They told me that newborns sleep a lot. So, that meant I would get a lot of sleep, right? No. I had to learn how to survive sleepless nights with a new baby!
And I did have A LOT of sleepless nights! There were nights that I ended up in tears, because I hadn’t slept in so long. Coffee and I were becoming very close friends. As mentioned in a previous post, I even had hallucinations at points when I woke up in the morning. It was very exhausting!
However, there were some things that helped. For example, it helped me to “sleep when the baby slept.” It meant I had to let some other things go at the time such as household chores. But, it was more important to me to ensure that I take care of the baby and myself first.
In addition, a baby swing saved us at times when we couldn’t get our baby to go back to sleep. She loved movement! This also meant that I slept some nights on the couch, so I could be near her if she woke up (her swing was in the living room, not her bedroom).
I have more tips, but I also asked other moms for their advice as well. Here are those tips that will help you survive sleepless nights with a new baby:
1.Accept help from others. This is something that helped me, as I had a lot of wonderful colleagues and friends that would help with dinners and watch the baby while I worked or did chores.
2.Meal prep before labor. Bre, from Elevated Mommy Life, suggests preparing meals before you go into labor. In doing so, this will help reduce the number of meals you need to make after you come home from the hospital.
3.If you are breastfeeding, pump right before bed. Lauren, from A Whole New World, said that she breastfed before bed, so her husband could help feed their baby in the middle of the night. In doing so, she could catch a few more hours of sleep.
4.Take regular walks in the forest/nature. According to Eva from Fit 4 Motherhood, she would take walks in the forest while wearing her baby. She said that she would often do squats and lunges as she did it, which made her feel great!
I can agree with the regular exercise and being out in nature. It helped me as well to get out with my daughter and wear her at the same time!
5.Take turns with your partner. We formula fed and breastfed our baby. I would go to bed, and my husband would stay up and feed my daughter for the first feeding. Then, after he went to bed, I’d get up to feed her. That way, we both can get at least a few hours of sleep.
6. Consider turning down the monitor. According to one article, newborns are active sleepers, so you shouldn’t jump out of bed at the slightest whimper. Also, most babies that are 6-months-old are capable of sleeping in stretches of 7-8 hours a night. Thus, you will want to try to wean your baby from what you were using to get him or her back to sleep (nursing, rocking, etc.). If you aren’t always jumping out of bed at the slightest noise, your baby will learn not to rely on these things when they wake up.
7.Remember this won’t last forever! And it doesn’t last forever. You will sleep again, I promise! I learned to love the late night cuddles with my little one and spending time with her as I knew that this wouldn’t happen for much longer.
In the beginning, it may be difficult to get much sleep as your baby is beginning to develop a day/night cycle. So, the tips above can definitely help you survive the first few months of sleepless nights (and even later than that, if needed). However, there is a time when you can start to consider sleep training your baby.
Sleep training involves trying to help your baby learn to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. Thus, you want your baby to learn to fall asleep without rocking them or nursing them to sleep. Most experts suggest trying sleep training between the ages of 4-6 months. Some babies will be ready before that, while others will be ready later. If you are not sure if your baby is ready for sleep training, talk with your doctor.
1.Develop a nightly routine. Trina, from Pick Your Craft, emphasizes how important this is. Creating a bedtime routine can involve taking a bath, putting on pajamas, reading a book, turning down the lights, and having a set bedtime.
2.Have a predictable daytime schedule. According to an article from Baby Center, it’s important to get your baby up at about the same time every day and to feed him/her at the around the same times. In addition, try to put your baby down for a nap at around the same time each day. Predictable schedules help comfort your your baby and put them at ease. A more secure and comfortable baby is more apt to fall asleep easier.
In terms of how to get your baby on a schedule, write down when your baby last ate, how much they ate, and when they last had a diaper. Also write down when they nap. As you do this over a week or two, you still start to see a pattern. So, once you see the pattern, you can start to stick to it.
1.Cry it out. This approach suggests that you put your baby down for sleep when they are awake and letting them cry, but not indefinitely. For example, you might let your baby cry for 10 minutes, and then go comfort him or her without picking them up. Honestly, this was something that worked best for us. We let our baby cry it out, so she could learn to self-soothe. We’d let her cry for 5-10 minutes, and then we’d go in and check on her. After just a few nights, we’d put her down for bed at the same time, and she’d fall asleep without a peep. So, it did help her learn to fall asleep on her own. However, this may not work for every parent and every baby. So, there are other methods to consider.
2.The Chair Method. With this method, you put your baby in bed, and then sit in a chair by the crib until they fall asleep. If your baby wakes up again, you come back and sit in the chair until your baby falls asleep again. On every following night, you move the chair further away from the crib until you are out of the room. A positive of this method is that the parent is in the room and can comfort the baby, but a negative is that this may be too much stimulation for the baby to fall asleep.
3.Bedtime-routine fading. With this method, you continue to do what you do each night such as rocking your baby. You just do less and less of it each night. This method can help reduce crying, but this method can be hard to stick to.
For more information on the different sleep training methods, please visit this site: Sleep Training Methods and Techniques
There are things that you can do to help you survive the sleepless nights with a new baby! Find what works for you and keep doing it! And always remember that it won’t last forever.
You can also consider sleep training your baby when you think everyone is ready for it. This will also help you get more sleep. You got this mama!
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Baby Sleep training: The basics. Retrieved from https://www.babycenter.com/0_baby-sleep-training-the-basics_1505715.bc
Most popular baby sleep training methods explained. Retrieved from https://www.todaysparent.com/baby/baby-sleep/most-popular-sleep-training-methods-explained/
Surviving the Sleepless Nights as a New Mom. Retrieved from https://www.momwithcookies.com/surviving-the-sleepless-nights-as-a-new-mom/.