy you a few more minutes each time.
I rocked Dallas at nap time and she just kept fussing, then decided to sit her in her swing for a few minutes and she fell asleep almost instantly! I was able to take a quick nap myself. Super happy!
That’s great, Jessica! It’s amazing what a difference even a little bit of sleep can make.
I had given up swaddling after the first week of my daughter’s birth since it seemed like she hated it. After advice from a friend (and some research using Happiest Baby on the Block) I gave it another try. HEAVEN! She went from sleeping 2 hours to almost 5. I’m hoping that keeps up!
Did you do anything differently the second try?
Yes, basically I didn’t give up 🙂 She fought and cried when I wrapped her up but I just held her tight for a few minutes. It felt counter-intuitive at first, like I was smothering her! But it did the trick, and after a few nights of that routine she stopped fighting the process. Now when I start to swaddle her she lets me do it easily, then I give her the nighttime bottle (or breast) and she falls asleep in minutes!
Also- I’m now keeping one of her arms out. (I started that just before 2 months.) She’s a thumb-sucker, and having those fingers available for her to find helps her self-soothe.
I know some doctor’s say not to put your baby to sleep breastfeeding but 5 min. into a feeding and he’s asleep or almost there. As long as your not hurting your baby I say put him to sleep however you and your baby are comfortable. Just be careful with the thumb sucking tho bc I’ve heard once its a habit it might be hard to get them to stop.
My son hated to be swaddled at first too. He slept unswaddled from the night we came home from the hospital until about a month or so old. Then I tried it again because he just wasn’t sleeping well, and everything I read said it would help. And it did! He also fought it at first, but then he started sleeping 7-8 hour stretches, and it was amazing! Of course, that all changed at 4 months, but it was nice while it lasted! 😉
Okay, well it seems like I am doing the opposite on everything in your list. For example; I am here writing you while he sleeps. He sleeps alot through the day and that’s how I get my chores done. I barely get any sleep at night (my husband & I do not take shifts, since he works early in the morning I am the one up with him all night, it was like that with my older boys as well). So let’s say that by the time the sun is coming out I feel like those old ladies from cartoons looking stressed out and with their hair all frizzy lol. Without my cup of coffee in the mornings I would not be able to make it.
I was just telling someone that the nicest thing a friend did for me after I had a baby was to drop off Starbucks at random times during the week!
I hear you there My little one is 10 months old now and still only sleeps about 4 hours at a time. It is very tiresome but i try my best to sleep when i can. My husband as well doesn’t take shifts but he works in the mornings as well. i shouldn’t be complaining because he provides for us. Anyways he wouldn’t be much help anyways since i breastfeed and i can’t pump very much at a time. Anyways I hope it gets better for you. cheers!
Try to take a break from your chores and give yourself some time to recharge while your baby sleeps. I completely get ur situation bc its the same with me. I just turned 20 and have 2 boys and I already feel like that cartoon frizzy haired old lady too.
Funny (or not really, I guess!) how kids age us. 🙂
I just try not to act too old to keep me feeling young even tho I am I want to feel it too. I have to feel it bc I look like a mom, going out in pjs with no make up and messy hair. 🙂