Getting Sleep with a New Baby
Getting forty winks, catching zees, napping, dozing, nodding off, hitting the hay, getting beauty rest, sawing logs, and snoozing are all terms that you may be intensely familiar with now that you have a Newborn and none of them seem to be activities you are able to participate in anymore. Sure, you are able to get a few minutes of Sleep here and there when your infant finally goes down for a nap, but these restful respites are few and far between (what with feeding, changing, and cleaning your newborn, not to mention attending to your own needs). However, there are ways to make it to the land of REM sleep when you bring home baby. Here are a few tips and tricks to help out the new parent who can’t seem to catch a break on the snooze front.
1. Trade duties. You have a spouse, so don’t hesitate to trade off on nighttime feedings. Even if your baby is up every couple of hours, you can at least hit one REM cycle before you have to get up to take your turn. Although this isn’t entirely ideal, it’s better than the totally inadequate sleep you’ll get when your head is popping off the pillow five times a night.
2. Hire help. There’s nothing wrong with hiring a nanny to help you out if your spouse is frequently absent, you have no family nearby, and you’ve got the money to do so. One parent can go it alone, but why run yourself ragged needlessly? Don’t feel bad about getting the help you need; it’s better for your baby, too.
3. Create a schedule. Some babies want to be fed every two hours like clockwork while others are content to sleep through the night (up to six hours at a stretch). If your baby is on the fussy side and much more prone to waking during the night, you may think that there’s nothing you can do about it. However, you might be surprised to learn that just about any newborn can be taught a schedule (unless they’re sick or they have special needs that preclude such action). Start with a regular bedtime each night, with soothing activities like a bath and cuddling leading up to lights out. For the first couple of months, put your newborn to bed once he’s asleep already. After the age of three months, you can start putting him down when he’s drifting off but still awake. This way, he’ll learn to fall asleep on his own, without you there, which could mean more restful nights in the long run.
4. Avoid distraction. When you go into your infant’s room for nighttime feedings, keep the lights low and the TV off. These distractions will only bring your baby (and you) fully awake, ensuring that it’s harder for both of you to get back to sleep afterwards.
5. Breastfeed while napping. Do double duty by learning to breastfeed while lying down. If you’re so tired that you’re afraid you’ll drop the baby while feeding, negate the issue. This has been a saving grace for mothers for time immemorial and any breastfeeding coach (generally a midwife or nurse) can show you how to get the baby to latch on in a safe way while you lay on your side, allowing both of you a little extra pillow time.
Putting Your Baby to Sleep
If you have not seen a good night’s sleep since your baby was born, don’t fret: you’re not alone. Sleepless nights are to be expected when becoming new parents, although you might not be as prepared as you thought. You are probably tired of waking up two, or three times a night and want to get your baby back to bed without a bottle, or breast. If it means granting you a few extra hours of precious sleep, then it’s time to try a few simple tips to get your baby sleeping all night long.
Establish a bedtime routine. Try your best to incorporate a warm bath, or last nursing session before your baby goes to bed. Be consistent in maintaining this schedule so that your child has something to look forward to before sleep. You can also try reading a story, or having a cuddle session so that your child feels comforted before going to bed. This will help relax and soothe them before bedtime.
A mommy replacement. Sometimes all your child needs to get to sleep is a mommy replacement. We all know that mommy can never be replaced, but sometimes a cozy object can be all it takes to make a mother’s life a little easier. This can be anything from a stuffed animal to a soft blanket. Let your child form an attachment to this object by carrying it around with them throughout the day. Your child will start to rely on this object instead of you for comfort and reassurance.
Place your child in their crib when they are still awake and partially sleepy. It is important to help children learn how to fall asleep by themselves. This is something you cannot do for them. You can ease their transition into sleeping through the night by weaning them off a bottle and replacing it with a pacifier. This may help your child sleep through the remainder of the night without needing your assistance.
Don’t pick your child up when they awake. This can be the most crucial, yet most difficult rule for parents to follow. Some child experts advocate staying in the room with your baby so that they don’t panic. Seeing you there with them will help calm them down. Others advise leaving the room and returning at regular intervals. Upon arrival, speak softly to your baby, and rub their back, but be sure to not take them out of their crib. Try out both approaches to determine what works best for you and your child.
Stick to the routine. You should notice significant improvement over the course of a week if you stay adamant about following your established routine. Your baby should cry a little less each night until finally granting you the rest you have waited for so patiently.
Remember that all children are different and a week may not be a sufficient amount of time to teach your child how to sleep through the night. Try your best not to give in to rocking, or picking your baby up from its crib. The results, when they come, will be well worth the wait. If all else fails, consult your doctor who can recommend some helpful sleeping aides. You may even considering consulting a specialist who knows about sleeping disorders.
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