Becoming a parent for the first time can be equally exciting and daunting. Chances are you’ve received a lot of well-meaning advice from family members, friends, books, the Internet and possibly even a few strangers.
Everyone has their own opinion – making you constantly question your choices. Am I pro-demand feeding, or will I try to keep a routine? Do I sleep train or take baby’s cues?
Welcome to parenthood…
One thing most of us can agree on is that during the first few months of being a new parent, you can say goodbye to a good night’s sleep.
As your baby starts to get a sense of night and day, you might begin to lose yours. Days blur into nights when you’re dealing with an endless cycle of feeding, changing and putting baby back to bed. Hang in there. We promise it gets better!
Plenty of guidance is already available on newborn sleep from contact napping to the ‘cry it out method’. Let us instead provide you with our top 5 practical sleep tips to help you get through this blissful and bumpy period and get a better night’s rest.
Sure, this is obvious. Even non-parents understand that babies tend to wake during the night. But mentally preparing yourself and planning for a change in your sleep patterns will help you better adjust once your baby arrives.1
Chat with your family about how you might handle these changes. This might mean planning to go to bed earlier and tackle late-night feeding while your partner takes an early morning shift.
Parents reading this may be rolling their eyes about being told to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’. It’s easier said than done when you’re likely to have a stack of household chores to catch up on once the baby is fed, changed and put down for a nap.
But making peace with disrupted sleep and trying to work around the current parameters will go a long way in ensuring you get the rest you need each day. Even ditching the dishes to grab just 15-20 minutes of sleep during the day can make a big difference.
Newborns tend to feed between every 2-4 hours2 and will sleep up to 16 hours a day.3 All babies are different though, so if your baby’s daily schedule doesn’t closely resemble these averages, it’s not necessarily a cause for concern.
Tracking when your baby is typically feeding, eating and sleeping during those first few weeks and months may help you recognise a natural pattern developing. Note down on paper or download one of the many baby-tracking apps.
This means you’ll likely be able to better predict and work around your baby’s feeding and sleep schedule. It also takes some of the mental load away from remembering things like when your baby was last fed. And this can be very helpful when you’re also battling sleep deprivation!
Make ‘work smarter, not harder’ your motto. When it comes to late-night feeds, onesies with zippers are your best friend. Steer clear of studs. Trust us, there’s nothing more patience-testing than fumbling around in the dark at 2am trying to fasten eight buttons on a squirmy little human.
If you’ve decided to swaddle your baby, the wrapping process can feel like you’re doing origami. Thankfully there’s now a large range of options to swaddle your baby with zip-up or velcro sacks and wraps to minimise the hassle.
Other tips to help you get back to sleep faster include:
It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’ve got a new bundle of joy (AKA your non-stop eating/pooping machine) to look after. But it can be difficult to take care of those around you if you’re struggling to take better care of your mental health.
Self-care might be as simple as taking yourself out for a daily walk with your baby to get out in the fresh air and sunlight. Getting more light exposure also has the added benefit of helping your circadian rhythm (or sleep-wake cycle) align with sunrise and sunset.5
Unfortunately, sleep troubles kind of go with the territory for new parents. But you may find that your sleep challenges become less and less related to your newborn’s own needs. If as a new mum, you have difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep after your infant wakes up in the night, this could suggest a sleeping disorder such as postpartum insomnia.6
Don’t leave it until later, speak to your doctor if you’re concerned about your sleep.
To better understand your sleep, take our free sleep assessment today.
ResMed is a global leader in sleep technology that has its origins right here in Australia. Our goal is to provide people with the means to awaken their best and enjoy healthier lives by promoting good sleep habits and creating awareness for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
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