Figuring out how to get good sleep is one of the trickiest bits of becoming a new parent. Whether you’re a first-timer or have many years of parenting experience, getting some shuteye at night during the baby’s first 24 months can be no mean feat.
No two babies are the same so there are bound to be sleep pattern differences among even twins. This is why getting a good amount of nighttime rest can be so difficult for new parents.
From crying to restless babies and even postpartum stress, there could be many reasons behind your sleeplessness. Here are 21 smart techniques to get the right amount of shut-eye as a new parent.
1. Understand Your baby’s Sleep Patterns
Understanding a baby’s sleep patterns can be the key to getting a good night of rest. After all, there’s no way either you or your partner can sleep while your bundle of joy is still wide awake and struggling to nod off.
Generally, babies can wake up multiple times during the night especially when they’re thirsty or hungry. Thus, making sure they’re well-fed before bedtime can be crucial. This should reduce the number of times they wake up meaning an increased probability of sleeping through the night.
Remember, sleeplessness and short sleep cycles are normal for babies. As they grow older and adjust to their new environment, a longer duration of sleep can become the norm.
Patience is the key here so relax and take it in your stride.
2. Look out for Signs of Illness or Fevers
It is no secret that babies are delicate creatures that can feel restless at the slightest provocation. Infections or illness can be one of the main reasons why your adorable infant may be struggling to hit the hay the night.
From tummy upsets to fevers and common colds, the significant discomfort associated with illness can cause sleep troubles for the young one.
As such, mastering the ability to look out for signs of illness among infants can be critical. Over time, you should have no problems differentiating between when to open your medicine cabinet and when to rush the newborn to the hospital.
Not only can this be lifesaving in some instances but it can also provide relief for sick babies. The most common signs of illness in infants include:
- Loss of appetite
- Consistent crying
- Breathing difficulties
- The inability to pee for hours
- Pale skin
- Consistent vomiting
- Swallowing problems
3. Figure Out How to Calm Your Baby
Tantrums are a part of babies’ lives and there can be many times when your little guy or girl may seem agitated for no reason. Again, it is important to know when your baby is restless due to an illness or medical condition and when he or she is only throwing tantrums.
Once you conclude that it is only a tantrum, the next step is knowing how to calm your little one down to promote sleep.
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to getting a restless infant to calm down. A few tried and tested options are:
- Feeding warm milk to the baby
- Singing lullabies
- Providing a comfort blanket
- Giving him or her a pacifier or dummy
- Playing until the baby tires
- Holding the baby in gentle rocking movements
- Giving him or her a warm relaxing bath
- Changing your baby’s nappies
- Reading to him or her
- Handing their favorite toy over
- Playing low-tempo music to calm down the restless baby
- Giving him or her a massage
- Allowing the baby to watch TV
4. Sleep When Your Baby Sleeps
This may sound like a cliche but one of the oldest tricks in the book is to lie down as soon as the baby begins dozing off. This might mean breaking down your sleep into several sets of short naps as many babies do not hit the sack for several hours at a time.
However, this trick can still offer new parents a good amount of shut-eye throughout the day. The temptation to finish chores when your baby is nodding off can be high but falling for it may backfire on your sleep.
The good news is that as the baby grows, you can come to terms with how long he or she sleeps at any point in time and use that as a reference point to make plans for your slumber. As long as your baby is sleeping calmly, taking advantage of that period to catch up on some slumber can be fair-game.
5. Breastfeed While You’re Both Lying Down
Have you noticed how calm babies can get when being breastfed? Why not take advantage of those few moments of calm to get some much needed ZZs?
Often, new parents sit on the sofa during breastfeeding but the time spent can be more productive by lying down instead.
Many experts recommend horizontal breastfeeding which may offer some respite during those few moments of calm as a new parent. Don’t forget to lie down in a position where the infant can get access to your nipples without straining his or her neck.
Additionally, you mustn’t leave any critical things left unattended during this period. For instance, leaving food you’re cooking while the kitchen stove is on to lie down can result in the burning of the food.
You’ll be amazed at the quality of sleep you can get from following this trick. After all, the majority of babies require breastfeeding several times during the day and night.
In most cases, they drift off to sleep right after being fed meaning you can get an extended period of shut-eye from this tip alone.
6. Take Power Naps
Power naps can be lifesaving for new parents especially first-timers. The stress of caring for the young one can be so overwhelming that you feel exhausted all the time.
Those short 20-30 minute naps can infuse a rush of energy into any sleep-deprived new mom or dad. This new energy may offer the strength to continue with your day and minimize fatigue before nighttime arrives.
The trick is to find a distraction for your baby such as switching on the television and take the opportunity to nap quickly while he or she is attentively watching it.
Before you do this, make sure you’re in a safe environment such as your home, and the infant is cheerfully resting or playing in its bassinet with absolutely no risk of accidents while you sleep.
7. Shared Responsibilities With Your Partner
Caring for a new baby can be an overwhelming period in the lives of new mothers. If you have a partner, then you’re in luck. You can take turns caring for the baby especially at night so the other party can get some good sleep.
Make sure to provide breast milk and other feeding essentials for the baby during the non-breastfeeding partner’s shift. This can allow the other partner the chance to sleep through the night with zero disturbance.
Besides, splitting the responsibility of caring for the baby can provide an opportunity for both partners to bond with the newborn. This may help forge better relationships with the child as she grows up.
8. Ask Family and Friends to Chip In
Many of us have friends and family always on hand to help especially after the birth of a newborn. This is why it is smart to ask for support from these loved ones when you need it.
From running errands on your behalf to looking after the child when you need a dose of fresh air outdoors, they can be helpful in many scenarios.
It may be tempting to feel like a rockstar and go it alone even when you can use some help. But that can backfire over time and put your health or that of the baby at risk.
Sometimes, your loved ones may offer to help on their own and it is important to accept it graciously. Even if they don’t, there’s no harm in asking them to chip in.
9. Ditch the Late Night Social Media
Do you spend several minutes or hours in bed going through Facebook and Instagram to check out people’s pictures and videos? If yes, it is time to ditch the late-night social media activity.
Firstly, it can rob you of the much-needed sleep when you hardly get any as a new parent. The pressure from seeing people’s seemingly perfect pictures and videos can also lead to postpartum depression.
Additionally, smartphones, laptops, and iPads release blue-emitting lights that can disrupt your nighttime rest, according to the National Sleep Foundation. These lights can delay the brain’s release of the critical sleep hormone known as Melatonin.
This essentially means you’ll have to wait longer to fall asleep which may lower the chances of waking up fully energized and ready to care for your baby.
10. Install a Video Monitor
Installing a video monitor can be another important step that may boost the ability to sleep. These monitors can be fixed to capture the baby day and night.
Every time you hear some noise or movement during the night, you can just take a peek at the monitor to verify that the baby is OK.
Thus, these monitors can provide a convenient way of monitoring your adorable one without having to climb out of bed to his or her every whim. Being completely sure that the baby is safe and comfortable can also boost the quality of a new parent’s sleep.
Fortunately, there are many types and brands of baby monitors on the market. We recommend ordering one with sound-activated light so you can keep your eyes on the infant whether you’re in Dreamland or undertaking distracting chores.
11. Get Those Flexible Working Hours or Work from Home
Asking for flexible hours can be one of the best ways to get some sleep as a parent of a newborn. Many employers offer these incentives to new parents so do not hesitate to accept when the opportunity arises.
Flexible hours may not only be available for new moms but new dads can also take advantage of such opportunities. If the nature of your job allows remote working then having a newborn can be the perfect time to get out of that office cubicle.
This can be a great way to share house chores and take turns caring for the baby while the other party runs errands and gets critical sleep. The time spent as a family can also help partners build better relationships and reduce your collective stress levels.
Some new parents say they’re unable to ask for flexible hours due to guilt but that should not be the case. Your overall well-being and that of your child and partner should be the most important consideration.
12. Give Priority to Your Sleep
Unless sleep is treated as a priority, getting the maximum duration you need can be impossible. This is why you should regard it as one of the most critical aspects of your life.
Doing this can mean missing other important events such as attending work or family ceremonies. It might also mean spending less time with friends and family as all of your free time gets virtually committed to resting.
But trust that your physical and mental well-being, in the long run, is more important. You can always spend time socializing with loved ones when the baby grows much older. For now, don’t be scared to miss out on those fun events.
Many loved ones will understand why you may be skipping out on them and will not hold any grudges.
13. Lie Down Even if You’re Not Sleepy
Has your adorable baby just fallen asleep in his or her cot? This may be a great opportunity to take a quick nap. But what if you’re not feeling sleepy? Well, you should go ahead and lie down still.
The chances of falling asleep can increase rapidly when you’re lying down especially after a stressful day of breastfeeding, changing nappies, bathing, and looking after the baby.
Also, lying down even without sleeping can reduce stress levels and launch the recovery process from the exhaustion.
It can also be a great time to reminisce and go over the day, remembering important stuff and making mental notes about your child. This can help you become a better parent over time even as a first-timer.
14. Look Out For Signs of Postpartum Depression
Having a newborn can be an extremely stressful period even among those who have been looking forward to it all their lives. Nothing can prepare the mind totally for having a baby. Not even when you’ve had children in the past.
Even the best mums can suffer from postpartum depression as the wave of responsibilities, sleep disruptions, and the lack of alone time takes a toll on their health. The fatigue and hormonal changes may also not help matters.
The emotional roller coaster of giving birth should subside within a couple of weeks. However, if you’re still feeling like a wreck several months after delivery, it could be a sign of postpartum depression.
Spotting the symptoms of the neurological condition quickly can help new mothers seek the necessary treatment to enhance their mental wellbeing and quality of sleep. Here are the most popular signs to look out for:
- Bonding problems with your baby
- Withdrawal from your partner
- Increased levels of anxiety
- Sleeping difficulties even when your partner is taking care of the baby
- Overwhelming feelings of guilt or worthlessness
Regular exercises can help boost sleep quality as a new parent. Often, feeding, bathing, and providing other forms of care for newborns can feel so immense that you practically have no time for yourself.
However, fitting in a workout session even for half an hour daily can do wonders for bedtime rest. Exercise can set up the body for a good day by releasing endorphins that make you feel good and clears up any bad moods.
The exhaustion from this physical activity may also speed up the time it takes to fall asleep at night. Besides, exercise can reduce anxiety levels and promote the ability to focus on more important aspects of your life.
Physical activity can also help reduce signs of postpartum depression. The result is a much happier new parent who gets as much sleep as he or she can at bedtime.
16. Meditate or Do Yoga
As previously stated, caring for a newborn baby may not be a walk in the park. No matter how much you may love your adorable infant son or daughter, the frustrations of providing care can reach boiling points several times a day.
This is why undertaking mind-calming practices such as meditation can be so relieving. Meditating is a process that may allow anyone to train the mind to focus on more positive thoughts.
The benefits can be enormous including learning the ability to drown out subjects the mind may find disturbing.
Practicing yoga can be another potent way of reducing stress. It may involve undertaking poses that stretch the muscles and calm the mind.
By the time you jump into bed, the mind can be extremely calm meaning you’re able to fly into Slumberland with little worries.
Have you seen the article we wrote Sleeping vs Meditation? Click on the link to find out the differences between the 2 states.
17. Eat Healthy Diets
Well-balanced diets are a newborn parent’s antidote to sleeplessness. The diet can become even more critical for breastfeeding mothers who need to supply the right nutrients to their newborns.
Healthy diets can improve your overall well-being as a parent. The resulting nutrient-rich breast milk can also calm babies and boost their immunity against infections and diseases.
After all, a healthy infant sleeps much better enabling parents to smuggle in some sleep as well.
Even if you’re not breast-feeding, healthy meals may provide the necessary strength to go about your day. They can also contribute to the body’s ability to maintain optimum conditions for good sleep at night.
Have you checked out the article we wrote on Sleeping When Hungry? Click the link to discover the 7 reasons why it is a terrible idea.
18. Turn Your Bedroom Into A Sanctuary
Have you noticed that some bedrooms can look so inviting that they can actually make you feel sleepy? This is why it is critical to make your sleeping area a sanctuary.
Many new parents try to ensure that bassinets and baby cots look as cozy as possible to promote optimal sleep for their newborns. However, this obsession with perfecting the baby’s sleeping spot can lead to neglecting their beds in the process.
Unfortunately, getting good sleep during this critical point in your life can be extremely difficult. This is why you should take advantage of any opportunity that pops up to nod off.
Clean bed sheets are a must-have if you want to sleep well and depending on the weather, comforters, and duvets can also come in handy.
Additionally, make sure your bedroom is as clean as possible with little exposure to dust, dirt, and grime.
The probability of nodding off a lot quicker and longer can be greater when the bedroom becomes a sanctuary.
Are you tempted to sleep bare on your mattress? Check out the article we wrote on Sleeping Without Bedsheets. We reveal the negatives and positives of the increasingly popular practice.
19. Create a Bedtime Ritual
Many of us have a set ritual that guides us immediately after waking up in the morning. This may include washing the face, brushing the teeth, taking a shower, and drinking a cup of coffee. However, only a few people have a specific pre-bedtime routine.
Sleep rituals are important because they tell the brain when to release the necessary hormones and set up other conditions for nighttime rest. For instance, you can take a warm shower, listen to music for 25 minutes every night, and read for 15 minutes before sleeping.
Once you repeat this a couple of times, the brain will get used to the fact that you only do those things when you want to sleep. Hence, it will begin releasing the right sleep-inducing hormones as soon as you start ticking off those activities at bedtime.
This can lead to a good night of rest even when you’re severely stressed from tending to the newborn.
20. Ditch the Caffeine
Feeling exhausted from staying awake to take care of the newborn’s needs throughout the night? How about reaching for that tempting cup of coffee? Well, not so fast.
While coffee can give an instant rush of energy when you’re extremely tired, it can be one of the worst beverages to take as a new parent. Firstly, caffeine may be highly addictive and relying on it to go through the day can lead to long-term health defects.
It can cause depression and anxiety as well as a host of withdrawal symptoms ranging from headaches to fatigue and productivity problems.
Additionally, caffeine can disrupt your internal sleep clock by blocking adenosine- a hormone that induces sleep. This can lead to hours of tossing and turning in bed coupled with the frequent urge to visit the bathroom.
Have you checked out the article we wrote on Sleeping After Too Much Coffee? Click here for 10 ways to sleep after a caffeine overdose.
21. Seek Professional Help
There’s nothing wrong with seeking professional help to improve sleep as a new parent. If you’re counting sheep at night difficulties, seeking a remedy as soon as possible can be critical.
With access to your long-term medical history, your doctor can come up with effective solutions that may help you enjoy the right amount of sleep whenever the baby drifts off.
Getting quality sleep as a new parent may be a stretch. But the techniques we’ve listed above can help put you in the right direction.
Remember, getting satisfying sleep should be one of your utmost priorities at this critical point. This can allow you to recharge your batteries and be able to give maximum care for the baby.