As a new mom, it can be really hard to get the sleep you need.
Who cares if things get better when my baby is three months old? I will have died from lack of sleep by then!
That’s really how I felt getting my first child. I was so exhausted! Looking back now at my first time as a new mother, I didn’t do much to improve the situation at that time. Why? I didn’t know what to do!
“Sleep when the baby does also at daytime” was the only advice I heard. Easy to say! Boring and hard to do.
I mean, you’re not a robot as a new mom; there’s no off-button to press as soon as the baby falls asleep!
When I was home with our third child things were different. Tired – yes sometimes. Like when all kids woke up at night… But I was not exhausted; not at all actually. Why? Because I had learned how to help myself getting much more sleep.
Below I’ve gathered and explained the sleep tips I used to maximize my own sleep when our third child was a young baby. Pick the ones you like the most. If you have additional ideas on how to get some sleep as a new mom, please share them at the end of the article, to help other exhausted moms.
How To Maximize Sleep As a New Mom
Dreamfeed when YOU go to bed
To be honest, this won’t help your baby sleep better, but it will give you more undisturbed sleep. If you make sure that your baby is full when you go to sleep, chances are that you will get a few undisturbed hours when they are the most important.
I really hate to be awakened an hour or so after falling asleep in the evening.
How to do it?
Take your baby up very gently to not wake him up. Sit comfortably in the dark and place his mouth on your nipple (or the bottle). Push lightly. If necessary open his mouth gently and wait. If he doesn’t react, move around a little bit to disturb him. It might take a few minutes especially the first times, but he’ll learn.
Afterward, New Mom will have a full, sleeping baby, which hopefully will not call for your attention for a few hours. While he eats listen carefully if he seems to be swallowing air. If not (many babies don’t when eating in their sleep), you don’t even have to burp him before putting him to bed again.
Not until with our youngest child did I learn how to breastfeed lying down without hurting my neck and back. The trick is to place the baby much lower than you might think. He is supposed to have to really stretch his neck to reach your nipple.
Co-sleeping and nursing in bed are likely to mean that you fall asleep while feeding your child. This means a lot less time awake than if you sit up. Also, the milk tends to flow more slowly this way, preventing your baby from swallowing as much air. Burping might therefore not be necessary. Double bonus!
Over time, as we taught our baby to sleep better, the disadvantages of having him in our bed started to dominate. (Like having this little fence (the boy) between me and my husband… ;-D) Then it is time to start putting him back in his own bed after nursing. Ideally (I think) you should start doing this as early as possible at least once a night so that he gets used to sleeping in his own bed too.
A word of warning. Some studies indicate a higher incidence of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) when children sleep in their parents’ bed. (Other studies indicate the opposite.) Remember to consult your care provider in this matter and never ever have your baby sleep with you in your bed if you or your spouse have consumed alcohol!
For a more detailed checklist on safe co-sleeping, click here.
Dad’s night UP!
I like this one! 🙂
Someone told me (don’t know if it’s true) that a new mom wakes up on average every third minute to check on her newborn. That is some 160 times a night!! The mother doesn’t remember more than maybe 6 or 7 times, but guess what – she gets really tired.
So, every now and then, go to bed early with earplugs. If possible even sleep in your own room. Let dad take care of the waking up at night and let him carry the baby to you for nursing. If your baby is bottlefed, then dad takes care of the feeding that night. If possible even let him handle the burping (whether the baby is breastfed or not).
Chances are you will only wake up a few times instead of 160…
Let dad handle the first nighttime feeding
Being a new mom, a friend of mine used to put her baby to bed at 8 PM. Then she went to bed at 9 PM and let her husband bottle feed their infant at 11 PM. That meant that she had undisturbed sleep from 9 PM to 2 am without asking her husband to take responsibility at night. Great!
This can be done even if you breastfeed (and even if your husband has to be able to think clearly the day after). Pump just before you go to bed. The milk can be stored in the refrigerator for several hours without deteriorating. Or you can use formula if appropriate for your child.
A cradle and a rope
When I was a baby, my dad tied a rope around my bassinet and hung it on a hook in the ceiling. Then he could pull the rope from his bed to rock my home-made cradle.
Instead of making your own hanging cradle, which seems a bit unsafe, consider buying one designed for the purpose. Here is a wonderful example. (Opens in new window to Amazon)
And if you can’t actually hang a cradle, even a rocking cradle standing on the floor, like this beautiful cradle from BabyBjorn, can work perfectly if put close to dad’s bed. (And remember to let dad handle the rocking…)
But even if you are the only one attending ot your baby at night, this tip can certainly be used to softly help your baby go back to sleep without you even having to get out of bed.
Don’t check what time it is
This may sound like a weird tip, but to me, it is quite important. Being a new mom with my first child I was (I think now) almost obsessed with checking how many hours it was between the nighttime feedings and how long they took.
This meant that every time the feedings were frequent (and they often were) or took a long time, I was very aware of how little sleep I was getting. Sometimes this was so stressful that it was really hard for me to get back to sleep after my baby did.
Less sleep for me!
So don’t focus too much on how much you are awake. Just do what you have to do as fast and easy as you can and head back to bed.
Go to bed when your child does
To go to sleep with your baby in the evening isn’t much fun. The free time with your spouse (and yourself!) is eliminated.
But if you’ are an exhausted new mom – honestly – how much fun are you to be with?
I know I’m not anyway!
So if you’re really tired, go to bed early at least one night per week or so. Do this even if you don’t want to or can hand over the first nighttime feeding to dad.
Sleep during the day
To sleep during the day isn’t much fun either. But if you’re at home and tired, sleep for a while when your baby does.
Even 20 minutes will make a difference. And going to sleep next to your infant can be really cozy!
Well new mom, start implementing these tips NOW. I know from my own experience that they make a huge difference.
More About New Moms And Sleep
Now, what will you do to get some sleep as a new mom? Share your thoughts below.