12 Sleep Tips for New Parents
Becoming a parent is one of the most exciting things to happen in your life. It’s new and scary and amazing and terrifying all at the same time. You are now responsible for another person! One of the biggest adjustments in caring for a newborn is the change in your sleeping habits. Babies do not sleep through the night from day one unfortunately. Learning to function while sleep deprived is so hard during those early days. Frequent feedings, fussiness and diaper changes day and night can cause new parents to lose sleep and it is so completely exhausting. Newborns also can have unpredictable and erratic sleep patterns which can add another strain on your sleep schedule. Below I’ve listed 12 of my top sleep tips for new parents to help you get through those early days of sleepless nights and groggy days.
12 Sleep Tips for New Parents
1. Sleep While Baby Sleeps:
One of the most common things you’ll hear from people after you have your baby is “sleep when the baby sleeps!” As cliché as it sounds, it is so true! If your baby is napping at 9:15 in the morning, try to get some shut eye! Even if you are only able to get a quick power nap in, you will feel so much better than if you would have powered through the day without that nap. Ask a family member to come over to help so that if your baby wakes up and you’re still sleeping they can take over!
2. Share Nighttime Baby Duties:
This one is huge! There are lots of different ways you can share nighttime baby duties, regardless if you are breastfeeding or formula feeding. Having your partner handle even one nighttime feed can get you an extra few hours of sleep. If you’re breastfeeding, you can pump so that your partner is able to feed pumped breast milk during the middle of the night while you get some shut eye. You can trade off nights (mom get’s up and changes and feeds baby one night and then the next night dad does nighttime duty). Or if baby isn’t taking a bottle yet, dad can get up and change baby and bring him or her to mom in bed so mom can feed from bed. Remember to always put your baby back into their crib or bassinet so that they can be in a safe sleep environment.
3. Place Crib or Bassinet Near Your Bed:
Having your baby in close proximity to you during the night is huge for peace of mind as well as for convenience. When your baby is close it makes those middle of the night changes and feedings seem a bit more doable because you don’t have to walk so far to get your baby or bring your baby back to bed. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room sharing (but not bed sharing) for ideally a year but at least six months.
4. Ask For & Accept Help:
Those early newborn days are full of visitors wanting to see you and meet your new bundle of joy. Most people are so willing to help you in any way they can. Whether it be holding your baby so you can shower or taking a quick nap, folding laundry or bringing over a meal, it is ok to ask for help and accept help!!
5. Take Advantage of Parental Leave:
Parental leave varies from employer to employer and state to state. If you’re able to, take it!! Don’t let your loyalty to your job or feelings of guilt stand in the way of you taking time off to bond with your baby.
6. Skip Some Chores:
The dishes can wait!! I know it can be so frustrating to see dishes piled up, or laundry unfolded in baskets, but it’s ok! If your baby is sleeping, leave the chores and take the time to get a quick snooze. A nap doesn’t have to be hours of sleep, you’ll be surprised at how much better you feel after a 15 or 20 minute power nap.
7. Practice Good Sleep Habits:
Bedtime routines don’t apply just to babies and kids! Pick a few simple things you can do each night to help wind down before bed. Taking a warm bath, washing your face or reading a few pages of a book can be great for helping you prepare for a good night sleep. Try to avoid spending time on electronics in the last hour or two before you go to bed, this is huge in helping you fall asleep faster.
8. Find Other Ways To Refresh Yourself:
Never underestimate the power of a hot shower! One of the best ways I found to refresh and revive myself during those early sleep deprived days was to take a hot shower. Naps are amazing and wonderful and so needed early on, but a hot shower was often almost just as good!
9. Take Care of Your Body:
Make sure you’re remembering to eat well and stay hydrated! It is so easy to forget about ourselves when we’re now responsible for taking care of your baby. Talk to your doctor if you’re not feeling well or need any support, your health is JUST as important as your new baby’s health.
10. Create a Peaceful Sleep Environment:
If you’re room feels chaotic and stressful you will most likely have trouble falling asleep. Blackout curtains and a white noise machine are SO helpful in creating a peaceful sleep environment so that you can nap, even in the middle of the day.
11. Remember That This Is Temporary:
As hard as things are right now and as tired as you are, remember that this is not a permanent sleep problem. This is a temporary period of time that will pass as your baby gets older. If you feel like you’re struggling getting through this time, do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor and talk things over with them.
12. Sleep Train When You and Your Baby are Ready:
When your baby is around four months old you can start sleep training! Sleep training has huge benefits to both your baby and to you. Once they are able to learn the basics of independent sleep, you can start to get back to your normal sleep routine. (Remember tip 11! This newborn sleep is temporary!!) You can always enlist the help of a sleep specialist before 16 weeks, if you have questions or want to get tips on how to set up a healthy, safe and positive sleep foundation and to discuss newborn sleep hygience, consider reaching out for a consult call.
I hope you found these tips helpful! Like I said above, bringing home your baby is such an exciting time! Once you get into a good routine at home things will get easier. I have another post about newborn sleep tips that goes hand in hand with this one but really focuses on what you can do to help your baby sleep during those early days.