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  • Writer's pictureChardá Bell, IBCLC, CBE, CD

How to get more sleep with a new baby

Taking care of a newborn baby is hard work, and finding the balance with sleep and rest can be difficult but you must find a way to prioritize it. If you are getting enough sleep, you will be able to take better care of the baby. You'll have more patience and feel better overall.

You know how they say put the oxygen mask on you before the child, it's true in all cases. You must put yourself first even with kids. This is key to good parenting skills!

It's even been proven that getting at least a 5 hour stretch of sleep during a 24 hour period can prevent postpartum depression and anxiety or decrease the severity of it.

Here's how to get more sleep with a new baby:

Rest if you can't sleep when the baby sleeps

Newborns take frequent naps lasting anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, for a total of 16 to 18 hours of sleep each day. New parents are often severely sleep deprived if the only sleep they’re getting is overnight. Sleeping while the baby sleeps can sometimes be challenging because of other kids in the house or our internal body clocks, but it’s a good idea to try and at least get some rest. Close your eyes, put on a meditation or just play some soft music.

Skip household chore or hire or ask for some help

Instead of vacuuming or loading the dishwasher, opt for sleep. If someone wants to come over and see you and the baby, ask them to do something around the house for you and don't be ashamed to do it! They will know, especially if they are a parent, that the house needs some care but it's not to be cared for by you. Your job is to care for yourself and the baby, that's it. Everything else can wait. Allow the house, your hair and clothes to be messy in the early weeks, it's OK I give you permission to let it go!

Share nighttime duties

You and your partner can share feedings, diaper changes and other nighttime baby duties. Folks who breastfeed can pump breast milk so their partner can give a nighttime bottle to the baby, allowing the breastfeeding parent to get some extra shuteye. One bottle isn't going to be bad, but make sure you are also pumping at least once during the night if not feeding, this will help maintain your supply. If you don't want to offer a bottle yet, ask your partner to help with feeding duties by getting up with you and staying up for the feed, have them bring you some water and arrange the pillows for feeding. They can have the responsibility of putting baby back in their own bed next to the bed too.

Room sharing

Speaking of putting baby in their own bed, safe sleep is very important. Bedsharing is up to each individual family's preferences and cultural beliefs. It is considered best practice to put the baby in their own bed for the safest sleeping arrangement/environment. You can use a co-sleeper, pack n' play or bassinet to have baby right next to your bed. This makes it easier for you and baby to go back to bed rather than going to another room. This makes getting sleep for everyone much better and more restful.

Ask for help

Again, this is worth noting twice because y'all may not have heard me the first time. Do not be shy about asking friends or relatives to help! Especially if you are not hiring a postpartum doula or nanny. You can also ask for them to create a fund as part of your baby registry to pay for help whether it's postpartum doula, housekeeper, etc. Ask them to do things on the way to visit like pick up some groceries, straighten up or sweep the floor, they wanna hold the baby? Do it while you nap! They may also help with feedings and diaper changes. Let your village support you, it takes all of us!

Take advantage of parental leave

Employer policies on parental leave vary, but sometimes both parents can take time off from work, allowing them to more easily juggle baby care and leading to more sleep. For example, Mom might take time off from work right after the baby is born, and her spouse can take leave several weeks later, helping mom to get some sleep as she transitions back to work.

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

This can help you get more rest, whether or not you have a newborn at home.

Strategies include:

  • Limiting or avoiding caffeine: This stimulant can interfere with your sleep cycle. Especially in the evening or after 3pm.

  • Not using electronics before bed: You may want to post the latest pictures of your baby on social media, but using mobile phones, tablets and computers at night can interfere with total sleep time.

  • Sticking to a regular sleep schedule: As difficult as this sounds as a new parent, try to turn in and wake up at the same time every day. Just keep in mind that with a baby, you need to be flexible and expect nighttime awakenings.

For sleep help for your baby visit

Jen Varela is an amazing gentle sleep coach.

Remember babies typically don't sleep "through the night" until after 3 months old. This means sleeping longer stretches of 4 - 6 hours or more. Every baby is a different tiny human so things may vary. By 6 months, two-thirds sleep through much of the night. Babies that are smaller at birth start to sleep for longer stretches when they are closer to 12 to 13 pounds.

Two Baby Sleep Tips:

Try putting baby to bed when they are drowsy.

Let them learn how to self-soothe.

Sleeping in those first few months of postpartum and having a new baby can be brutal, but just know the time will pass and with these strategies you will soon be enjoying your sleep again. This too shall pass!

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