One of the toughest aspects of being a new parent is surviving long nights with a newborn. Sleep deprivation tends to be an overarching challenge that can cause tension, frustration and stress for any family. One of the best things you can do is adjust your nighttime mindset and set realistic expectations.
First of all, you will be awake at night. It’s inevitable. Why not make the most of it? I can remember finding joy in the quiet alone time with my babies. I was sleep-deprived and exhausted, but I knew we were spending quality time together and that made everything seem better.
You will quickly learn that you can’t make your baby sleep. She will sleep when she’s ready. If your baby won’t sleep at night, it’s probably because she’s hungry. And nighttime feedings are a legitimate need because newborns are hungry. In fact, newborns eat a lot more than you might think. If she’s waking up every two hours to nurse, that’s normal. And if she sleeps longer, you’re lucky! As a rule of thumb, if she sleeps for a 5-hour stretch, that’s considered “sleeping through the night.”
The bigger issue is determining how will you get your sleep because mama needs to be rested to function! This is when you must decide which sleep schedule works best for you based on your needs. Books and advice can be helpful, but only you truly know your baby. Perhaps co-sleeping makes for a more restful night, or your baby sleeps more soundly when you aren’t physically next to her. Either way, at this stage of the parenting game, both are good sleeping solutions.
Here are more tricks to surviving the night with baby from other moms:
- • Your goal for your baby is to make sure she’s well fed, comforted and safe.
• Your goal for yourself and your family is to get as much rest as possible while respecting the needs of your baby.
• The long nights you spend teaching her how to sleep as an infant will pay off when she gets older and finds comfort in her own sleep routine.
• Tending to your baby when she cries at night should not make you feel guilty. Babies need reassurance and confidence that when they need you, you’re there.
• When your baby wakes frequently during the night, it’s because she needs nourishment or comfort.
• You can bump up feedings during the day to see if that eases her need for feedings at night.
• Lots of moms “dream feed” which means they gently wake their sleeping baby for a meal before they go to sleep to avoid a wake-up call as soon as they hit the pillow.
• Change a diaper before a feeding. That way if she falls asleep, you don’t have to take the chance of waking her up with a diaper change. Although for some babies, formula/breast milk goes right through them, so changes before and after are necessary.
• Use light strategically as part of her sleep training. Make sure rooms are bright during the day and start dimming lights a few hours before she goes down. This is when room-darkening shades or curtains come in handy. Her brain and body will equate a dark room to sleep.
Want more advice from others moms? Check out Mommy Confessions about living the #MomLife!