Is your newborn baby not sleeping?
A newborn baby is a joy, of course. But unless your head is firmly stuck on Cloud 9, having a baby is also an emotional, at times traumatic, and always an exhausting experience.
Nothing prepares you for the dramatic change your life takes when you bring the newest family member home. Even if you’ve read all the right books and bought all the right things, you’re bound to feel completely helpless for the first few weeks (or months!)
Don’t worry, this is completely natural. It’s an overwhelming thing – you’ve just brought a human into the world, after all. So you’re completely entitled, even expected, to feel a bit of terror mixed in with that joy.
But one of the most important things to remember during these early times is – rest when you can. There is an oft-spoken saying, “When the baby sleeps, you should sleep.” Not everyone listens to it, however; for some reason as soon as the baby does go down, new parents are so busy fretting that they’ll wake up, or caught up in unnecessary household chores, that they get no rest themselves.
The result? Frazzled, unkempt zombies who end up hugely frustrated if their baby doesn’t go down at the appointed hour, instead of enjoying what can be a wonderful bonding time.
Babies aside, we all need our sleep. Because sleep deprivation can lead to all sorts of mental and physical conditions – from obesity to diabetes, cardiovascular disease to depression. And as parents, we want to be as fit as possible for our little ones, right? So just like doing the research to ensure our newborns get all the sleep they need, we also should be in the know as to how we can get more sleep ourselves.
There are lots of suggestions out there for new parents to get a better night’s sleep. Here are my Top 4:
1. Newborn Baby Not Sleeping? Get into an evening routine.
Obviously, your newborn may dictate what your evening looks like. But just as you’ll try to get them into a ‘settling down’ routine, so should you try to formulate some habits for yourself.
Wind the family down soon after your evening meal. Dim the lights to put you in a more relaxed mood and turn off laptops and TVs – if you can stand to do so – at least half an hour before bedtime. The blue light they emit can impact the sleep of both you and your little one, increasing alertness and over-stimulating the brain. My advice? Read a book, have a bath or listen to music instead. You’ll feel closer to dreamland already.
2.Newborn Baby Not Sleeping? Sleep when they sleep
There it is again! But this one bears repeating. And it applies to any time of day. When your baby goes for a nap at noon, you should lie down and put your feet up, too. If you can’t sleep, try closing your eyes or meditating for a while. Because responding to emails, checking Facebook or even binge-watching the latest Netflix show isn’t really that relaxing. Your mind is still active and you’re not giving it time to be still.
In saying that, don’t be too hard on yourself. If watching tv is your way of unwinding, feel free to do so if you really can’t sleep during the day.
Because this point is most important at night-time. Say your newborn goes down at 10 pm. You know you’ll most likely be getting up for their first feed at 1 am and that you should go to bed…but Die Hard’s just started and you’ve only seen it 3 times this year already!
My advice? Go to bed. It’s hard dragging yourself away from a cosy night by the tv, I know. But trust me, you’ll be glad for those extra hours of kip when your baby kicks off in the wee hours. I’ve done it before – staying up because I simply wasn’t tired enough to go to bed when I should’ve had – then falling asleep at midnight only to be woken 10 minutes later. Not exactly enough time for sweet dreams!
The result of this disturbed sleep is that you’ll be grumpy, irritable and even resentful towards your newborn. When, in all fairness, they haven’t done anything except get hungry.
3.Newborn Baby Not Sleeping?Accept help
Although we all want to feel like superheroes, in line for Best Parent Ever, the truth is we aren’t perfect. And we shouldn’t feel like we have to do everything all by ourselves – especially if we’ve got a support network willing to help!
So if your in-laws, siblings, friends or neighbours offer to help out, for crying out loud, say yes! Whether it’s something as simple as picking you up breakfast ingredients or a more challenging one like minding bubs for the night, take whatever offers you can.
Even having time to shower in peace or to have an uninterrupted cup of tea – imagine! – can do wonders for your mood and your energy. Better still, if you can use these offers of help to get a nap in, well, you’ll feel like a brand new person.
4.Newborn Baby Not Sleeping? Take turns
When it comes to night-time feeds, there are lots of suggestions out there as to who the duty should fall to.
In my opinion, there’s no point whatsoever in both parents getting up every 3 hours. Just like I don’t really believe in alternating shifts; because then neither of you gets a proper night’s sleep!
Why not try alternating nights instead? That way, at least one of you will be rested come morning. Or, if you work in a full-time job, maybe your partner could do the majority of weeknight feeds, with you responsible for weekends. Whatever way it works for you and your partner, shared responsibility is key!
Tip: The person who is ‘off-duty’ should take all necessary measures to get a decent sleep during this time. Eye masks, earplugs or even separate beds may be needed for a while. Like I said, there’s no point in both of you being awake all night!
Well, there’s a few quick tips to make you a better-rested – and slightly less wild-eyed – new parent! Hopefully at least one of them works for you, and you’ll be able to get the great night’s sleep that you deserve.
Hey everyone my names Sarah and I’m a California gal. After graduating university I fell into the world of sleep promotion and have never looked back. I even started up a sleep blog to get the word out about the importance of sleep. Check me out! https://twitter.com/