Are you a new parent struggling to adapt to a life without much sleep? First of all, congratulations on becoming a parent! And secondly — you are not alone.
This transition, as amazing as it can be, isn’t always easy. We’ve been there and we get it. So, we’ve decided to put together a list of our best sleep tips for new parents, helping you maximize your own sleep time, as well as your baby’s.
How to Help Your Baby Sleep
Helping your baby maximize their sleep time is the first step to helping you get more rest. Here are our best baby sleep tips:
Learn to Recognize Your Baby’s Sleep Cues
This is the most important thing you can do in the early days.
Take some time to get to know your baby — and recognize their sleep cues. Your baby will let you know when they’re starting to feel tired. It’s important to know what these cues are. Acting fast is key to ensuring your baby falls asleep quickly, getting the high-quality sleep they need to recharge for their next wakeful period.
Newborns sleep a lot, especially in those early weeks, so don’t be surprised by it. They’re new here — and there’s a lot for them to take in.
Don’t be tempted to keep them awake in the daytime so they’ll sleep better at night. This won’t work. Regular naps will help your baby avoid overstimulation, which actually helps them sleep better at night too.
Develop a Bedtime Routine
Just like grown-ups, babies respond well to routine.
In the early days, this isn’t about setting regular sleep and wake times. This strategy doesn’t work well with newborns and, as we mentioned above, can lead to overstimulation and frustration. A newborn baby will generally sleep for two to three hours and wake for about an hour, before sleeping again. This cycle represents a typical newborn schedule.
It’s best to let your baby sleep whenever they need to. But you can start to create a pre-bed routine with your baby from a young age. Keep it simple — a couple of activities to help them relax, like a warm bath and a baby massage, works well. This will help you set the foundations for healthy sleep habits when your baby is older.
Follow Your Intuition
Many parents have their own sleep tips which they like to share. In fact, you’ll probably find yourself inundated with advice from well-meaning friends and family members.
Some of this might be helpful, and some of it won’t be.
Remember, a parent’s intuition is a powerful thing. Trust it. If sleep training doesn’t feel right to you? Don’t do it. Do you want to cuddle your baby to sleep? Don’t let anyone tell you not to.
Use the habits and routines that work for you and your baby.
Create a Soothing Environment
New babies often have a hard time sleeping at night. When you think about what they’ve been through, it makes sense.
Your baby has just spent nine months sleeping inside your body, suspended in warm liquid. Close to your heart. And with diapers nowhere to be seen.
They’re now expected to sleep in an empty crib, wearing clothes and a diaper. Even if the crib is right next to you, it’s unlikely they will be able to hear your heartbeat.
Bear this in mind when you’re creating the sleep environment. White noise can be a good addition to the bedroom, as it mimics the noises they’re used to hearing inside your body.
Try to replicate the sensations your baby is used to and help ease their transition into the outside world. Sometimes your baby just wants to be held — and that is okay too.
It’s also important to consider safe sleep guidelines when considering your baby’s sleep environment.
Use Age-Appropriate Sleep Strategies
While the above tips will help you maximize your baby’s sleep, it’s important to be realistic.
Newborn babies don’t sleep like older babies and children.
Although there are always exceptions, it’s likely your baby will wake several times each night for feeding and comfort.
This is normal. And the nature of your baby’s sleep will change rapidly within the first year. Use age-appropriate sleep strategies, based upon what’s developmentally expected at each stage.
This means sleep training your newborn is out, and providing comfort and reassurance is in.
How to Maximize Your Own Sleep
Given a newborn’s tendency to wake several times each night, it’s highly likely your own sleep will be suffering. According to recent studies, the average parent gets just 4 hours and 44 minutes’ sleep per night.
This isn’t easy to deal with. We understand. But there are a few strategies you can adopt to help you get the best sleep possible as you move through this transition. Here are our parent-centered sleep tips for new parents:
Sleep When the Baby Sleeps
Sleep Tips for New Parents – Sleeping Mother
It’s a cliche, but it really is one of the best ways to maximize your sleep. If you’re struggling with the lack of sleep, make the most of the time your baby is asleep. Don’t get us wrong, this can be
easier said than done, what with a never-ending list of chores piling up. But if you reach the point of exhaustion, listen to your body.
Some days you’ll feel you can push on through, but there will be days where you hit a wall. And when you’re that tired, the household chores can wait – you need to rest.
This might mean an afternoon nap or going to bed earlier in the evening, whatever works for you.
Use the Right Feeding Equipment
The equipment you use to prepare your baby’s bottles can make a world of difference.
If you’re not getting much sleep, the last thing you want to be doing in the middle of the night is scrabbling around sterilizing bottles.
This is where Bottle Bath comes in. It’s an automated washer, sterilizer and dryer, which does everything you need, so you don’t have to.
Not only does this give you back valuable time in the day, allowing you more time to nap, but it also means you can always have clean bottles ready in the night. It’s perfect for those occasions when your baby decides to wake more than you’d planned for.
Quit Reaching for Your Phone
Do you reach for your phone in the middle of the night when you wake to feed the baby? It is a mistake to use this time to check emails or social media.
The blue light from your phone disrupts the body’s natural sleep hormones, making it harder for you to get back to sleep once the baby is peacefully back in their crib.
If you need something to help keep you awake during Baby’s feed and burping time, try picking up a book instead.
Ditch the Caffeine
This is probably not what you want to hear, especially if you rely on coffee to make it through the day, but too much caffeine can disrupt your sleep.
Try sticking to just a couple of cups in the morning. Limit your caffeine intake in the afternoon and avoid it completely in the evening.
Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Taking care of a newborn isn’t easy, and sometimes you just need a little time to yourself.
It’s likely many people would have offered to help if you need it. When the lack of sleep is really getting to you, there’s no shame in asking someone to watch the baby so you can get some rest.