Having a baby automatically makes you think of losing sleep. Many parents suffer from sleep deprivation, and it is very hard to cope with caring for a new baby when you are tired. We’ve put together some helpful advice on trying to avoid becoming a member of the walking dead as a sleep-deprived parent of a newborn.
Learn to Nap
When you’re sleep deprived as a new parent, every time your baby sleeps, use that as an opportunity to rest. Even if you can’t fall asleep, at least try and lie down, meditate, and just breathe. Don’t worry about chores during this time, or limit yourself to one chore — do laundry but leave the dishes for now, for example. If you are prone to worrying, hire someone to help with cleaning and chores or enlist a friend or relative so you aren’t stressing about the long list of things you need to accomplish during the day and can finally relax a bit, even just to sit down and watch a favorite TV show or read a book. It’s OK to say no to added responsibilities too. You don’t have to accept every invitation or new activity you get invited to; spend more time at home with your little one, especially in the first year, when you both need extra TLC.
Set the Mood
Darken your room, install good light-blocking blinds or curtains, and invest in some comfortable furniture and a good mattress and sheets. Turn your bedroom into a calming sanctuary with subdued colors. Have earplugs, an eye mask, and a comfy blanket handy. Dimming your lights before bed and naptime can also help you sleep easier. Play relaxing music, spray relaxing and non-irritating scents in your room, and wear comfy lounge clothes you can easily fall asleep in on a moment’s notice.
Establish a Bedtime Routine for Your Baby
Just like adults, babies need to wind down after each day and will do better sleeping if they have a bedtime routine. This routine should start as soon as possible, by around 6 to 8 weeks. Many babies get anxious during the night because they are separated from their parental protectors. Set aside about 30 minutes in their crib or room to read to them, sing lullabies to them, and caress them with loving and gentle back rubs, then kiss them and say good night. As your child gets older you will have to provide more time for brushing teeth and changing and cleaning up. Watch for patterns: when they’re hungry, teething, or want to play, and what makes them sleepy. Look for things that happen during the day that may throw off your schedule or your baby’s internal sleeping rhythms. Make sure you are organized, observant, and tweaking the routine to get the most sleeping time you can.
Pump and sleep. Assign your partner the job of staying up a couple extra hours and bottle-feeding at night while you catch up on your sleep, then you can wake up and take the next shift. You can switch off shifts, too: Sometimes you can stay up and breastfeed while your partner sleeps, then pump some and fall asleep for the rest of the night, and your partner can bottle feed in the middle of the night. This way, the two of you are getting longer periods of solid uninterrupted sleep. Or you and your partner can try the “one night on, one night off” method to help ease sleep deprivation. Also, try to do feedings in another room so you don’t wake the person who’s not on duty.