10 Tips to Sleeping as a New Parent

Newborn babies make sleeping difficult for new parents

Another beautiful Mother’s Day has passed and as we reflect on the strength and resilience of our moms, for those who have recently been blessed with parenthood, you should know without fail that your sleep is about to take a nose dive.  But fear not!  There are at least a few things you can do to help you get through this temporary struggle for healthy sleep as you care for your little bundle of sleepless joy.

1. Have a plan before you bring home baby

It’s always ideal to really discuss what your current sleep patterns are and how this change is going to affect you and your partner.  If your partner can help at night by changing diapers while you get bottle/breast ready, this will save on time awake for you and baby.  It might help to have another family member assist in the first few days or weeks during the day to give you a chance to rest and regenerate. 

2. Don’t feel rushed to leave the hospital

Even though it’s great to get back to your own bed and your own environment, the nursery staff is there to help you recuperate.  Take advantage of the expert help you’ll receive while at the birthing center for a night or two.

3. Just Say No

Don’t feel obligated to take on any additional responsibilities, go on extra trips or attend events when you have a newborn.  You may feel guilty if you have older children that need attention, but the most important thing to focus on is your health and well-being to be there for them when it counts.

4. Sleep when your baby sleeps

This may seem impossible to avoid, but some new parents think this “downtime” should be for chores, cleaning house, prepping dinner, catching up on Netflix, etc.  Everything else can wait, except baby, so don’t waste this precious time with anything but sleep to restore your energy and help you heal.

5. Say yes to help

Family members and friends who want to help know that this time should be focused on baby.  Don’t feel guilty about this extra help.  Allowing them to bring home cooked meals, run errands, grocery shop and complete other day to day necessary tasks can be a huge relief and even a mood booster that allows you to relax and worry less.

6. Practice good sleep hygiene

This is a big one.  It’s important that we don’t sabotage our efforts to get sleep.  Follow these sleep hygiene tips to give us the optimal environment for sleeping.  Avoiding electronics right before bed and keeping your room dark and cool will go a long way.

7. Keep to a schedule

Many new parents struggle to sleep after baby is born

This one is good for you and baby.  Find a consistent schedule for feeding, sleeping, bathing and other daily activities and follow it for the first several months to give yourself the best chance at recovery and also help baby grow and develop.

8. This too, shall pass

Keep reminding yourself that around 8 months or maybe a year, baby will generally start sleeping through the night and things will start to resemble normal.  Even if it doesn’t happen by then, it WILL get better eventually!  If you feel there is an issue that is keeping baby from sleeping through the night, make sure you see their pediatrician to rule out anything serious. Keep your eye on the prize!

9. Baby blues are real

Lack of sleep is known to cause issues with mood and behavior in addition to the baby blues.  Don’t ignore your feelings.  If you are depressed, anxious or uninterested in things you used to love, make sure you talk to your doctor and get help.  Postpartum depression is real and can affect the way you take care of yourself or baby.

10. Get treated for underlying sleep disorders

If your daytime naps don’t help alleviate your tiredness, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder.  Obstructive Sleep Apnea, pauses or stops in breathing while you sleep, is common in people who gain weight (during pregnancy for example).  Make sure you pay attention to the symptoms of sleep apnea and see a sleep specialist.